Deleting things we don’t need anymore on Windows is a quick habit to get into. But, sometimes there’s that one file you forgot you needed, but you’ve accidentally emptied the entire recycle bin. There’s no getting it back now. Or is there? Follow our guide below, and we’ll take you through some steps to attempt to get that important file back.

The Cloud


The best place to start is with cloud services. If you’ve had Google Drive, Dropbox or another cloud service on your computer, it’s worth checking them. Many of these services do automatic backups of certain folders and files. So, chances are, there might be a duplicate of that missing file of yours if you run any cloud services on your PC.

In fact, both Dropbox and Google Drive have “Trash” or “Show Deleted Files” folders where you can still recover old files you’ve deleted before they’re actually permanently deleted.

What about Restore Points?

In Windows 10, there’s something called Restore Points in the event that an application or driver messes with your PC. Sadly, Restore Points don’t affect personal files at all, only the underlying Windows system. In other words, you can’t depend on Restore Points to try and get your files back, as it’s not a true backup method. If you’re on Mac and have Time Machine setup, you’ll be able to quickly and easily go back a couple of days to before you delete the file.

File recovery tools


The final thing you can do is try and use a file recovery tool. Recuva is probably your best luck here, and it’s free (download link here). So, if you have a traditional hard drive, when you empty the recycle bin, those files aren’t actually gone until they’re overwritten with new data on the hard drive. That said, if you haven’t used your PC a whole lot since deleting the file, Recuva might be able to do some recovery. But, if you use an SSD — you’re completely out of luck. Most flash storage devices delete data immediately upon request.

You can download and install it on your PC, but once again, you risk overwriting that date. With that in mind, it’s best to load the software on a USB stick with the portable version of Recuva (download link here). Once you’ve got it setup (on whichever method you chose) you’ll just want to scan all your drives, and then press the “Recover” button and hope it’s not too late to have those files restored. If you need something for other platforms, you can try a similar tool called TestDisk (download link here).

Data Recovery Services


If the last method didn’t work, it looks like your chances are slim. There’s not much else you can do yourself now. But, if you’ve got the cash to spare, you can send your hard disk or SSD over to DriveSavers, a company that specializes in recovering lost or damaged data. These are professionals, but it’s always a risk, since you never know if you’re able to recover data from the hard drive. Sometimes it’s a slim chance, and other times it’s quite successful. You can get the ball rolling here.


Unfortunately, recovering a lost file is a difficult task. That’s why we always recommend backups here at PCMech — you never know what could go wrong with your PC, whether that be a virus, accidentally deleted files or even random crashes. In either of those situations, a backup can help you a ton.

You might be out of luck with your current file recovery situation, but you can make sure that doesn’t happen again by making those frequent backups.