Windows 10, how to recover accidentally deleted files

Microsoft has released the free Windows File Recovery tool that allows you to recover accidentally deleted files from your PC. How it works

Unexpectedly, after years and years of lack of such an official tool, Microsoft has just released on the Microsoft Store the Windows File Recovery app which, as the name implies, is a tool to recover accidentally deleted files from your drive (be it a traditional drive or even an SSD).

Windows File Recovery can also try to recover files from external storage, is compatible with the Windows 10 May Update and is not a tool for everyone, despite being distributed for free: it's used from the command line, has several advanced options and is the classic tool that will make computer technicians happy and send the average user into confusion. If you've deleted some important files by mistake, however, there's now a free tool from Microsoft to try and restore them that can be used by your service provider, even remotely. Here's how Windows File Recovery works.

What Windows File Recovery can do

After installing the app from the Microsoft store, you can use the new "winfr" command at the prompt, which stands for Windows File Recovery. You can recover files with the following extensions: JPEG, PDF, PNG, MPEG, all Microsoft Office files, MP3, MP4, ZIP and more. Most of the files we use on a daily basis can therefore be recovered. Winfr works with NTFS, FAT, exFAT and ReFS file systems (the latter is an extension of NTFS for workstations and servers).

How to use Windows File Recovery

You can use Windows File Recovery in three modes: Default, Segment and Signature. Default mode reads the disk's Master File Table (MFT) for lost files and file segments and, consequently, works only if the MFT and at least some file segments are present on the disk.

Segment mode, on the other hand, does not require the presence of the MFT but still requires segments.

Signature mode, finally, only requires that the data contained in the file is still present, even without segments and MFT, works only on large files and requires you to specify what type of files to search and recover. The latter is the mode to use when recovering files from external storage media, such as USB flash drives. It is also possible, in all three modes, to use advanced options (you can see the list of these options by issuing the winfr /! command) such as searching for files only in specific sectors of the disk, choosing how the files will be recovered or excluding a certain extension type from the files to be recovered.