Have you accidentally deleted files from the C drive? If yes, don't sweat it. You can recover deleted files from C drive without breaking a sweat.

The C drive, also known as the system drive, stores data on Windows computers. Despite recommendations to save files elsewhere, many users store videos, photos, and documents on the primary drive. Losing data can happen due to malware, viruses, power surges, or system crashes. Here's what to do when files are deleted from the C drive and the top C drive data recovery methods to use.

Table of Content
    1. Recover Files From C Drive Using Data Recovery Software
    2. Recover C Drive Data Using File Explorer
    3. Recover C Drive Data Using Windows System Restore
    4. Restore C Drive by Changing Attributes Using CMD

What Happens if You Deleted C Drive Files

Unlike other drives on your PC, the C drive stores operating system data, software running files, and other system-related information. Without these files, your Windows system can't operate properly. The drive also stores your internet files, download data, information on the apps and programs you use, and more.

If your C drive appears as a red bar in the Devices and Drives tab, it's running out of space. However, you shouldn't just delete seemingly useless files and folders. If you delete C drive files, you may experience various issues depending on the files you've removed:

  • If you delete personal files (documents, photos, videos, etc.), you will lose access to that data. To recover these deleted files, you may need to use data recovery software or restore them from a backup if you have one.
  • If you delete application files, those specific applications may stop working correctly, and you may need to reinstall them to fix the issue or recover the files using a data recovery software.
  • If you delete system files or essential operating system components, the computer might become unstable or unbootable. In this case, you may need to recover or reinstall the operating system to restore its functionality.

How To Recover Deleted Files From C Drive

If you delete personal or application files, the computer will continue to function properly, and you can easily recover the deleted files from the C drive using the following methods:

Method 1: Recover Files From C Drive Using Data Recovery Software

Using a data recovery tool is the simplest C drive recovery method for recovering your files, regardless of the cause of data loss. Wondershare Recoverit is a reliable, user-friendly, and secure data recovery software solution for recovering PC data across various scenarios.

It can restore your personal or application files lost due to accidental deletion, unintentional C drive formatting, virus/malware infection, data transfer interruption, disk corruption, system crash, partition loss, or software/hardware malfunction.

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To recover your C drive data with this C drive recovery software, download and install it on your PC, then follow these steps:

  1. Launch Recoverit and click Hard Drives and Locations;
  2. Select your C drive in the Hard Disk Drives section and click Start;
    select the c drive for data recovery
  3. Allow Recoverit to scan the selected hard disk (the scan will start automatically);
    recoverit automatically scans the c drive
  4. You can preview the scanning results in real-time;
    pinpoint c drive files during the scanning process
  5. Select the files you want to recover and click the Recover button;
    click recover to retrieve your lost data
  6. Finally, choose a location to save your files and click Recover again to start the C drive recovery process.
    start c drive data recovery
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Method 2: Recover C Drive Data Using File Explorer

You can recover your deleted data from C drive using File Explorer. This Windows utility allows you to restore deleted or lost files automatically by retrieving them from Previous Versions. Previous Versions are earlier versions of files you can use as backup copies of your files and folders.

Follow these steps to recover your deleted files from C drive:

  1. Type File Explorer in the Search bar and click Open;
  2. Locate your C drive and select the folder you want to restore;
  3. Right-click on the folder and navigate to Properties > Previous Versions;
  4. Choose the latest version of the folder and click Restore;
  5. Click OK to confirm your actions.
    restore c data using file explorer
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Note: The Previous Version option must be enabled to let you restore your files using File Explorer.

Method 3: Recover C Drive Data Using Windows System Restore

Windows System Restore is an excellent option for restoring your system to an earlier version. Windows regularly generates restore points before updates and other major system changes to prevent data loss and back up your files.

However, this option will only recover rollback updates, installed apps, and system settings. If you've lost personal files privy to System Restore, you won't be able to recover them.

Here are the steps to recover C drive files using System Restore:

  1. Type System Restore in the Search Bar and click Create a restore point;
    how to restore c drive with system restore
  2. Navigate System Properties to the System Protection tab and click System Restore;
    select system restore in the system protection tab
  3. Click Next in the System Restore window;
    use system restore to recover system files and settings
  4. Select the restore point you want to recover and click Next;
    select the desired restore point and click next
  5. Click Finish to confirm your restore point and start the restore process.
    click finish to confirm your restore point.
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Note: You must enable Windows System Restore in order to use this option to recover deleted or lost files.

Method 4: Restore C Drive by Changing Attributes Using CMD

CMD, or the command prompt, is one of the most reliable Windows utilities for restoring deleted or lost files from an internal drive. CMD can detect and identify the directory records that are otherwise invisible to your Windows operating system

The CMD tool provides several commands for performing the C drive data recovery operation. These commands help you restore the C drive and the data stored on it by fixing and changing the drive's attributes.

Here are the steps to retrieve deleted hard drive data using CMD:

  1. Type CMD in the Search box and click Run as administrator;
  2. Type chdsk C: /f and hit Enter;
  3. Hit the Y key to confirm;
  4. Type the C letter again and hit Enter;
  5. Type C: \ >attrib –h –r –s /s /d *.* (this command will restore the deleted data in the C drive).
    change the c drive attributes with cmd

Wait for the command line to complete the data recovery process. Once CMD completes the process, Windows will save the recovered files in a new folder on your internal drive (C disk). The files will probably come in .chk format. Change the file extension according to your preferences.

What if You Deleted the System Files From C Drive, and the Computer Won't Boot?

If you can't boot your Windows OS due to accidental system data deletion, you can use Recoverit - Crashed Computer Recovery to restore critical system files and use the retrieved data to reinstall Windows on your PC.

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Note: You'll need an operational PC and a blank USB drive to restore deleted system files from the C drive.

Watch the video tutorial or follow the step-by-step guide below to recover deleted system files from the C drive:

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  1. Download and install Recoverit on your working computer and connect the USB drive to the computer.
  2. Launch Recoverit and select System Crashed Computer > >Start;
    select system crashed computer to recover deleted system files
  3. Select the connected USB drive and click Start to create a bootable USB drive;
    select the connected usb
  4. Wait for the C drive recovery software to complete the process;
    create a bootable usb drive
  5. Start the unbootable PC and connect the bootable USB drive to your computer;
    boot crashed computer from a bootable usb drive
  6. In the BIOS menu, select Boot from USB drive and restart your PC;
  7. When the first boot screen appears, hit the BIOS entry key;
  8. Once your PC boots normally, select Data Recovery in the main Recoverit window;
    select data recovery option
  9. Select the C drive to scan it for deleted files with Recoverit;
  10. Once Recoverit completes the scanning process, select a new path to save the recovered C drive files and click Recover.
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Many common situations could cause you to lose your C drive files. Accidental deletion, inaccessible C drive, unexpected system shutdown, hard drive failure, unintentional formatting, and OS reinstallation are just some of the reasons why PC users lose their C drive files. Though recovering C drive files can be tedious, it isn't rocket science.

In other words, your C drive is recoverable, and your files are retrievable. In most cases, you can fix your C drive and recover your essential data using a data recovery tool like Wondershare Recoverit. Whether you've lost your files due to a system crash or any of the aforementioned causes, Recoverit can save the day and bring your data back with a few clicks.

FAQs About C Drive Data Recovery

  • Is C drive data recovery possible?
    Yes, in most cases, you can recover C drive data using Wondershare Recoverit.
    1. Download and install Wondershare Recoverit on your computer.
    2. Launch the software and select the C Drive from the list of available drives.
    3. Click Scan to begin the scanning process.
    4. Once the scan is complete, preview the recoverable files and select the ones you want to restore.
    5. Click Recover and choose a destination folder to save the recovered files.
  • How do I recover permanently deleted files from my C drive?
    Use a data recovery tool like Wondershare Recoverit to get your permanently deleted C drive files back.
    1. Download and install Wondershare Recoverit on your PC.
    2. Launch the program, select your C drive.
    3. Recoverit will scan it for recoverable files automatically.
    4. Preview the scanning results, select the files you want to recover
    5. Click Recover to retrieve your data.
  • Is the data on a formatted C drive lost forever?
    The data on a formatted C drive is not necessarily lost forever, but the chances of recovery depend on the type of format performed:
    1. Quick Format: This process removes the files' entries from the file system, marking the space as available for new data. However, the original data remains hidden on the drive until it is overwritten. In this case, you have a higher chance of recovering the data using specialized data recovery software or professional services.
    2. Full Format: This method not only removes the file entries but also performs a thorough scan of the drive to identify and fix bad sectors. This process takes longer and might make it more challenging to recover data, especially if the drive has been overwritten with new data. However, data recovery is still possible in some cases using advanced recovery tools or professional help.
Theo Lucia
Theo Lucia May 14, 24
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