.PREF File Recovery

Have files been deleted due to a user’s error or software error? Have you formatted a disk by accident and need to know how to recover the files? Read our .PREF file recovery guide for Windows, MacOS, Android and IOS in 2024.

PREF File Recovery

What is a .PREF file?

Settings file used by various applications; often used as an application support file that contains program preferences such as program defaults or other user specified application preferences; uses the generic extension ".pref," which is short for "preferences."

What Are Common Causes of ".PREF" Files Lost or Failure?

There are several common causes for ".PREF" files to be lost or fail:

  1. Accidental deletion: Users may accidentally delete ".PREF" files while performing file management tasks, such as cleaning up unnecessary files or organizing folders.
  2. Software or hardware issues: System crashes, power outages, or hardware failures can lead to the corruption or loss of ".PREF" files.
  3. Software updates or upgrades: Sometimes, when updating or upgrading software applications, the preferences files may not be transferred or migrated correctly, resulting in their loss or failure.
  4. Malware or virus attacks: Malicious software or viruses can infect and damage ".PREF" files, making them inaccessible or causing them to fail.
  5. Incompatible software versions: If a ".PREF" file is created or saved in a newer version of a software application and then opened in an older version, it may fail to load or function properly.
  6. File system errors: File system errors, such as bad sectors on a hard drive or corrupted file allocation tables, can lead to the loss or corruption of ".PREF" files.
  7. User error: Users may inadvertently modify or delete ".PREF" files while attempting to customize preferences or settings within an application.
  8. Disk formatting or partitioning: Formatting or partitioning a disk without proper backup or data migration can result in the loss of ".PREF" files stored on that disk.
  9. Storage media failure: If the storage media, such as a hard drive or SSD, fails or becomes damaged, it can lead to the loss or corruption of ".PREF" files stored on it.
  10. Synchronization or cloud storage issues: When using synchronization or cloud storage services, conflicts or errors during file synchronization can cause ".PREF" files to be lost or fail to sync properly.

How to recover lost ".PREF" files?

Sometimes while working with a computer, laptop or other stationary or mobile devices, you may encounter various bugs, freezes, hardware or software failures, even in spite of regular updates and junk cleaning. As a result, an important ".PREF" file may be deleted.

Go to view
🧺 How to Recover Files and Folders After Sending Them to the Recycle Bin and Deleting? (Windows 11)

🧺 How to Recover Files and Folders After Sending Them to the Recycle Bin and Deleting? (Windows 11)

By no means should you think that the only way to recover a ".PREF" file is always to create it once more.

Use programs for recovering ".PREF" files if a file was lost after accidental or deliberate deleting, formatting the memory card or the internal storage, cleaning the storage device, after a virus attack or a system failure.

Programs to recover ".PREF" files

Looking for a way to get files back? In cases when files were deleted and they cannot be restored by using standard operating system tools, use Hetman Partition Recovery.

The tool recovers data from any devices, regardless of the cause of data loss.

Follow the directions below:

  1. Download Hetman Partition Recovery, install and start the program.

  2. The program will automatically scan the computer and display all hard disks and removable drives connected to it, as well as physical and local disks.

    File Recovery Software
  3. Double-click on the disk from which you need to recover ".PREF" files, and select analysis type.

    Hetman Partition Recovery - Analysis Type
  4. When the scanning is over, you will be shown the files for recovery.

    Hetman Partition Recovery - Files that Can be Restored
  5. To find a file you need, use the program’s interface to open the folder it was deleted from, or go to the folder "Content-Aware Analysis" and select the required file type.

    Hetman Partition Recovery - Deep Scan
  6. Select the files you have been looking for and click "Recovery".

    File Recovery Software - Files List for Recovery
  7. Choose one of the methods for saving the files and recover them.

    Saving recovered files in Hetman Partition Recovery

How to open file with ".PREF" extension?

Looking for how to open a stereo preferences File image file file?

Programs that open ".PREF" files

HEX Editor HEX Editor

Additional Information

  • File type: Preferences File

  • File extension: .PREF

  • Developer: N/A

  • Category: Settings Files

  • Format: N/A

  • File types that use the extension .PREF:

    • Preferences File

    • Macintosh Preferences File


We will be happy to answer your questions!

Comments (1)

  • Hetman Software: Data Recovery
    Hetman Software: Data Recovery 18.12.2019 13:05 #
    Leave a comment if you have any questions about Recovering lost .PREF files after deleting, cleaning or formatting!
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Vladimir Artiukh

Author: Vladimir Artiukh, Technical Writer

Vladimir Artiukh is a technical writer for Hetman Software, as well as the voice and face of their English-speaking YouTube channel, Hetman Software: Data Recovery for Windows. He handles tutorials, how-tos, and detailed reviews on how the company’s tools work with all kinds of data storage devices.

Oleg Afonin

Editor: Oleg Afonin, Technical Writer

Oleg Afonin is an expert in mobile forensics, data recovery and computer systems. He often attends large data security conferences, and writes several blogs for such resources as xaker.ru, Elcomsoft and Habr. In addition to his online activities, Oleg’s articles are also published in professional magazines. Also, Oleg Afonin is the co-author of a well-known book, Mobile Forensics - Advanced Investigative Strategies.


Questions and answers

  • What is the file extension .PREF and what type of file does it represent?

    The file extension .PREF typically represents a preference file. A preference file contains settings and configurations specific to a particular software application or operating system. These files store user preferences such as display options, language settings, default settings, and other personalized configurations. The specific content and structure of .PREF files can vary depending on the software or system they are associated with.

  • How can I determine the program or software associated with opening a .PREF file?

    To determine the program or software associated with opening a .PREF file, you can follow these steps:

    1. Check the file extension: The file extension ".PREF" indicates that it is a preference file. However, this alone does not provide enough information about the specific program associated with it.
    2. Search for the file type: Perform an online search using the file extension ".PREF" to see if any specific programs or software are commonly associated with this file type. You may come across forums, websites, or software listings that mention the program used to open .PREF files.
    3. Contact the file creator: If you received the .PREF file from someone else or downloaded it from a specific source, try contacting the file creator or the website from which you obtained the file. They may be able to provide information about the program used to create or open the .PREF file.
    4. File analysis: If you have no information about the file type or its associated program, you can perform a file analysis to gather more details. Right-click on the .PREF file, select "Properties" (or "Get Info" on macOS), and look for any additional information such as the file creator, file version, or any hints about the program used to create it.
    5. File viewer or editor: If the above steps do not yield any results, you can try using a generic file viewer or editor to open the .PREF file. Some text editors, like Notepad on Windows or TextEdit on macOS, can open many types of files and may reveal some readable content within the .PREF file. However, note that this method may not provide a complete or accurate representation of the file's contents.
    6. Third-party file identification tools: There are various online tools and software available that can help identify unknown file types and provide information about the associated program. You can search for "file type identification" or "file extension lookup" tools to find suitable options.

    Remember to exercise caution when opening files from unknown sources, as they may contain malicious content.

  • Are there any specific steps or tools required to open a .PREF file, and what are the recommended methods for accessing its contents?

    .PREF files are not a standard file format, and their contents can vary depending on the software or application that created them. Therefore, there are no specific steps or tools to universally open .PREF files.

    However, here are a few general methods you can try to access the contents of a .PREF file:

    1. Use the software or application that created the .PREF file: If you know which software or application generated the .PREF file, you can try opening it with that specific program. Look for an "Open" or "Import" option within the software and navigate to the .PREF file.
    2. Text editor: .PREF files are sometimes plain text files that can be opened with a text editor. Right-click on the .PREF file, select "Open with," and choose a text editor such as Notepad (Windows) or TextEdit (Mac). This method may allow you to view the contents of the file, but understanding and interpreting the data might be challenging.
    3. File converter: If you cannot open the .PREF file directly, you can try using a file converter tool. Some online file conversion services or software applications can convert .PREF files to more common formats like XML or JSON, which might be easier to read and understand.
    4. Contact the file's source or creator: If the .PREF file is associated with a specific software or application, reaching out to the software's support team or the file's creator might provide you with more information on how to access its contents.

    Remember, the ability to open and access the contents of a .PREF file depends on the specific software or application that generated it.

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