How to recover deleted files with Recuva (from a partition, memory stick, memory card, etc)

Don't you hate it when you accidentally delete a file, only to realize later that you need it? If it went to the Recycle Bin, it is easy to restore. But what if you permanently deleted it, with a Shift + Delete keyboard combination? Maybe you had those files on a memory card or USB memory stick, like the photos from your vacation. Luckily, most times it is possible to recover deleted files. Many tools can help you do it, and one of the good ones is called Recuva. In this tutorial we show you how to use Recuva to recover deleted files:

A word of precaution

When you try to recover deleted files, it is essential to use the computer as little as possible to create or copy files on the partition or device where the deleted files were found. That is because when a file has been deleted, the reference to it has been taken away, but the file is still there. If new files are created in the place of the ones you deleted, they overwrite the old files, making it impossible for you to recover them. When you want to recover a file from a partition, it is best not to install a program on the same partition, or download a movie, install a game, etc. If you can, do not create any new files on it.

For example, if you want to recover files from your "C:" drive, you should not install Recuva on that drive. However, if you deleted some files from your memory card or USB stick, you can install Recuva on your "C:" drive.

Where to download and install Recuva

Recuva is available both in an installer and a portable version. We recommend that you use the portable version, which you can download from here. Download it to a USB stick, right-click or tap and hold on it, and extract its content. After extraction, open the folder where Recuva is found and choose the version that suits your computer:

  • Recuva64.exe is the file to run if you have a 64-bit operating system installed.
  • Recuva.exe is the file to run if you have a system that is 32-bit.

If you do not know whether your Windows is 64-bit or 32-bit, this guide should help you figure out: What version of Windows do I have installed?.

Recuva opens with a wizard, which guides you through the all the recovery steps.

If you opted to download and install the program instead of using its portable edition, the installer tries to convince you to also install Google Chrome. If you do not want that, make sure you uncheck this option during the installation.

How to recover deleted files with Recuva

Now that you have started the Recuva Wizard let's see what to do next. First, choose the type of data that you have removed and then click or tap the Next button. In this example, we are searching for some pictures that we accidentally deleted, so we selected the Pictures option.

Then you can choose where to look for the deleted files. For example, we know that the files we accidentally deleted were stored in a folder called "Photos to print," found on our test computer's D: drive.

If you know where you deleted the files from, you should be as specific as possible, since this decreases the search time by a lot. When you do not know, you can choose "I'm not sure," but you have to realize that the recovery process takes a lot longer.

Now you get to a screen from which you can start the scan for deleted files. There is a tickbox to enable "Deep Scan," which by default is unticked.

The first time you run Recuva, we recommend that you do the standard scan. Most of the times it should find your files just fine. If it does not, you can always run the scan a second time around, this time with "Enable Deep Scan" checked. It takes a lot longer, but it returns better results for files that were deleted a long time ago.

Click or tap Start and sit back to watch the magic happen.

The scan is split into three steps. Recuva first scans for the deleted files, then it analyzes how damaged they are, and finally, it analyzes their contents.

When the search process is done, the deleted files that can be recovered are displayed in a list.

Select the files you want to recover, right-click (or tap and hold) and select "Recover Highlighted." Alternatively, you can check the box near each file you want to recover and then press the Recover button.

Remember to save the files to another medium than the drive or partition you recover them from. For example, because we wanted to recover files from an SSD partition, we recovered them to a USB memory stick. When you want to recover files from a memory card or a USB stick, you should do the opposite: recover them to your hard drive.

When you have got all your files recovered, you can close Recuva.

How to work with Recuva in advanced mode for in-depth file recovery

Once the scan is done and you are shown the results, you can also switch to the so-called advanced mode.

This makes the files appear in a list that displays information about their original location. On the right side of the window, you also get three tabs where you can preview files, and see more details about them, like their size, state, and creation time. Also, you can see their header coded in hexadecimal.

If you want to recover all the files found, you can tick the box before Filename, which selects all the files from the list.

Did you manage to recover your lost files using Recuva?

Recuva is a neat program that can help you recover lost files. We like the fact that it offers an easy to use interface, fast scanning speeds, and a good detection rate. Did you use it to recover your lost files? Share your stories about lost data in the comments section below and, if you have any questions about Recuva, ask away!