Restore Deleted Files Easily With Recuva

Mark O'Neill 07-12-2008

restore-deleted-files We’ve talked about file recovery tools on MakeUseOf before, including one that I discussed last September in How To securely Retrieve and Delete PC files How To securely Retrieve and Delete PC files Read More .  But several friends have constantly urged me to try out Recuva, which is made and supported by the same people who created CCleaner (another favourite app of mine and MakeUseOf).


The interface of Recuva is similar to CCleaner, it is simple to use (even a computer moron could use it) and after testing it, it seems to be very effective in restoring deleted files. So I figured it deserved its own write-up on MakeUseOf.

So let’s get the short product description first of all from the Recuva homepage:

Recuva (pronounced “recover”) is a freeware Windows utility to restore files that have been accidentally deleted from your computer. This includes files emptied from the Recycle bin as well as images and other files that have been deleted by user error from digital camera memory cards or MP3 players. It will even bring back files that have been deleted by bugs, crashes and viruses!

But as with any deleted file that you want to bring back, the older it is, the harder it will be to bring back. Plus if you are able to bring it back, the older it is, the more corrupted the file will be. So if you want to bring a deleted file back, you need to do it as fast as possible. The more you delay, the less chance there is of recovering it.

After using Recuva for a couple of days, I have ended up being very impressed with it. It is very fast with finding recoverable files and when you click on what you want brought back, it restores the file and sends it back to your hard drive within seconds.

So here’s how the program works.


1. After opening the program, select the drive where the file was deleted then click the “scan” button.

restore deleted files xp

2. Recuva then starts sweeping the specified hard drive looking for files that are able to be restored.

restore deleted files freeware


3. You then get a list of all the files that Recuva was able to find.  As you can see, some of the files are unidentifiable with just scrambled file names but a lot of other files have their original names intact (more on that later). What I really liked about Recuva is that it has a colour-coded system where you can see right away the status of each file and whether or not it is in any condition to be downloaded successfully or not.

Red means the file is basically screwed and you can forget it. Yellow means the file is in very bad condition but you can still download it and take your chances with it – some of it might be salvageable. Green means that the file is in excellent condition and you can get it back no problem.

restoring deleted file

4. If there are too many files returned to manage or you are looking for a particular file, you can filter the files. Just specify a file type or a file name in the “filename or path” field or drop down the menu to specify a file type.   So for example, by typing in “googleupdate”, I was able to find three particular files.


restore files

5. Now say I want to want to recover those 3 files? I just need to tick them and click the “recover” button. Recuva will ask me to specify where on the computer they should go and when I have told it, the files will start downloading. In fact, they are put back on the computer so fast that I didn’t even have time to make a screenshot!

Restore Deleted Files Easily With Recuva recuva5

That’s basically all there is to it. Just remember to untick those files in Recuva before you close the program because Recuva remembers those files next time and will keep on downloading them over and over again! So untick them once you have recovered them and you’ll be fine.


Do you use Recuva? If so, what have been your experiences with it? What percentage of files have you managed to recover using this app? Is there any particular file format in your opinion that recovers better than all the others?

Related topics: Restore Data, Windows Vista, Windows XP.

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  1. Jade
    February 28, 2016 at 6:33 am

    Not a very good program at all. Very unimpressed considering that it comes from the same company that makes CCleaner.

    Delete photos from my desktop. Immediately use Recuva to scan the recycle bin. Find the photos and select Recover Photos. Out of the 10 recovered photos not one of them is viewable in Windows Photos, Paint or Photoshop.

    And remember, I recovered these photos seconds after original;ly deleting them.

    Recuva = garbage.

    Because it does not deliver I give it 0 out of 10.

  2. Alex
    April 2, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    I think new freeware - Disk Drill for Windows is good alternative to Recuva

    • eric
      May 6, 2015 at 12:20 pm

      Can i recover deleted sms files on my lumia windows 8.1 phone with Recova

  3. anonymous
    February 10, 2010 at 3:00 am

    didnt work for some rar files i tried to recover.
    Please help

  4. Kevin
    February 5, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    After reading your post, I decided to give it a try - to recover some pictures on an SD memory card.

    After Christmas, I had many pictures from several events at different family functions. In my rush to get everything transferred to several different folders on my desktop, I missed some of the pictures when making the transfers. I then deleted all the files on the SD card, and even reformatted in (using the camera).

    When one of our family members asked for the pictures, i realized my mistake - after numerous searches!

    I tried another recovery program with no luck. Tried Recuva, and it found all the files on the second / deep scan pass. Worked great! I was amazed!

    Very impressed!

  5. Tony
    December 11, 2008 at 9:01 am

    Sounds like a great utility. I very rarely delete anything by mistake, and usually only clear my recycle bin a while later having deleted files, but should you lose something, this is invaluable.

    Thanks for the information.

  6. venkat
    December 8, 2008 at 12:35 am

    @sance I am the big fan of CCleaner ,I hope the product from the makers of CCleaner would be nice too,having said that I am not a guy who likes to use these recovery softwares, it only needed when we lost files ,I hope users will found their lost files using Recuva will find useful,at least MUO write about Recuva which makes note to all that this program is available to recover your losted files those who searching for recovery tools might stop at this stop.

  7. sance
    December 7, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    i have used this utlitys for few days now,, and reading your review i can only say that its not 100% correct.

    probably you haven't spend a lot of time understanding the application or reading what it actualy does.

    (you have to specify in the options beforehand how many “passes” you want Recuva to do to find recoverable files. The options are 1, 3, 7 or 35. I chose 7).

    there is no such option for Recuva to find files,, there are only "2" diffirent stages at which it scans,, the standard " quick " method,, and the "deep analyze" method

    but, there is such option which you mentioned,, only it doesnt' do what you wrote about,, that option,, 1, 2, 7 and 35 is once you have found files you can use this to set how many times you want to securely delete the files(left click),, with how many stages.. has nothing to do with searching.

    such mistakes are shame for a website like this sorry to say,, as i was expecting a more professional review.

    • Mark O'Neill
      December 8, 2008 at 6:58 am

      Thank you for picking me up on that. I'm only human and I make mistakes like everybody else. I don't claim to be the world's super-duper expert. So I'm glad you noticed my slip-up.

      I will remove that part of the review.

      • sance
        December 8, 2008 at 9:05 am

        no probleem,, didn't mean to make you feel bad in anyway. i read from this site a lot and i hope to learn from and get the right information, so usualy i trust on the word of the writer.