Written by Barry Dysert (last updated March 26, 2018)
By default, most files that you delete from your system are not physically deleted. Instead, they are moved to the Recycle Bin. This is so you can recover a deleted file if you later discover that you actually needed it.
To recover a deleted file, open the Recycle Bin (i.e., double-click the Recycle Bin icon on the desktop). This presents all of the deleted files using Windows Explorer (Windows 7) or File Explorer (Windows 8 and Windows 10). You can then select the Details view and sort by the Date Deleted column so that the most recently deleted files will be at the top of the display. (Manipulating how Explorer displays its information is covered under other tips.) Find the file you want to restore, right-click it, and click Restore. The file is then removed from the Recycle Bin and returned to its original location. Alternatively, you can drag the file out of the recycle bin to a different location if you so desire.
Naturally, you cannot restore a file from the Recycle Bin if it (the Recycle Bin) has been emptied, so it's a good idea to not empty the Recycle Bin too frequently. Once the Recycle Bin has been emptied, all of the files in it are permanently deleted and it is very difficult to restore a permanently deleted file. (It may still be possible, but recovering permanently deleted files requires the use of other software applications.)
This tip (12369) applies to Windows 7, 8, and 10.
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Hugh, I'm afraid that the probability is very high that the file you overwrote is gone. The Recycle Bin is used only for files that you take steps to delete, not for those that are overwritten.
What happens if you accidentally write over a file? For example, I often work with multiple versions open, I have inadvertently saved what I thought was the current best version using the name of a file I needed to keep. If I didn't have backups present, is there an old version in the Recycle folder?