Recover deleted files from external drive or USB drive

Many of you stock their important files on removable medias such as external hard drives or USB thumb drive.  What if you delete a file by accident and it is your only copy ?  Remember to always make a backup of your important files ( see our backup guide here ).  If, unfortunately you do not have any backup, there is a solution : Recuva.  Recuva allow you to undelete files from any drive or external medias.  Also, when you realize you deleted an important file, stop doing what you are doing as if you write more files on disk it reduce chance you could retrieve your file.


What do you need

Download Recuva (same version from this tutorial)

Download Recuva from their official website.


How to do it

In our example, there’s a Word document missing at the following drive’s root.  We also emptied trash can. :

Word document is missing

1. Download Piriform’s Recuva and install it.

2. Start Recuva to begin your file recovery.

Recuva File Recovery Wizard

3. On the next screen, select ‘All files’. Doing this will increase chances of recovering files.

Recover All Files Recuva

4. Next step is telling Recuva which drive is your external drive.  If file to recover is on your E: drive, you need to select it here.  Always select root directory, it will increase your chances.

Recuva select file location

5. On the next screen, you must check the following checkbox : ‘Enable Deep Scan’.  This option take more time but it increase greatly your chances of undeleting your file(s).

Enable Deep Scan Recovery Recuva

6. Scan is now in progress.  Depending on your drive’s size it can take time so grab a cup of coffee.

Recuva Scan is in progress

7. Recuva will then list all file possible to recover (undelete). In our example, you can see our document file is listed there, that means it can be recovered.  If you don’t find your file on that screen thats means you don’t have luck and your file cannot be recovered unfortunately.

Recuva Found File to Recover

8. To recover and restore your file, check it and click on ‘recover’ button on the bottom right.  Recuva will then ask you where do you want your file to be recovered at.

Select a file to undelete

9. Congratulation, you have now recovered & undeleted your file from your external drive.

Recuva Recovery is Success

Recuva Recovery Example Word Document


Wether you have a backup or not, this solution is always an extreme one.  Why?  Because it doesn’t always work out like in previous example.  Always, always make a backup of your important files.

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