Find and Recover Lost Documents and Files

Files can become lost, moved and even deleted. You can find these documents using several methods. In most cases, you might find that the document hasn’t been deleted, only moved to another folder. Fortunately, Windows has good built-in search capabilities that can help you locate these rogue files. Recovering deleted files, however, might rely on third-party tools or specific techniques used by the application it was created in. For instance, Microsoft Word has a recovery option if “Always create a backup copy” is selected. If you were looking for a deleted Word document, you would open the Word program and click the Options, Tools and then Save tab. You would then navigate to the folder in which the document was previously saved and search for *.wbk. This will reveal backup copies of Word documents.

Find Lost Documents and Files

Unfortunately, most programs will not have automatic recovery options like Office 2007 and later do. You can still search for files in Windows. In Vista and Windows 7, click the Start button, then in the search box type *. and then the extension of the document. For instance, if you’re looking for a photo, you might type *.jpg or *.jpeg. The extension may vary depending on which program created the document. But the key is first typing the wildcard * followed by a dot, then the extension of the missing file. As long as your search location is broad, such as the C: drive, it will find all files with that extension and list them. If the file was simply misplaced, this will locate it.

Note: If you’re using XP, you would need to go to Start>Search>For Files or Folders. Or find the search box in Windows 8 by moving your mouse into the upper right corner to access the Charms section.

Other File Extensions include:

.doc and .docx are Word Documents

.xls is an Excel document extension

.gif .png .bmp and .tiff are other image extensions

.mpg .avi .mp4 .mov and .wmv are common video extensions

.html and .htm are common web extensions

.exe is the executable extension of an application

.7z .gzip and .zip are the extensions of compressed files

Recovering deleted Files

If you didn’t have a backup of a file and it was deleted, you will most likely need a third-party software solution to find and replace the file in question. There are a lot of trial versions out there that will not allow you to recover them unless you pay for the software. But a program like the Easeaus Free Data Recovery Wizard will help you find and recover them for free. The key to recovering a deleted file is to stop using the computer immediately. The more you use the computer, the more likely the computer will overwrite the data to a point where it is unrecoverable.

Keep Your Files Backed-up

While it’s easy to say after a file has been lost, we always say the best philosophy is to have backups of your data. Read our recommendations for Network Attached Storage devices. NAS devices are a good option if you have multiple computers in the house, as they provide a single backup solution for them all.