Guide to recover deleted, corrupted and damaged files from PC

It is possible to recover deleted files from the PC using data recovery programs. Most of these solutions are paid, but you can count on some free softwares like FreeUndelete, Disk Drill, DiskDigger and the famous Recuva. Before that, however, check the “Trash”, backups and “previous files” of Windows.

Guide to recover deleted, corrupted and damaged files from PC

Delete or format?!

Besides the tips, it’s worth a little explanation as to why it is possible to recover deleted files. There is a difference between deleting and formatting and this explains it all.

Delete: you’re just telling the system that it can use that space for other things. The file “some”, but as long as you do not save anything in that space, you can still restore it using some recovery program.

Formatting: The formatting process is another. When you give this command to the PC, it completely erases all traces of everything that was already saved there without recovery.

If you have formatted your computer, my condolences, you can stop here. But if you used the delete command, follow the tips below to recover. Beauty? Come on.

To make sure that recovery will go well, follow the tips below.

  1. Do not download, save or burn any new files where the deleted file was stored (ie your hard drive). Doing so may cause the file to overwrite the old file. This includes downloading new programs to your computer.
  2. It is common for the user of a C:\ drive to also retrieve data from that same drive. In this case, a good solution is to use a USB flash drive (USB drive) with FreeUndelete portable (download the executable on another PC).

How to recover deleted files from the Windows Recycle Bin

Before, however, it’s worth checking the “Recycle Bin” of your Windows. If you have not turned on the “empty bin” option, your files may still be there. The issue is that the “Recycle Bin” has a capacity (in megabytes) defined by Windows that corresponds to a portion of the hard drive. When it gets full, it starts deleting files automatically, starting with the oldest ones. Keep an eye on that.

So if your “Trash” is not full, you’ll probably find your file there. To recover, simply click on the file and select the “restore” option in each of them or rescue all the files in the “restore all elements” option of the Recycle Bin. The files will return to the folders they were before.

And even when you delete a file in Windows and empty the recycle bin, that file can remain on your hard drive (HD, flash drive or memory card) because the operating system removes only the file reference and frees the area of the disk on which it was to be used in a new data recording. As long as the space, now free, is not overwritten, there is a chance to recover your files.

Windows Backup and Earlier Versions

If you do not want to install anything on your machine, you can restore a file from a Windows backup or you can try to restore it from an earlier version of the same file. These earlier versions are copies of files and folders that the operating system saves as part of a restore point (they are shadow copies).

Restoring files from a backup

In Windows, you will need to access “Backup and Restore”.

  1. Click the “Start” button;
  2. Click on “Control Panel”;
  3. Choose “System and Maintenance”;
  4. Then “Backup and Restore”;
  5. Click “Restore my files” and follow the steps in the wizard.

Restoring from previous versions (folders and files)

When you do this, you will see a list of the previous available versions of the file or folder. The list will include the files saved in a backup (if you are using Windows Backup to back up files) and restore points if they are active.

  1. Click the “Start” button and click “Computer”;
  2. Navigate to the folder that contained the file or folder;
  3. Right-click and choose “Restore Previous Versions”;
  4. If the folder was inside a drive (C:\), right-click the drive and click “Restore Previous Versions” (the folder will return to the drive).

If the file has some previous versions …

You can double-click an earlier version of the folder that contains the file or folder you want to restore. If a file was deleted today, you can choose a version of yesterday’s folder. Drag this older file that you want to restore to another location on your machine, such as your desktop or another folder.

Before restoring a previous version (overwriting the current one) or copying it, choose the version and click “Open” to analyze and confirm that it is the version you want.

If the Restore button is unavailable, you can not restore the previous version of the file to its original location. Maybe you can do it in a different location.

Programs to recover deleted files

If none of this worked, you can try some program options to recover deleted files from the computer. We select 5 and its peculiarities.


Recuva is from the same family as CCleaner, from Piriform. You can recover photos, music, documents, videos, emails or any other file you have lost on memory cards, external hard drives and flash drives. It also states that it can recover corrupted, corrupted or newly formatted files.

It has deep scanning mode and offers secure, overwritten file deletion feature that uses industry and military standard deletion techniques to ensure that files are deleted and not recovered by Recuva. It has Pro and Free version. Advanced recovery is available for free download. In the pro (paid) version there is support, virtual hard disk and automatic updates.

Supported Operating Systems:
Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows 2008 Server, Windows Vista, XP, Windows 2003 Server.


DiskDigger can recover deleted files from most storage devices: hard disks, USB flash drives, memory cards, CDs, DVDs, and diskettes. Software can not retrieve Android phone data only or iOS (iPhoneS) connected to your PC. For this you need to use the DiskDigger application (Android only). In case of the device a microSD card, remove the card and connect it directly to your PC using a reader, and recover using DiskDigger for Windows.

DiskDigger has two operating modes: “dig deep” and “dig deep” (dig depper). You can see what the difference is between the two modes here.

Supported Operating Systems:
Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP and Linux.

Disk Drill

Disk Drill recovers lost files on Windows computers and also macOS. It is compatible with more than 200 types of files and with various recovery methods. It is also capable of retrieving content from iOS ( iPhone ) and Android phones if connected to the computer. It offers free data recovery up to 500MB. After that, it also offers the Pro version, with a number of additional features.

Supported Operating Systems:
Windows 7, 8 or 10 (XP and Vista included) and MacOS X and MacOS.

MiniTool Power Data Recovery

MiniTool Power Data Recovery recovers data from HDDs, SSDs, USB flash drives and memory cards, including lost, deleted or damaged partitions (for physical damage, video attacks, system crashes and other data problems), according to the developer. Also recover data from CD/DVD. But, it has free and pro version.

Supported Operating Systems:
Windows XP, 7, 8, 10 and Windows Server and MacOS.


FreeUndelete recovers deleted files, including those that have already been removed from the Recycle Bin. It is useful in case of accidental removal of files in NTFS (1.0 and 2.0) (default for Windows Vista, XP, 2000 and NT), file systems FAT32, FAT16 and FAT12. Files retrieved by FreeUndelete are saved in a location chosen by the user.

Supported Operating Systems:
Windows XP, 2000, NT 4, Windows 7, Windows 2003 Server, Windows 2008 Server.

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