A Complete Guide to Recover Permanently Deleted Files from Windows and Mac

We all have been there once. You press that “Shift + Delete” button or empty the Recycle Bin or Trash to free up the clutters, only to regret later. Now, you need those files back. Here's a complete guide on how to get permanently deleted files back.

This guide digs in-depth on the recovery process of deleted files and both software and manual ways of recovery.

But before you go deep on the recovery methods, double check on the files to ensure “Is it really deleted”

It happened to most of us, and it could happen to you. The file you thought is deleted forever, might be present somewhere on your PC. So, be sure to search for it first.

Open your Recycle Bin, look around to find the particular file or folder you are looking for. If you have not visited this part of PC for a long time, you might see a pile of files resting there. Use the Search Box to hunt the file or sort all the files by “Date”, if you find this method easy.

Caution: Programs like C Cleaner automatically clears the clutter from Recycle Bin in the background. So if you’re using such programs, your files might have disappeared from Recycle Bin till now.



It could also happen the file you’re looking for is hidden from viewing. Here is how you can unhide: 

Windows 10 

  1. Type folder on the taskbar in the search box, and then from the search results, choose Show hidden files and folders.
  2. Choose “Show hidden files, folders and drives” in Advanced settings, and click on OK.



Windows 8.1 

  1. Point your mouse to the upper-right end of the screen, place the mouse pointer down and then click on Search.
  2. In the search box type folder, then from the search results select Folder Options.
  3. Click on the View tab.
  4. Choose “Show hidden files, folders and drives” in Advanced settings, and click on OK.

Windows 7 

  1. Choose the Start button, then click on Control Panel, select Appearance and Personalization.
  2. Choose Folder Options, and then click on the View tab.
  3. Choose “Show hidden files, folders and drives” in Advanced settings, and click on OK.

If you’re using a Cloud service like Dropbox, Google Drive, or One drive, good news is that the file could be still present there. Make sure you visit your respective cloud service provider account and check on the Trash folder there.

At last, if you are not sure that whether you have deleted the file or not, use the Windows Explorer or File Explorer window to quickly search the file. It may happen that you moved the file elsewhere and forgot. Once you’re assured that the file had been deleted and it is not somewhere else or hidden, let me take you through what happens when a file is permanently deleted.

When a file is “permanently deleted”

A file is said to be deleted permanently when the File System of OS erases the info regarding the files from its memory. Whether you have used “Shift + Delete” or removed files Recycle Bin the same process follows. The space or area of the disk which contained the file earlier is just marked as free to write again.

Is it possible to recover permanently deleted Files?


Because OS are designed in a way that it excels in performance and fast response, the deleted files remain there until you fill those vacant bits with another file.  Lets’ dig through the file structure and understand the science behind this:

A file typically consists 2 parts:

  • A directory index, which registers the file name and also comprises a list of the section on disk which holds the contents of a data file. The OS then identifies that these sections are in use.
  • The actual section which comprises the contents of the data file.

When a file is permanently deleted, only the link to the file is deleted and not the file itself. Since the link is deleted, the OS believes that the file is deleted and the drive space is shown as “free”. The actual section is untouched, so the contents of the data file remain intact till a new file overwrites them.

Here’s How you can recover a permanently deleted file

If you haven’t found the deleted file in any of the above storages, then your last resort is to search your system’s built-in backup. Let’s see how to recover them manual way on both Windows and Mac.

If you're looking for a software to recover permanently deleted files, please head over here.

Recovering Permanently Deleted Files on Windows 

You can recover deleted files from “previous versions” or “shadow copies” in windows if you have enabled it. The previous version is duplicate copies of folders and files that are saved automatically by windows as a component of a restore point.

Follow the step-by-step procedure to restore permanently deleted files:

  1. Click the start button and click on This PC or Computer.
  2. Go to the folder that had the file and right-click, then click on “Restore Previous Versions”.
  3. A list of accessible previous versions of the folder or file will be displayed.
  4. Select the files you want to retrieve and click on “Restore”. It will be restored in its original location.

recover permanentaly deleted files


Recovering Permanently Deleted Files on Mac

If you are using Time Machine for your backup, you might be able to recover the deleted files by following these simple steps:

  1. Open the folder that had the files.
  2. Choose “Enter Time Machine” after you open the Time Machine.
  3. With the help of the arrows, move up and down among snapshots of the folder. You can use timeline present on the right-side of the screen to directly enter into the specific folder.
  4. Select and open the file by double-clicking it. Preview the file version that matches to the file you want.
  5. After you found the file you are searching for, select and click restore. The file will be restored to its original destination.

When Above methods fail...

If you didn’t have much luck with the aforementioned methods, using recovery software is your last resort. Remo Recover helps you out to recover permanently deleted files. The software comes in two different versions for Windows and Mac. It has a powerful inbuilt scanning mechanism to find out deleted files like photos, text documents, videos and much more. The inbuilt advanced algorithm searches and locates the deleted files and helps in retrieving them in just a few minutes. It's interactive graphical user interface makes it, even more, easier to use the software. Overall it’s a one-stop solution to recover all your permanently deleted files.

A Complete Guide to Recover Permanently Deleted Files from Windows and Mac was last modified: December 5th, 2019 by John Harris

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