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How To Restore Accidentally Deleted Digital Files

We’ve all done it. We sat and deleted files on our computer, and our finger forgot to stop touching the mouse. Pretty soon, we found that we had deleted more than we wanted, and those important work files or family photos were gone.

Is it time to cry? Is it time for a strong drink? Not certainly in that way. There are a few things you can try to recover these deleted files.

First – advice for professionals!

Stop using your computer. Yes, it’s right. Once you delete a file, the chances of successful recovery decrease as you continue to use your computer. As you download more stuff and use more programs, the deleted file gets overwritten several times until it reaches a point where it is too damaged to be restored from the dead.

Therefore, as soon as you realize that you need to recover the file, stop using your computer. Close as many running programs as possible.

Below are four recovery options that you can try to start with the easiest one.

Pull it out of the trash can (if it’s still there)

If you just uninstalled it, check your operating system’s Trash (assuming you didn’t empty the Trash right away). If it is there, just drag the file with your mouse or trackpad back to the original folder.

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Please be aware that any files deleted from the SD card or USB drive will not appear in the trash can. They will not end up in the trash and will be deleted immediately.


If recycle bin recovery is not possible, then it’s time to take a look at your backups – you are doing backups, right?

For macOS, Time Machine is the backup option. You can customize it by going to System Preferences Time Machine, and when you need to restore a file, just go to Applications Time Machine and choose which version you want to restore.

For Windows, the best options are SyncToy or System Restore. Being an overly cautious paranoid, I use both. SyncToy must be started manually, but System Restore can be automated.

In the Windows menu, start typing “system restore” and “create restore point” appears very quickly. Choose this.

In the System Protection tab, you can customize the System Restore point by clicking Configure to enable this feature.

If you accidentally deleted a file and need to revert to a previous version of Windows, simply highlight the appropriate drive in Protection Settings and click System Restore to see all the possible points you can roll back to.

Cloud Storage File Registry

Ok, you deleted the trash and found that the backup options weren’t working. Now you start to panic a little. Wait, there is more you can try.

I always try to upload as much as possible to the cloud storage as another backup solution. With the exception of Dropbox, which charges your arms and legs, many cloud storage solutions are getting extremely cheap. And the choice becomes very wide – OneDrive, Google Drive, Sync, Box, Google Photos and iCloud are just a few of the possibilities.

One of the great things about cloud storage is that it has a file history feature, with which deleted files can be recovered if it happened over a period of time. In Dropbox, it’s at this link In Sync, it’s here.

In iCloud Drive, it is slightly hidden. You need to go here and there is a little “RECENTLY REDACTED” link in the bottom right corner.


Well so long as you haven’t managed to recover these wedding photos and are seriously considering changing your name and fleeing your wife to a non-extraditable country. But before you pack your suitcase, you can try another option.

There is a free software called Recuva It has a very good reputation for recovering files, but as I said, it usually fails to recover files if they were on an SD card or USB drive. But Recuva is REALLY scanning those objects to see what it can find.

Recuva‘s success depends entirely on when you deleted the file and how much you have done on your computer since then (hence the advice at the beginning to stop using your computer).

Install and run Recuva Then select the drive where the deleted file was located (if it was an SD card or USB drive, insert it into your hard drive and select in RecuvaRecuva will start scanning the drive to see what can and cannot be recovered.

When finished, he will base his results on the traffic light system. The files marked in green are not damaged and can be easily recovered. Files marked in yellow are “maybe” and you can try. The files marked in red are probably corrupted and gone.

You can click the Last Modified column to make sure everything is in strict order by date, and that’s just a case of scroll and good luck. Oddly enough, Recuva doesn’t offer a search function that would speed things up if you knew the filename.

If after all this you still don’t have your file, you will have to decide how important it is to you. If it’s irreplaceable, consider contacting a computer technician who may have more advanced scanning tools. But if it’s just a pirated copy of Brian Adams, you can just let it go and move on.

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