We all know we are supposed to back up our data regularly, but the truth is that most of us do not do that. There are dozens of software around to help you automate the backup job. But most users do not bother about it.
PC users know that Windows 10 does not offer a built-in utility to restore or recover deleted or lost files. Users can restore only files that have been deleted to the Recycle Bin. If you have permanently deleted a file, you need to go for a third-party file recovery solution.
When it comes to data recovery, there are literally tons of software out there. Choosing the right recovery utility is a challenging task. Moreover, all decent file recovery tools are paid.
Microsoft recently released a free app called Windows File Recovery to help Windows 10 users to recover deleted files. The only catch is that it is a command-line utility, which means that you can use this tool only from the Command Prompt, and there is no GUI for the app.
It is worth mentioning that to install and use the Windows File Recovery app, you need to be running version 2004 (May 2020 Update) or later version of Windows 10. To check the same, type winver.exe in the Start/taskbar and hit the Enter key.
File systems supported by Windows File Recovery app
It supports all the popular file systems, including NTFS, FAT, exFAT, and ReFS.
File formats supported by Windows File Recovery app
One can use Windows File Recovery to recover PDF, JPEG, PNG, MP3, MP4, MPEG, MOV, 3GP, ZIP, DOCX, PPTX, WMA, and WMV, and more.
Install Windows File Recovery app in Windows 10
In this guide, we will show you how to install & use the Windows File Recovery app to recover files in Windows 10.
Step 1: Launch the Store app. Search for Windows File Recovery and install the same. As said earlier, it is a free app from Microsoft.
As said earlier, the Windows File Recovery utility can only be used via Command Prompt or PowerShell.
Using Windows File Recovery app
NOTE 1: Recovering from non-NTFS file systems is only supported in the signature mode.
NOTE 2: The source and destination drives must be different. If there is only one drive on your PC, connect an external drive and use it as the destination drive.
NOTE 3: The Windows File Recovery app offered three modes: default, segment, and signature. For advanced data recovery or files deleted some time ago, use the signature mode.
NOTE 4: Visit this official help page to know more about the Windows File Recovery app and its commands.
Step 1: Once the app is installed, type Windows File Recovery in Start/taskbar search and press Enter key. When you get the User Account Control dialog, click on the Yes button to launch the Windows File Recovery tool in Command Prompt.
Step 2: Execute the following command to recover a file:
winfr source-drive: destination-drive: [/switches]
In the above command, replace source-drive with the drive from where you would like to recover the file. Likewise, replace destination-drive with the path to the destination drive where you would like to save the recovered files.
The tool automatically creates a Recovery_<date and time> folder on the destination drive and saves recovered files in that folder.
Step 3: Press the Y key to let the tool scan the disk.
Step 4: Once the file is retrieved, click the Y key to view the recovered file.
To recover files in the default mode
For instance, to recover a file called IntoWindows.docx from drive C to the recovery folder on E drive:
winfr C: E: /n \Users\IW\Documents\IntoWindows.docx
To recover the Documents folder from C drive to the E drive:
winfr C: E: /n \Users\IW\Documents
To recover files in the segment mode
To recover PDF and DOCX files from the C drive and save to E drive:
winfr C: E: /r /n *.pdf /n *.docx
To recover files in the Signature mode
For example, to recover JPEG and PNG files from drive C and save to recovery folder on the F drive:
winfr C: F: /x /y:JPEG,PNG
Alternatives to Windows File Recovery
Windows File Recovery is definitely a good tool. No double about it. However, it does not offer a GUI, which most users prefer. If you also do not want to use a command-line tool, there are many free tools to choose from. Recuva and DiskDrill are the two popular data recovery software.