Many free data recovery programs exist that can help recover your accidentally deleted files. These file recovery programs can help you recover, or “undelete” files on your computer. Files you have deleted are often still present on your hard drive (or USB drive, or media card, smartphone, etc.) and can be recovered using free data recovery software. Data recovery software is just one way to go. See How to Recover Deleted Files for a complete tutorial, including how to avoid common pitfalls during the file recovery process.

Undelete files you thought were gone forever with any one of these freeware data recovery tools:

1. Recuva

Screenshot of Recuva v1.53.1087 in Windows 8

Recuva is the very best free data recovery software tool available, hands down. It’s very easy to use but has many optional advanced features as well. Recuva can recover files from hard drives, external drives (USB drives, etc.), BD/DVD/CD discs, and memory cards. Recuva can even undelete files from your iPod! Undeleting a file with Recuva is as easy as deleting one! I highly recommend that you try Recuva first if you need to recover a file.

Recuva will undelete files in Windows 10, Windows 8 & 8.1, 7, Vista, XP, Server 2008/2003, and older Windows versions like 2000, NT, ME and 98. 64-bit Windows versions are also supported. There is also a 64-bit version Recuva available. Piriform provides both an installable and a portable version of Recuva. I tested file recovery with Recuva v1.53.1087 using their portable version of Windows 8.1.

2. Puran File Recovery

Screenshot of Puran File Recovery in Windows 8

Puran File Recovery is one of the better free data recovery programs I’ve seen. It’s very easy to use, will scan any drive that Windows sees, and has a lot of advanced options if you need them.

One particular thing to note – Puran File Recovery identified more files on my test machine than most other tools, so be sure to give this one a shot in addition to Recuva if it didn’t find what you were looking for. Puran File Recovery will even recover lost partitions if they haven’t been overwritten yet.

Puran File Recovery works with Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP. It’s also available in a portable form for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows, so it doesn’t require installation

3. Disk Drill

Screenshot of Disk Drill v2.0 in Windows 8

Disk Drill is an excellent free data recovery program not only because of its features but also due to the very simple design, making it almost impossible to get confused.

The Disk Drill website says it can recover data (up to 500 MB) from “virtually any storage device,” such as internal and external hard drives, USB devices, memory cards, and iPods.

Disk Drill can also preview image files before recovering them, pause scans and resume them later, perform partition recovery, backup an entire drive, filter files by date or size, run a quick scan versus a full scan for faster results, and save scan results so you can easily import them again to recovery deleted files at a later time.

Disk Drill works with Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP, as well as Mac OS X.

4. Glary Undelete

Screenshot of Glary Undelete v5 in Windows 7

Glary Undelete is an excellent free file recovery program. It’s very easy to use and has one of the better user interfaces that I’ve seen.

The biggest advantages in Glary Undelete include the easy “Folders” view, a Windows Explorer-style view of recoverable files, and a prominent “State” indication for each file, suggesting how likely a successful file recovery will be. One disadvantage of Glary Undelete is that installation is required before you can use it and it asks you to install a toolbar, which you can of course decline. Aside from those facts, Glary Undelete is top notch. Glary Undelete can recover files from hard drives and any removable media you might have including memory cards, USB drives, etc.

Glary Undelete is said to work in Windows 7, Vista, and XP, but it also works fine in Windows 10, Windows 8, and versions older than Windows XP. I tested Glary Undelete v5.0 in Windows 7.

5. Pandora Recovery

Screenshot of Pandora Recovery v2.2.1 in Windows 8

Pandora Recovery is another excellent free file recovery software program. It’s super easy to use and has the best wizard to help you undelete files that I’ve seen in any file recovery app. A more advanced “Surface Scan” is available in Pandora Recovery that should recover more files than the standard search as long as they are of a popular format. Pandora Recovery will undelete files from hard drives, memory cards, etc. Nearly anything that stores files that you can also connect to your PC should be supported. You will need to install Pandora Recovery to your hard drive which is a major reason I haven’t ranked it higher than some other file recovery tools.

Pandora Recovery lists support for Windows Vista, XP, Server 2003, and 2000 but it worked perfectly well for me in Windows 10, 8, and 7.

6. SoftPerfect File Recovery

Screenshot of SoftPerfect File Recovery in Windows 7

SoftPerfect File Recovery is another superb file undelete program. It’s very easy to search for recoverable files. Anyone should be able to use this program with very little trouble. SoftPerfect File Recovery will undelete files from hard drives, memory cards, etc. Any device on your PC that stores data (except for your CD/DVD drive) should be supported. SoftPerfect File Recovery is a small, 500 KB, standalone file making the program very portable. Feel free to run File Recovery from a USB drive or floppy disk. Scroll down a bit on the download page to find it.

Windows 8, 7, Vista, XP, Server 2008 & 2003, 2000, NT, ME, 98, and 95 are all supported. According to SoftPerfect, 64-bit versions of Windows operating systems are also supported. I tested SoftPerfect File Recovery v1.2 in Windows 10 without any issues.

7. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

Screenshot of EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard v11 in Windows 8

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is another great file undelete program. Recovering files is very easy to do with just a few clicks. My favorite aspect of EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is that the user interface is structured much like Windows Explorer. While that may not be everyone’s ideal way to display files, it’s a very familiar interface that most people are comfortable with.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard will undelete files from hard drives, optical drives, memory cards, and pretty much anything else that Windows sees as a storage device. It also does partition recovery! Please know that Data Recovery Wizard will only recover a total of 500 MB of data before you’ll need to upgrade. I almost didn’t include this program because of that limitation but since most situations call for undeleting much less than that, I’ll let it slide.

Data Recovery Wizard supports Mac and Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP, as well as Windows Server 2012, 2008, and 2003.

8. Wise Data Recovery

Screenshot of Wise Data Recovery in Windows

Wise Data Recovery is a free undelete program that’s really simple to use. The program installed very quickly and scanned my PC in record time. Wise Data Recovery can scan various USB devices like memory cards and other removal devices.

An instant search function makes it really quick and easy to search for deleted files that Wise Data Recovery has found. A Recoverability column shows the likelihood of a file being recovered with Good, Poor, Very Poor, or Lost. Just right-click to restore a file. Wise Data Recovery works with Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP. There’s also a portable version available.

9. Restoration

Screenshot of Restoration File Recovery

The Restoration data recovery program is similar to the other free undelete apps on this list. The thing I like most about Restoration is how incredibly simple it is to recover files. There are no cryptic buttons or complicated file recovery procedures – everything you need is on one, easy to understand program window. Restoration can recover files from hard drives, memory cards, USB drives, and other external drives.

Like some of the other popular data recovery tools on this list, Restoration is small and does not need to be installed, giving it the flexibility to be run from a floppy disk or USB drive. Restoration is said to support Windows Vista, XP, 2000, NT, ME, 98, and 95. I successfully tested it with Windows 10 and Windows 7, and didn’t run into any problems. However, v3.2.13 didn’t work for me in Windows 8.

10. FreeUndelete

Screenshot of FreeUndelete

FreeUndelete is self-explanatory – it’s free and it undeletes files! It’s very similar to other undelete utilities around this rank on my list. The major advantage of FreeUndelete is it’s easy to use interface and “folder drill down” functionality (i.e. files available for recovery are not shown in a big, unmanageable listing). FreeUndelete will recover files from hard drives, memory cards, and other similar storage devices in, or connected to, your PC. FreeUndelete works on Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP.

Recover my files advanced data recovery software is majorly available for windows users and has proven to be a better competitor to the two above. It makes the act of file recovery look so easy as one can easily recover deleted files emptied from the Windows Recycle Bin, files lost due to the format or re-install of a hard drive, or files removed by a virus, Trojan infection, unexpected system shutdown or software failure.

A glance from their official website [link here) bullets the following features in a glance;

  • Recover from hard drive, camera card, USB, Zip, floppy disk, iPod, Andriod Phone, and other media
  • Recover files even if emptied from the Recycle Bin
  • File recovery after accidental format, even if you have reinstalled Windows.
  • Disk recovery after a hard disk crash
  • Get back files after a partitioning error
  • Get data back from RAW hard drives
  • Recover documents, photos, video music and email.
  • Recovers FAT, exFAT, NTFS, HFS, HFS+

Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery Solutions has been one of the best when it comes to recovering photos, files and all kinds of data from HDD and other Disk Storage devices.

I came to know about it many years ago and also won a legal copy in one of the several giveaway. It has been a life saver since then. The result with this very file undelete solution has always come out on top when compared with the others.

It can also recover very large amount of data [in terabytes ( TB ) ] and works with various popular operating systems out there.

Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery is a premium software with only trial versions. You can read more about them from their official page here.

Disk Drill is a brilliant, reliable and very efficient data recovery solution for  Mac OS X. The tools lets you backup failing disks, scan, preview and recover lost data from storage devices.

It is also a great utility software for maintaining stability and well-functioning of hard disk drives; can be used effectively for data protection and disk optimization.

Disk Drill for Mac OS X can recover from various types of storage devices including Micro-SD Cards and pen drives. I was able to view lost (deleted) photos from an SD card connected to a Mac OS X during the preview of this awesome tool.

Once the storage disk drive can be connected to a Mac OS X computer, there’s always the possibility of Disk Drill software recovering lost data and images from the drive.

It is always advisable to try the free (basic) version first to see the preview of your data(s) before going for one of the other premium versions of the software.

See their official website for more.

In trying to keep your Windows PC clean, it’s easy for you (or your cleaning software) to get overzealous. Sooner or later, you’re going to delete something you meant to keep, and salvaging data from beyond the Recycle Bin can be a challenge.

That wayward file is not necessarily gone forever, though. Windows machines do not permanently erase data until new files overwrite the space on the hard drive allotted for deleted ones. So if your deletion was recent, you stand an excellent chance of recovering your files. The easiest solution is to arm yourself with data recovery software.

Additional Considerations

Help and Support

While data recovery programs are fairly self-explanatory, the process can be a tricky business, and it’s good to have a resource if things go wrong (well, wrong-er). The best companies will have tech support available by phone — 24/7, if possible, as the odds of your big data emergency happening during normal business hours are slim. If not, see if the company offers live chat, email addresses, website query forms or active social media pages.

Recovery from Unbootable Drives

If you lose data due to a virus, hard drive corruption or good, old-fashioned gremlins, you may not be able to launch Windows at all. In that case, you’ll have to hook up your hard drive to another machine and try to recover files secondhand. Most data recovery software offers this feature, but some charge extra for it, so be sure to research this functionality before purchasing a program.

Bottom Line

Data recovery software can be an invaluable tool, whether you’re dealing with accidental deletions, hard drive reformatting or the results of a virus. You can count on these robust tools to save those important files from oblivion.