How can I Recover Permanently Deleted Files in Windows 10

Summary: Have you permanently deleted your files and want to recover them? Learn possible reasons for permanent file loss and how to recover them. To recover permanently deleted files, you can use reliable file recovery software, such as Stellar Data Recovery software for Windows. Download free trial today!

How can I Recover Permanently Deleted Files in Windows 10

There are only a handful of ways to recover permanently deleted files in Windows 10. This fact is because permanently deleted files are not available in Recycle Bin to allow restoration, thereby needing specific recovery methods.

However, before we head to the recovery part, it’s essential to know that you must stop using the system or hard drive from which you deleted the files. This step is crucial to prevent overwriting of the files.

If you continue to use the affected drive or the system, you may never recover the permanently deleted files in Windows 10.

How is a File Permanently Deleted in Windows?

Sometimes while tackling multiple tasks on a Windows 10 system, you may accidentally press the Delete key, moving a file or folder to the Recycle Bin. In other situations, you may deliberately delete files and folders to make space for storing some other data. Typically, to delete a file in Windows, you press the Delete key, or right-click the file or folder and click Delete.

Such files and folders are “temporarily deleted” as they go to the Recycle Bin. You can quickly restore deleted files from Recycle Bin on Windows in a few clicks.

However, what happens if you empty the Recycle Bin on Windows? You may choose to empty the Recycle Bin while clearing the Desktop, replete with clumsy shortcuts and redundant files. Or, delete a file using the Shift + Delete key combination, run a system cleaner app, due to which the files and folders are permanently deleted from the system.

delete file windows
permanent file deletion windows

Such permanently deleted files are challenging to recover, but not impossible and could be even easy if you take prompt action using the right methods, as follows:

Methods to Recover Permanently Deleted Files in Windows 10

Below are the methods you need to follow in the given sequence to restore permanently deleted files in a Windows computer.

Method 1: Restore Deleted Files from Backup

Windows 10 provides a great utility called Backup and Restore, which allows you to back up files and restore them as and when needed. So, you need to check your recent backup (if you are using Windows Backup) and restore permanently deleted files in Windows 10.

If you want to restore data from a backup, connect the backup storage media to your Windows 10 PC and follow these steps:

  1. Open the Start menu by pressing the Windows logo key
  2. Type Control Panel and press Enter.
  3. Go to Update and Security>Backup and Restore (Windows 7)
  4. Click ‘Restore my files’ and follow the wizard to restore lost files.
  5. If ‘Restore my files’ isn’t visible, click ‘Select another backup to restore files from’ and follow the restore wizard.
backup restore windows

Method 2: Restore Previous Versions

This method is based on using the File History feature to recover permanently deleted files and folders. You can also recover accidentally deleted files in Windows 10 with File History.

The steps are as follows:

  1. Right-click on the folder that contained the permanently deleted file(s) or folder(s).
  2. Choose ‘Restore previous versions.’
  3. From the available versions, choose the versions comprising the files & folders.
  4. Click ‘Restore’ or drag & drop the desired version at any location on the system.
restore previous backups windows

CAUTION: Use an external storage drive to save the restored version. This action is crucial to prevent data overwriting if the desired files and folders are not found in the restored version.

Method 3: Use File Recovery Tools to Restore Permanently Deleted Files

This method is based on software tools that specialize in recovering the files on Windows computers and external hard drives.

We cover two tools in this section: Microsoft Windows File recovery tool and Stellar Data Recovery for Windows.

Windows File recovery is a command-line tool, which uses switches and modes to recover the deleted files. The command-line tool requires technical expertise, as you need to enter manual commands as per a defined syntax. 

In contrast, Stellar Data Recovery software comprises a GUI to allow easy and DIY recovery of permanently deleted files on Windows 10, 8.1, and older versions. The tool needs you to select the storage location to scan the deleted files & folders and doesn’t need any technical know-how.

Following are the steps to use these tools:

A. Steps to use the Windows File Recovery tool

  • Download Windows File Recovery from Microsoft Store and launch it.
  • Press the Windows logo key and type Windows File Recovery. Press Enter.
microsoft windows file recovery tool
  • Select ‘Yes’ to allow the app to make changes to the device.
  • In the Command Prompt, enter the following command –

winfr source-drive: destination-drive: [/mode] [/switches]

Next, there are multiple commands to recover the deleted files, as follows:

  • Recover files from C: drive to the recovery folder on D: drive.

Winfr C: D: /regular /n \Users\<username>\Documents\ 

  • Recover files like PDF and Word documents from C: drive to the recovery folder on D: drive.

Winfr C: D: /regular /n *.pdf /n *.docx 

  • Recover files with the string “guitar” in the file name

Winfr D: C: /extensive /n *guitar* 

  • Recover JPEG and BMP images from the Pictures folder on D: drive.

Winfr C: D: /extensive /n \Users\<username>\Pictures\*.JPEG /n\Users\<username>\Pictures\*.BMP

Note: When recovering deleted files from C: drive, i.e., where Windows is installed, use the /n <filter> switches to specify the user files or folder.

  • After running the above-described commands, enter Y to start the recovery operation.

Read detailed instructions for using the Microsoft Windows File Recovery tool here.

B. Steps to use Stellar Data Recovery software for Windows

Follow the instructions given below to restore permanently deleted files in Windows 10 using Stellar Data Recovery software:

  • Download Stellar Data Recovery Standard software
free download
  • Install the software on a different volume or external USB drive (recommended) to avoid overwriting.
  • Launch the software.
  • Select ‘All Data’ or choose a specific file type from the options and click ‘Next.’
  • Select the location from where you deleted the files. You can choose a particular folder under ‘Common Locations’ or the drive volume from ‘Connected Drives’ and click ‘Scan.’
  • If the drive volume isn’t listed, you can choose ‘Can’t Find Drive’ to restore data from a deleted or missing partition.
cant find drive option stellar data recovery
  • After scanning, the recoverable files are listed in the left Tree View pane. Expand the tree to locate the files or click the ‘File Type’ tab to sort files quickly.
file preview stellar data recovery

You can also use the search bar to locate files and click on a file to see its Preview before saving.

  • If the desired files are not found, click the ‘Click here’ link at the bottom to run ‘Deep Scan.’
deep scan stellar data recovery

The Deep Scan process takes more time as compared to the default Quick Scan, but it gets back all the recoverable data by thoroughly searching for the permanently deleted data on the hard drive sectors based on file signatures.

save recovered files stellar data recovery
  • Finally, select the files you wish to recover, click ‘Recover>Browse’, and choose a save location. Click ‘Start Saving’ to recover permanently deleted files in Windows 10.

After restoring the permanently deleted files, create a backup to safeguard against future data loss.

Suggested reading: 10 Best File Recovery Software [For Windows 10]

Watch the video for detailed instructions on how to recover deleted files in Windows 10.


To prevent permanent data loss, always keep an updated backup of your critical files. You may use cloud storage or a local drive to set up a backup. Alternatively, you may enable File History, which is a great backup tool available in Windows. File History automatically stores a shadow copy of the files and folders to an external USB or Network drive.

Further, a file recovery software such as the Stellar Data Recovery also comes in handy in such data loss situations and beyond. The tool can recover permanently deleted files, formatted data, and files from deleted partitions in just a few clicks. The software is strongly recommended to serve as a ‘backup of backup’ because the tool helps when a backup fails, is unavailable, or obsolete.


Have specific questions on how to recover permanently deleted files in Windows 10, 8, or older systems? Here’s a list of frequently asked questions to help you:

Q1. Where do my permanently deleted files go in Windows 10?

A1. All deleted files remain inside the computer hard drive even if you empty the Recycle Bin or use the Shift + Delete command for deletion. However, you can’t access the deleted files normally because their location addresses in the hard storage are deleted (removed), and that space is allocated for fresh usage. 

Q2. I deleted my files from a Windows 10 computer a few weeks ago. Can I recover them?

A1. The possibility of recovery depends on whether the deleted files are still intact on the hard disk drive and not “overwritten” with regular usage. As you had deleted the files a few weeks ago, the chances of recovery could be slim, mainly if you used the device a lot. Still, you can quickly determine the possibility by running Stellar Data Recovery software. After scanning the hard disk drive, if you can see the deleted files in Preview, you can recover them.

Q3. I deleted my files by pressing the Delete key in Windows 10. Where do I find them, and is there a way to restore deleted files?

A3. Firstly, look into the Recycle Bin because that’s where the deleted files go unless you deleted them by pressing the Shift + Del keys or the files were too large (several GBs in size). Once you reach the Recycle Bin, right-click the file and click ‘Restore’ to bring back the deleted file to its previous location.

Q4. I want to recover my deleted files for free on a Windows 10 laptop. Is there a way to do that?

A4. Yes, you can use the Microsoft Windows File Recovery tool using the steps described in this post. You can also use Stellar Data Recovery Free Edition – a DIY software that allows free recovery of up to 1 GB of data.

Q5. I don’t want to be in a situation where I need to worry about data loss due to the accidental file deletion in Windows 10. Is there a way to avoid this situation?

A5. Yes, Windows 10 offers a built-in ‘Backup and Restore’ capability to allow you to back up the files on an external hard disk drive or network location. In the event of a data loss due to any reason, including file deletion, you can restore a previous backup copy and retrieve the data.

Follow these steps to back up your data on Windows 10 computers:

  1. Press the Windows logo key
  2. Type Settings and navigate to Update & Security
  3. Click Backup and Add a drive to start creating backups

Read detailed instructions for Backup and Restore in Windows 10

hard drive data recovery service
  1. Jai December 7, 2020
    • Isha Rikhi December 9, 2020

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