How to recover deleted files
Most of us store a lot of digital data these days. Whether you use your device’s hard drive or a cloud storage service such as Google Drive, deleting files you don’t need anymore is always a good idea. It keeps your data organised and ensures you don’t use up all of your storage.
However, sometimes files get deleted accidentally or because of software issues. This leads to wasted time, frustration and sometimes even sheer panic. We’ll show you how to recover deleted files on some of the most common systems.
If you spot it, use Undo
If you’re in the process of deleting some files and you notice that the one you’ve just deleted is one you need, then you can simply undo the action. Some applications, such as Google Drive, will display a pop-up with an ‘Undo’ button when you delete something.
However, even if there’s no pop-up, you can simply use the ‘Undo’ keyboard command, which is Control + Z on Windows laptops and Command + Z on Macs. Usually, you can repeat this command if you have deleted several files accidentally.
But what if you delete something and don’t realise until later?
How to recover files on a Windows 10 computer
Restoring deleted files in Windows 10 is very similar to previous versions. Any files you delete will go to the Recycle Bin.
- It’s easy to find – the icon is usually displayed in the top left corner of your desktop by default. Alternatively, you can open the Windows menu and type ‘Recycle Bin’ into the search bar.
- Once you open Recycle Bin, you’ll see all your deleted files, usually listed in alphabetical order. You can type in the search bar for a specific file or order the files by date of deletion if you can’t remember the name.
- When you’ve found the files you’re looking for, select them and either right-click them or click the three dots at the top right corner of the window. You can then choose to restore selected files or restore all files.
If you have Microsoft’s OneDrive setup and files automatically back up from your desktop, you can also restore them from OneDrive’s Recycle Bin. It’s found in the menu at the left of the screen when you log in to OneDrive.
A word of warning – after 30 days in OneDrive’s Recycle Bin, files will be automatically deleted forever.
How to recover files on Google Drive (computers, phones and tablets)
The process is very similar when using Google Drive.
- Once you log into your Drive, you’ll see a menu on the left-hand side with ‘Bin’ as the last item (see arrow 1).
- You’ll see your deleted files and you can order them from most to least recently deleted.
- You can then click on your desired file (hold Control + click for Windows or Command + click for Macs to select multiple files), simply right-click on them then click ‘Restore’.
- Alternatively, you can click the ‘Restore’ button on the toolbar above your files (see arrow 2).
The process is exactly the same in the Drive app on mobile devices. You may just need to open a burger menu to find the bin, then click the three dots under a file to find the ‘restore’ button.
Google Drive also automatically permanently deletes files after 30 days.
How to recover files on Macs
When you delete files on a Mac, they go to the ‘Trash’ folder, which operates very much like Windows’ Recycle Bin.
- You can access the Trash folder by clicking the icon on the right-hand side of the ‘Dock’ the bar along the bottom of the screen containing various app icons.
- You can also open the Finder function and type ‘Trash’ to access the folder.
- From there, simply right-click on your chosen file (hold Command + click to select multiple) and click ‘Put Back’. This is exactly the same as restoring a file, and it will return to its original location.
If your Apple devices are all synced with iCloud, the file will be removed from all of them.
How to recover files on an iPhone or iPad
If you delete a file from the Files app on your iPhone or Ipad, it’ll be sent to the ‘Recently Deleted folder.
- To recover it, tap ‘Browse’ in the Files app.
- Tap ‘Locations’ to open a dropdown menu.
- Tap ‘Recently Deleted’ and you’ll see the files that you’ve deleted in the last 30 days (yep, you guessed it, they get permanently deleted after 30 days).
- Tap the files you want to restore and tap ‘Recover’.
How to recover files on iCloud
You can recover files that you’ve deleted on a different Apple device using iCloud Drive or iCloud.com.
- Use your Apple ID to log into iCloud.
- Then open the account settings and scroll right down to the bottom. You’ll see this little menu under the heading ‘Advanced’.
- Click ‘Restore files and it will bring up a window with all the files you’ve deleted in the last 30 days.
- You can order them alphabetically or by the date you deleted them, but there’s no way to search for specific file names.
- You can then select the files you need and click ‘Restore’.
We hope you’ve now got a better idea of how to recover files that you’ve lost. If you’re still struggling, we have over 15 years of experience helping people solve problems with their IT at home.
Get in touch with our friendly team of experts who can give you a helping hand.