Microsoft Releases Windows File Recovery Tool

Posted on June 27, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 12 Comments

Microsoft has quietly released a new utility called Windows File Recovery for Windows 10 version 2004 or newer. But here’s the thing: Windows File Recovery is a command-line application. And it’s only available from the Microsoft Store.

“Accidentally deleted an important file? Wiped clean your hard drive? Unsure of what to do with corrupted data? Windows File Recovery can help recover your personal data,” the Store listing for the app explains. “For photos, documents, videos[,] and more, Windows File Recovery supports many file types to help ensure that your data is not permanently lost. Recovering from a camera or SD card? Try Signature mode, which expands beyond NTFS recovery and caters to your storage device needs. Let this app be your first choice for helping to find what you need from your hard drive, SSD (*limited by TRIM), USB drive, or memory cards.”

You can find more information about Windows File Recovery from the Microsoft Support website, which notes that the tool operates in three different modes:

Default mode. This mode uses the Master File Table (MFT) to locate lost files. Default mode works well when the MFT and file segments, also called File Record Segments (FRS), are present.

Segment mode. This mode does not require the MFT but does require segments. Segments are summaries of file information that NTFS stores in the MFT such as name, date, size, type, and the cluster/allocation unit index.

Signature mode. This mode only requires that the data is present and searches for specific file types. It doesn’t work for small files. To recover a file on an external storage device, such as a USB drive, you can only use Signature mode.

Seems like a good option if you’re stuck. Thanks to Walking Cat on Twitter for the tip.

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Comments (14)

14 responses to “Microsoft Releases Windows File Recovery Tool”

  1. louiem3

    Hey Paul not sure if it's just me, it looks like the link for "You can find more information about...." needs to be corrected. When I click on it, it takes me to https://www.thurrott.com/windows/windows-10/237109/aka.ms/winfrhelp.


    Feel free to delete this if it's been fixed. :)


    Thanks

  2. Winner

    Well don't rush now to put out a file recovery tool for this new OS.

  3. cr08

    Glad to see this added as an officially supported tool. There are plenty of tools on the market that already do this, but the vast majority always feel sketchy with either lots of ads, poorly designed websites, etc. and some even go so far as to show you what is there but charge to recover. The only tool I am aware of that is about as legit as you can get is TestDisk/Photorec but navigation always feels convoluted.


    This, on the other hand, feels pretty solid with easy to understand command line options. Kudos to the team who worked on it.

  4. navarac

    Just in case a new build deletes files (tongue in cheek!)

  5. datameister

    How hard would it have been to put a GUI on this? Or, are they requiring it to be run from recovery mode or something?

  6. ebnador

    Hey Microsoft why don’t you enhance the del and rd commands to dump them in the recycling folder, you know like the GUI automatically does. Not saying it would eliminate the need for this tool but would eliminate one of the use cases.

  7. martinusv2

    For a moment, I think I had a flashback of Norton Undelete :)


    They could at least had a graphic version.

  8. SRLRacing

    I'm trying it out on an old external drive that lost the file table some time ago. So far it seems to work well.

  9. ghostrider

    A command line tool only available in the MS store! WTF? That's a real weird decision - this tool should be part of the OS, and probably should have shipped with 20H1 or worst case 20H2. Who will go to the MS Store and download a command line tool.... very few go to the MS store anyway.

    • codymesh

      In reply to ghostrider:

      the new Windows Terminal is in the store, along with the ubuntu kernel for WSL.


      Those who want it can get it. Those who don't won't. It's really as simple as that. Also the store will keep it up-to-date in a seamless manner

  10. dftf

    Interesting, but I agree a simple GUI would be better.


    As alternatives, I'd recommend "Recuva" if you have deleted a file, but the partition is still intact (you've not done a format) and the drive still works (you can browse it in File Explorer).


    Or "TestDisk and PhotoRec" (it's one product) where a partition/volume has been formatted, or it no-longer is readable in File Explorer (e.g. you double-click and are told it is not formatted).


    Don't forget too on NTFS volumes to try the built-in "Previous Versions" feature if you've just deleted a file also!

    • Paul Thurrott

      Maybe Mehedi will whip up something for this. :) Or maybe this is just stage one and a formal GUI happens and becomes part of Windows. I guess we'll see. But it's better than nothing.

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