I have a bad habit of suddenly deleting files I need after a day. Fortunately, when files are “deleted,” they’re not completely erased from the system — and if they’re backed up to connected cloud storage services, well, those services have their own ways of dealing with deleted files. So it’s good to know where to look.

This is also something to keep in mind if you’re selling or giving away a system – because in that case, you’ll need to make sure your files are completely erased.

Whether you’re looking to recover previously deleted files or permanently erase them, here’s what you need to know about them on Windows (and OneDrive) and Android (and Google Drive).

Deleted files on Windows

Delete a file the normal way in File Explorer on Windows – using wipe up key – and moves to the Recycle Bin, which helps Windows users recover files they accidentally deleted Since Windows 95.

You can empty the Windows Recycle Bin with just a few clicks.
Screenshot: Microsoft

Head to the Recycle Bin folder on your computer, and you can recover deleted files from their original location or delete them permanently. There are several ways to find it.

  • To make things easier, find a Recycle Bin shortcut on your desktop. If you don’t find it, right-click an empty part of the desktop, and then choose Personalize > Themes > Desktop icon settings To show it.
  • You should also see a Recycle Bin shortcut in the left navigation pane in File Explorer; If not, right-click below the pane and choose Show all folders.
  • You can also access the Recycle Bin by searching for it via the search bar on the taskbar or via the address bar at the top of any File Explorer window.

Once you’re in the Recycle Bin (which appears in File Explorer):

  • Click Empty the Recycle Bin on the top toolbar to delete everything currently stored in it.
  • Click Restore all items To restore everything in the Recycle Bin.
  • Select one or more files, and you’ll see another option: Restore selected items To recover the file(s). You’ll find the same options by right-clicking on the file.

By default, deleted files stay in the Recycle Bin for 30 days before Windows permanently erases them. To change this:

  • Open Settings, then choose System > Storage > Storage Sense.
  • Make sure Automatic cleaning of user content It was turned on.
  • research Delete files in my Recycle Bin if they’ve been there longer than that…, with the drop-down menu providing the following options: Day 1, 14 days, 30 days, 60 daysor never. (The files remain in the Recycle Bin until you manually clear them.)

By the way, if there is something private and sensitive that you want to permanently delete right away (skip the Recycle Bin), select it in File Explorer and press Shift + Delete. You get a warning, but as soon as you click YesThe file is gone forever and cannot be recovered.

It is up to you how long deleted files remain in the Recycle Bin.
Screenshot: Microsoft

OneDrive Recycle Bin

Then there’s the cloud storage service associated with Windows, OneDrive. Depending on how your computer is set up, OneDrive may be backing up your Windows files: You can check by going to Settings > Accounts > Windows Backup > OneDrive Folder Sync.

OneDrive has its own Recycle Bin, which you can find by opening it OneDrive on the web Or look for the cloud icon at the bottom left of the taskbar.

  • Click Trash To find files deleted in the last 30 days.
  • Select individual files to show wipe up or Repeat Options at the top.
  • Without selecting any files, click Empty the Recycle Bin To erase everything permanently or Restore all items To bring them all back to your computer.

When you delete a file synced with OneDrive and your local computer, it’s sent to the Recycle Bin in both places, and you can restore it from either. However, the Recycle Bin in the cloud and the Recycle Bin in Windows aren’t synced, so you may find something you permanently erased from one place is still available somewhere else.

Deleted files on Android

When it comes to Android, apps often manage file deletion and recovery themselves. If you use Google Photos to manage your photos and videos, for example, you can tap library And then waste In the app to see recently deleted files. From there, they can be permanently erased or returned.

Any files synced to the cloud when deleted will be retained for 60 days; If stored locally, it will remain in the Trash folder for 30 days. The same Trash folder you see can be found in the app Google Images on the web In the navigation pane on the left.

Trash folder in Google Photos for Android.
Screenshot: Google

Files by Google app lists deleted files.
Screenshot: Google

You can also use the Files by Google app (the default file manager on Android) to find deleted items on your Android phone. In the app, tap the three horizontal lines (top left), then waste. Files are kept for 30 days, and if you select a file, you’ll see the file Repeat And wipe up Options become active at the bottom.

If you have a Samsung phone, you’re probably using Samsung’s own apps instead. inside Samsung galleryyou can click on the three horizontal lines (bottom right) then Trash To view, erase and recover photos and videos that you have deleted.

Then there my files From Samsung, which generally handles files via Android. there Trash Link on the front screen of the app: Click on it to see recently deleted files and to find options to permanently erase them or restore them to their original locations. In both of these Samsung apps, files are kept for 30 days before permanent automatic deletion.

Google Drive comes with its own Trash folder.
Screenshot: Google

Delete Google Drive files

Finally, for apps that sync with Google Drive and the Google Drive app itself, you have an additional safety net in the cloud. from Google Drive on the webyou can click waste The link in the navigation pane on the left is to see deleted files, which are kept for 30 days. Files can be sorted by type or by when they were last modified, and when you select files, you’ll see options to restore or permanently delete them at the top of the file list.

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