How to Recover Deleted Files from the Recycle Bin in 2021 (Even AFTER Empty)
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A common problem faced by Windows users is realizing that they need a deleted file after the Recycle Bin has been emptied. While their first reaction may be to panic, the situation is not as bad as it seems. Disk Drill for Windows offers a method that enables users to perform the recycle bin recovery in a few simple clicks.
When data is deleted by Windows, the space that the file occupies is marked as available for future use by the OS. Until it is overwritten by new data, the original file can be recovered using a data recovery application, but you must act quickly to avoid permanent deletion.
Recover Data from the Recycle Bin BEFORE Empty
It’s always the easiest to recover lost data before the Recycle Bin has been emptied. If you haven’t made any recovery attempts yet, we highly recommend you start with the two simple methods described below. You might get lucky and successfully undelete all lost files without having to download and use a third-party data recovery software application.
Try the CTRL + Z Shortcut
The Windows operating system remembers your actions, allowing you to undo recent changes, such as the deletion of an important file or folder. How? By pressing a single keyboard shortcut: CTRL + Z
Unfortunately, the history of your actions is automatically erased when you restart your computer, so this method is useful only if you apply it immediately after noticing that important files are missing.
Check the Recycle Bin One Last Time
You’ve probably already done that, but practice shows that many users often forget to check the Recycle Bin to see if the files have actually been deleted. So, to recover data directly from the Recycle Bin:
Open the Recycle Bin by double-clicking on its icon.
Locate the items that you want to recover.
Check the box next to the files or folders you want to retrieve.
Right-click and select Restore to recover the items to their original locations.
Is Recycle Bin Recovery Possible?
No luck so far? Then you might be wondering if Recycle Bin recovery after empty is even possible at all. The answer will make you happy: yes, files deleted from the Recycle Bin can still be recovered because they remain physically present on the storage device until overwritten by new data.
The only problem is that Windows doesn’t come with any native data recovery application that would let you restore access to permanently deleted files. As such, you need to use third-party data recovery software (learn how data recovery software works here).
Here’s a 30-second explanation of how it works:
Data recovery software analyzes your storage devices, looking for all recoverable files.
The software then lets you specify which files you want to restore.
The restored files are moved to a safe location, and the logical links to them are restored.
All this sounds simple in theory, but there are many factors that may influence your recovery success rate, including the cause of the data loss, the quality of the selected data recovery application, the amount of time passed since the data loss incident took place, and the type of storage device on which the deleted files were stored.
To achieve the best results, you should begin the data recovery process as soon as possible and use the best recovery tool available.
How to Recover Deleted Files from the Recycle Bin After Empty
Just because you’ve already emptied the Recycle Bin folder doesn’t mean that your files are gone for good. If you act quickly enough and closely follow the instructions below, you should be able to get them back in no time.
For the purposes of this article, we’ve decided to use Disk Drill as our data recovery software of choice, and there are many good reasons why:
🤗 Easy to Use: Data recovery tools can be intimidating, but not Disk Drill. With its intuitive and polished user interface, Disk Drill is the most approachable data recovery tool available today. Instead of overwhelming you with technical information and incomprehensible options, it reduces the entire data recovery process into a single click on the Recover button.
🦾 Powerful: Despite its ease of use, Disk Drill is still a professional-grade data recovery solution loved by over 500,000 pro clients and used by many world-famous companies. It supports hundreds of file formats and can restore them from all storage devices and file systems.
⏱ Fast: Don’t have time for in-depth data recovery? Just use the Quick Scan option and discover all files deleted from the Recycle Bin in no time. You can always use Deep Scan to find files that are likely missing their original file names and locations.
🛡️ Secure: Disk Drill is designed to recover your files in the safest manner possible, taking great care not to cause more hard than good. For example, it will warn you when it detects that you’re attempting to recover deleted files to the same storage device on which they were originally located, which is a big no-no.
💸 Affordable: Professional data recovery services can be incredibly expensive, but Disk Drill can accomplish the same for a fraction of the price. Best of all, you can preview files before recovery for free.
Step 1. Download, Install and Launch Disk Drill to Start the Recycle Bin Recovery
First, you need to download Disk Drill and install it on your computer (make sure to avoid installing it on your system drive, which is where the Recycle Bin is located). Then launch the application by double-clicking its newly created desktop icon. The free version of Disk Drill enables you to recover up to 500 MB of data. When you exceed the free limit, you will be given the option to upgrade to the Pro Edition of the tool which has no limitation on the amount of data that can be recovered.
Step 2. Choose the Location and Start Scanning for Lost Files
Disk Drill’s main window will display all the disks that are available for recovery. Clicking the Search for lost data button after selecting the disk on which the Recycle Bin resides (this is usually your computer’s main internal drive) initiates the scanning procedure, which defaults to using all available scanning methods in the optimal order, which is what we recommend.
You can also select the drop-down options next to the selected disk and choose a Quick scan for a fast restore of recently deleted files or Deep scan for a comprehensive analysis of your storage device.
Step 3. Preview and Select the Files That You Want to Recover
Once Disk Drill finishes scanning your disk, you’ll be able to preview the files available for restoration in the recovery panel.
Files are grouped by type, such as Pictures or Documents, to streamline this process. You can view all files inside a folder and nested subfolders by holding the ALT key and clicking on the top folder. To preview a file, simply hover your mouse over it and click the preview icon (a small eye). Generally, all files that can be previewed can also be successfully recovered. Just keep in mind that the preview feature can preview only the file formats supported by Windows.
When you find a file or folder that you want to recover, click the checkbox next to it to add it to the recovery queue.
Step 4. Click the 'Recover' Button to Perform the Recovery
After making your selections, click the Recover button and you will be prompted to choose a recovery destination for the selected files. Avoid using the same disk to minimize the chances of file corruption during recovery. Disk Drill will confirm that you’ve selected a suitable destination. Click OK to proceed.
Step 5. View the Recovered Files
It should take just a short while for Disk Drill to recover your files and display the “Data recovery complete” message. To view the recovered files, click the magnifying glass icon next to the recovery path.
If you’re not satisfied with your recovery results, you can return to the list of all the disks that are available for recovery and try a different recovery method or scan another disk.
Recover Files Deleted From the Recycle Bin after Empty Without Software
You actually don’t need to download and install a third-party software solution to recover files deleted from the Recycle Bin if you had enabled one of the built-in data backup features in Windows prior to data loss.
Restore a Previous Version from File History
Recent versions of the Windows operating system come with a backup feature called File History. When enabled, File History takes regular backups of files stored in the Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos, and Desktop folders.
As its name suggests, File History creates incremental backups of files that can be restored at a later date, allowing you to go back in time and get back an older version of a file that has been overwritten a long time ago.
Here’s what you need to do to recover previous versions of files from File History:
Right-click on the folder that contained the deleted file.
Choose Restore previous version from the menu.
Select the version you want to restore and click the Recover button.
Restoring with Windows Backup
Windows 7 introduced a backup feature that allowed its users to back up selected libraries, folders, and system data with a few simple clicks. Called Backup and Restore, the feature offers two main backup options:
💡 Let Windows choose: Windows will back up data files saved in libraries, on the desktop, and in default Windows folders. Windows will also create a system image, which can be used to restore your computer if it stops working. These items will be backed up on a regular schedule.
🤔 Let me choose: You can select libraries and folders and whether to include a system image in the backup. The items you choose will be backed up on a regular schedule.
Regardless of which of the two options you choose, you can always recover your data with minimal effort.
On Windows 7 systems:
Open Control Panel.
Select System and Security.
Choose Backup and Restore.
Click Restore my files and follow the wizard.
Windows 10 users should:
Choose Update & Security.
Select the Backup.
Click the Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7) options.
Select a backup to restore from and follow the instructions.
What’s the Best Way to Prevent the Loss of Important Data
It’s always a good idea to take extra steps in order to prevent the loss of important data. Even though it’s usually possible to recover deleted files from the Recycle Bin or using a data recovery software tool like Disk Drill, why risk permanent data loss when you can easily prevent it by following the tips below?
💽 Back Up Your Data
There’s nothing more important when it comes to preventing the loss of important data than regular backups. If you don’t want to purchase a dedicated backup storage device (external hard drive is a great choice), you can back up your data to the cloud using Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or any other cloud storage solution with a free plan.
⚠️ Maintain Your Computer
Hard drives and other storage devices are far more likely to fail if they’re constantly overheating or are exposed to excessive vibrations, high humidity, and dust. If you make sure that your computer is always properly maintained, you can avoid data loss caused by sudden and irreparable hardware failure.
🔌 Use an UPS
An uninterruptible power supply, or UPS for short, is a backup power supply that provides emergency power during a temporary power outage. Most budget consumer-grade uninterruptible power supplies can keep your computer running for just a few minutes, but even that’s long enough for you to save your work and close all running applications to prevent file corruption.
🚀 Avoid Overclocking
Overclocking is a great way how to gain extra performance without spending any money on new hardware components, but it can easily compromise the stability of your system. If you rely on your computer for work, we recommend you stay away from overclocking.
🛡️ Don’t Disable Your Antivirus
Some people disable their antivirus software because they want their computer to perform better, while others don’t believe that antivirus software solutions are useful in the first place. The fact remains that there’s a lot of dangerous malware that can cause you to lose access to important data if you make a single mistake and allow it to enter your system. Unless you’re willing to take the risk, keep your antivirus enabled.
✅ Buy Reliable Hardware Components
You wouldn’t cycle around the world on a $100 Walmart bike for the same reason you shouldn’t rely on cheap hardware components when it comes to doing important work. While all SSDs have a limited life span, there’s a huge difference between premium and budget brands. A typical TBW (terabytes written) figure for a 500 GB low-end SSD is around 150 TBW, but it jumps up to 300 TBW for high-end SSDs, such as those manufactured by Samsung.
✂ Check TRIM status
Most new SSDs enable the TRIM command by default, which means that deleted data get permanently wiped clean soon after their deletion. To prevent this from happening, you can manually disable the TRIM command at the expense of some performance.
They don’t go anywhere! Windows simply marks the storage space they occupy as free, allowing other files to be stored on it. Until the original files are overwritten, you can recover them with any capable data recovery software tool.
The Trash Bin is the macOS equivalent of the Windows Recycle Bin. Files that have been deleted from Trash can be recovered only using third-party data recovery software applications. One such application is Disk Drill for Mac, and this is how it works:
Download, install and start Disk Drill for Mac on a different disk or partition than the one that contains the Trash Bin.
Select the disk where the Trash Bin is located.
Click the Search for lost data button to start scanning the disk for lost data.
Preview the files that can be recovered and make your selections.
Click Recover after choosing a new location for the data on a different disk than the one with the Trash Bin.
To recover permanently deleted files from the Recycle Bin, you need to use data recovery software. The data is still accessible by the software as long as the original files have not been overwritten. Emptying the bin only logically deletes the files from your system and they are still physically on the disk until overwritten by new data.
When you empty the Recycle Bin on Windows 7, you permanently sever all the logical links to your files. However, the data itself remains on your hard drive until it becomes overwritten, and you can restore access to it using data recovery software like Disk Drill. Here’s how to recover files from an emptied Recycle Bin in Windows 7 with it:
Download and install free Disk Drill data recovery software.
Launch the program and choose the file type to be recovered.
Select the disk containing the Recycle Bin.
Click Search for lost data to begin scanning for deleted files.
Select the files to be recovered and click Recover to restore the items.
The maximum size of the Recycle Bin is automatically configured based on the size of your storage device. When you attempt to delete a file that exceeds the maximum size of the Recycle Bin, you will see the “This folder is too big to recycle” message and be presented with the option to permanently delete it. If you select “Yes”, you won’t be able to recover the file from the Recycle Bin. However, you can still recover all permanently deleted files using a data recovery software tool like the one described in this article.
Robert Agar is the Content Writer & Managing Editor for Handy Recovery. Robert brings over 30 years of experience in data storage, security, compliance, backup, and recovery to the HandyRecovery team. Several years ago, he turned his attention from hands-on technical roles to develop a career as a freelance writer concentrating on technology and its impact on society. Areas of focus include the cloud, data recovery, artificial intelligence, and industrial automation.
Andrey Vasilyev is an Editorial Advisor for Handy Recovery. Andrey is a software engineer expert with extensive expertise in data recovery, computer forensics, and data litigation. Andrey brings over 12 years of experience in software development, database administration, and hardware repair to the team.
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