Microsoft has released a free Windows File Recovery app for PCs to help users retrieve lost files.
According to the company’s support page, the command line app can retrieve files deleted from local storage devices (such as internal drives and USB devices) and that can’t be restored from Recycle Bin.
Microsoft says it can recover most file types, including JPEG, PDF, PNG, MPEG, Office files, MP3 & MP4, ZIP files and more, and also supports NTFS, FAT, exFAT and ReFS file systems.
It does not however include support for recovery of deleted files from cloud storage or network file shares.
However, the tool may not be everyone’s cup of tea as website ZDNet pointed out that it is for “advanced Windows users” who know their way around Microsoft’s command-line interpreter Command Prompt.
Basically, users will be asked to enter the Windows File Recovery command into the Command Prompt window and proceed from there. A guide with basic steps is included in the support page. It also provides details on supported file system and recommended mode to use (either Default, Segment or Signature) for the recovery process.
Before recovering the file, Microsoft reminded users to minimise or avoid using their computer.
“In the Windows file system, the space used by a deleted file is marked as free space, which means the file data can still exist and be recovered. But any use of your computer can create files, which may over-write this free space at any time,” the company said in a note on the support page.
The duration of the recovery operation depends on the size of the user’s source drive and it may take a while.
To stop the recovery process, Microsoft recommends pressing Ctrl + C.
Users are also required to have Windows 10 version 19041.0 or higher for the tool to work.