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How to Recover Deleted Files on Windows 11

How to Recover Deleted Files on Windows 11

Accidentally deleting important files is a common mishap that many users encounter. Thankfully, Windows 11 includes several features and tools that help recover these crucial data pieces. This article will guide you through the nuances of file recovery in Windows 11, leaning on both built-in methods and external solutions. The aim is to provide a comprehensive approach to file restoration, which I personally practiced when facing similar issues.


Common Scenarios:

Accidental Deletion 🗑

  • Emptying the Recycle Bin without realizing some crucial files were inside.
  • Using the Shift + Delete command that bypasses the Recycle Bin.
  • Bulk deletion of files followed by immediate realization of a mistake.

System Updates or Crashes 💥

  • Windows 11 Updates leading to unintended file deletions.
  • Unexpected power outages or system crashes causing loss of unsaved data.
  • Hard drive errors resulting from system malfunctions.

Virus or Malware Attacks 🦠

  • Infected files being automatically deleted by antivirus software.
  • Malicious software causing corruption or deletion of files.
  • File access issues after a malware attack has been resolved.


Step-by-Step Guide. Recover Deleted Files Windows 11:

Method 1: Using the Recycle Bin 🗑

  • Open the Recycle Bin by double-clicking its icon on the desktop.
  • Locate the deleted files you wish to recover.
  • Right-click on the files and select Restore to move them back to their original location.

Note: Files are only recoverable from the Recycle Bin if they have not been permanently deleted or if the Recycle Bin has not been emptied.

Conclusion: The Recycle Bin is the simplest and quickest way to recover recently deleted files that haven’t been erased permanently.

Method 2: Using File History 🕒

  • Open Settings and go to ‘Update & Security’ > ‘Backup’.
  • Ensure that the File History feature has been set up and select ‘More options’ under ‘Back up using File History’.
  • Click on ‘Restore files from a current backup’ and browse through the files to locate the ones you need.
  • Select the files and click the green Restore button to recuperate them.

Note: This method requires that you have previously activated File History on an external drive or network location.

Conclusion: File History is a valuable tool for ongoing backups, allowing for easy recovery if it has been set up before the file deletion.

Method 3: Using Windows File Recovery 🧰

  • Download and install the Windows File Recovery tool from the Microsoft Store.
  • Launch the tool using Command Prompt as an administrator.
  • Enter the correct command syntax for the type of recovery you are performing (Regular or Extensive mode).
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the file recovery process.

Note: Windows File Recovery functions through the command line and may be more suitable for advanced users.

Conclusion: Windows File Recovery can be a powerful tool for recovering files, particularly from formatted or corrupted storage devices.

Method 4: Using Third-Party File Recovery Software 💽

  • Choose a reputable third-party file recovery software like Recuva.
  • Download and install the software following the provider’s instructions.
  • Launch the program and select the drive where the deleted files were located.
  • Follow the on-screen steps to scan for recoverable files and select the ones you wish to restore.
  • Choose a recovery location that is different from the original path to avoid potential overwriting of data.

Note: Ensure to select software with a proven track record and read reviews for reliability.

Conclusion: Third-party software might offer a more user-friendly interface and additional features compared to Windows native tools.

Method 5: Using a System Restore Point 🔄

  • Search for ‘Create a restore point’ in the Windows search bar and press Enter.
  • Go to the System Protection tab and select System Restore…
  • Follow the wizard to choose a restore point created before the files were deleted.
  • Complete the restore process to revert your system to an earlier state.

Note: Using System Restore can change system files, settings, and installed programs, but typically does not affect personal files.

Conclusion: This method may not directly recover personal files, but can be used if the file deletion was a result of a system change or update.


Precautions and Tips:

Safeguard Your Data 🛡

  • Regularly back up important files to an external drive or cloud service like OneDrive or Google Drive.
  • Enable File History in Windows 11 to keep ongoing backups of files.
  • Before deletion, carefully check and confirm the files selected to avoid accidental removal.

Maintain Your System’s Integrity ✨

  • Run antivirus scans regularly to prevent malware-related file deletions.
  • Keep Windows 11 and all software up to date with the latest security patches.
  • Use a Surge Protector to guard against data loss from sudden power outages.


Beyond Recovery: Protecting Your Data

Dealing with deleted files on Windows 11 can be a distressing experience; however, it’s also an opportunity to re-evaluate how we manage and protect our data. Beyond the methods discussed for file recovery, several practices can enhance data protection and reduce the chance of data loss.

One approach is to utilize cloud storage services, like Microsoft OneDrive or Dropbox, which not only securely back up your data but also offer features like versioning that allows for the recovery of previous versions of edited files. Moreover, maintaining rigorous backup routines can be streamlined with automation software like Acronis True Image or Macrium Reflect.

It’s also important to note that Solid State Drives (SSDs) tend to handle deletion and data overwriting differently than traditional Hard Disk Drives (HDDs). Once data is deleted or overwritten on an SSD, recovery can be much more difficult due to the way SSDs handle data deletion using TRIM command. Therefore, using file encryption and securely wiping sensitive data when necessary is essential.

Lastly, practice good cyber hygiene. Be cautious when opening email attachments, clicking on unknown links, and downloading software from unreliable sources. Regularly update your operating system and applications to mitigate vulnerabilities that could result in data loss or breaches.


In conclusion, recovering deleted files on Windows 11 involves a multi-faceted approach that includes using built-in features like the Recycle Bin and File History, tools like Windows File Recovery, or third-party recovery software. Each method has its unique set of steps, and you should choose the one that best fits the situation of your data loss.

Remember, prevention is the best strategy. Regular backups and maintaining your system’s health can save you from the trouble of recovery. Additionally, ensure that your data protection strategies are up-to-date to provide a secure environment for your digital assets.


You can recover deleted files in Windows 11 by checking the Recycle Bin first, as deleted files are temporarily stored there. If found, right-click the file and select Restore.

If the files are not in the Recycle Bin, you might restore them using File History if it was previously set up. Check for backups by searching for 'Restore your files with File History' in the start menu.

Retrieving deleted files via Command Prompt isn't typically possible, but you can repair system files and potentially recover indirectly through System File Checker by typing 'sfc /scannow'.

Windows 11 includes a Windows File Recovery tool, which can be installed from the Microsoft Store to recover files from internal drives, external drives, and USB devices.

Without third-party software, recovery options are limited to what Windows offers, like Recycle Bin, File History, and Windows File Recovery if the files are not overwritten.

Reputable third-party recovery software like Recuva can be utilized to recover deleted files on Windows 11.

Regularly backing up files using Windows 11's File History or creating a system image for backup ensures safety against accidental deletion or system failure.

It's possible if the files were backed up or not overwritten. Use system restore points or recovery software to attempt to get back your files after an update.

Avoid using the device to prevent overwriting the deleted file. Check the Recycle Bin, use File History, or run a recovery tool as soon as possible.

No, but you should minimize usage to prevent data overwriting. Use a different computer to download recovery software if needed and run it on the affected PC.