Windows 10 users have a free option known as Windows File Recovery. This is a standard service that acts as a command line app, downloadable from the Microsoft Store. It is an excellent way to start the search for lost files on a computer, but its effectiveness can be a bit hit or miss.
As is the case with many free options out there, it is a bit limited on all it can do. As just one example, you can only recover lost files on local storage, or drives connected to the computer. It will not help at all with the recovery of files lost on cloud storage, or shared within the network.
To get started, download the Windows File Recovery tool on the Microsoft Store. Once installed, these basic steps will help with the standard recovery process.
Select “Yes” when asked to allow the app to make changes to your device.
Go to the command prompt window, and enter the following:
Winfr source-drive: destination-drive: [/mode] [/switches]
The app allows for regular and extensive mode options. What that means is that regular mode is grabbing documents from the C: Drive and putting them on a recovery folder in the E: Drive. Format examples look something like what is listed below.
Winfr C: E: /regular /n Users\Documents
Winfr C: E: /regular /n *.pdf /n *.docx
Extensive mode examples
This is a way to recover any file by using a string invoice in the file name. All files will go to the E: drive, but it allows for a slightly wider net to find what might be out there.
Winfr E: C: /extensive /n *invoice*
Winfr C: E: /extensive /n Users\Pictures*.JPEG /nUsers\Pictures*.PNG
Select any or all files to recover. By entering Y, the recovery operation starts. Keep in mind that the recovery process can take a while, especially if the source drive is pretty full. If it is taking too long, or a mistake is made, stop the recovery process at any time by pressing Ctrl + C.