Windows 10 finally lets you recover lost files — here's how to do it

Windows 10
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Windows File Recovery is going to be your new favorite Windows 10 app. It isn't the most exciting tool, but the Microsoft-made file management software will help you out if you ever accidentally delete your files.

You can download the app from the Windows Store for free (via The Verge). You need Windows 10 version 2004 to use it though, so it's a good reason to make sure your PC is up to date. 

A screenshot of the Windows File Recovery app's main menu.

A screenshot of the Windows File Recovery app's main menu. (Image credit: Microsoft)

There are many file recovery apps available, but if you're a casual user who's already been shaken up by losing an important file or folder, deciding which one to trust can be a hard decision. Since this one is made by Microsoft and can only be downloaded from its storefront, you can be sure you're not downloading some malware in disguise that's just going to ruin your day further.

It works with any kind of local storage, be that a built-in hard drive, a USB flash drive or an SD card. It can't help you with online storage though, so be careful around your cloud data.

The app can be little intimidating when you boot it up, since it runs in the Windows Command Line. But don't worry too much, as its default settings should be enough for getting your lost files back to you. Plus, Microsoft has put together an easy to understand support page for Windows File Recovery you can read if you need more specific instructions.

If that doesn't work, you can swap the app to either Segment or Signature mode (the latter being the only mode available for USB recovery), which use slightly different search methods to find traces of your data.

If you are using this app to recover files, remember to do it now rather than later. The longer you wait to recover files, the more chance is your PC has overwritten their data.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.