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Missing a file or accidentally deleted something?

Did you ever delete a file only to discover later that you wished you hadn’t? Of course, if it’s in the Recycle Bin, there’s no problem. But what if it isn’t there?

Sometimes we don’t have backups or it’s too late for the recovery software because the old file’s disk space has been written over.

What then?

Maybe it’s time to take advantage of the fact that, as long as System Restore is enabled, Windows 7 has an automatic file and folder backup called “Shadow Copies” built in. This service creates backup copies called “previous versions”. The only catch is that you have to remember the name of the file you deleted and what folder it was in.

Here is one way which might get your file back:

  • Right click the folder and select ‘Properties’ then ‘Previous versions’ to open a list of the previous versions for the folder that contained the lost file.
  • Choose a previous version of the folder from a date when it still contained the lost file. (See the figure below for an example.)
  • You can click the button “Copy” to place a copy of the folder as it was in some place convenient and then copy out the file you are interested in back to its previous location.
  • If you click the “Restore” button, all the files in the original location will be replaced by the older versions, something you may not wish.
  • If you click “Copy” a dialog box will open where you can choose the place to put the copy, or if you click the button “Open” instead of “Copy”, a list of the files in the backup will be shown.
  • You can drag or copy the file you want from the list to wherever is desired

Click “OK” to close the dialog window

Here is a second trick that may also work:

  • Create a dummy file with the same name and extension as the lost file and place it in the original folder where the lost file resided (The contents of the file are irrelevant).
  • Right-click the dummy file
  • In the context menu, choose “Properties”
  • Click the tab “Previous Versions”
  • With luck, a list of backup copies of your lost file will appear
  • Choose the copy you want (probably the most recent one) and click the “Restore” button
  • Click “OK” to close the dialog window

If this doesn’t work, we offer a professional recovery service – the best thing to do though is not to play with the missing file(s) as you might ruin any chance of recovery.

If you do fancy having a go at a manual recovery (something we certainly DO NOT recommend) then use something like MiniTool (the freeware version has a 1Gb file limit).