Oh $*@! – Recovering Deleted Files from your PC

Summary Difficulty Rating Time to complete
Restoring files that have accidentally been deleted, even after the recycle bin has been emptied.   5 minutes.

Oh-no-Second: Def:  The span of time it takes to realize you did something dumb.

Sooner or later you are going to hit the delete button on a file and immediately realize that you shouldn’t have done that.

When that happens the first thing you should do is DON’T PANIC!

Recycle Bin to the rescue!

Lucky for you enough people have done this that Microsoft introduced the Recycle Bin back in the days of Windows 95.  If you delete a file you can recover it quickly and easily by doing the following:

  • Open the Recycle Bin by double-clicking on the Recycle Bin icon on your desktop.
  • Find the file you want to recover and click to highlight it.
  • From the top menu choose File and then Restore.
  • The file is now back on your computer in its original place.

However there are times when the recycle bin is not used.  These include certain types of removable storage, files that were too large for the recycle bin, files deleted by programs or if you have set up the recycle bin to be bypassed. You can also empty the recycle bin (I usually do that before running a large virus scan) and then realize that there was a file you wanted to keep in there.

What if it’s not in the recycle bin?

Fortunately PCs store files as a data and pointers – think of it as a a filing cabinet with index cards that tell you where to find things.  Normally when a file is deleted all that really happened is that the index card was removed – but the data is still there.  Eventually that area of the disk will get reused but, if we are quick, we can put the index card back and all is well.

There are many programs available to recover files but the one that I like to use is  Recuva by Piriform (the same folks that created CCleaner).  I like this because it is both free and simple to use.

When you start Recuva you are presented with a “wizard” that asks two simple questions.

  1. What type of file are you trying to get back?
  2. Where was the file?

Recuva will then scan the disk for files that match your description, check which ones can be recovered and present you with a list of files ready for restore.


To show how it works I deleted some photo, emptied the recycle bin and then ran Recuva.  Here are the results.




Good luck!


Filed under Free Software, PC Problems?, Windows

2 responses to “Oh $*@! – Recovering Deleted Files from your PC

  1. Pingback: My Favorite Free Software! | Houldsworth's Random Ramblings

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