How do I Recover Shift/Permanently Deleted Files in USB Drive?

This is a brief guide on permanently deleted file recovery from USB storage media devices like external hard drives, thumb drives, SD cards, etc. Follow the guide to get back Shift Del (or permanently deleted) files in a few clicks and learn a few important tips to avoid permanent data loss.

Data loss is a common occurrence, which is often caused by accidental file deletion. Usually, when you delete a file—deliberately or accidentally— it goes right into the Recycle Bin. From there, you can restore the deleted file in just a few clicks.

But sometimes, the deleted file may skip the Recycle Bin folder and get permanently deleted. This happens when the Recycle Bin is full, deleted file is larger than the defined size of Recycle Bin, or if you have used the Shift+Delete key combination to delete a file from your USB storage media.

Further, running system cleaner app such as CCleaner wipes the Recycle Bin. So any file that you may want to recover will be wiped off as soon as you run a cleaner tool. A file may also get lost or deleted due to interruption during data transfer to/from USB storage drive.

Steps to recover Permanently Deleted Files from USB

To recover Shift Deleted or permanently deleted files from USB media, you must first immediately stop using the USB drive from where data is deleted. This helps prevent overwriting and increases the chances of getting back the deleted files by up to 100%.

Step 1: Check Backup

Check local and cloud backups for the deleted files. If your system has File History option setup and enabled, you can right-click on the folder from where files are permanently deleted and choose ‘Restore previous versions’.

Then select the previous version of the folder from the list dated when the file existed and click ‘Restore.’ Choose a different location to save the restored version.

In case there’s no backup and no previous version available, head to the next step.

Step 2: Use Data Recovery Software

Follow the steps below to get back shift deleted or permanently lost files by using Stellar Data Recovery software from a Windows system and supported storage media devices:

  1. Download, install and run Stellar Data Recovery Standard software
  2. Choose ‘All Data’ and click ‘Next.
  • Click ‘Choose Folder’ and select the folder or drive location from where the files are deleted, and click ‘Scan.
  • Use the ‘File Type’ view in the left pane to sort files. You can then click on a file to see its preview
  • If the desired files are not found, click ‘Click Here’ link at the bottom to run file-signature based ‘Deep Scan.

Deep Scan is an advanced scan mode that searches for shift deleted or permanently deleted files based on unique file signatures. It also facilitates RAW recovery from formatted and severely corrupt storage media.

  • After the deep scan, select the files you wish to recover and click ‘Recover.
  • Click ‘Browse’ to choose a save location
  • Finally, click ‘Start Saving.

A Few Tips to Avoid Permanent File Loss

To prevent files from permanent deletion,

  1. Keep a regular backup of your important files—use both cloud and local storage media
  2. Always use right-click or only Delete key to remove files
  3. Configure Recycle Bin properties. Configure ‘Size’ and enable ‘Display delete confirmation dialog’ checkbox
  • Before running system cleaner app, always check Recycle Bin folder for accidentally deleted files that you may need
  • Leverage data recovery software as quickly as possible


Use of Shift+Delete key command permanently deletes selected file(s) or folder(s) from the system or USB media. The command makes the system to skip Recycle Bin and remove files permanently, which may lead to a data loss situation due to accidental deletion of important files.

You can use backup to restore files or use ‘File History’ option to restore data. But if the backup is obsolete or not available, immediately leverage a data recovery software such as Stellar Data Recovery Standard to recover corrupted data and permanently deleted files from Windows PC and Windows-based storage devices such as hard drive, SSDs, thumb drives, SD cards, and more.

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