We have all done it, from time to time; accidentally deleted a file we thought we didn’t need, or a file that ended up as collateral damage in a file deleting frenzy. The good news when you delete a file is that it is not actually lost forever, it’s just marked as “over-write-able”. And even if Windows should happen to overwrite your file it may be recovered.
There are literally hundreds of programs out there, promising to UNdelete or recover your lost files, some of which actually work. Usually its the ones you have to buy that gets it right. There is however a free option if you are using Windows 7 (and Vista).
Previous Version Tool
Windows is set by default to make System Restore Points to protect system files making it possible to revert your windows to an earlier working version. This functionality can also be used to create backups of other files and documents as well. The good news is that in Windows 7 this feature is set as default. It’s called: Previous Version.
The way Previous Version works is to choose a file that has become corrupted or somewhat distorted, and restore that particular file using the System Restore Point. That sounds fine, but how does this help me if I accidentally deleted a file ??
The good news is that Previous Version, doesn’t just work on single files, but on folders as well. And this is how you use it:
- Open Windows Explorer and find the folder where your file(s) used to be
- Right Click the Folder, and choose Properties from the Context Menu
- In the Properties window, click the Tab named: Previous Version
- IF Windows has made a Restore Point including this folder, you should see the folder name in the Folder Version window (the same folder may exist in several “versions”). Double Click the folder in the view.
Now you should see the contents of that folder as it were the last time a restore point was made. At this point you have two options: Restore the entire folder, or copy the file(s) you want to recover.
- To restore the entire folder, choose the folder version you like (in the Folder Version Window), then click the Restore Button.
- To restore some of the content, you can simply highlight the files you want, and copy (CTRL +C) them to a new location.
It’s just as simple as it gets
Other Mintywhite Article on the subject