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Files randomly deleted


stingraysp22's Avatar
stingraysp22 stingraysp22 is offline
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16-Feb-2005, 08:08 PM #1
Files randomly deleted
This is a rather non-specific problem...but basically everything in my documents folder got deleted! Yesterday everything was in there, and now there's nothing. My computer was being a bit fussy this afternoon and froze, and I had to shut it off and restart. This could be a cause of the problem, although this has never happened before. I tried a system restore from a previous day when the files were there and it didn't restore any of those files. I guess I'm not so concerned as to how they got deleted, but am wondering if there is a way to get them back without too much hassle? Thanks for anyone who is willing to help!
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hl5 hl5 is offline
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17-Feb-2005, 03:13 AM #2
First of all, the longer you use your computer after files are deleted, the less the odds of you getting those files back. So if those files are important, use your computer as little as you can until you figure out what to do. (If you can simply avoid using the drive the files are on, that would work too. I'm assuming they're on your C drive, which means it's hard not to use the drive unless you don't use your computer at all.)

There are lots of file recovery utilities out there. There are commercial ones and a few freeware ones. Restoration is supposed to be a decent freeware utility that will undelete many deleted files.

Do you have a virus scanner? Make sure there's no trojan or virus on your computer. The problem you describe is VERY UNUSUAL, so make sure no one has hacked into your computer. Do you have a firewall? If so, someone could check the log to make sure there's nothing strange there.

Use the Find command (in the Start menu) to search your computer to make sure the files actually are gone. It's possible they were moved somehow. (Make sure you're actually looking in the right place. It's possible the shortcut for your Documents folder simply got messed up.)

This is beyond the problems caused by most adware, but make sure you don't have any adware or spyware on your computer. In the future, download a scanner like Ad-aware or Spybot to keep your system clean. (If you want to recover those files, however, you may want to avoid installing anything FOR NOW on that drive.)

FYI, a system restore will only rewind your system settings to a previous state. It won't recover deleted files.

If these files are very important, download a file recovery program using another computer, and then run it from a CD or floppy disk rather than from your hard drive. If the files are ultra-critical you can also try file recovery specialists although it's unlikely they can do much if it's been awhile since the files were deleted. (If they are very important, shut down your computer this second and figure out a solution without using your computer.)

If the files are not all that important, just go ahead and download Restoration or another SMALL file recovery utility and see what it finds.

You can also search through the RAW CONTENTS of your hard drive using a program like Disk Investigator. (These programs are often called hex editors, because they can show the hard drive contents in hexidecimal, or base-16 -- every value is a pair of 8-bit bytes. They're also sometimes called sector editors because they show the raw sectors of the hard drive -- the data exactly as it's stored on there. When a file is deleted, often only the name that points to the file's contents is deleted. If you search your hard drive, the actual contents of the files may still be there UNLESS you've written new stuff over it since the files were deleted.)

Good luck........

p.s. As an alternative to Ad-aware or Spybot to scan for spyware/adware, you could use another computer to download HijackThis, and run it from a floppy disk or CD to get a log of what's on your computer now. Don't FIX anything; just print a log and show it to someone. But note that using your system AT ALL decreases the odds of you recovering things.

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stingraysp22 stingraysp22 is offline
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17-Feb-2005, 04:29 PM #3
Thanks for the detailed response! I actually later on found all of my document files under some random temp folder. I was hoping that everything just got relocated, but that's not the case. But thank you to back-up files! (By the way, I do have a firewall. I'm suspecting that possibly my computer got so low on resources at some point that it had to empty out). So...issue resolved! -and thanks again for the help.
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