How to Retrieve Deleted Folders


File management on a computer is a common aspect of using the machine. Files and folders are regularly created, moved around and eventually deleted. It is not uncommon to accidentally delete a folder that contains valuable files you need. Once deleted it is usually possible to retrieve these folders. The Windows operating system is built with some degree of forgiveness, as mistakes are expected among its large user base. The Recycle Bin was designed to offer this functionality of undeleting files and folders when necessary. By default, the Recycle Bin is configured to handle deleted folders with considerable flexibility so their retrieval is possible after the fact.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer with Recycle Bin
  • Verify that the folder you need is in fact no longer available. Often a folder will appear missing when really the user is looking in the wrong place. The file structure of a computer is vast, and it is easy to look in the wrong directory for a folder that actually exists elsewhere. Likewise it is possible, with a slight accidental gesture of the mouse, to move a folder into another folder without realizing it. Check adjacent folders to make sure it is in fact gone.

  • Examine the contents of the Recycle Bin. If the folder was deleted, it will appear here. Double-click the Recycle Bin icon on the Windows Desktop. This will open a new window on the computer. Inside this window is a list of all the files and folders that have been recently deleted. Your deleted folder should appear in this list if it was truly deleted.

  • Identify the folder in the Recycle Bin you wish to restore. The restore process will effectively "undelete" the folder from the Recycle Bin and place it back in its original file location.

  • Click once on the folder in the Recycle Bin you wish to retrieve. The folder will appear highlighted or selected. From the File menu, choose the "Restore" command. Alternatively, you can right-click on the folder in the Recycle Bin and choose "Restore." The folder will immediately disappear from the Recycle Bin and return to its previous location. Multiple folders may be retrieved in this manner. Either restore them individually, or select the entire group of folders together with the mouse before restoring.

Tips & Warnings

  • Files may be restored in the same manner as folders.
  • Some deleted folders are too large to fit inside the Recycle Bin. In these cases, Windows permanently removes them and they cannot be restored without additional purchased software or the help of a computer technician. However Windows warns the user with an extra step in order to delete these folders. Thus mistakes are usually avoidable regardless of the folder's size.

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