Recovering a Deleted File

by Barry Dysert
(last updated February 2, 2015)

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). 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.

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 and 8.

Author Bio

Barry Dysert

Barry has been a computer professional for over 30 years, working in different positions such as technical team leader, project manager, and software developer.  He is currently a senior software engineer with an emphasis on developing custom applications under Microsoft Windows. ...

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