How to Recover Deleted Files For Free

Recovering lost and deleted data can be a complicated task. Understanding the options available may help you get through this difficult situation. Native Windows tools can help recover your data, however it’s very rarely proven effective. Data recovery software like Disk Drill, on the other hand, can restore files that are still physically present on the disk even if they were deleted logically.
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Restore Your Lost Data Using Disk Drill

1. Launch Disk Drill

Download Disk Drill for Windows to recover deleted files. Once you have downloaded Disk Drill you will need to launch Disk Drill from your Desktop or your Start Menu. After you launch Disk Drill you will be prompted to upgrade, remember that you can restore up to 500 MB of files for free. Upgrading to the Pro Edition will give you unlimited data recovery capabilities.

2. Select The Drive & Recovery Type

Locate the drive you wish to restore deleted data from in the list of available drives. To begin scanning without any advanced options click “Recover”, Disk drill will begin searching for deleted data from your drive with the best available scanning method. You can click the “Arrow” next to the drive to manually query the device with Quick Scan (faster) or Deep Scan (thorough).

3. Recover Your Deleted Files

Continue by retrieving deleted files. All of the data available to go live again will be listed under “Found Files” in the file recovery pane. You can right-click files individually to restore them or you can check the ones you want and use the Recover button at the top of the screen. You will also need to select the destination where you will store the reclaimed files at the top of the screen.

Alternative Methods to Recover Deleted Files Without Software

The engineers at Microsoft have provided some methods for recovering deleted data without the need to employ third-party recovery software. Using these native Windows techniques may enable you to easily retrieve your lost data with a few clicks. Unfortunately, they do have limitations and will not always be sufficient to get back all of your deleted files.

Here are some alternatives to data recovery software when you are faced with a data loss situation.

1. Recovering Deleted Data from the Recycle Bin

This should be your first course of action when attempting to recover a deleted file or folder. The Recycle Bin is a special folder that is designed to hold deleted files temporarily. Files and folders which are deleted by the OS reside in the Recycle Bin until the bin is either manually or automatically emptied.


To restore files from the Recycle Bin:


  1. Open the Recycle Bin by double-clicking on it, or by right-clicking and selecting Open.
  2. Search for the file or folders that you wish to recover.
  3. Right-click on your selections and choose Restore.
recovering deleted files with recycle bin

This procedure will restore the data to its original location on the hard drive. You will not be able to successfully use this process if you have emptied the Recycle Bin after the files were deleted and before you tried to recover them. If that is the case, you will need to try the next method to get back your lost data. Large files that are too big to fit in the Recycle Bin will be immediately permanently deleted and also cannot be recovered in this way.

2. Restoring Previous Versions of a File

Another built-in Windows recovery method is to restore a previous version of a file or folder.


To restore previous version of a file:


  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Navigate to the file or folder that you wish to recover.
  3. Right-click and select Restore previous versions from the menu.
  4. Select the version you wish to recover from the list provided by Windows.
  5. Click the Restore button to recover the data.
undelete files via file history

There may be a couple of issues you need to overcome to successfully use this procedure. First, it is necessary that there be prior versions of the file on the disk. This may not be the case for newly created files. You also may have made substantial changes to the data that minimizes the usefulness of restoring a previous version. If those issues impact your ability to use this method, you may need to use data recovery software to get back your lost files.

3. Restoring from Backup Media

Those of you following best practices and regularly backing up your computer’s hard drive to another storage media have another option when discovering that data has inadvertently been deleted. The specific steps to perform the recovery will vary based on the method employed to create the backups, but these general steps are valid for restoring data from a backup.


Steps to restore data from a backup:


  1. Start the backup and recovery application.
  2. Search the backup catalog for the files or folders that you want to restore.
  3. Select the files and instruct the recovery software to retrieve the data.
undelete files via backup

You will need to connect to the external storage that is used to store your backups. This may be a physical device or a cloud instance, based on how you perform your backups. Using this method necessarily returns an older version of the data that was deleted which may or may not be enough for your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated on by Disk Drill Team

Deleted files can be recovered in a number of ways. In some cases, you can use native Windows tools or system backups to get back your data. Data recovery software can also be used to search for deleted information and can locate files that cannot be retrieved through the use of basic Windows facilities.

  1. Launch a data recovery software tool such as Disk Drill.
  2. Select the drive or partition that contained your OneDrive folder.
  3. Scan the disk for recoverable files and determine if the desired files are available.
  4. Perform the recovery to restore your data.
  1. Download and install Disk Drill.
  2. Launch the program and scan the disk that contained the deleted file.
  3. Select a new storage location where the restored file will be saved.
  4. Click the Recover button to restore the Excel file to its new location.

You can recover deleted files for free by using the Recycle Bin or restoring previous versions of the file. A system backup can also be used to restore deleted files. Disk Drill for Windows allows users to recover up to 500 MB of data without any financial investment in the tool.

Follow these steps to recover deleted files in Windows 10:

  1. Download, install and launch Disk Drill.
  2. Select the disk for recovery from the displayed list.
  3. Scan the chosen disk for deleted files.
  4. Select the files you want to recover.
  5. Restore the files to a specific location.

To recover deleted files from Recycle Bin:

  1. Open the Recycle Bin by double-clicking its icon.
  2. Locate and select the files you wish to recover.
  3. Observe the original file location so you can find it once it is restored.
  4. Right-click on the files and select Restore.

Restore Deleted Files in Hundreds of Formats

Disk Drill for Windows is capable of restoring data in hundreds of different file formats. The list of fully supported formats is almost limitless and includes many common file types which may have been lost, damaged or permanently deleted. Supported formats include:
  • Word Documents (.doc)
  • Excel Documents (.xls, .xlsx)
  • Image Files (.jpg, .png, .gif, .bmp, .psd)
  • Music Formats (.mp3, .wav, .wma, .aac, .ogg)
  • Emails (Outlook, Windows Mail)
  • Compressed Archives (.zip, .rar, .7zip)

Disk Drill Supports your Device

Disk Drill can help to undelete data on your computer’s internal hard drive, external hard drive, your USB drive, and many other devices. Some common file storage devices Disk Drill can recover media from include:
  • Internal Hard Drives
  • External Hard Drives
  • USB Pen Drives
  • SD Cards
  • Devices in “Mass Storage” Mode (Android, etc)
  • Camera Memory Cards
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Don't take our word for it!

  • Simon Rüegg
    Simon Rüegg
    Disk Drill is the best data recovery tool there is. It offers many functions and is easy to understand even for non-experts. In a more complicated case, the support team helped me within a very short time and I was able to recover all my data! Thanks again for your great support!
  • «Are you looking for a software to help you recover data or files? Disk Drill for Windows analyzes your PC in order to rescue all those files you have eliminated, or that you have just lost. This versatile program is capable of restoring up to 200 types of files.» by Daniel Cáceres
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