Lost files from folders

Posted on 2009-05-12
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 Most of them are files that I haven't used lately, and a colleague suggests that the folders have been archived.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.
Question by:duneclimber
Welcome to Experts Exchange

Add your voice to the tech community where 5M+ people just like you are talking about what matters.

  • Help others & share knowledge
  • Earn cash & points
  • Learn & ask questions
  • 2
  • 2
LVL 20

Expert Comment

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:

If that doesn't work, try a file undelete/recovery program like Recuva:

In the future, be sure to backup your data. Copy to another drive, burn to disc, use online backup solutions, or some combination thereof.
LVL 10

Expert Comment

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?

Author Comment

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.
LVL 20

Accepted Solution

marsilies earned 500 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.

Author Closing Comment

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.

Featured Post

What does it mean to be "Always On"?

Is your cloud always on? With an Always On cloud you won't have to worry about downtime for maintenance or software application code updates, ensuring that your bottom line isn't affected.

Question has a verified solution.

If you are experiencing a similar issue, please ask a related question

The password reset disk is often mentioned as the best solution to deal with the lost Windows password problem. In Windows 2008, 7, Vista and XP, a password reset disk can be easily created. But besides Windows 7/Vista/XP, Windows Server 2008 and ot…
Ever notice how you can't use a new drive in Windows without having Windows assigning a Disk Signature?  Ever have a signature collision problem (especially with Virtual Machines?)  This article is intended to help you understand what's going on and…
Windows 8 came with a dramatically different user interface known as Metro. Notably missing from that interface was a Start button and Start Menu. Microsoft responded to negative user feedback of the Metro interface, bringing back the Start button a…
With the advent of Windows 10, Microsoft is pushing a Get Windows 10 icon into the notification area (system tray) of qualifying computers. There are many reasons for wanting to remove this icon. This two-part Experts Exchange video Micro Tutorial s…

634 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

Join & Ask a Question