We’ve all been there. You hit the delete button, when you didn’t mean to. Or worse, you realize you really, really need a file you tossed days ago as part of a big file purge, or a system upgrade. Alas, there is no such thing as the “easy button” for rescuing your data. But there are relatively simple ways you can recover deleted files in your system. Try these quick fixes, before you call your IT guy.

Step One: Check Your Recycle Bin, The Easiest Way To Recover Deleted Files

When you delete a file, it doesn’t disappear. It goes into your recycle bin first. Consider it the feature that saves us from ourselves. For a file to be well and truly “deleted,” you have to empty that recycle bin first. And most people don’t do that—at least not right away, anyway. So, the first step you should take in a hunt for a deleted file is your recycle bin. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Most Windows computers will have a trash can icon on the right hand of your screen. Click on this. In the event that you don’t have that icon handy, type “Recycle Bin” into your computer’s search bar, and the icon should come right up.

  2. Once you’ve opened your recycle bin, search for the file. It can be pretty messy in there. So try typing the name of the file in the bin’s search bar to narrow your choices.

What if this doesn’t work? You’re still not out of options yet. If you are running Microsoft Windows 10 operating system or higher, you have an additional option available to you through Window’s new File History feature. Here’s how it works.

Step Two: Recover Deleted Files Using Windows File History Backup Feature

With every operating system upgrade comes new features and conveniences. And the new File History Backup Feature is as close to an “easy button” as we have seen to help you recover deleted files. Why? Because it can help you get to fully deleted files by searching your backups in storage. To access this feature, start by:

  1. Clicking the Windows Icon.

  2. Go to settings (the gear shaped icon)

  3. Find the Update and security icon in settings, and click

  4. In the left hand sidebar, select the “backup” tab

  5. Select “More Options”

  6. Click on the option “restore files from a current backup”

  7. An empty window with a search bar should pop up. Enter the name of the file you want to restore, and File History will search all your archived backups to find a match. Scroll through the results and you should be able to restore deleted files with ease.

These two techniques should take care of most of your restoration needs. But there are exceptions. And the good news is, there are still things you can do. Here are some of the options we recommend you take, once Step One and Two don’t work for you.

Restoring Deleted Files: What if I need to Recover Data on OneDrive or Google Drive?

When it comes to restoring deleted files that were originally stored in OneDrive or Google Drive, many of the same rules apply. Look first in your deleted files bin. If it’s been less than 30 days and you haven’t emptied your recycle bin the file may still be in there. After 30 days, the bin is usually emptied automatically. If it’s not there, contact Windows or Google Support. They can often help you find the file you’re looking for.

Restore Deleted Files: When to Seek the Help of a Third Party

If these techniques don’t work, it may be time to search for some extra help. Remember, it is possible to restore a file that has been deleted for a long time. You’ll just need help.

If you’re working on your own or part of a very small company, try going to a local computer shop or a big box retailer that sells electronics. They often have resources on-site that can work with a damaged SD card or find deleted items on your hard drive. You’ll have to pay for that service but in many cases, it will save you having to do more difficult code-based recovery operations.

If you don’t have your own IT department already, maybe it’s time to see the help of a managed service IT provider to help your small or medium-sized business develop a back up and recovery strategy. A good MSP like Datum Consulting can help you evaluate backup and recovery solutions, choose a cloud back up services provider, and help you work through technical issues, like whether you should use system imaging vs. a full backup system.

If you’re in one of our service areas, we’d love to talk to you about what our cloud backup systems can help you recover deleted files. We can show you how cloud backup solutions can help your small business achieve true cyber resilience in an age where your data is the key to your success.

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