A Complete Guide to Recover Deleted Files

Most people have deleted a file they later regretted at least once in their lifetime. It could be an essential document, an adorable wedding video, or anything else you can't afford to lose. So why does this tragedy happen? How do you delete data intentionally or unintentionally? How can you retrieve lost files? This tutorial on deleted files recovery walks you through it.

How to Recover Deleted Files in Windows 10/11
How to Restore Deleted Files on Mac
How to Retrieve Deleted Files on Android and iPhone

How Do You Delete Files on a Computer

Yet most people are under the mistaken impression that data deletion can't happen or won't happen to them. But did you know that your daily life - things that you do without thinking about it - can cause these instances of data deletion.

Deleting a file will remove it from the place where it is stored. Of course, you might delete a file on purpose or by accident. There are a few ways to delete a file on a computer. The most common way is to right-click on the file, select the "Delete" option, or press the "Delete" key on the keyboard. You can also choose a batch of files to be deleted at the same time.

If you want to delete the file permanently without recovery, you can hold down the Shift+Delete keys simultaneously. You can also delete a file by using the del command in CMD. Or use a third-party file deletion tool to remove files perennially.

Where Do Deleted Files Go on Windows 10/11

Where do files go when deleted from a PC or laptop running Windows 10 or Windows 11? You can find out from the information below.

Deleting a file on Windows using the Delete key from File Explorer will send the file to Recycle Bin, which is usually visible on the desktop. However, if you delete files by emptying the Recycle Bin or using the Shift + Delete keyboard shortcut, the file will be permanently cleaned and won't be found on your computer with the naked eye. 

If you remove a file from the hard disk on your computer, the file goes to the Recycle Bin. While if the storage device is a portable disk, like a USB, SD card, pen drive, SD, or network, the files will be lost forever.

Can Deleted Files Be Recovered on Windows 10

YES! If you just delete the files in a common way, and the files are in the Recycle Bin or the Recently Deleted folder, data recovery is very simple. Open the Recycle Bin, find the target file, and restore it to its original location.  

Can permanently deleted files be recovered? When Windows or other operating systems delete a file (e.g., emptying a file from the Recycle Bin), it doesn't delete all of the file's data directly from the hard drive. It just marks the file's disk location as deleted. This way, when the disk space needs to be used for other data, it can be written directly to those locations without keeping the original data.

where are deleted files

So when a file is deleted, the data in the file actually still exists if the disk record it's in has not been written with new data. At this point, if an advanced data recovery method is adopted, the file data marked as "deleted" can be directly read from the disk and restored to the specified directory.

Check the following solutions to restore deleted files on Windows 10.

How to Recover Deleted Files on Windows 11/10 Without Software

A few different methods can be used to recover deleted or permanently deleted files in Windows 10/11. Our team put together a handy guide on the Windows 10 files recovery process without software to help you go from amateur to expert.

Method 1. Recover Deleted Files from Recycle Bin

When deleted files are not permanently erased from your computer, you have a chance to undelete them from Recycle Bin easily. To retrieve Recycle Bin files: 

Step 1. Find the Recycle Bin icon on your desktop and open it.

Step 2. Look for the files you want to restore. You can select Restore all items if you want all of your files back.

Step 3. Or, choose a certain file you need and click "Restore". The file will be returned to its original location. 

Full Guide

Click here to follow the instructions on Recycle Bin recovery.

Some users report that they can't find deleted files in Recycle Bin although they didn't permanently delete the files. Why are deleted files not in Recycle Bin? There may be three reasons for this problem.

In-depth reading on recovering deleted files not in Recycle Bin.  

Method 2. Recover Deleted Files with Backup

Recovering deleted files can be simple if you have a recent backup. Windows 10 automatically creates File History backups of your files, and you can use these backups to recover deleted files without software.

To access and restore deleted files from File History:

Step 1. In the Search box, type file history and click "Restore your files from File history".

Step 2. When you go to the File History window, find the deleted files you need to restore and preview them.

Step 3. Select the files you want to restore, click the gear icon near the upper right corner of the window and select "Restore to" to save the file to a customized path.

recover deleted files from a backup

Restore Deleted Files from the Previous Version

To restore a deleted file from a previous version, you need to:

Step 1. Open "This PC" or "My Computer". Navigate to the folder that previously contained the file or files you want to recover.

Step 2. Right-click and select "Previous Versions. Windows will display a list of previous versions of the files that were created with Windows backup or saved as restore points.

Step 3. Double-click the previous version of the file that you want to recover. Drag the file to a new storage location where it will be saved and available for further use.

restore Windows files from previous versions

Recover Deleted Files on Windows with File Recovery Software

Using file recovery software is the most effective among all the file recovery methods. Permanently deleted files can be recovered easily, even if no backup is available. Deep Data Recovery is one such tool that scans your hard drive for any traces of deleted files and then attempts to recover them. In many cases, this file recovery software can successfully recover deleted files. Benefits of this recommended software include:

Free download Qiling data recovery software from our website. After installing the software, open it and then follow the steps below to recover deleted files on your Windows PC. You can recover deleted files for free with Qiling if they are under 2GB covered by the Free edition of the program.

Step 1. Select file types and click "Next" to start.

Launch Deep Data Recovery. Select file types and click "Next" to start.

Select file types that you want to recover

Step 2. Select a specific hard disk or location.

Choose the drive or partition where you deleted files. You can also select a specific location to scan, e.g. Recycle Bin, Desktop, or a folder. Then, click the Scan button to start finding files.

select a location to scan

Step 3. Start a quick or advanced scan for lost data.

The time to scan depends on your file size and the health of your disk. When the scan is complete, you can see the detailed scan results, and you can filter the files according to the file types. 

recover deleted files Windows 10

Step 4. Preview and recover the files you need.

You can determine whether the scanned file is the one you want. Then, click the "Recover" button to save the recovered files.

Recover Deleted Files with a Professional Data Recovery Service

Although the probability is very small, it is also possible that the previous solutions have failed. At this time, you need professional data recovery services. Of course, data recovery services aren't free. But it may be your best option if you've already tried all the other solutions and failed.

Use these steps if you are considering a professional data recovery service:

recover deleted files with data recovery service

Most people have deleted a file they later regretted at least once in their lifetime. It could be an important document, a precious wedding video, or anything else you can't afford to lose. Fortunately, it is often possible to recover deleted files in Windows 10. 

Full Guide

Still have problems? Check out this article on how to recover deleted files in Windows 10.

Recover Permanently Deleted Files with Windows File Recovery Tool

Here, we'll show you how to recover deleted files with Windows File Recovery. Windows File Recovery is a Microsoft Windows utility that enables users to recover deleted photos, lost Word documents or Excel files, and missing or deleted files from their computer's hard drives, solid-state drives, or portable storage devices. To use Windows File Recovery, users must have a Windows account and be signed in with their Microsoft account. 

Follow the steps below to recover deleted files with this free utility on Windows 10:

Step 1. Download and launch Windows File Recovery from Microsoft Store.

Step 2. Enter Windows File Recovery in the search box, and then select "Windows File Recovery".

Step 3. In the Command Prompt window, enter the correct command to recover lost files.

Default mode example - Recover a specific file from your C: drive to the recovery folder on an E: drive.

winfr C: E: /n \Users\Documents\QuarterlyStatement.docx

Segment mode example (/r) - Recover PDF and Word files from your C: drive to the recovery folder on an E: drive.

winfr C: E: /r /n *.pdf /n *.docx

Signature mode example (/x) - When using the signature mode, it's helpful to check the supported extension groups and corresponding file types first.

info /#

Step 4. When you are prompted for confirmation to continue, enter "Y" to start the recovery operation.

recover deleted files with Windows File Recovery

Further help: Get the full guide to recovering deleted files with Windows File Recovery.

Recover Deleted Files from Multiple Devices

Portable devices and cloud disks are popular means to store a wide variety of files. Yet, accidentally deleting files from these storage media also happens frequently.  We have provided detailed tutorials for recovering deleted files from SD cards, USB flash drives, external hard drives, and cloud disks. 

Recover Deleted Files from an SD Card

SD cards are often used in digital cameras to save your pictures and photos. You may accidentally delete files from an SD card before transferring them to longer-term storage. The best way to recover deleted data from an SD card used in a camera or phone is with SD card recovery software. To recover deleted files from an SD card.

Step 1. Connect the SD card to your computer with an SD card reader.

Step 2. Wait for your computer to recognize the SD card.

Step 3. Open the SD card data recovery software on your Windows PC.

Step 4. Recover deleted files from the SD card with the data recovery software.

Retrieve Deleted Files from USB Drive (External Disk)

It's not rocket science to restore deleted files from a USB or an external hard drive if you have reliable data recovery solutions. Here's the best method to restore deleted files from USB drives.

Step 1. Connect the USB flash drive to your computer.

Step 2. Wait for your PC to recognize the USB drive.

Step 3. Open the USB drive recovery software on your PC.

Step 4. Recover deleted files from the USB drive with the pen drive recovery software.

Restore Deleted Files from Google Drive

Nowadays, more people prefer storing data on cloud drives instead of traditional storage media. When you delete a file or folder from Goog Drive, it will go to the Trash and stay there for 30 days in default. After the time limit expires, the cloud storage server permanently deletes the files, and you won't be able to restore the wanted files.

To recover permanently deleted files from Google Drive, you can try to contact Google Support, and they may restore the deleted files for you. If not, restore lost data from backups or search for locally saved files or folders. For example, if you delete a Google Doc, Sheet, or Slide, you can recover it from the Support.

Step 1. Go to drive.google.com, click the " ? " symbol in a circle, and click "Help".

Step 2. From the drop-down list, click "Send Feedback".

Step 3. Describe your issue in the pointed area and add a screenshot if necessary. Click "SEND".

recover deleted files from Cloud drive

If you delete a Google Docs file that is older than 30 days or that was permanently deleted from trash (empty trash), then recovery isn't possible. 

Similarly, if you delete a photo that is older than 60 days or that is permanently deleted from trash (empty trash), then it can't be recovered. However, if you have a backup of those photos in Google Photos, then you can restore them from there. If you are a OneDrive user, you can recover permanently deleted files from OneDrive. The operations would be a little bit different since Microsoft can store files on your local drive.

How to Recover Deleted Files on Mac (100% Working)

What if you are a Mac user? Can you recover deleted files from Mac? Like Windows data, files you remove on a Mac normally go to the Trash Bin and stay there for a certain period. The first thing to do is to check the Mac Trash. If the file was unintentionally deleted, it might still be in the Trash. It takes simple steps to recover files from Mac Trash. If the file is not in the Trash, there are still a few options for permanently deleted Mac file recovery.

1. Use Time Machine

Time Machine is a built-in backup feature on Mac, which will keep backups of your files for a certain period, so you may be able to recover a deleted file from a previous backup.

2. Run Mac Data Recovery Software

These Mac data recovery tools can scan your hard drive for deleted files and attempt to recover them.

3. Retrieve Deleted Files on Mac Through Terminal

Finally, you can also recover deleted files on Mac using Terminal.

How to Recover Deleted Files on iPhone and Android

Because the storage space on mobile devices is much smaller than that on computer devices, deleting files has become a daily operation for people to clean up memory. Deleted files on iPhone and Android phones will first go to the Recently Deleted folder. After 30 days, they will disappear thoroughly. Here are the complete guides to recovering deleted files on mobile devices.

Recover deleted files on iPhone Restore deleted files on Android

Tips for Windows 10 File/Data Prevention

Data is one of the most valuable commodities in today's digital world. Whether it's personal, financial, or confidential business data, information is a valuable asset that needs to be protected. That's why data protection is so important. Besides, compared with data recovery, data protection is much easier. There are many ways to protect your data and avoid data loss.

Taking these tips and suggestions can help ensure that your data is safe and secure.


In conclusion, recovering deleted files can be a difficult and time-consuming process. However, with the right tools and a bit of patience, it is usually possible to retrieve lost data. For mission-critical data, it is always best to have a backup plan in place to avoid potentially costly and frustrating recovery attempts.

Recover Deleted Files FAQs

If you still have problems with how to recover deleted files, you can get contact us or read the following questions and answers to get further help.

1. How to recover deleted files on Windows 11?

Steps to recover deleted files on Windows 11:

2. How do I recover deleted files not in Recycle Bin?

To retrieve deleted files not in Recycle Bin:

3. How do I recover permanently deleted files?

There are at least three ways to recover permanently deleted files. Most solutions have been mentioned in this post. You can choose the proper solutions according to your data loss situation.

Qiling data recovery software stands out for its efficiency in restoring data from a hard drive, SSD, USB flash drive, SD card, memory card, and more.

4. How can I recover permanently deleted files without backup?

Steps to recover deleted files without backup:

5. Where do files go when deleted on Windows 10?

Usually, when you delete a file or folder, it will be moved to the Recovery Bin on Windows 10. Objects remain in the Recycle Bin indefinitely, allowing you to restore something you deleted long after doing so.

If you have emptied the Recycle Bin, the deleted files will be located in the hard drive and can only be retrieved with the hard drive data recovery software.

6. Are deleted files gone forever?

The answer is no. When you click the "Delete" option, your deleted files go to the Recycle Bin when you click the "Delete" option. However, it doesn't mean that the files are deleted forever. It's simply in a different folder location, which is labeled Recycle Bin.

7. Does Windows 10 restore deleted files?

Yes. Windows includes an automatic backup feature known as File History. To recover deleted Windows 10 files:

8. How to recover deleted files on OneDrive?

OneDrive provides you with its Trash, and you can retrieve deleted OneDrive files. Here are the steps:

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