You have just realized that you unintentionally deleted an extremely important folder from your computer and desperately started looking for a backup copy of it on all the USB flash drives you had available. Your search was unsuccessful, however, and that's why you've been on the Internet looking for a quick and easy way to recover a deleted folder from your PC and ended up in this guide.
Well, I'm happy to tell you that you're in the right place, at a time that couldn't be better: in the next few lines, in fact, I'll take care of explaining to you how to try to restore deleted folders from your computer, be it a Windows PC or a Mac, using a series of efficient software with a high margin of success.
Before we begin, however, I must make a clarification: deleted files can generally be recovered until the space previously occupied by them on the disk is used to save new files. For this reason, I cannot guarantee a 100% success rate, but I can give you a valuable piece of information: the less you use your PC disk after deleting the folder, the higher the chances of finding the files you have unintentionally deleted intact. That said, roll up your sleeves and follow the instructions I'm about to give you. I'll cross my fingers for you!
Shadow Copies (Windows)
You should know that, on Windows operating systems, you can recover files and folders deleted by mistake (or restore previous copies of them) using so-called Shadow copies, i.e. backup copies of files and folders (but also entire volumes), created at regular intervals by the operating system.
To be able to use Windows Shadow copies, however, it is absolutely necessary that the attached functionality is enabled in the system: to verify this, click on the Start button (the flag icon located in the lower left corner of the screen), type the words "file history" in the search field (or in the Cortana bar, if you use Windows 10), click on the item Restore Files with File History and verify that the functionality is active.
After having carried out this check and having been successful, you can use the Windows Shadow copies in the following way: open a File Explorer window (by clicking on the yellow folder icon located in the Windows taskbar) and, through it, reach the "mother" folder of the one you want to recover (i.e. the folder containing the one you are interested in). Next, right-click on it, select Properties from the menu that appears and move to the Previous Versions tab.
At this point, locate the version of the folder you want to restore, helping you with the modification date, select it with a click, then press the Preview button at the bottom to make sure the restored version of the "mother" folder contains the one you want to recover. To finish, click the Restore and OK buttons to confirm the recovery operation. You're done!
If the previous solution failed to meet your needs, I suggest you give Recuva, a completely free program that lets you recover accidentally deleted files and folders from PCs running Windows operating system, a chance.
To use it, linked to the program's website, click on the CCleaner.com link and wait for the installation package (e.g. rcsetup153.exe) to be completely downloaded. Then, launch the resulting file, click the Yes button, select your language from the drop-down menu at the top right and click the Install button in the middle of the window.
At this point, click the Run Recover button, to run the program immediately, then press the Next button, set the checkmark next to All Files and click Next again. When you're done, place a checkmark next to the In a specific location, press the Browse... button and go to the "parent" folder of the one you deleted, then select it with a click and press the OK button.
To finish the configuration and start searching for deleted files with Recuva, click the Next and Start buttons. Wait, then, for the search procedure to be completed and click on the Path item to sort the recovered files according to the folder that contained them. Then locate the directory you deleted previously, check the box next to all the files in it, click the Recover... button and select the folder where you want to save them.
Remember, in any case, to take a look at the icons located next to the file names to be recovered, as only those marked by the green icon can be fully recovered, while those identified by the orange "dot" could be damaged. Files accompanied by the red icon, on the other hand, are considered irrecoverable.
If the first search does not recover the files contained in the folder you are interested in, start Recuva again, perform all the steps you saw before and remember, this time, to place a check mark next to the Enable in-depth scanning item located in the window after the document type selection.
This move, in fact, allows you to carry out a more in-depth analysis of the disk, looking for deleted files: for this reason, such an analysis could be completed within a few hours.
Time Machine (macOS)
Time Machine is a utility installed "standard" on all Macs that allows you to automatically back up the contents of the disk and if necessary, view and restore old versions of files and folders.
In order to use this feature, however, it is essential that it is already configured in the system: you can make sure by clicking on the Time Machine icon (the clock with the arrow) located in the top right corner of the macOS menu bar, and then selecting the Open Time Machine Preferences item from the proposed menu (or by selecting the Time Machine item in System Preferences).
When you get to the next screen, make sure that there is a check mark next to the Backup automatically item. Is that right? Great, then you're pretty much done!
Start the Finder (the smiling comic icon attached to the Dock bar) and go to the location where the folder was before it was accidentally deleted, then click on the Time Machine icon located in the macOS menu bar and choose the Enter Time Machine item from the menu shown.
Then, using the time bar or the directional arrows located on the right side of the screen, return the current folder to the date when it still contained the one to be restored, right-click on the latter and choose either the Restore item from the displayed context menu to return it to its original location, or the Restore [name] up item to save it to a different location.
When you're done, you can exit Time Machine by clicking the Cancel button located just below the Finder window in the middle of the screen.
If Time Machine failed to achieve the effect you wanted, I recommend you to take a look at DiskDrill: if you have never heard of it, it is one of the best programs aimed at recovering data from Macs, which allows you to restore files and folders from hard drives, SSDs, USB sticks, memory cards and, in general, all the memories formatted in FAT, NTFS and Apple file systems.
DiskDrill is not free, it costs 79€, but it can be tried for free to verify that the folder concerned is recoverable or not (allowing you to see a preview of the files it contains, but not to restore them).
To get the trial version of the software, linked to its website, click on the Download for free button and, when the download is complete, open the .dmg package obtained. Then, helping you with the window that is shown, drag the program icon into the Applications folder of your Mac.
At this point, start DiskDrill from the above mentioned folder, click the Start button and after entering your Mac administration password and pressing the Enter key, locate the disk on which the folder you want to restore was located, then press the Restore button located next to its name.
Once you've completed the disk analysis, expand the folders listed in the results window until you find the one you're interested in. If necessary, expand that folder as well and click on the eye located next to the files it contains to preview them.
To finish, click again on the folder name and then on the Recover button, to export the found files (you can do this operation only if you have purchased the full version of the program).
Other methods to recover a deleted folder from your PC
I beg your pardon? Even after following the instructions in this guide, you couldn't recover the folder you accidentally deleted from your computer?
Don't throw in the towel yet! You should know, in fact, that there are many other software solutions, both free and paid for, suitable for recovering files and folders deleted from drives, and that they could be just right for you: DMDE, Wise Data Recovery and Photorec are just a few of the names that you can refer to, and which I have told you about in detail in my guides dedicated to hard drive data recovery and file recovery on Mac. Read them, you won't regret it!
Frequently asked questions and answers
For example, if you want to restore a file that you have accidentally deleted from the Windows Desktop, just go to the Desktop folder, right click on it and choose the option Restore previous versions.
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Choose the folder, right-click on it and navigate to "Properties" and "Previous versions".
Windows will then try and list the previous versions of the deleted or lost files or folders.
Choose the last one and click on "Restore" to recover the deleted files from the desktop.
Recovering files that have not yet been emptied from the Recycle Bin is the easiest part: all you have to do is right-click on the file in question and choose the "Restore" option.
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