Oops! Did you accidentally click “Yes” when your computer asked if you really wanted to delete a file, instead of “No”? Don’t stress. If you do something about it fast enough, data file recovery is easy. Here’s a quick guide to file recovery in Windows.

1. Start now

Don’t leave it till next week to get your file back. Data file recovery is much more reliable when you do it sooner rather than later.

2. Check alternate locations

You might have emailed the particular file you want to recover, burnt it to a disk or have it on a flash drive.

3. Download data recovery software

If possible, go to another computer. Download data recovery software onto a USB flash drive. Alternatively, if you have two hard drives available, download an application for recovering deleted files onto your second hard drive.


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Note that installing a recovery application (as well as any other program) or writing any files on the disk where your lost data was stored creates the possibility of overwriting it! It is highly recommended to install a recovery application to a separate drive. Some file recovery apps have a portable version, which is a really good solution as well.

4. Run the program from your alternate drive

Set the program to scan the disk you have deleted files from. Hundreds of files will turn up, but good programs allow you to filter your results.

5. Sort files by type

In most programs, you’ll be able to sort your recovered files results by file types. To do that click on the column heading in the search results. This will speed up computer file search for the exact file you want.

6. “Undelete selected”

Some programs will “Undelete selected” by right clicking, others will have a button. Most utilities for recovering deleted files are fairly simple to use and quite easy even for inexperienced computer users to muddle through.

7. If you want to recover more than one file

Save (or undelete) the file to a USB flash drive, or to your second hard drive. Every time you save information onto the drive you are recovering your data file from, you risk overwriting the file you want to get back.

8. What if this doesn’t work?

If you have tried a freeware utility with no luck, it is worth trying a different program from a different developer, such as Auslogics File Recovery. Unless the file was deleted by file shredding software, data file recovery should definitely be possible.

Don’t forget to create frequent backups of your information – creating a disk image is the recommended way to prevent having to recover data files in the future!

Wondering how to speed up your computer? Please read our next article.