How to Recover Permanently Deleted Files from OneDrive: All the Methods

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recover deleted files from onedrive

OneDrive is Microsoft’s own cloud-based storage solution that allows users to store and access their files wherever they have an internet connection. Having your data kept in the cloud keeps it safe from data loss, right? Well, that’s partly true. What happens if you accidentally delete a file from OneDrive or you lose some files before they have time to sync?

In most cases, it’s still possible to get your data back, if you know what you’re doing. Let’s look at how you can recover deleted files from OneDrive.

Is It Possible to Undelete in OneDrive?

Contrary to what you might think, it is possible to undelete files in OneDrive. But, it’s only possible for locally stored files.

When you delete a file from a OneDrive folder on your computer, you can press CTRL + Z as your next action to quickly restore it from your local Recycle Bin. This will move it back to its original location.

This functionality, however, is not supported in the browser version of OneDrive. Instead, OneDrive has its own recycle bin which you can use to recover deleted OneDrive files.

How to Search for Lost Files in OneDrive

Before you look at ways to restore deleted files in OneDrive, you should search your existing data first to make sure the files aren’t just lost.

Search Using the Search Everything Function

When you have a large number of files and folders, it’s easy for data to get lost if they’re not properly organized. To combat this, Microsoft implemented the Search everything function, enabling users to find lost files in OneDrive.

These steps will show you how to make use of the Search everything function.

  1. Log in to your OneDrive account.The OneDrive login screen.
  2. Type a search query into the Search everything box and press Enter.Using the Search everything function.

This will search all of your OneDrive folders, but it will not search your Personal Vault. Instead, you will need to search your Personal Vault manually for lost files.

Check Your Sync Settings

If the Search everything function was unable to find your OneDrive files, you should first check your OneDrive sync settings to ensure your folders are actually being synchronized. By default, OneDrive syncs all available files. If this setting was changed in the past, you won’t be able to see select files or folders in your local OneDrive.

Confirm your sync settings are correct using these instructions.

  1. Click OneDrive from your taskbar.Opening OneDrive.
  2. Click Help & Settings, then select Settings.Checking the OneDrive settings.
  3. Click Choose folders.
    Choosing what folders are available on your PC.
  4. Tick the files and folders you want to sync to your computer. Press OK.Confirming the folder selection.

Synchronized files and folders will then be available locally once they’re downloaded. If the correct sync settings were already present, there may be something preventing the sync from completing. If so, find out how to fix your specific OneDrive sync problem.

How to Recover Deleted OneDrive Files

If you didn’t have any luck trying to retrieve files from OneDrive using the search functions, let’s look at how to restore deleted files from OneDrive instead.

Method #1: Check Your Local OneDrive Folders

Earlier in this article, we used the Search everything function to scan all OneDrive folders online to find your data. This function will only scan OneDrive folders that have been successfully synchronized already. Since it’s possible that your data may not have synced, try scanning your local OneDrive folders for data too.

  1. Open Windows Explorer. In the left panel, click on your OneDrive folder.Opening OneDrive folder.
  2. In the search box at the top right of your window, search for your files using their filename or extension.Searching the local OneDrive folders.

If there are definitely no local files in your OneDrive folder, the next method will show you how to recover OneDrive files that were recently deleted from your computer.

Method #2: Restore Local OneDrive Files From the Recycle Bin

Deleting files that are available offline in your OneDrive will send them to your local Recycle Bin in addition to the OneDrive recycle bin. Again, this allows you to restore OneDrive files to their original location.

Deleting online-only files will not send them to your local Recycle Bin. Instead, they will be sent to your OneDrive recycle bin only.

  1. On your desktop, open the Recycle Bin.Opening Recycle Bin.
  2. Select the files you want to restore, then click Restore the selected items in the Recycle Bin Tools tab.Restoring the selected files.

Method #3: Recover Deleted Local OneDrive Files With Data Recovery Software

If the Recycle Bin was cleared of your local OneDrive data, OneDrive file recovery is still possible using data recovery software. Disk Drill, an advanced data recovery tool, can scan your drive for deleted OneDrive files and restore them to a folder of your choice. Bear in mind that this can only work for OneDrive files that were synced to your computer before deletion.

  1. Download and install Disk Drill to a separate physical partition.
  2. Select the drive that contains your local OneDrive data (usually C:), then click Scan for lost data.Scanning your drive using Disk Drill.
  3. Click Review found items following completion of Disk Drill’s scan.Looking at the files Disk Drill found.
  4. Mark the OneDrive files you want to recover. Use the search bar at the top right to narrow down the search results. You can preview each file and see how good your chances of are recovery using the Recovery chances column. Click Recover when ready.Recovering OneDrive files.
  5. Specify an output location that’s on a separate physical partition to the one that your OneDrive resides on. Click OK to complete recovery.Completing Disk Drill recovery.

Method #4: Restore From the OneDrive Recycle Bin

Like Windows, the OneDrive recycle bin captures deleted data before it’s permanently deleted. This gives you an opportunity to restore the deleted items before they’re permanently deleted after 30 days. You can access the OneDrive recycle bin from the OneDrive website.

If you want to recover files that were deleted from your Personal Vault, you must unlock your Personal Vault before accessing the recycle bin.

Follow these steps to get files back from OneDrive using the recycle bin.

  1. Click Recycle bin. The OneDrive recycle bin location is in the navigation pane to your left.
  2. Select the file you want to restore and click Restore. All items will be restored to their original location.

Method #5: Restore OneDrive Files to a Previous Date

OneDrive regularly takes snapshots of your data, similar to how it’s done with File History. These snapshots are tied to each file and allow you to restore the contents of that file to when the snapshot was taken. If you made a change to a file that you weren’t supposed to, simply restore it to a point in time before that change was applied.

  1. Right-click the file you want to restore to a previous date, then click Version history.Checking the file's version history.
  2. Hover over the version you want to restore, then click the three dots, then Restore.
    Restoring the OneDrive file version.

OneDrive will save the last 25 versions on personal accounts. If you want to undo this, you can go back to the version you had by following the same process and choosing the most up-to-date version.

Method #6: Restore Entire OneDrive to a Previous Date

If you’ve faced catastrophic data loss as a result of corruption or malware, you can restore OneDrive to previous a date. Doing so will roll back all of your OneDrive contents to the date you choose and even recover permanently deleted files from OneDrive online. This method requires a Microsoft 365 subscription. Without a Microsoft 365 subscription, you will need to restore each file to a previous version manually.

  1. Sign in to your OneDrive account in your browser.
  2. Click Settings, then Options. From this list, click Restore your OneDrive.
  3. Choose a date to restore from in the Select a date dropdown. You can use the activity chart to review what happened recently and what might have caused the loss of your data.
  4. When ready, click Restore.

Once the restore is complete, you will be able to access your files like normal. If you want to undo this restore, simply follow the same steps again but select a point in time that’s before the restore you just performed.

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