How to Find Deleted Files on Windows 11: A Step-by-Step Guide

Accidentally deleted an important file on Windows 11 and can’t find it? Don’t panic just yet! There’s a good chance you can retrieve it with a few simple steps. Whether you’ve deleted it from your desktop, documents, or downloads, there are built-in tools and techniques you can use to recover your lost data. Read on for a quick guide on how to find deleted files on Windows 11.

Step by Step Tutorial: How to Find Deleted Files on Windows 11

Before diving into panic mode, it’s important to understand that when you delete a file on Windows 11, it’s not immediately gone forever. Often, the file is simply moved to the Recycle Bin, where it sits until you empty it. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you recover your deleted files.

Step 1: Check the Recycle Bin

First, double-click on the Recycle Bin icon on your desktop.

The Recycle Bin is like a safety net. When you delete files, they’re not gone right away—they go to the Recycle Bin first. It’s always a good idea to check here first because if your file is there, it’s a simple matter of right-clicking and selecting "Restore" to get it back.

Step 2: Use File History

If the file isn’t in the Recycle Bin, the next step is to try using File History.

File History is a feature in Windows 11 that keeps copies of files as you save them, so you can go back to previous versions if needed. To use it, type "Restore your files with File History" in the search bar and follow the instructions. Remember, File History has to be set up beforehand for this to work.

Step 3: Try the Windows File Recovery Tool

If File History wasn’t set up, you might need to use the Windows File Recovery tool.

This is a command-line tool that you can download from the Microsoft Store. It’s more complex but can help recover files even after they’ve been permanently deleted. Be sure to read the instructions carefully.

Step 4: Consider Data Recovery Software

If all else fails, you might need to resort to third-party data recovery software.

There are many data recovery programs out there that can scan your hard drive for lost files and help you recover them. Ensure you choose a reputable one and follow the instructions closely.

After completing these steps, you should hopefully have recovered your deleted file. If not, it may be time to consult a professional data recovery service, but these steps work in most cases.

Tips for Finding Deleted Files on Windows 11

  • Always check the Recycle Bin first. It’s the easiest place to recover deleted files from.
  • Set up File History as a preventive measure. It can save you a lot of trouble in the future.
  • Use the Windows File Recovery tool as a last resort before considering commercial data recovery software.
  • Avoid using your computer for new tasks if you’re trying to recover a file, as this can overwrite the space where your deleted file is.
  • Consider backing up your files regularly to an external hard drive or cloud service to prevent future data loss.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I recover a file after I’ve emptied the Recycle Bin?

Yes, it’s possible with tools like File History or the Windows File Recovery tool, but it’s harder. It’s always best to check the Recycle Bin first.

What if I didn’t set up File History?

If you didn’t set up File History, you might need to use the Windows File Recovery tool or third-party software to recover your files.

Is third-party recovery software safe to use?

It can be, but you have to be careful. Make sure you choose software from a reputable provider.

Can I recover files from a formatted hard drive?

It’s possible, but the process is more complicated and may require professional help.

How can I prevent data loss in the future?

Regular backups to an external drive or cloud service are the best way to prevent data loss.


  1. Check the Recycle Bin.
  2. Use File History.
  3. Try the Windows File Recovery Tool.
  4. Consider Data Recovery Software.


Losing files can be a stressful experience, especially if they’re important to you. But with Windows 11, you have several options to try and get them back. Whether it’s a simple check of the Recycle Bin or using the Windows File Recovery tool, you’re not out of options. Remember, prevention is always better than cure, so set up File History and regular backups to avoid this situation in the future.

If you follow the steps and tips outlined in this article, you’ll maximize your chances of recovering your deleted files on Windows 11. And if you’re still unable to recover your files, don’t despair. There are professional data recovery services that may be able to help. Just make sure to act quickly—the sooner you attempt to recover your files, the better your chances of success. Stay calm, follow the steps, and you’ll have the best shot at getting those files back.

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