Today we will see how you can recover deleted files in Windows, very useful if you deleted a file by mistake or emptied the recycle bin when you had files that you now need. It’s a method that works for all types of files such as photos, Word documents, songs or any other.
To recover files we will use one of the most popular recovery applications: Recuva. It has the advantage of being effective, free and doesn’t require installation. If the file is recoverable, it’s very likely that you can recover it with Recuva.
1. Download Recuva
The first thing you need, of course, is Recuva. It is an application of the same creators of CCleaner and is offered in a normal, installable, and portable version, which doesn’t need installation. You can download the latest version by going to this web address and clicking Download in Recuva – Portable.
Since its a version that doesn’t need installation, its a ZIP file instead of an installer. When you open the download from your browser, the contents of the ZIP will be displayed. Make double-click on Recuva.exe (or Recuva64.exe if your Windows is 64 bits) to open the application.
2. Refine the search
Recuva will welcome you with a step-by-step assistant to help you search for deleted files. The first screen is simply welcome, so all you have to do is press Next.
The following window is important because in it you can fine tune what type of file you are trying to recover. Keep in mind that Recuva will dive among all the files that have been recently deleted, so the list can be endless. This first filter will help you find what you are looking for more quickly.
- All files: All files. Its the default option, which will show all the files. Leave it selected if you’re not sure.
- Pictures: Images. It will only show files in common image formats such as JPG, PNG, BMP, etc.
- Music: Its the filter for popular audio formats such as MP3, WAV, ACC, etc.
- Documents: Select this if you are looking for Word, Excel, PDF and similar documents.
- Video: Its the filter to search for deleted video files.
- Compressed: It will look for compressed files that have been deleted, such as ZIP, RAR and more.
- Emails: Select this option if you are trying to recover an e-mail deleted from Thunderbird, Outlook Express, Windows Mail or Microsoft Outlook.
The next step of the wizard is a second filter very useful if you know exactly where the file was deleted. Selected the location you can dismiss other files with the same name and find what you are looking for faster. Also, if you narrow the search to a smaller region, the search will be faster.
- I’m not sure: Select this option if you’re not sure where the file you’re trying to recover was located. Its the default option.
- On my media card or iPod: This option will search for external storage, memory cards or iPod, deleted files that can be recovered.
- In My Documents: Select this option if you are sure that the file was in “My Documents” in Windows.
- In the Recycle Bin: In the recycling bin. Regardless of where you originally were, if the file was trashed and then deleted, select this option.
- In a specific location: If you are very sure, you can choose this option and then click Browse to choose the specific folder.
- On a CD / DVD: On a CD or DVD. This option is usually disabled, but choose it in the rare case that it is a CD or DVD, since generally, you cant delete files in them.
In the last window of the wizard, you are asked if you want to use the intensive search (Deep Scan). It’s generally not recommended unless you are desperate, it takes much longer. It’s better to try a normal search and, if there is no luck, go back to the assistant and try to activate it. Press Start.
3. Find the file you want to recover
The search will take more or less depending on how many locations you are looking for and whether you activated the intensive search or not. When finished, you will be shown a list of results. Your goal is to find the file you want to recover and check the box to your left. If there are several, check all the boxes and then click Recover.
Its important to consider the color next to each file. The green color means that it is in good condition and you can probably recover it without problems, while the yellow color means that part of its contents will be corrupt. The red color implies an even worse state. Anyway, it’s nothing you can solve by now.
4. Save the file
You only need to save the recovered file. Ideally, keep it in a different unit than the one you are in, to avoid overwriting more of its content or other files that you would like to recover. For example, you can try to save it on a USB pendrive. Choose the folder and press OK.
At this point, the file will be retrieved and saved where you chose , and a Recuva window will show you a summary of the operation. If you have not had luck finding the file you were looking for, try removing all the filters and activate the intensive search (Deep Scan). If the file appears, but it was in poor condition, I’m afraid there’s not much you can do.