Although it isn't yet built into Windows, Microsoft has finally released its own file undelete tool—it's called Windows File Recovery, and it works with the newest builds of Windows (variously known as 20H1, 2004, and 19041). We were pretty excited to see this tool has become available—even though proper system administration means frequent backups, which render this tool unnecessary. In the real world, proper system administration and frequent backups are a lot less common than we might wish.
The lack of a proper file undeletion tool in Windows means that many of us have been hoarding one of a handful of old shareware or freemium third-party utilities capable of scanning disks and looking for remnants of deleted files. The "hoarding" part is unfortunately necessary because finding one of those utilities means sorting through stacks of scam apps targeting desperate users—and frequently, you can't be certain whether you've found one of the good ones or one of the scams until after you've installed it (hopefully, inside a sandbox or isolated VM).
It's great news that Microsoft is finally bringing that capability in-house—but the tool certainly could be easier to find. When we looked for Windows File Recovery by name on Bing, in a freshly installed Windows 10 2004 VM, we got buried under pages of ads for other things.
Moving onto the Microsoft Store, the experience was no better—when searching for its exact name, we couldn't find the Windows File Recovery tool until we'd filtered our results first to Apps only, then to Tools & Utilities only.
Once we'd finally found the tool and verified that we met the system requirements, installation was a click away.
On todays episode of “Ars Deletes a File”
Unlike most of the third-party "undelete" utilities
winfr supersedes, it's a command-line utility only—users won't get a graphical interface to help them wade through their drive. It's also incredibly picky about where it recovers files to—you'll need a separate storage volume, such as a USB thumb drive, to restore any files to. Attempting to just undelete a file in place earns you a stern rebuke from
winfr, and there doesn't appear to be any way to override this behavior.
More importantly, we were unable to get
winfr to restore a just-deleted file from our VM's C drive at all. In our first attempt, we created and deleted an empty text file, but
winfr couldn't find it. Thinking that perhaps the tool "helpfully" ignored empty files, we tried again, and this time, we put a bit of actual data in our sacrificial text file. There was no change in the results.
To make certain we weren't missing something, we tried again—this time with a large NASA image saved to the PiRead More – Source