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How to use the Windows File Recovery tool on Windows 10

Good file recovery apps, or even mediocre ones, are rarely free. Some have a trial version that will allow users to run a basic scan but for a deeper scan, they need to purchase the product. That’s not to say these apps do not justify their price; they do work and they work well. If you need to recover a file in a pinch and you don’t know which recovery tool to use (or buy), give Microsoft’s free Windows File Recovery tool a try.

Windows File Recovery tool

Windows File Recovery tool is a new command-line app released by Microsoft for recovering lost/deleted files. It supports file recovery from hard drives, SSDs, SD cards, and USB drives. It supports recovery for different file formats and allows users to recover files by type.

Use Windows File Recovery tool

To use the Windows File Recovery tool, follow these steps.

  1. Install the Windows File Recovery tool from the Microsoft Store.
  2. Open Command Prompt with admin rights.
  3. Run the following command to recover files.

Command

winfr source-drive: destination-folder [/switches]

Example

winfr D: "E:\Test Folder" /n *.mp3

Windows File Recovery command explained

In order to recover files with the Windows File Recovery tool, you need to run the following command, however, you need to understand these parameters and what they represent, before you can modify the command to suit your own needs.

winfr source-drive: destination-folder [/switches]

winfr: Since this is a command-line tool, you will need to call it with this command.

soure-drive: This is the drive that the tool will recover files from.

destination-folder: This is where the recovered files will be saved.

[/switches]: These are switches i.e., modifiers that tell the tool which files to recover or what to look for when recovering a file.

Note: The Source drive should not be the same as the drive that the Destination folder is on. If the path to the destination folder has a space in it, you need to enclose it in double-quotes.

Windows File Recovery switches

The Windows File Recovery tool gives a brief explanation of what switches it supports, and what each switch is for. If you need to know which switch to use to narrow the recovered files down by type, it’s the /n switch.

To use the /n switch, add it to the end of the recover files command, and then specify the files type you want to recover by adding its extension.

/n *.mp3 will recover all MP3 files. The asterisk will fill in for the ‘name’ of the file where the name can be anything i.e., it will recover all MP3 files regardless of what they are named.

Conclusion

Windows File Recovery does not claim to be able to recover any and all files. In fact, no recovery tool does. During testing, the app was able to recover files that has been deleted and/or cut/paste removed to other external drives over a week ago. The system itself had been restarted several times since the files had been deleted. If you’ve just lost a file, running this tool before you try anything else is a good idea.

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