Tutorial: Undo Disk Cleanup in Windows, No Data Loss

Disk Cleanup deleted downloads folder by mistake? Do not wait. You should undo disk cleanup and try to recover files within the folder via a backup or third-party file recovery software.

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Disk Cleanup Deleted My Downloads Folder

"Disk Cleanup deleted my Downloads folder which contained 5 years' worth of personal files and pictures. How can I get them back?"

This is a snippet picked from the Reddit forum. It's said about a user routinely performs Disk Cleanup to free up disk space, and he has done it probably hundreds of times, but this time he did not pay attention to the 'Downloads folder', and he deleted it.

According to the official explanation of Microsoft, Disk Cleanup is a utility used to free up disk space by deleting temporary files, junk files, and many other unnecessary files. You'll get an option to choose what to remove from your hard drive disk.

Mostly, the personal files and system files are not included in the option, which makes it unlikely that Disk Cleanup delete personal files. However, 'Downloads' in Disk Cleanup is newly introduced in version 1809 in Windows 10, and many of us are not aware of that. This is why many other Windows 10 users are facing the same accidental deletion of the Downloads folder while freeing up disk space.

How to Undo Disk Cleanup in Windows 10/8/7 and Restore Deleted Files

As the screenshot demonstrates, when I execute the Disk Cleanup for my C drive in Windows 10 1809, the Downloads folder shows up in the list, and it's checked by default.

downloads folder is in disk cleanup in windows 10

Except for the downloads folder, users are likely to delete Windows ESD installation files as well, and deletion of such files may result in your computer not working properly. Can you undo disk cleanup so as to restore the wrongly cleaned up files? Windows utility does not have an undo option for Disk Cleanup, but you can try to retrieve mistakenly deleted files from Windows File History backup, or directly use a third-party data recovery program.

Quick navigation:

  • If you've created a backup of your computer disk partition data with File History, please refer to Method 1. Use the other restore function of particular backup methods, e.g. if you created backups to the cloud, using data backup software.
  • If you don't have a backup at all, directly go to Method 2. EaseUS data recovery software is able to recover deleted files & folders after deletion, formatting or virus infection. It's by far one of the best Windows data recovery software for file recovery after performing Disk Cleanup as well as other disk cleaning tools.

Method 1. Restore from File History Backup

Step 1. Find the folder path of your lost files on Windows 10/8/7 PC. You may click on "This PC" to see the folder path where you lost disk files by Disk Cleanup utility: Desktop, Downloads, Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos or Libraries, etc.

Step 2. Type: File History in the search box > Select and click on Restore your files with File History.

Open File History.

Step 3. Click the "History" button to show all your backed up folders.

Undo Disk Cleanup from File History.

Step 4. Choose files that you want to restore and select the right version that you need. Then click the "Restore" button to get lost files back from File History backups. Select "Replace the file in the destination" if the computer already contains a file or folder with the same name.

Undo Disk Cleanup by File History.

You may also choose "Skip This File" or "Compare Info for Both Files" if there is a file conflict. After restoring your lost files from the File History backup, exit Windows File History. Try to open, check and continue using the restored files again.

Method 2. Restore from File Recovery Software

If you don't have a File History backup or a system restore point, the best way to find your removed files is to let professional file recovery software to help. Here you should try EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for a full recovery of all your lost files. It's secure and clean, and it will thoroughly scan your disk partition with an advanced scanning algorithm. 

Moreover, EaseUS recovery software is recognized as a simple, super easy-to-use yet powerful DIY data recovery software. The whole recovery process is for three steps.

Step 1. Select a location and start scanning.

Launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, hover on the partition, external hard drive, USB, or memory card where you want to perform erased data recovery, and then click "Scan".

select a location and click scan

Step 2. Select the files you want to recover.

When the scanning has finished, select the deleted files you want to recover. Double-click the file to preview its content if you need to.

Choose files to recover

Step 3. Recover lost data.

After choosing the data, click "Recover" and choose a location on another drive to save the deleted data.

Recover lost data

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Updated by Tracy King

Tracy joined in EaseUS in 2013 and has been working with EaseUS content team for over 7 years. Being enthusiastic in computing and technology, she writes tech how-to articles and share technical solutions about Windows & Mac data recovery, file/system backup and recovery, partition management and iOS/Android data recovery.

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