Microsoft File Recovery Software – How to Use and 10 Best Alternatives

Updated to File Recovery Tips by Robert on Mar 16, 2023 | Approved by Anthony Spadafora

The importance of data in our daily lives has grown exponentially in the last couple of decades. In this day and age, practically everything is done digitally. We rely on computers to track our schedules, work, photos, and even our personal thoughts. As such, we were losing important files can be a significant setback due to accidental deletion, formatted drive, software glitch, or even hardware failure. Thankfully, for Windows users, there is a built-in tool called Microsoft file recovery. This tool can help you recover lost files quickly and easily, getting you back on track in no time.

Quick Navigation
Part 1. What is Microsoft File Recovery
Part 2. How to Download Windows File Recovery Tool from Windows Store
Part 3. How to Use Microsoft Windows File Recovery Tool
Part 4. Top 10 Alternatives to Microsoft Windows File Recovery Software
Part 5. Frequently Asked Questions

Part 1. What is Microsoft File Recovery

Microsoft Windows recovery tool is an application that enables its users to recover deleted files from a USB drive, hard disk, and SD card. With the recent problems of data loss experienced by Windows 10 operating system users, Microsoft thought it was wise to create a data recovery application that could help save the files and documents of its users.

It can restore PDF, JPEG, PNG, MPEG, Office files, MP3, MP4, ZIP files, and other extensions. It supports different file systems like NTFS, FAT, exFAT, and ReFs. This will enable you to recover any information from where you want without fear of incompatibility.

Microsoft data recovery software can only be used on Windows 10 2004 (the May 2020 update) and higher or more recent versions of Windows 10.

Part 2. How to Download Windows File Recovery Tool from Windows Store

It is present for download in the Windows app store. To start any data recovery operation, you must first download it by opening the store, searching for "Windows File Recovery," and installing it.

When the installation is complete, go to the start menu and look for "Windows File Recovery." Click on the shortcut to launch the application and click "Yes" when the prompt comes up. Windows File Recovery opens as a Command Prompt Window with Administrator access. To recover data with it, you will have to run file recovery commands.

Part 3. How to Use Microsoft Windows File Recovery Tool

Microsoft Windows File Recovery tool is different from most data recovery third-party software. It completes the recovery of data in the form of a command line. You must save the recoverable files on a different drive from the original drive on which they are located. There are three modes involved in data recovery using Windows File Recovery Tool. They include the Default, Segment, and Signature modes.

These different modes have their specific importance and require separate applications. Below, you will learn about where to use each method:

NB: To see the file system, right-click on the drive under "This PC" and click on "Properties." Under the General tab, you will see the file system. When wanting to perform a recovery process, it is good to try the Default mode and then the segment and signature modes when in doubt.

1. How to Recover a Deleted File using the Default Mode

When using the default mode, you need to use /n. Then it should be followed by the path from which you are searching. For example:

To search for a file named word.docx, you will type in: /n word.docx

In case you know the exact path of the file, you can directly search for it in that path, for example:

/n \Users\Username\Documents\word.docx where username is the PC’s username.

Using the basic format above to apply it for the default mode, your command will be as follows:

winfr D: E: /n *.docx

This command will recover all .docx extension files from disk D and transfer them to disk E. Once this is done, type "y" to continue. (This will create a directory in disk E containing the files it found, where you can go and search for your files.)

If you don’t remember the full name of a file but remember a word in it, or you want to recover a group of files that had a particular word in common in their terms, you could search for the file by using the word. For example, using the phrase *game*

winfr D: E: /n *games*

For a file whose name you know, for example, program.pdf, use the command line below.

winfr D: E: /n \Users\Username\Documents\program.pdf

This is all about using the default mode.

2. How to Restore Data using the Segment Mode

Segment mode is quite similar to the default mode. The difference is with the segment mode, /r is added to the command line of a default mode. Hence, if you are using the default mode and don’t find your file, you can advance the recovery by adding /r to the command line. Good command in the segment mode is as follows.

winfr D: E: /r /n * .JPEG

This will help recover all pictures with the .jpeg extension.

3. How to Retrieve Files using the Signature Mode

The signature mode differs from the other two based on finding deleted files using their file types. In signature mode, your command includes /x, letting Windows File Recovery know you are in the signature mode, and /y: where you list the file type you want to find.

To know the supported file types in the signature mode, insert the command below.

winfr /#

It will display a table containing the different supported file types. An example of a command in the signature mode is as below.

winfr D: E: /x /y:PDF

It will recover all PDF files in D and transfer them to the recover folder in E.

This is precisely how to use Windows File Recovery to recover deleted files in Windows 11, 10, and more.

While Microsoft data recovery software is an excellent tool for data recovery on Windows PCs, some users may find the command line interface annoying. Fortunately, there are several replacement software options available that offer a more user-friendly interface.

Part 4. Top 10 Alternatives to Microsoft Windows File Recovery Software

Microsoft File Recovery, the simple and easy-to-use tool, allows you to retrieve disappeared files from your active storage. However, while this is a free tool for everyone, it also has a downside. In such a scenario, having a good recovery tool as a backup option is a good idea. Here, we will share the top 10 options with you.

  1. iBeesoft Free Data Recovery
  2. Regarding file recovery on Windows, we highly recommend iBeesoft Free Data Recovery as an alternative to Microsoft file recovery. It has a simple wizard interface and can repair corrupted files during scanning. With support for up to 2GB of free recovery, it easily takes the lead on some of the best tools.

    The free data recovery software for Windows 11, 10, or macOS lets users preview the found files. This is especially useful if you have limited files to recover and enjoy your entire experience free of cost.

    2GB free recovery allows most users to recover files without any payments.
    Easy to use and intuitive design
    Can recover almost any file thanks to the support for hundreds of file formats
    Support for a wide range of file systems and storage mediums
    Scan speed is a bit slower than expected
  3. Disk Drill
  4. Disk Drill has many great features that make the recovery process meaningful and effortless. You get to find the files you are looking for, and thanks to the free version, you can retrieve your data easily without paying any money. This Microsoft data recovery tool alternative is incredibly effective in its support for hundreds of file formats, high-performance recovery, powerful data recovery capacity, support for scanning lost partitions, and more.

    The tool’s basic version is free and supports up to 500MB of recovery.
    Impressive recovery results and track record
    Easy to use with intuitive features
    Offers data backup and protection
    Scanning speed is not the fastest
  5. PhotoRec
  6. Many users want to recover their files using an entirely free tool. While that is a great idea, it does have its caveats. Being free means the developers have a limited budget, so you are compromising on many things. However, PhotoRec does it and is completely free. Hence, it is a good option for Microsoft data recovery software alternatives.

    A completely free and open-source solution
    Supports hundreds of file formats and all major file systems
    Supports multiple types of external storage devices and gadgets as well
    Wide language and OS support
    Command line interface, not suitable for newbies
    The ability to select specific files for recovery is also not available, so you get everything recovered in one go.
  7. Recuva
  8. Sometimes you want a solution that is no-nonsense, easy to use, and does the job well. That is precisely what you get with Recuva, it can easily beat most solutions you can find when searching for a Microsoft store Windows file recovery tools. The interface of this software is quite simple but very much intuitive. Marked menu tabs allow easy access to all settings. For a free version, getting the ability to preview files is also impressive, so you can be selective about the files you need instead of paying a total price for complete drive recovery. The performance statistics of Recuva are also quite good, making it a reliable solution.

    Free version is quite good and provides a decent recovery range
    Preview screen available for selective recovery
    Well-designed interface that is easy to use, albeit a bit outdated
    Support for file formats is not as good as many other alternatives
    There is only a Windows version, and updates have been discontinued.
  9. DiskGenius
  10. An all-encompassing tool can be helpful when working on data recovery and other data management features. DiskGenius is a solution that provides good data recovery options as part of a larger package. This tool offers two interlinked features, i.e., data recovery and partition management. If you lost your drives to a crash of some kind or wrong formatting, this tool could help you get them back and recover any data you may have stored in case the drives are not accessible. The tool can recover all kinds of file formats from a wide range of file systems and devices.

    The UI could be more intuitive, though, and feels crowded and overwhelming. Given the full scope of this tool, you will also need to spend a pretty penny before you can utilize its full potential.

    All-in-one solution with an effective data recovery solution
    Combined with partition management for a comprehensive recovery solution
    Interface is crowded and unintuitive for most users
    Not applicable in case of partial data loss
  11. Stellar Free Data Recovery Software
  12. If your file system or device crashes and results in data loss, you should consider this solution. The Steller Data Recovery tool takes on some of the most challenging cases and efficiently manages to recover data from them. This is especially useful as it supports many devices apart from standard computer drives. The file formats it supports are plenty, making it possible for users to recover virtually any lost data. This application's user interface is one of the most intuitive and relatively easy to understand.

    Can recover data from worst cases with support for a wide range of devices
    Allows users to preview files before downloading
    Supports a wide range of formats and file systems
    Recovery speed is relatively slow as compared to other solutions
  13. TestDisk
  14. If you are a tech-savvy person with a decent computer system command and can use command line interfaces comfortably, this tool could be for you. TestDisk is open-source data recovery software and works on Windows, Mac, and Linux. If your lost files are damaged, it cannot fix them in any way and only recovers them for you.

    Support for a wide range of file systems and file formats
    Small footprint makes it great for computers with limited storage
    Having partition recovery included can be quite a blessing for many users
    UI is in the command line, which can put off many users before they even try it
  15. MiniTool Power Data Recovery
  16. Regarding recovery software, the MiniTool Power Data Recovery stands tall with an easy-to-use recovery process and a great app that provides multiple useful features. It is an excellent option for anyone who has not used a recovery tool before and is almost as good as our top recommendation. It supports multiple devices, including internal drives and external storage media. The recovery process is also quite simple, and you are given the option to preview recoverable files and select the ones you want to recover. Users can recover up to 1GB of data for free before needing any upgrade to a paid version. The tool can also scan damaged CDs and DVDs, which many apps do not support.

    Can be used as a bootable tool for recovering internal drives
    The tool can also scan damaged CDs and DVDs, which many apps do not support.
    Good file organization
    Unable to minimize the window when the recovery process is running
  17. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard
  18. Of the many Microsoft Windows file recovery solutions you can find, this is one of the most powerful and worthy of mention. The software offers an easy-to-use interface that does a great job of recovering files from multiple types of storage devices. It also supports a wide range of file formats, so even the tricky ones can be recovered easily. If you want to recover 2GB files for free, then you need to share it on social platforms.

    UI is easy to understand and operate
    Can be used for mailbox and database recovery as well
    Good support material available on the website
    Its subscription model is quite expensive
  19. UnDeleteMyFiles Pro
  20. As far as utterly free recovery software go, UnDeleteMyFiles Pro does a decent job of finding and recovering files. You can use it to either recover complete partitions or select the files you want to recover from the preview feature. The app only provides a quick scan feature, but the results are still decent and work for most people who are in a pinch and do not want to consider buying a proper solution. The app also comes with multiple add-ons, which are free, and you can use it to recover your emails.

    Completely free to use
    Additional tools are also provided for free
    No custom scanning options or signature scanning service
    The development for this has been abandoned for quite some time now, and no one is looking after the tool in case support is required.

Microsoft File Recovery is a reliable and effective data recovery program. However, it does have its limitations. If you encounter the problem of data loss, the above alternatives can solve the problem perfectly.

Part 5. Frequently Asked Questions

We hope you enjoyed this guide on how to use Microsoft File Recovery and its best alternatives. Remember, time is of the essence if you're ever in a data loss situation. The sooner you act, the better your chances are of recovering all or most of your lost files.