Darn it! I didn’t mean to delete that!
Let’s face it, at one time or another most of us have shouted those words in frustration. We deleted a file and then realized we needed it back. This guide will help you assess if you can recover a deleted file and walk you through doing so on your Surface device.
Note: This post talks about the process of recovering delete files on Surface tablets running Windows 10.
Recover Deleted Files: Is it recoverable?
It is important to note that not all file deletions are equal. In many instances you can probably recover your file(s), especially you if you took care to set up your Surface correctly from the start.
However, there will be times that your file cannot be recovered. So, it is always best to have a backup copy of all your files, rather than relying on recovering data by any of the means described below. Better safe than sorry, I say. In any case, if you’re here and trying to figure how to recover from an “oops”, this post should help.
So, what can you recover?
- Most recently deleted files – if you deleted something, it is best to try to recover it right away, before cached data and Recycle Bin contents are deleted.
- You can recover files backed up to OneDrive – if you set up your Surface to back up your local files to OneDrive, you get a star. It makes recovering your files much easier.
- Files from the Recycle Bin – before your Recycle Bin has been emptied, you can recover most of your files.
What can’t you recover?
- Files deleted a while ago – the more time goes by the bigger the chance that you won’t be able to recover the data file(s).
- Files from an emptied Recycle Bin – if you or a program that you have running in the background (like CrapCleaner) empty your Recycle Bin on a regular basis, it is unlikely you will be able to get the file back.
- Files from external drives – if you store your files on USB drives, you better have a backup because once they are deleted it is very difficult to get them back.
- Online files – files you were working with online – like online forms, documents, etc. – unless the online system has its own recovery process, your file will be lost.
Recover Deleted Files: Local files
OK, so you’re storing files on your Surface’s local (built-in) drive. That includes anything that shows up under This PC in file explorer. This, of course, is not a very good idea but let’s be honest, most of us do it. So, if you delete a file from the local drive, here are two things you can do:
1. Recycle Bin
- Open Recycle Bin
- Right-click on a file – you can select multiple files
- Select Restore
- It will restore to its original location
2. Create a file with the same name
If for whatever reason, your deleted file is not in the Recycle Bin AND you have created Restore Points try the following:
- Create a file with the exact same name as the deleted file (yes, you have to know the name of the original file for this to work).
- Make sure the file is in the same location as the original file was and is the same format, i.e. if it was a Word file called taxes.docx make sure you create a file called taxes.docx.
- Right-click on the file you just created.
- Choose Restore precious version and select the right file version to restore.
This may not work for restoring some files, especially media files like videos or audio files but it is worth a try.
Recover Deleted Files: OneDrive
If you store all of your Surface files on OneDrive, you have a much better chance of recovering deleted files. OneDrive comes with its own Recycle Bin and here is how to access it:
- Go to the OneDrive website: www.OneDrive.com and login with your Microsoft account (the same one you use to log in to your Surface)
- Tap or click Recycle Bin at the bottom of the left pane
- To restore all items, click Restore all items
- To restore individual items, select them by clicking their check boxes. As you mouse over the files, the check boxes appear.
Recover Deleted Files: Windows 10 file recovery software
If the options above fail to recover your deleted files, then you have a bit of a problem. Surface devices utilize Solid State Drives (SSD). I won’t get into the technology behind them but I will tell you that, in terms of recovering of deleted files, SSDs make it very difficult.
When a file is deleted from a SSD, that file is almost immediately erased with the TRIM command. It is done to free up space and ensure the SSD can be quickly written to in the future. That means that you can’t recover data deleted from Solid State Drives — once it’s gone, it’s gone. There are a few exceptions to this but they mostly do not apply to Surface devices.
There are some free file recovery programs out there that you can try but most of them require a bit of skill and know-how. If you feel desperate and what to try to recover deleted files from a “no hope” situation, you may give Recuva software a try. Or perhaps, the data recovery software from EaseUS. In either case, it’s a long shot but worth the try.
Recover Deleted Files: Prevention
Prevention is always the best policy. So, the best way to ensure that you don’t lose your files is to perform regular backups. We have done a series of posts on Backup and Recovery of files in Windows 10, so be sure to read them and protect your data.
Of course, your Surface comes with OneDrive and setting your local files to back up to OneDrive is another great way to protect your stuff. You may also utilize other tools like Dropbox or Box.com to give yourself accidental deletion protection – they both come with a certain amount of free cloud space.
Note: I don’t know how many people (too many) have told us that they essentially store their files in the Recycle Bin for later use – DO NOT EVER DO THAT! Once your file is deleted and makes it to the Recycle Bin, it is no different than tossing a paper file into trash. It will not stay in there forever. So, don’t use it as a filing system – ever.
Afterall, you would not do that with paper files and a trash can, would you?
Bottom line is is this: if you don’t backup your files, you’re taking a risk on something going wrong and chances are that recovering from accidental deletions won’t be possible. There is good potential of data loss and, personally, I wouldn’t gamble with it – I’d make sure I have backups on my Surface.
Joanna is a former IT Director for a major public university, who gave up a high paying career to blog full time. She is proud to be a professional geek. Joanna loves all things technology and Surface tablets are her passion. She and Tim created LoveMySurface.net to help others be more productive using these awesome tablets.