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Guide on recovering files from Google Drive


Google Drive is a popular online service designed for data syncing and transferring of separate objects and entire folders to its cloud storage. After you've uploaded a document to the cloud, there is no need to worry about losing it. Nevertheless, sometimes a problem occurs, for example, when an important file has been deleted by mistake. Fortunately, in some cases lost data is likely to be recovered.

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How to recover deleted files from Google Drive Trash

Deleted photos, videos and presentations are automatically added to Google Drive Recycle Bin. In order to cancel their deletion, you have to:

  • Open Google Drive app
  • Click on "Trash" icon which can be found on the left sidebar;
  • Mark the files you're looking for (quick preview is available for graphic files);
  • Click on "Restore from Trash" at the top right of the screen or open the context menu (by right mouse button click) and choose "Restore" command.

Requirements for a deleted file:

  • it must be created and uploaded to the server by the same user or
  • the original owner must grant the right to it.

"Recovering" documents via Google Drive search bar

Sometimes your missing file could have been simply saved in another folder so actually there is no case of deletion. The search service identifies a file that meets several criteria. There are filters by name, type and other parameters such as owner, date and period of publication, sender, documents open for joint editing and etc. The search bar is located at the top of the screen.

There is another way of searching:

  • Select "My Drive" from the menu on the left;
  • Right click on the icon "i" in the circle (View details);
  • Scroll down the list of files in "Activity" tab and select what you need.

In which cases files won't be detected:

  • The owner of a document has erased or renamed it;
  • A folder with files created by another person has been moved to Recycle Bin or deleted permanently.

What to do if you've lost access to a document

If you enable co-editing mode for a file, only the specified users will be able to work with it. The owner of the file has the right to restrict access to it at any time and in such case you have to contact the owner in order to solve the problem.

Google Drive support request

Please contact Drive support team if you need professional advice. In order to contact them do the following:

  • send a feedback via "Help" dropdown menu;
  • select the option you prefer in "Send Feedback" section (call, chat or email).

The question should has as much details as possible. Don't expect them to provide you with an immediate solution of your problem; moreover, not in all cases Google Drive experts are able to help to recover permanently deleted files.

If you've "Backup and Sync" program installed

Backup and Sync automatically syncs files from the specified folders by uploading them to a cloud. This program keeps track of all the changes and creates copies of important documents. However, if you delete a file from your computer during data update (if the option is enabled in the settings), the content will also be deleted from the online folder and other devices.

In such case, the easiest way to recover a file is from Recycle Bin. If you've already emptied it, there's a solution. Special programs have been designed for data recovery. One of the most popular among such free tools is Recuva.

How to recover deleted files via Recuva:

  • launch the app;
  • select the type of data (music, image, text format or video) via Wizard;
  • specify the files potential storage location (SD card, specific folder or your hard drive);
  • wait till the end of search and check "Restore" in front of the file you need.

Quick or in-depth analysis modes are available in Recuva. After the scanning process and according to its results a list of objects will be displayed on the screen. A file marked with a red or yellow icon is damaged and can't be recovered. A green marker means that it can be recovered.

We've already explained in our detailed guide on recovery how to use Recuva. We strongly recommend you reading it before using the program.

Google Drive data recovery via DiskDigger

DiskDigger free version will recover deleted photos and pictures in PNG and JPG formats. It works on devices with root access to Android file system. There are some limits on the number of files, but in the majority of cases it isn't an issue.

How to to recover files via DiskDigger mobile version:

  • choose where the files were stored, i.e. on your device internal memory or a sd card;
  • click on "Scan" and wait till the end;
  • mark files in the search results;
  • Use "Recover" command.

DiskDigger Pro supports not only multimedia, but also MS Office formats such as XLS, XLSX, DOC, DOCX and others.

Recovering from your phone via Google Photos

This method of file recovery is suitable for those who have enabled backup and sync feature via Google Photos app.

How long does Google Drive keep deleted files? All erased videos and photos are temporarily stored in Recycle Bin which is emptied every 60 days.

You can undo delete in the following way:

  • Open "Google Photos" app;
  • Go to "Trash" section via the sidebar;
  • Go through the contents of the folder;
  • Select the objects for recovery from Google Drive Recycle Bin.

The files will appear again in the folder (album) on the device they were deleted, as well as in the cloud storage.

Ilia is a professional writer. He has expert knowledge in GPS and cartography with 15 years of experience. Additionally, Ilia has extensive experience in data recovery on PC and mobile. He started his career as a journalist by reviewing PC and mobile apps. His current responsibilities are to keep track of users' questions on MGT and answer them.