Until recently, you'd have to turn to third-party software if you wanted to get back accidentally deleted files.

Once they'd left the Recycle Bin, there was no official recovery option on Windows 10.

However, that has all changed with the release of Windows File Recovery, Microsoft's own tool for retrieving files.

What is Windows File Recovery?

Windows File Recovery is Microsoft's own tool for retrieving files that have been accidentally deleted. It covers photos, documents and videos, across a wide variety of file types. 

Functionality extends to cameras and SD cards, where it can recover files from the storage of a number of external devices. However, for the purposes of this tutorial we'll be using Windows File Recovery to get back data you've deleted from your PC.

How to use Windows File Recovery?

It's important to start the process of file recovery as soon as possible after you've realised they've been deleted. This gives you the best possible chance of getting your files back, as well as ensuring they're not corrupted or unusable.

For the recovery process to work in its current form, you'll need to remember where the file/s were stored when on your computer. 

  • Download Windows File Recovery from the Microsoft Store. It's only compatible with Windows 10 devices running version 19041.0 (May 2020 update) or higher
  • Upon opening the app, you should be presented with a screen similar to the one below

  • If you don't see the list of options above, type 'winfr' and then hit enter
  • From here, you'll need to input your specific information into this command:
  • 'winfr (sourcedrive): (destinationdrive)'
    For the 'destinationdrive' section, you'll need a detailed breakdown of the file location.
  • That might sound confusing, but it's easier than you think. If I had a file called 'testdocument.pdf', my command would look something like this:
  • 'winfr C: \Users\AnyronCopeman\Documents\WorkFiles\testdocument.pdf'
  • You could also restore a whole folder by simply removing the '\testdocument.pdf' section of the above command
  • Finally, you can also restore directly to an external storage device. Connect it to your PC and then add the letter that appears after it in File Explorer (this is usually E:). Adding this to the command would look like this:
  • 'winfr C: E: \Users\AnyronCopeman\Documents\WorkFiles\testdocument.pdf'

It's worth noting that this is by no means a foolproof method. The app has mixed reviews on the Microsoft Store in the US, with some people are reporting that the software won't install on their devices.

As alluded to above, Windows File Recovery isn't the only way to get back files that have previously been deleted. Check out how to recover deleted files for more options.