Windows power user tips

The ins and outs of data recovery in Windows 10

Missing folders? Unreadable files? Corrupted hard drive? Sooner or later, most computer users lose data of some kind. Here’s a series of steps you can take in Windows 10 to get it back.

A magnifying lens hovers over the Windows 10 logo.
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Sadly, there are many reasons why data stored on disk drives in Windows 10 can — and sometimes does — go missing.

As someone who’s used Windows 10 since the day after the first Technical Preview appeared on October 14, 2014, I’ve been through at least half a dozen different data recovery incidents over the past 6-plus years. Some of these have resulted from failing storage media, others from issues with cables or connectors between the media and the PC or its motherboard, and one or two have been self-inflicted arising from mistakes when using disk partitioning or repair utilities.

In each of these incidents I’ve been able to claw back my missing data, and in most cases you can too. In this story I’ll go over several techniques you can use to try to recover lost files. But first, let’s take a look at the main culprits when it comes to lost data.

Three main reasons for data loss

In most cases, three primary causes stand behind situations that call for data recovery. These are:

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