How to Find Lost Documents in Computer

by Felix Ofiwe

Anyone who has used a computer for any length of time knows the sinking feeling of spending hours working on a document and have it disappear into the ethernet. You may have accidentally deleted it or your system freezes and won’t do anything. You reboot your system to find the document gone. Don’t panic. There is a way to recover your lost documents from your computer.

Step 1

Undo your last action. Certain programs like Microsoft Word will allow you to undo your last action and recover your lost document immediately. If you highlighted your document and accidentally typed a letter, you will end up with that letter instead of your document. Go to Edit then Undo to reverse your last action.

Step 2

Check the Recycle Bin in Windows or Trash in Mac. When you delete a document, they automatically go to the Recycle Bin or Trash. If your file is there, drag it to the Desktop or Right Click the document then click Restore to restore the document to its original location.

Step 3

Use your backup copy to restore the lost document. If you regularly back up your hard drive using an external drive, cd-rom or zip drive, get a copy from your backup and restore the document.

Step 4

Search your hard drive. Go to Start, Search then All Files and Folders to search for the lost document. Type the name of the lost document into the form and search for it. When you find it, copy it to your Desktop or Documents.

Step 5

Use file recovery software. Use free document recovery programs like PC Inspector File Recover, Undelete Plus and Free Undelete to recover your lost documents if you have tried above steps and are still unsuccessful. These are easy to use. See Resources below for more information.

Use professional services. These can be quite expensive but when all else fail, take your computer to a professional data recovery center and ask them for help. Many of these centers are in your area or state and they can help.


  • Don't install document recovery software in the same drive as the document you want to recover. You could overwrite the document you are trying to recover when you do that. Install it in a different drive like an external hard drive or zip drive and run it from there.


  • Backup your computer hard drive regularly. This can save you a lot of headache should you lose your document. Most external hard drives will do your backups automatically once you set it up.
  • Maintain your system through regular cleaning and proper ventilation. Heat is the biggest enemy to your computer and failure to clean the dusts that accumulate on your fans or proper ventilation will cause your computer to crash and cause you to lose valuable documents.
  • Shutting down your computer occasionally will prolong its life. It will also clear the cache and allow the hard drive and other heat sensitive parts to cool down.

About the Author

Based in Fresno, Texas, Felix Ofiwe has 20 years experience as editor, reporter, content developer, SEO expert and web editor. He was the editor of African American Focus newspaper and Deputy Editor of Global Pride magazine. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and earned his web developer certification from Baylor University.

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