Roman Kropachek Photo
Written by:

Last update on

Effective Methods to Restore Permanently Deleted Files and Folders

Effective Methods to Restore Permanently Deleted Files and Folders

Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve accidentally deleted a file or folder, only to realize later that it was crucial? It’s a common predicament that can be incredibly stressful. Fortunately, there are several methods to restore permanently deleted files and folders. This article will guide you through various effective techniques based on personal experiences and best practices. Whether you’re dealing with a recent deletion or an old one, we’ve got you covered. Moreover, for those looking for some of the best data recovery tools, check out this comprehensive guide on free software.


Common Scenarios:

Accidentally Emptied the Recycle Bin 🗑

  • Emptying the Recycle Bin is a frequent cause of permanently deleting files and folders. Many users accidentally hit ‘Empty Recycle Bin’ and realize they have deleted important data.
  • Recovering files emptied from the Recycle Bin may seem daunting, but it’s entirely possible with the right tools and strategies.

Formatted Hard Drive or Partition 💾

  • Formatting a hard drive or partition can wipe out all data stored on it, making it seem impossible to recover.
  • While formatting is often done deliberately to clear up space, accidentally formatting a drive containing important files can be a nightmare.

Accidental Deletion Using Shift + Delete 🏗

  • When you use the Shift + Delete combination to delete files, they bypass the Recycle Bin and are permanently deleted.
  • This method is often used to speed up the deletion process, but it can lead to accidental data loss.

Step-by-Step Guide. Restore Permanently Deleted Files And Folders:

Method 1: Using File History 🕰

  • Open the Control Panel and go to System and Security.
  • Select File History and click on Restore personal files.
  • Navigate to the folder or file you want to recover and click the Restore button.
  • If you don’t see the file or folder, it may not have been backed up by File History.
  • For more information, you can check this guide on File History settings.

Note: This method works only if File History was set up before the files were deleted.

Conclusion: Using File History is an easy and effective method to retrieve deleted files, provided it was enabled beforehand.

Method 2: Utilizing Windows Backup and Restore 💾

  • Go to the Control Panel and select System and Security.
  • Click on Backup and Restore (Windows 7).
  • Choose Restore my files and follow the instructions to recover your lost data.
  • Ensure you select the correct backup date to locate the files or folders.
  • For step-by-step details, check out this Windows Backup and Restore guide.

Note: Ensure that you regularly back up your data using Windows Backup to make this method effective.

Conclusion: Regularly using Windows Backup and Restore can be a lifesaver in recovering permanently deleted files.

Method 3: Using Third-Party Recovery Software 🖥

  • Download and install reliable data recovery software such as Recuva or EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard.
  • Open the software and select the location from which the files were deleted.
  • Run a scan to detect the deleted files and folders.
  • Select the files you wish to recover and click Recover.
  • Consult the official websites for detailed steps, like this one for Recuva and EaseUS.

Note: Always download software from reputable sources to avoid malware and scams.

Conclusion: Using third-party recovery software can be highly effective for recovering permanently deleted files, but make sure to choose a reliable program.

Method 4: Restoring from Previous Versions 💿

  • Navigate to the folder where the deleted files were stored.
  • Right-click on the folder and select Properties.
  • Go to the Previous Versions tab to see if there are any available backups.
  • Select the version that contains your deleted files and click Restore.
  • For more details, Microsoft offers a comprehensive guide on this feature.

Note: This feature should be enabled for it to be useful.

Conclusion: Recovering files from previous versions is a great built-in option, especially if regularly enabled on your system.

Method 5: Using Command Prompt 🖥

  • Open Command Prompt as an administrator.
  • Type the command chkdsk X: /f, where X is the drive letter.
  • Next, type ATTRIB -H -R -S /S /D X:*.* and press Enter.
  • This command will check for file system errors and potentially recover lost files.
  • For more detailed commands and options, visit this guide.

Note: Use this method carefully, as incorrect commands can cause further issues.

Conclusion: Command Prompt can be a powerful tool for recovering permanently deleted files if used correctly.

Method 6: Checking Cloud Storage 🖥

  • Log in to your cloud storage account (e.g., Google Drive, OneDrive).
  • Navigate to the Trash or Bin section where deleted files are temporarily stored.
  • Select the files or folders you want to recover and click Restore.
  • If the files are not in the Trash/Bin, check the Backup and Sync settings for any available backups.
  • For specific steps, refer to the support pages like Google Drive or OneDrive.

Note: This method applies only if your files were synced with cloud storage before deletion.

Conclusion: Cloud storage services offer a convenient method to recover permanently deleted files, given that the files were synced beforehand.

Method 7: Using Professional Data Recovery Services 🛠

  • If all else fails, consider employing a professional data recovery service.
  • Search for reputable services with good reviews and credentials.
  • Contact the service provider and explain your situation in detail.
  • Send your storage device to the service for analysis and recovery.
  • For more information on what to expect, see articles like this one on PCWorld.

Note: Professional services can be costly, so use them as a last resort.

Conclusion: Professional data recovery services are your best bet when all software solutions have failed, albeit at a higher cost.


Precautions and Tips:

Always Enable Backup Options 💾

  • Regularly back up your data using built-in options like File History or Windows Backup.
  • Utilize cloud storage services to store your important files, ensuring they are synced properly.
  • Consider investing in an external hard drive for additional backups.
  • Make a habit of backing up at least once a week, if not daily.
  • For comprehensive backup solutions, check resources like Consumer Reports.

Additional Resources

Understanding the various methods to restore permanently deleted files and folders is crucial, especially in an age where data is invaluable. Besides the steps mentioned above, here are some additional tips and resources that can come in handy.

Regular Data Backup: One of the best ways to avoid the stress of data loss is to ensure you have regular backups. Tools like Acronis True Image and Backblaze offer excellent backup solutions to protect your data.

Understand the File System: Understanding your system’s file architecture can provide insights into how files are stored and deleted, making it easier to recover them. Websites like How-To Geek offer excellent guides.

Avoid Overwriting: When you realize crucial files are deleted, avoid creating new data on the same storage device. Overwriting can make recovery almost impossible.

Professional Support: If you’re dealing with extremely valuable data, consider professional help. Service providers like DriveSavers can help you retrieve data from even the most damaged storage devices.

With these tips and resources, you are better equipped to handle data loss. Always remember that prevention through regular backups and cautious handling of important files is the best strategy.


Restoring permanently deleted files and folders may initially seem impossible, but with the right steps and tools, it can be done effectively. From using File History and Windows Backup, to leveraging third-party software and even seeking professional recovery services, there are multiple paths to recovery. For best results, make sure you regularly back up your data and understand the tools at your disposal. By following the guidance provided here, you can significantly improve your chances of recovering lost data.


Utilize the built-in File History feature or leverage a data recovery software like Recuva. Check if your system's backup feature has the files stored.

Yes, specialized recovery tools like EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard can scan and restore lost files on USB drives. Ensure to act quickly for best results.

Check your Trash folder within Google Drive. Files remain there for 30 days. For beyond this period, contact Google Drive support.

Utilize the Time Machine backup feature which allows for recovery of deleted files provided backups were set up previously.

Employ data recovery software like Disk Drill. Ensure you cease new data write operations to avoid overwriting lost files.

Yes, online services like DriveSavers offer professional data recovery solutions for a variety of storage devices. Visit their homepage at DriveSavers.

Fairly effective. Tools like Dr.Fone Android Data Recovery can help restore deleted photos, messages, and documents. Ensure the device isn’t used heavily post-deletion.

Recovery tools can sometimes retrieve encrypted files, but decryption requires specific ransomware keys. For professional help, consider visiting Ontrack.

Most cloud services retain deleted files for a time period in their trash or bin. Check the specific service’s recovery options in their help documentation.

Implement regular backups using external hard drives or cloud services like OneDrive. Enable system restoration features and conduct periodic checks.