Microsoft’s Free New Tool to Recover Files in Windows

If you have never had to recover a file in Windows, you are in the minority. At some point in time, many of us have accidentally deleted a file on either a drive or removable storage like an SD card or USB stick.

While there are tons of third-party tools that Google will surface, you never quite know if these tools will work or worse, if they are installing malware or crypto mining software in the background. That’s where professional services come into play but those options can be expensive and depending on the task, completely overkill.

Microsoft has a new application that makes it easy to recover files, and it’s called Windows File Recovery. and below you will find a tutorial about how to use the application. If you need additional documentation, you can find that here.


The first thing you will need to do is download the recovery tool and also make sure you are running Windows 10 2004 (Windows 10 version released Spring 2020) or later. You can download the application from the link below:

Download: Microsoft Windows File Recovery Tool

Recovery Modes:

It’s important to understand which file system your device is using as this will help to determine which mode you should use. The file recovery tool supports FAT/exFAT/ReFS/and NTFS. Us the table below to determine which mode you should be using.

Command Line Syntax:

When entering your commands, here is a breakdown of the parameters that you will need to know:

  • /r – Uses segment mode, which examines File Record Segments (FRS).
  • /n – <filter> – Scans for a specific file by using a file name, file path, or wildcards. For example:
    • File name: /n myfile.docx
    • File path: /n /users/<username>/Documents/
    • Wildcard: /n myfile.*
      /n *.docx
      /n *<string>*
  • /x -Uses signature mode, which examines file types and works on all file systems.
  • /y:<type(s)> – Scans for files with specific file types. Separate multiple entries by using commas. For a list of extension groups and corresponding file types, see the table, “Signature mode extension groups and file types” in the section, “About modes and file systems”.
  • /# – Shows signature mode extension groups and corresponding file types in each group.
  • /? – Shows a quick summary of syntax and switches for general users.
  • /! – Shows a quick summary of syntax and switches for advanced users.

How to Recover lost files on Windows 10

If you need to recover files in Windows 10, the first thing you will need to do is to download the app from the store.

  • After installing the app, press the Windows key, enter Windows File Recovery in the search box, and then select Windows File Recovery.
  • In the Command Prompt window, enter the command in the following format: winfr source-drive: destination-drive: [/switches]
    • Note: The source and destination files must be different to recover the object
  • The tool will automatically create a recovery folder for you called, Recovery_<date and time> on the destination drive.
  • To change ‘modes’ you use either /n for default /r for segment and /x for signature
  • Default Mode Example: To recover a file from you C: drive to your E: drive, you would enter the following command:
    • winfr C: E: /n \Users\<username>\Documents\Importantinfo.docx
  • If you want to recover an entire folder, use the following command:
    • winfr C: E: /n \Users\<username>\Documents\
  • Segment Mode Example: Recover PDF and Word files from your C: drive to the recovery folder on an E: drive.
    • winfr C: E: /r /n *.pdf /n *.docx
  • Signature mode example:
    • winfr C: E: /x /y:JPEG,PNG

Important to Remember:

If you are trying to recover a file from your device, you need to stop writing content to the disk immediately. For best results, once the file is deleted, you need to try and recover the contents at that time, the longer you wait, the harder it will be to retrieve the file

As a default, you should always create full backups of your devices and not depend on a tool such as this one to retrieve files. This type of application works best for immediately recovering contents, not trying to recover a file from three weeks ago.