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New Windows 10 tool helps you recover deleted or corrupted data


Microsoft has released a new Windows 10 utility called Windows File Recovery that helps users recover damaged or deleted files. 

"Accidentally deleted an important file? Wiped clean your hard drive? Unsure of what to do with corrupted data? Windows File Recovery can help recover your personal data," Microsoft says on the Microsoft Store listing for the app. 
"For photos, documents, videos, and more, Windows File Recovery supports many file types to help ensure that your data is not permanently lost." 
Microsoft recommends 'Signature' mode for recovering data from a camera or an SD card since it expands beyond Microsoft NT file system (NTFS) recovery.
"Let this app be your first choice for helping to find what you need from your hard drive, SSD (*limited by TRIM), USB drive, or memory cards," it says. 
The tool is for more advanced Windows users who are familiar with Microsoft's command-line interpreter, Command Prompt (cmd). 
Microsoft's support page describes Windows File Recovery as a command-line app that can be used to try to recover files that have been deleted from local storage and can't be restored from the Recycle Bin. It does not support recovery from cloud storage and network file shares. 
Microsoft warns that people who need to use the tool should minimize or avoid using the computer before recovering the files because of the way NTFS works. 
"In the Windows file system, the space used by a deleted file is marked as free space, which means the file data can still exist and be recovered. But any use of your computer can create files, which may overwrite this free space at any time." 
The three modes available in Windows File Recovery include Default, Segment, and Signature. 
Only Signature mode can enable recovering files from non-NTFS file systems, such as FAT and exFAT for SD cards and USB drives, or ReFS for Windows Server and Windows Pro for Workstations. 
Default mode uses the Master File Table (MFT) to locate lost files. "Default mode works well when the MFT and file segments, also called File Record Segments (FRS), are present," says Microsoft. 
Segment mode does not require the MFT but does require segments. "Segments are summaries of file information that NTFS stores in the MFT such as name, date, size, type and the cluster/allocation unit index," it says. 
Signature mode only requires that the data is present and searches for specific file types. "It doesn't work for small files. To recover a file on an external storage device, such as a USB drive, you can only use Signature mode," says the support note. 
The only system requirement is the need to be running Windows 10 version 19041.0 or higher, with architecture support extending to x86, x64, ARM, and ARM64. A guide on how to use the tool can be found on Microsoft's Support website, which is an essential resource considering you'll be typing in commands in an attempt to recover your files.
While this certainly isn't a tool for beginners, it's nice to have it available in case the worst happens and a file gets unintentionally deleted. One thing to keep in mind, though, is not to wait to use it once you realize a file or files are missing. As Microsoft points out in the documentation, "If you want to increase your chances of recovering a file, minimize or avoid using your computer. In the Windows file system, the space used by a deleted file is marked as free space, which means the file data can still exist and be recovered. But any use of your computer can create files, which may over-write this free space at any time."

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