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Pressing "Save" when you meant to use "Save As" is an easy mistake we've all made and can be the cause of much panic when you realise you've just overwritten hours of hard work with a blank template. Whether you've accidentally clicked delete on a file or unintentionally saved over something, all hope is not yet lost. Depending on how you have Windows 7 set up you may still be able to retrieve your work - we'll show you how.

The Knowhow

Important first steps

Don't save any more data. Your lost files may still be recoverable with specialist software even if they've been "permanently" deleted from your system. The more your hard drive is used after the deletion, the more difficult it can be to retrieve them. The space they were stored can be overwritten which means any fragments of data remaining there start to become more corrupted and tricky to piece back together.

Deleted files in the recycle bin

Many files are moved to the recycle bin by default when you delete them. Your file will still be retrievable if it is in there.

  • Go to your desktop
  • Double-click the Recycle Bin icon to open it
  • Search through any files or folders for your item
  • Right-click on your item and select Restore

Restored files are placed in the location they were deleted from; for example, the My Documents folder.

Overwritten files

Windows 7 has a function that automatically saves previous versions of files as a safety net. These can be accessed and restored if there's a problem with the main version.

  • Click the Start button
  • Click Computer
  • Navigate to the folder where your file was stored
  • Find your file and right-click on it. If your file was deleted, right click on the folder
  • Select Restore previous versions

    Windows previous versions of deleted file

  • Windows will now search for any older versions of the files or folders
  • These will be listed by date and time
  • Select a previous version from before the changes were made
  • Double click on your choice

You can now copy or drag your restored file into your main folder and use it as normal

Hint: If you can't find a previous version of an individual file, try checking the folder or drive instead.

Updated On:

Aug 08, 2012

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