Recover lost files in Windows using Shadow Explorer

Today, it is very difficult to lose data thanks to ubiquitous cloud storage and reliable storage media. But sometimes things go very, very wrong. Maybe this is a ransomware attack or a deliberate removal by an evil relative.

Regardless of why your files no longer exist, there’s a nifty feature in Windows (since Vista) that could save your bacon.

It’s called Volume Shadow Copy and it works as an automatic backup solution that automatically keeps shadow copies of your files.

Most users are not aware of Shadow Copies at all, and unfortunately the built-in tool for accessing previous versions in Windows is not particularly easy to use.

Fortunately, there’s a great free program called Shadow Explorer that lets you explore all of your shadow copy data. If you’re lucky, the files you’re looking for will still be available.

Note that this is different from restoring deleted files using rollback software. This means restoring data that has been marked for deletion. Undelete software can be used in parallel with Shadow Explorer.

Detecting shadow copies

The first thing you should do is download the software and install it. Both a traditional installer and a portable version of the program are available.

After installation, launch Shadow Explorer and you will see this window. It looks very similar to the classic File Explorer.

Things are pretty obvious there. Select a drive in the upper left corner of the window, then select a date from the drop-down list. If the drive is selected but nothing is displayed in the right pane, then System Restore is disabled on your system.

See my previous post on enabling/disabling System Restore in Windows.

The files are now available. Search for the desired files or folders. If you find one you want to save, right-click on it and select Export .

You will be asked to choose a save location.

Once you choose a save location, the files/folders will be safely delivered wherever you want. It’s that simple! You can also go to FileConfigure system protection, to check the current shadow copy settings.

This basically opens the tab System Restore in Windows.

Make sure protection is enabled for each drive that contains important data that you want to have a backup version of. You can also create a system restore point manually by clicking the button to create . To enjoy!

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