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How to Recover Permanently Deleted Files: Detailed Methods

How to Recover Permanently Deleted Files: Detailed Methods

Accidentally losing important data can be a nightmare, but thankfully, there are multiple ways to recover permanently deleted files. Whether it’s due to mistakenly deleting files, a corrupted hard drive, or a glitchy software update, you still stand a good chance of recovering your data. This guide provides various methods that could help retrieve your lost files.


Common Scenarios:

Emptying the Recycle Bin 🗑

  • Frequently, files are deleted and moved to the Recycle Bin where they sit until permanently deleted.
  • Users might accidentally empty the Recycle Bin without realizing that certain crucial files were in there.

Accidental Shift+Delete Command 💻

  • Using the Shift+Delete command deletes files permanently, bypassing the Recycle Bin altogether.
  • This common mistake can occur when trying to free up space or quickly remove clutter.

Formatted Hard Drive ⚙

  • Users may accidentally format a whole hard drive, thinking they were doing maintenance or installing a new operating system.
  • Formatting typically erases all the data stored on the drive, making it seem like it has been permanently deleted.

Step-by-Step Guide. Recover Permanently Deleted Files:

Method 1: Using Data Recovery Software 🛠

  • Download and install reliable data recovery software like software. These tools are among the best data recovery tools available for different operating systems.
  • Launch the software and select the drive where your files were located.
  • Run a thorough scan to search for the deleted files. This might take some time depending on the size of the drive.
  • Preview the files to make sure these are the ones you are looking to recover.
  • Click on the recover button and choose a safe location to save the recovered files.

Note: Using data recovery software soon after realizing the data loss increases the chances of file recovery.

Conclusion: This method is generally effective, especially with various options available in data recovery software.

Method 2: Checking Backup and Restore ♻

  • Navigate to your computer’s backup settings. This can usually be found in the control panel or system settings.
  • Check if there was a recent backup made.
  • Select the necessary backup files and click on the restore option.
  • Follow the prompts to complete the restoration process.

Note: Regularly backing up your files can save you from data loss situations.

Conclusion: This method works well if you have been consistently backing up your data.

Method 3: Using File History in Windows 🏞

  • Open the Control Panel and go to File History.
  • Check if your File History is on and navigate to the folder where your files were located.
  • Use the left and right arrows to look back through time and find the version you want to restore.
  • Click the green restore button to retrieve the files and restore them to their original location.

Note: This option is only available if File History was enabled on your device prior to the data loss.

Conclusion: It’s a very efficient way to recover files if previously set up.

Method 4: Utilizing Previous Versions in Windows 🎥

  • Navigate to the folder where the file was originally located.
  • Right-click on the folder and select Restore previous versions.
  • Choose the previous version that contains the file.
  • Click on Restore to get the file back.

Note: Make sure that you have system protection enabled for recovery through previous versions.

Conclusion: Previous versions can be quite handy for recovering specific versions of files.

Method 5: Cloud Storage Recovery ☁

  • Log in to your cloud storage account such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive.
  • Navigate to the trash or deleted files section.
  • Find the files you wish to restore and select them.
  • Click on the restore or recover button to move the files back to your main folder.

Note: Cloud services often keep deleted files for a limited period before they are permanently deleted.

Conclusion: A convenient method if you regularly use cloud storage services.

Method 6: Using Professional Data Recovery Services 👨

  • Locate a reputable data recovery service provider.
  • Read reviews and check their success rate in data recovery.
  • Contact the provider to discuss your issue and get a quote.
  • Send in your hard drive or device as instructed by the service provider.
  • Wait for the recovery process to be completed and get your recovered files.

Note: This method can be quite expensive, but it is often the most reliable way to recover permanently deleted files.

Conclusion: Opt for professional services when other methods fail or if the data is extremely valuable.

Method 7: Reinstalling System from Restore Point 📅

  • Open the Control Panel and navigate to System and Security.
  • Select System Restore and choose a restore point before the file deletion.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the system restore process.
  • After the restart, check if your deleted files have been restored.

Note: Restoring your system based on a specific restore point may affect recently installed applications.

Conclusion: Effective for minor issues and recently deleted files.


Precautions and Tips:

Always Remember These 🛡

  • Regularly create backups of your files to external hard drives or cloud storage.
  • Avoid regularly emptying the Recycle Bin without double-checking its contents.
  • Enable system protection and File History on your devices.
  • Stay informed about different data recovery methods.

Stay Prepared 📦

  • Always keep your data recovery software up to date.
  • Understand how cloud storage works and familiarize yourself with its recovery features.
  • Make use of system restore points to revert any accidental deletions.
  • Consider investing in a reliable external hard drive for regular backups.

Essential Add-Ons

Recovering permanently deleted files requires both understanding and preparedness. One cannot stress enough the importance of data backups. In many situations, having a backup can save you from various data loss scenarios. For this task, consider using Backblaze or Carbonite—both are reliable and offer real-time backup solutions.

Additionally, leveraging built-in tools like File History in Windows or Time Machine in macOS can be life-savers. These tools automatically keep copies of your data, enabling you to go back in time and retrieve older versions of files. For setting up Time Machine on macOS, you can refer to Apple’s official guide.

Moreover, understanding cloud storage recovery procedures is vital. Cloud storage options like Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive offer various ways to recover deleted files within a certain period. These options are particularly useful for collaborative environments where files are often shared and edited by multiple users.

It’s also crucial to educate yourself on the mechanics behind data recovery. When you delete a file, it is often not entirely erased from your system but marked as available space. Until that space gets overwritten by new data, the original files can often be recovered. Software like Recuva and EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard can look through these sectors and bring back the data.

Lastly, investing in physical data recovery services might be a good idea if your attempts at digital recovery fail. These services can recover data from broken or corrupted drives but typically come at a higher cost. However, if the lost data is invaluable, the financial investment is often justified.


Understanding multiple methods to recover permanently deleted files can save you from despairing over lost data. From using specialized software and built-in OS features to leveraging backup solutions like cloud storage and external hard drives, being prepared is essential. For extreme cases, professional data recovery services are always an option, albeit an expensive one. The key is to act promptly and use the right tools for the best chance at recovering your files.


Windows users can use File History, Backup, and specialized software like Recuva to restore lost files. For more detailed steps, visit Microsoft Support.

Utilize the Mac's Time Machine backup utility or specialized recovery software. For additional options, refer to Apple Support.

Effective tools include Recuva, Disk Drill, and EaseUS Data Recovery. They offer robust mechanisms for recovering lost or permanently deleted files.

Disk Drill, Data Rescue, and Stellar Data Recovery are renowned for their ability to recover lost files from Mac systems.

Yes, tools like Recuva and PhotoRec offer free versions that effectively recover permanently deleted files.

Yes, you can use data recovery software like Recuva to retrieve files even if they’re deleted from the recycle bin.

Data recovery software scans your storage device for remnants of deleted files and reconstructs them if they haven't been overwritten.

Regularly use backup systems like File History, Time Machine, or cloud services to prevent permanent file loss.

Yes, but specialized recovery tools can still potentially restore data if the files haven’t been overwritten multiple times.

Businesses should use enterprise-level backup solutions and professional recovery services to safeguard against data loss and ensure file recovery capabilities.