Windows Vista forum

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Lost my files

by WhereAreMyFiles? / November 1, 2009 7:32 PM PST

I've read a few lost file post on this forum but none match my problem. I have a relatively new PC which has plenty of disk space (200GB+) etc and has been running perfectly for a few months. Last week I opened my account (there are three seperate users) to find all my files had been completely deleted, as had my cookies, browsing history and most recent files opened shortcuts. However when I looked on Computer/c drive under Users and my user name I found my files. I restored them and tried to back them up, but the computer would not let me copy them to disk. I was going to get a flash drive to back them up. Files from the other Users were deleted in a similar fashion.

Today the same thing has happened again but this time there are no files under my User name on the C drive, they're gone completely. Oddly my cookies, browser history and most recent docs shortcuts were not affected this time.

Is there an explanation for this and crucially a way of recovering the files and preventing a recurrence? Thanks in advance for your help.


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Re: files disappeared
by Kees Bakker / November 1, 2009 7:47 PM PST
In reply to: Lost my files

Sorry, no, no explanation, I'm afraid.

- Check if they aren't hidden by setting the folder options to show hidden and system files also.
- Did you look in the recycle bin?
- With all this files disappeared, did the total amount of used disk space decrease? If not, they must still be somewhere. Check the properties of your Documents folder also; it shows the number of files and their total size.
- Let's hope you have a good backup now!


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Lost files
by WhereAreMyFiles? / November 1, 2009 8:15 PM PST
In reply to: Re: files disappeared

Thanks for the prompt reply.

I've checked the recylce bin and they're not there. I've looked for hidden files and they're don't seem to be any. I can remember tell you if the total disk space decreased as I did not know how much was used previous to 'losing' my files. I've checked properties and there's only the one file that I've saved today in there. It really looks like it's lost.

What I have noticed is that actually the main account holders files ahve NOT been deleted. He doesn't save files as such but has some photos that were saved a while ago that are still there. The other two users lost everything. That user is not the only administrator as I have those rights also.

Is there a contact to raise this with Microsoft? There's no real point in having a PC if you have to restore all your files every few days?


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Re: lost files
by Kees Bakker / November 1, 2009 8:49 PM PST
In reply to: Lost files

It's not a supported function of Vista, I'm afraid, the automatic delete.

So I'm afraid Microsoft will say the same as I do: either someone logged in and deleted those files, or you have malware on your system or someone did it from outside or there are some very strange hardware issue. And none of those they can help you with, except recommending their own 'Security Essentials'.


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Lost forever?
by WhereAreMyFiles? / November 1, 2009 9:08 PM PST
In reply to: Re: lost files

I'm running windows defender and it already has a recent version of Norton Anti-Virus which I will run after defenders has run it's course. The other user is a real technophobe and so would not be able to delete a number of files on mass, unless by accident i.e. prompted to do so and not realising it. He swears blind he hasn't and states he hasn't had any software prompts along those lines. I'm not sure he'd realise if he did though. It's happened twice now though for two of the three users (at once) and so I don't think it's him. I do think it's a virus. Are there any other virus software programs that I could use?

I understand that the auto delete is not a supported function but is there a function that could be responsible or indeed a software (glitch/problem)?



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What skills have we to work with?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 1, 2009 9:03 PM PST
In reply to: Lost my files

For example we know that the old CORRUPT PROFILE can still happen with Vista and files only appear to go missing. Using our command line skill with the DIR command may find a file but some never want to learn the survival skills or backup before they lose it all. Let's try the old DIR command. It's not hard.

Let's find all .DOC files on the drive. Open the command line (start, run CMD) and here's our command.


If you see your document then you can try maneuvering to it with Explorer.

This is all of one command to learn so why not learn it?

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I'll give it a go
by WhereAreMyFiles? / November 1, 2009 9:11 PM PST

Thanks - I'll give that a go and get back to you.

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No Joy
by WhereAreMyFiles? / November 1, 2009 9:20 PM PST

I've run the command and it can up with five files in total - all ones that I've found already. I'd copy and paste the results but it won't let me do that.

To try and discount an option - is it possible to delete all of another users' files without realising it i.e. with one mouse click from a prompt? All the other user does is use E-bay.


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Moderator's motto. (fair warning)
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 1, 2009 9:48 PM PST
In reply to: No Joy

"We only lose what we don't backup."

-> if you are SERIOUS about retrieval then we shutdown that PC and pull the hard drive. We get another PC, install software like RECUVA ( ) then shutdown our host PC, add the hard drive and then boot up, run RECUVA and hope we find the files.

Installing software and continued use of that hard drive means that every second of use is eroding any chance of retrieval.

Your question of if the other user could do this is "Yes, they can." These are PERSONAL COMPUTERS which means if you give me access to the machine then I can do anything. Even by accident.

The DIR command did help to nail down it was not just the old "where did it go?" problem.

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Not that serious
by WhereAreMyFiles? / November 1, 2009 10:17 PM PST

I did not lose enough to justify that, as I've only just started using it, and the files are backed up on a redundant PC and by sending myself e-mails that are backed up on a third party server.

I'm concerned that I don't know what's causing it and so it may keep on happening. That would be very frustrating.

It's odd that files were deleted/moved in the first instance but fully deleted in the second. Also that browsing history etc were not affected this time.

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by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 1, 2009 10:27 PM PST
In reply to: Not that serious

A feature that appeared in XP and later windows is to MAKE MY FILES PRIVATE. You may want to do this. Here's some discussions about this on Vista."Make+my+files+private"

Unless you monitor the other user you may never know the cause but making your files private erects a small barrier to accidents.

Maybe I missed something OBVIOUS. Does this other user use YOUR ACCOUNT? If so, its time to make an account for them.

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by WhereAreMyFiles? / November 1, 2009 10:48 PM PST

That's the confusing thing, I have a separate user account that's password protected. The third user has a separate account that's not password protected. It seems to me that to delete all our files would take a number of actions and decisions that cannot be done by accident. I know that it wasn't done deliberately and so that seems to leave a virus or some kind of software problem as the only answers. Does that make sense?

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Unless the make my files private is done.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 1, 2009 11:04 PM PST
In reply to: Nope

Then any pest could delete files without a series of actions.

Shared machines are a pain but slowly in decline as we see NETBOOKS gaining traction.

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Can they?
by WhereAreMyFiles? / November 1, 2009 11:25 PM PST

The point is that you can't delete dozens of files from various directories of two users by accident. Furthermore one of users is password protected and so they couldn't have accessed it. It would be no diffent from having your own laptop/notebook that was password protected.

The shared users are not the issue, it's something else but it seems that there's not an obvious answer. I've run some virus scans but they've not found anything.

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Sure I can.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 1, 2009 11:38 PM PST
In reply to: Can they?

But this is me. I can with a simple script delete all doc files without so much trouble. I know it seems that Windows would protect user files but remember it's not a multi user OS. Windows (and DOS) from day zero is programmed that if you are at the keyboard it's your machine.

Now that times have changed MSFT has tried to amend this but with limited success.

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I don't doubt that
by WhereAreMyFiles? / November 1, 2009 11:55 PM PST
In reply to: Sure I can.

If you can write such a script. The other user on this pc couldn't find a directory and doesn't even know how to save files properly. He can find e-bay and that's it. He simply does not have the ability or will to do that. I'm not constantly prompted if I want to delete all files on the other users and neither is he. Therefore the problem is not one of the users it must be something else. I will create some more files and see if it happens again and then try and find common factors.

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One last thing.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 2, 2009 12:05 AM PST
In reply to: I don't doubt that
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