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.
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 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.