Recuva: It’s a file saver…and more

Unless you are an incredibly organized and focused individual you are prone to accidentally deleting files at some point. Even more, sometimes files can be deleted in circumstances that do not depend on your own actions such as bugs, crashes, viruses, family members and any other reason you can think of. Luckily nowadays recovering accidentally deleted files can be done even by novice users and Recuva is definitely up for the task.

As a free file recovery utility, Recuva was designed to be accessible and easy to understand by all types of users, but at the same time highly capable of doing its job.

Installation & Requirements

Recuva is a small, lightweight program and this reflects in its install process. You only have to choose if you want to add a Desktop and Start Menu Shortcuts and make Recuva automatically check for updates. Of course, there is also an Advanced Mode that additionally allows you to choose if you want to install Recuva for all users of your computer or just for yourself and the destination folder. Even though the program is free, the installation doesn’t contain any type of adware.

Because the program’s main purpose besides file recovery is accessibility, Recuva has modest system requirements. The utility runs on Windows 98 (although support for this OS ended at version 1.31.437), Windows 2000, 2003, Server 2008, XP, Vista and 7. Recuva works on NTFS, FAT, and exFAT format drives and there are no additional hardware requirements.


By default, every time you run Recuva a Wizard pops-up to guide you into the thrilling journey of file recovery. Basically, all you have to do is answer a set of questions to let the program know what is it you are looking for (pictures, music, documents…etc.), where the original files were located (Recycle Bin, a partition, My Documents…etc.) and how do you want it to be found (regular scan or deep scan).

There’s always the option to skip the Wizard and dive right into Recuva’s interface which is also very easy to use. At the top you can choose which partition do you want to scan, how do you want to scan it (search files or search contents, the latter option allowing you to input a search string and/or a file extension) and what kind of files are you trying to recover. After choosing your scan method in a few seconds you will see all of the found files in the main area.  If such is the case, Recuva can also display a Preview (specifically for image files), Info and Header for the currently selected file.

All of the found files have a green, yellow or red dot next to them, showing the chances of them being successfully restored. Unfortunately, there are situations when a file was overwritten with a copy of itself so even if a red dot is displayed next to it (meaning Recuva marked it as “unrecoverable”), the file can in fact be recovered.

Besides accidentally deleted files, Recuva can help you recover deleted e-mails, files from damaged and reformatted disks and even securely deleting files because if you can recover them, than hackers also can. Most of these tasks can be done by using Recuva in Wizard Mode or by accessing the Options window while in Advanced Mode.

The Options window is the place where you can further customize the program and it’s divided into three tabs: General – from where you can change the program’s language, view mode, enable/disable Wizard at startup, run Wizard, enable/disable automatically check for updates, save settings to INI file and choose your preferred method for secure overwriting; Actions – from where you can choose for the scan to display files found in hidden system directories, zero byte files, securely overwritten files, enable/disable Deep Scan, scan for non-deleted files and enable/disable Restore folder structure; the About tab displays general information about the program such as the currently installed version and links to the developer’s official website.

Even though Recuva is set to automatically check for updates by default you can also do a manual check from the lower-right corner of the interface and from the lower-left corner you can access Recuva’s Online Help which contains comprehensive documentation and can perfectly guide you into completing your recovery task.


– Small program with low system requirements.

– Very easy to use interface with a handy Wizard mode suitable for beginners.

– The default scan goes even through large hard drives very fast.

– Can recover files lost in various situations, including human error.

– Currently supports 38 languages.

– The Online Help documentation contains tutorials on how to recover files for different circumstances.


– Very often files that can be recovered are marked as “unrecoverable”.

– Only for Windows operating systems.


While Recuva is a great piece of freeware, which is brilliant in its simplicity, you may find yourself in a situation where the program cannot recover your files or you need some features that are lacking. If this is your case, then take a look at a free utility developed by Christophe Grenier known as TestDisk & PhotoRec but also at Glary Undelete and R-Studio.


Commercial file recovery programs may come with more advanced features, not contained by Recuva, but as a free utility, this particular piece of software proves to be a reliable choice in most cases. Moreover, it’s intuitive interface, easy to understand options and comprehensive documentation allow even users with no prior experience in file recovery to fully take advantage of the program’s capabilities.