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Lost files from folders

Posted on 2009-05-12
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Last Modified: 2012-05-06
I have just lost a lot of files from various subfolders in my Documents folder. The folder names remain but the files have gone. Most of them are files that I haven't used lately, and a colleague suggests that the folders have been archived. I see the option in Archive and Index attributes when I click on a folder's properties. Where would the archived files be stored? I'm using Windows Vista Business.
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Question by:duneclimber
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Expert Comment

by:marsilies
ID: 24366947
Windows will not move files from your Documents folder to somewhere else automatically. It's possible they got deleted by accident or by malicious software.

You can try searching your drive for a specific file by entering search terms in the search box in the explorer window.

Check you Recycle Bin, as that's where files should go when manually deleted.

If not there, check for "Previous Versions" of the files in that directory, following the instructions on this site:
http://www.winhelponline.com/blog/recover-deleted-files-using-previous-versions-shadow-copy-in-windows-vista/

If that doesn't work, try a file undelete/recovery program like Recuva:
http://www.recuva.com/

In the future, be sure to backup your data. Copy to another drive, burn to disc, use online backup solutions, or some combination thereof.
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Expert Comment

by:frostburn
ID: 24368486
Hi there,

Are you the only one that has access to the computer?
If not, is it possible that someone else moved or removed them?

What type of files were in the folders? Was it a variety of files or only a certain type?
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Author Comment

by:duneclimber
ID: 24370503
Thanks to you both. While I was waiting on a response I ran Recuva overnight and it has found quite a large number of files but by no means as many as I've lost.

My recycle bin is empty - I empty it several times a day. I tried checking for previous versions (shadow copies) but it doesn't find any.

I think it stems from a virus that has been going round and which I must have picked up on a flash memory stick that I use to exchange data with colleagues. A week or so ago I noticed that my CA antivirus had its real-time scan facility disabled and I was unsuccessful in trying to re-enable it. I then ran an overnight scan, and I suspect that CA detected the virus in all these files and deleted them. It didn't leave me a report of what it had done and I don't see a way to find it but I'll check with CA on that.

I run backups but my local backup disk is full and doesn't contain the data I've lost. I am in a remote location and my main backup drive is several thousand kilometres away, but I'm confident that I shall be able to find most of the missing files when I get back to it.

I'm missing mostly Windows Office files - doc, dot, xls, mdb, but some executables as well. I haven't lost any of the files I use on a regular basis, which is why it may have takien a week or so before I noticed the loss.
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Accepted Solution

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marsilies earned 2000 total points
ID: 24370749
An anti-virus typically doesn't delete files outright, but moves them to a "quarantine" for a while, just in case the file was needed.

CA's site says they use a file quarantine in their AV program, so I'd open the AV's control panel and look for the quarantine and see if the files are there.
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Author Closing Comment

by:duneclimber
ID: 31580555
Thanks marsilies. I looked in the Quarantine folder but it's empy. I don't entirely trust that fact since I know it earlier deleted a safe executable file, and I see the event in the realtime report (it was working then), but the file doesn't appear in the Q folder. Not to worry - I think I've lost the files until I get home to restore them. Thanks for the help.
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