We get it, photos are often tied to memories of people, experiences, or things dear to us. Or they could be downloaded from the Internet, and still hold an important place in our hearts. For that reason, it is gut-wrenching when those photos are permanently erased. Whether through an accidental format, accidental Shift + Delete, or activities of people with malicious purposes, the photos are seemingly gone forever. Don’t panic, this might not be the end of the road for you. Let us teach you how to recover permanently deleted photos. Or at least try to – a lot of factors come into play.
Can I restore permanently deleted photos from my computer?
The answer, as we mentioned, depends on a lot of factors. The main one is time. The sooner you act, the better the chances. In case you aren’t aware of how computer stores data, here’s a short explanation, Once you delete a file, even from the Recycle Bin, the file itself isn’t gone. Only the address the computer created that leads to is deleted. As you install new software or copy new files, the data is slowly overwritten. That means that if you don’t act as soon and keep adding new files, no matter how powerful the best data recovery software for Windows is, you won’t be able to restore old files.
What should I do first?
- Again, do not copy new data or install anything new, no matter how small and insignificant it looks.
- Verify that the files are gone from your Recycle Bin. You might have deleted a file, but never went through and emptied the Recycle Bin. It sounds stupid, but it will save you a lot of time and nerves if it’s true.
- System Restore won’t help you. Although it does have a “Restore” part in its name, it doesn’t include erased files. It only saves the current state of installed programs, system files, and registry settings.
How to restore permanently deleted photos from a backup
We think of our readers as intelligent and security enthusiasts. For that reason, we’ll assume you’re the person that thinks ahead and wants to prevent disasters happening to you. Even if you aren’t, we’ll go through the process of demonstrating how to create a backup of your system. This includes personal files, unlike System Restore, and will prevent you from pulling your hair at losing data ever again.
How do I create a backup on my Windows computer?
You can use a secondary HDD (Hard Disk Drive) or SSD (Solid State Drive) plugged to your PC, often via SATA or M.2 slot, but we recommend using an external hard drive. Or, you can use a removable USB drive if it’s big enough, depending on how many files you need to preserve. That way, you can keep the drive away from your computer, physically protecting it in case of a fire, power outage, lightning strike, and other disastrous events.
- We will assume you’re using Windows 10. If you don’t, you definitely should. For one, it has the latest security patches and should theoretically extract the maximum out of your hardware.
- Either click on Start or press the Windows key on your keyboard.
- Type Settings or click the cogwheel above the power button.
- Choose Update & Security.
- Click on Backup from the list.
- Click on Add a drive.
- Select your external HDD or removable USB drive.
- The process is out of your hands when you do that, and will continue automatically. Luckily, Microsoft designed this feature to use Shadow Copy technology. That means you don’t have to stop using your computer while files are being backed up.
- Once finished, click the arrow, typically located next to the Network icon in your taskbar on the far right side.
- Right-click on the icon of an external drive, and click on Eject.
We feel like our guide would have been far too long if it fit instructions for users of Macintosh computers. For that reason, we will create a separate guide dedicated to that operating system. As an alternative, you can read about the best data recovery software for Mac.
How to restore photos from a Windows backup?
If you have a weapon in your arsenal, it is only logical you are taught how to use it when things come crashing down. Here’s how to retrieve deleted photos in case of a disaster.
- Connect your external hard drive or USB removable drive into the USB slot.
- Either insert a DVD containing Windows 10 installation, which is harder to do, or plug a bootable USB drive containing the same into the USB slot.
- Restart your computer.
- While it is booting back up, start pressing a key on your keyboard required to enter the BIOS. There is no standard here, and the key depends on the keyboard manufacturer. Luckily, they provide that information on-screen while the computer is starting. The keys that are most often used are F8, F9, ESC, or DEL.
- Once you’re in the BIOS, find Boot Priority. Switch things around so the USB drive with the Windows 10 installation is the first device. Press the key required to Save and Exit.
- Once the computer restarts again, it should enter a typical Windows Setup. Click Next.
- Choose to Repair your computer on the bottom left of the window.
- Click on Troubleshoot, then System Image Recovery.
- Pick Windows 10 from the list.
- You are now on the Re-image your computer page. Select Use the latest available system image and click on Next.
- Optional. You can choose to format your hard drive, and then create new partitions if the previous ones weren’t suitable for your needs.
- Click on Next. Now, click on Finish, and Confirm.
- Wait for the process to be completed, and you’ll have your old files back.
How to restore permanently deleted photos without a backup
You are definitely in a precarious situation if you don’t have a backup. Luckily, you are not out of options – give EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard a try.
- Download the software, install, and open it.
- You will see a screen resembling My Computer/This PC.
- Select the drive your photos were located in.
- Click on Scan.
- The software will go through a Quick Scan before starting a Deep Scan. This can take a while, depending on the speed and size of your drive, so sit back and relax.
- After the scan is done, the photos will be under the Lost Files category. Preview the photos and recover some of them, or go ahead and recover all of them.
- Keep in mind, you will only be able to restore up to 2 GB of any types of files for free with EaseUS, and will need a paid license for the rest. If you’re short on cash and 2 GB isn’t enough, consider downloading Piriform Recuva. It might not be as thorough, but you can retrieve an unlimited number of files.