Imagine, if you will, someone selling an antique sewing machine. Heavy, unwieldy, and covered in decades of dust, but still entirely operable if you know what you’re doing. Now imagine that antique sitting on the shelf of your local Walmart, right next to a shiny new toaster. That is the new Windows File Recovery Tool.
Microsoft released the tool to help users who’ve lost files that are now irretrievable, either because they didn’t go to the Recycle Bin in Windows 10 or because the drive has suffered some kind of horrible hardware failure. Good! But Microsoft made it as a command line tool—it only works in Command Prompt (cmd.exe) or the new Windows Terminal. Strange. And it’s a free download for all users. Good! They download it on the Microsoft Store, sitting next to Candy Crush and Sea of Thieves. Strange.
Odd juxtapositions of tools separated by decades of computing interfaces aside, it seems to be working, at least for some users. I was able to get it to scan my primary SSD for ZIP files (including deleted ones) and back them up to a newly-created folder on my secondary hard drive. It felt like rubbing sticks together to make fire.
Keep in mind that the files recovered from one drive must go to a separate drive in the tool (so you’ll need a flash drive or external hard drive if your computer only has one). And also that, because of the way Windows handles free drive space, recently-lost files are more likely to be successfully recovered. But if you get the tool running, you can filter by folder or file type fairly easily. If you need help with the syntax, check out this Microsoft page. And if you find yourself needing this tool and wanting an interface from this century, there are plenty of alternatives.