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Windows Refresh removed personal files; how do I recover them?


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#1 IThasIssues

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Posted 29 May 2018 - 11:19 AM

Hello.

 

I helped a family member do a Windows Refresh on Windows 8.1, and thousands of her personal files have been removed. According to Microsoft, "you can refresh your PC without deleting any of your personal files or changing your settings." This was not the case for her.

 

I have searched online and have not been able to find an answer. Before going further, I'd like to address a couple things of which I am certain:

  • I did a Refresh, not a Reset; and
  • I am not talking about program files from software - I know those are removed.

 

The family member had thousands of:

  • personal pictures (e.g., camera photos, downloaded wallpapers);
  • documents (e.g., Word documents, PDF files);
  • videos (e.g., movies, self recordings); and
  • music (e.g., purchased mp3 files).

 

I think the issue is this: She stored all of those files in the Program Files folder. Examples include:

  • her photos were stored in the IrfanView folder (IrfanView is an image viewer);
  • her documents were stored in multiple folders, such as PDFs in the Foxit PDF folder and Word documents in the Microsoft Office folder; and
  • her videos and music files were stored in the VLC folder (VLC is a media player).

 

Yes, I know she probably should have stored these in her Windows Libraries personal folders, such as Pictures, Documents, Videos, and Music. However, she explained that it made sense to her because those programs are what is used to open the specific files.

 

How can she fully recover those thousands of files? I am hoping Windows simply moved them elsewhere instead of me having to use a tool like Recuva. Thank you.


Edited by IThasIssues, 29 May 2018 - 11:22 AM.


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#2 mikey11

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Posted 29 May 2018 - 11:22 AM

i don't want to hit you while you down....but this is a good example of why backups are so important....

 

on to your problem.....

 

you can try doing a system restore to a date previous of the refresh



#3 IThasIssues

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Posted 29 May 2018 - 11:31 AM

i don't want to hit you while you down....but this is a good example of why backups are so important....

 

on to your problem.....

 

you can try doing a system restore to a date previous of the refresh

Yeah, I'm a fan of backups and personally follow the 3-2-1 backup rule, but she's retired and not very tech-savvy.

 

Good idea on the system restore. I didn't think system restore go back past a Windows Refresh, but I'll try that for her this evening. Thank you.



#4 JohnC_21

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Posted 29 May 2018 - 11:33 AM

If the programs were removed then the files in those program folders were also removed. 

refresh-pc-guide-line.png

 

If recovery is even possible you can use programs like Minitools Power Data Recovery or Easeus Data Recovery. Both allow you to recover about 1GB for free to see if recovery is possible. A key would need to be purchased for a complete recovery.

 

There is a free program called PhotoRec, part of Testdisk that will attempt to recover all files on the drive. The downside to this is will will attempt to recovery everything including thumbnails. The data is recovered in Real Time so the recovery drive needs to be as large as or larger than the data being recovered. You would unzip Testdisk to a USB external drive. Start the program from there and the files would be recovered to the external. The downside of PhotoRec is all files recovered have generic names and would need to be renamed after opening. PhotoRec allows you to select which extensions to recover so you could scan the drive for video files and see how PhotoRec recovers them. Do not use QPhotoRec in the extracted folder. The recovery algorithm is not as strong as PhotoRec. 

 

https://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/PhotoRec_Step_By_Step

 

Use the Free Option to recover deleted files. I would recommend you do not use the computer as any online activity has the chance of overwriting any files that were deleted. If you are going to use Easeus or Minitools then remove the drive and attach it to another computer that has Minitools or Easeus installed using a USB external drive. Run Minitools or Easeus and scan the drive.

 

Edit: Testdisk also has the option to undelete files. I would run Testdisk from an external drive. This may be the best first option as Testdisk will recover the file names intact.

 

https://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/Undelete_files_from_NTFS_with_TestDisk

 

Edit Edit: I forgot but you can use a program called Shadows Explorer. If the Windows Refresh did leave a Restore Point intact you can see if the files are available.

 

https://www.shadowexplorer.com/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsIDfyNg7KE

Edited by JohnC_21, 29 May 2018 - 11:44 AM.


#5 MasterNe0

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Posted 14 June 2018 - 10:16 AM

Check to see if their a Windows.OLD folder on C:\ and also check the user's C:\Users, it possible the old profile still there and somehow it created a new one as well.






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