Microsoft Launches Windows File Recovery

Microsoft have, rather quietly, released a new tool called Windows File Recovery, which allows users to attempt to recover lost data.

Available to download for free on Windows 10 version 19041.0 or higher, Windows File Recovery has been released with little fanfare on the Microsoft Store. The free file recovery app assists with recovering files like documents, photos and videos, from devices like hard disk drives (HDDs), solid-state drives (SSDs), USB flash drives, SD cards and cameras, and can also solve issues with corrupted data. The app supports a number of file systems, including NTFS, FAT, exFAT and ReFS.

This file recovery software works on one basic principle; when you delete data from a hard drive on Windows, the data isn’t actually deleted. What is deleted is the Master File Table reference, which is essentially a pointer that directs your OS to where the data is stored. When the MFT is deleted, the space the data is occupying is marked as free, ready to be overwritten by new data. As long as your data isn’t overwritten, then file recovery should be possible. When using file recovery software like Windows File Recovery to recover data from an SSD, there is slightly more that can go wrong due to the way they store data. We’ll be going over why this is in a future post.

So, back to Windows File Recovery. There are three file recovery modes: default mode, segment mode, and signature mode. Default mode uses the Master File Table (MFT) to find and restore lost files. Segment mode does not require the use of the MFT, instead using the File Record Segments (FRS) to undelete data. These segments are summaries of information pertaining to the files, such as the name, size, date and file type. Finally, signature mode works by searching for specific file types, like .doc, .docx, .pdf and .jpeg.

Windows File Recovery is a useful tool to have in the event of an accidentally deleted file or folder, and it’s definitely worth downloading. Be mindful that file recovery will only be possible in the immediate aftermath of your data becoming lost. If the data is overwritten, then file recovery will be impossible.

Windows File Recovery