Whether it's your final paper, your resume, or your novel-in-progress, your computer likely holds some important documents. That makes accidentally hitting the delete key at the wrong time a terrifying prospect. Fortunately, a destroyed digital file is a lot easier to recover than a physical manuscript: All you need is the right software.
As Lifehacker reports, Windows File Recovery is a program from Microsoft that can salvage even the most dire lost data situations. You can drag many mistakenly deleted files out of your computer's recycle bin. But when you wipe data "permanently"—like by emptying a recycle bin that contained a document you meant to save—you need something that goes beyond the usual quick fixes.
Windows File Recovery is best used immediately after the accidental deletion takes place. After launching the software, a command prompt window will pop up on your screen. From there, you can type in the following command to recover your document, with your the relevant information plugged in for the username, file names, and document name:
winfr C: E: /n \Users\ \Documents\DocumentName.pdf
For the process to work, you'll need to send the recovered file to a destination that's different from the drive it came from. That means using a USB stick if your computer only has a single drive. You can also use this command formula to save everything in a deleted folder:
winfr C: E: /n \Users\ \Documents\
The success of Windows File Recovery isn't guaranteed, but it's definitely worth giving it a shot before rewriting your grad school thesis from scratch. You can download it for free from the Microsoft Store.