In this tutorial we will show how to restore deleted files in Windows. This may happen when you accidentally delete the contents of a hard drive or when you mistakenly format a drive. This may also happens when your hard disk crashes.
We will compare different software tools and evaluate their respective capabilities in file recovery. All of them operate on the same basic principle that the deleted files haven’t really gone anywhere. They are scattered all over the hard disk until overwritten by new files. This means that as long as your deleted files aren’t being overwritten, you can recover them easily.
1. Recoverit by Wondershare
Available with Windows and macOS, Recoverit by Wondershare wins our top attention due to its excellent results in retrieving seemingly unrecoverable files. After accidentally formatting my Windows D drive, I needed a fast way to gain back the most essential documents in intact condition. The free version of Recoverit got my data back without any hassles.
In this scenario these were mostly Word and PDF documents that I forgot to back up before formatting. I wasn’t too worried about the photos and videos, as I could easily regain them using the other tools mentioned here. Also, I regularly migrate this data between various cloud services. But, Office 365 documents and PDF files are another matter: they can be difficult to restore due to high chances of file corruption.
File restoration with Recoverit is very reliable. The software reads all the sectors within a hard drive without any lags or delay. For best results, you should wait until the deep scan is over.
From a search button, you immediately see a live preview of deleted files. For Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF documents, this is undoubtedly a lifesaver, as you get to choose the exact files you want to restore. Nothing is lost except document names. (The recovery tool will rename the files in a numerical format.) All the restored files can be saved in a common folder which you can reorganize later.
The challenge is that in the free version you only get to recover 100 MB of lost files. The paid version starts from $59.95 annually for unlimited data restoration on one PC. You can create a bootable USB disk to restore the exact file paths and document names in the event of an unexpected crash.
You must take account of only one thing: some of the restored files may show up in multiple versions. That’s nothing much to worry about, though, as these duplicates are hard disk copies which can be easily removed.
2. Puran Data Utilities
In contrast to Recoverit, If you’re looking for a completely reliable freeware to restore your data, you won’t go wrong with Puran Data Utilities. The software is extensively equipped to scan and restore all your files free of cost, albeit with a few limitations.
Firstly, some of the documents – especially Word files and PDFs – may not be restored correctly. However, there should be no problems with photos, videos, and music files. The scan process can be painfully slow, which means you will have to give this activity a generous break.
Also, once you restore your files, their names will change. However, all the data can be recovered if you are looking for specific file types. Thus, you can regain all the photos and videos without any problems.
3. Disk Drill Basic
Disk Drill is a reliable software which, true to its name, drills very deeply to find the specific files you need restored. You can recover files, partitions, content deleted from USB drives, and much more. The tool supports the file systems of macOS and Windows and is recommended because it can scan and recover files very fast. As with Recoverit, you can preview deleted files before recovery.
The basic version of the software is available for free and will restore 500 MB of data. The pro version costs $89 for a three-user activation lifetime license. This does work out cheaper than Recoverit.
4. Undelete 360
Another freeware tool, Undelete 360, offers similar performance levels as Puran Data Utilities. It offers an extra advantage where the status of the file to be restored is given a rating. You can find many extra file types, such as HTML documents, XML documents, ZIP files, Rich text, and multimedia file formats.
Compared to the remaining software, scanning for recovery is really the fastest with this freeware. The scanning happens so fast that you will get to your top files in a jiffy. The data is quickly restored and saved in a folder of your choice.
TestDisk by CGSecurity is one of the best data recovery tools for Linux. The good thing is that it also supports Windows and macOS.
TestDisk is capable of recovering deleted data from your hard disk in NTFS, FAT, and ext formats. You can download your version from this link.
For details on data recovery attempts in Linux, the steps for recovering your lost partitions and files in Windows 10 have been explained here.
In Windows 10, you will have to first download a “Windows 64 bit” edition from the official site link. It is a zip file which will have a recovery console. When you click on it, you will see a Windows Defender notification which has to be disabled to install the program.
Windows 10 users might encounter a “cygwin1.dll not found” error while trying to run the application.
A really simple fix in Windows 10 is to extract all the files into any folder and run “testdisk_win.exe” as an administrator.
The console window will open at this point.
Use arrow keys to select a media, which is your Windows hard disk, and click “Enter.”
In the next step, select “EFI/GPI” in partitions. It will soon lead to a whole list of partitions which are in Windows. You can analyze them “cylinder by cylinder.” It can take a really long amount of time, but you will soon have a console view of all the deleted files which can be restored in the next step.
You can also create a boot USB in Windows for taking care of accidental crashes. For these and other detailed instructions, refer to this official guide by Cgsecurity.
The best way to avoid the above issues is to have a good backup plan. Be it uploading to a network drive, online storage, or an external drive, make sure you back up your data frequently. If your hard drive won’t boot up at all, you can still back up your data using Puppy Linux.