Want Free Data Recovery? Try Windows File Recovery

If you’ve accidentally deleted some files, Windows File Recovery, a free command-line program, may be able to save you forking out on professional data recovery.

There are so many great data recovery tools out there, and Windows File Recovery could help you out of some tight spots. What’s even better is that this data recovery software is free, so it’s always worth a try. We should point out that data recovery software will only be able to help you if the problem you’re faced with is non-physical, such as accidental deletion of files. If your storage device has suffered from a physical fault such as a head crash, then you will need to consult a professional data recovery specialist. If you try and get your data back using software, you’re more likely to jeopardise the chance of you ever seeing your data again than to be successful.

It is also worth pointing out that data recovery software such as Windows File Recovery should be pre-installed on your machine in advance, before it is needed. If you accidentally delete a file and want to recover it, installing software could potentially overwrite it. When a file is deleted, the actual data is still written to the drive, marked as free by the operating system; this is essentially how data recovery software works. If you install software after your file has been accidentally deleted, you run the risk of overwriting your data.

So how does Windows File Recovery work? As mentioned above, this data recovery software can help you in the event of an accidentally deleted file, as well as a deleted partition and file corruption. There is no graphical interface, instead, Windows File Recovery is a command-line utility. It runs on Windows 10 post-May 2020 update, and on any version of Windows 11, and is completely free to install and use.

The success of Windows File Recovery depends on a number of factors, particularly drive type. While data written to a hard disk drive (HDD) is kept around until it is overwritten, data is often removed from a solid-state drive immediately, meaning the chances of successfully recovering your data is a lot less. If you’re trying to recover data from an HDD, you need to act as quickly as possible to ensure the data has not been overwritten; the longer you use the drive, the lower the chance of a successful data recovery.

To use Windows File Recovery, install the software from the Microsoft Store, open it, and click “Yes” to the UAC prompt. As we’ve said, Windows File Recovery doesn’t have a graphical interface, so it might not be the best for beginners. Once open, you’ll see a Command Prompt window, where data recovery commands are run. There are three modes of data recovery to choose from, called Default, Segment and Signature.

Default mode should be used for files recently deleted on an NTFS-formatted drive. NTFS id the default file system of Windows 10 and 11. Type the name of the drive you’re trying to recover data from, followed by the name of the drive you want to recover it to, followed by either the file name and extension. If you want to find all the files of a particular type on a drive, preface the file type with an asterix, for example *.docx or *.mp4.

Segment mode is for complicated data recovery situations, and should be used if the file you accidentally deleted has been gone for a while, or if your drive is corrupt. It is worth starting with default mode and then progressing to segment mode if your data recovery attempt is unsuccessful. Finally, Signature mode is for files stored on FAT, exFAT or ReFS-formatted drives; Default and Segment modes only work on NTFS.

Data Recovery