Windows 10 File Recovery

In a previous article, I discussed ways to back up your files with Microsoft Windows 10 tools, such as File History, that were already installed on your computer. Backing up is a great way to help ensure you don’t lose a file and should be your first line of defense. If you accidentally delete a file, you should look in your backups or in the recycle bin to see if you can recover it from there. But what can you do if the file never got backed up? The good news is there is a chance that you can recover it from your hard drive.

Windows File Recovery

Microsoft has created a tool that will help you, and it is available in the Microsoft Store. The official tool does not have a graphical user interface but is instead run from a command prompt. This tool is available for free from the Microsoft Store. It does require the May 2020 Windows 10 update.

To install the tool, open the Microsoft Store and search for “Windows File Recovery.” Once it’s installed, you can search for File Recovery from your Start Menu. A command prompt will open with Administrator Access. You may need to put in your administrator password or accept a security box.


Once it is open and running, you will be able to scan your hard drive for your deleted files. The files you recover will be saved to a directory named “Recovery_[date and time]” on the destination drive you specify. Here is the basic command syntax: “winfr source-drive: destination-drive: /switches.”

I have included some useful commands below.

  1. To search for deleted Word Documents where C: is the drive the file used to be on, and D: is your USB or other hard drive, use the following command:  winfr C: D: /n *.docx
  2. To find all files with a word in the name, such as the word “reports,” just put an asterisk at the beginning and end of the word you want to search.  winfr C: D: /n *reports*
  3. If you want to search for several different file types at the same type, you can do that too. For example, if you wanted to search for Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and Adobe PDF files, you can use the following command to search for all of them at once.  winfr C: D: /n *.docx /n *.xlsx /n *.pdf
  4. If you still can’t find your file, you can add the “/r” option and have the software try to find pieces of the file for you. For example, you can search for pieces of music files with the following command: winfr C: D: /r /n *.mp3

Many more advanced options are fully detailed on the Microsoft website. Visit, click on the search magnifying glass tool, and search for Recover Lost File on Windows 10. You might want to install this tool before you need it because simply installing it could finish deleting the file you need.

Hopefully, you never accidentally delete a file, but if you do, it is nice to know that Windows 10 has a way to get those important files back for you.

-Michael Martinell, The Broadband Guy