Over 100GB of data disappeared. Help?


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I just turned on my laptop and I was quite surprised to see that all of the folders and files on my desktop disappeared. Initially, I saw them in the file explorer, and my ūüėĄ had about 200GB of free space. As I was downloading updates on Windows 11, busy on the phone and whatnot, now more free space appears on the C:. I don't know what happened during that time. A virus scan doesn't turn up anything. What do I do now? Is there any way to do a restore and see if those files turn up? This is on an SSD and IIRC, there is a way to recover the files? Unfortunately, I didn't back up those files to an HDD so it's important to find a way to somehow recover them.

I don't know if this is related to Onedrive. I noticed that after this latest Windows update, OneDrive seems to have been turned back on and synced my files to OneDrive. I know files were backed up because there is a desktop folder with subfolders that range from 1-19. Unfortunately, some folders are empty. It makes me wonder if OneDrive was automatically deciding what to backup? Like if an existing folder with the same name exists on OneDrive, would it only back up the folder from my laptop and then delete the files if it seems to exist on OneDrive? I tried to do a restore via OneDrive to a previous date, but all my lost files don't exist using a previous recovery date. 

Other than contacting a professional data recovery firm, which I really hesitate, about because of the potential costs and the possibility that a bad actor will steal my data. 

I think my best hope is to find some sort of software that can try to recover the data even though TRIM could have permanently wiped it. There are tons of free space according to Windows. Is there any way to go back to a previous state before I installed all the Windows updates (not sure which one caused OneDrive to back up and delete the files from my laptop) and then the files and folders may reappear? I'm not hopeful since if there is a backup, I should have even less SSD space? I'm really frustrated that whichever upgrade, maybe it was a major Windows 11 upgrade?, Microsoft didn't respect the previous settings where I disabled auto backup. I had no idea OneDrive would backup my files to the cloud and then delete them from my desktop. Surprisingly, the deleted files didn't even show up in the recycle bin!

 

 

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On 03/04/2024 at 01:52, Dick Montage said:

Prepared to bet that your desktop folder was synched with OneDrive, and it's gone from there...

What do you mean by gone from there.

Another problem is that I wasn't subscribing to MS365 so there's no way there would have been enough space to backup all of the files from my laptop. I wonder if OneDrive abruptly stopped backing up at 40GB and then sent a command to my laptop to delete all the files since it thinks they're all backed up?

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Yeah I hate Onedrive with a passion for this kind of thing. It decides all by itself to reinstall and enable itself and if you had the Desktop folder sync turned on previously, that is what will have happened. By default Onedrive syncs Desktop, Documents and Pictures folders, so if it is syncing another computer (like your main machine) it could have decided to delete everything "extra" on the laptop. What kind of messed up shit is that?

What you can try is going to Onedrive on the web and see if the files are in the "trash".

This actually happened to me as well, but I didn't lose files the last time, what happened is that Onedrive reinstalled and enabled itself directly after a Patch Tuesday update in February. I had to research how to stop this from happening and long story short, it's a Group Policy setting that you have to change to block Onedrive from reinstalling, but now I keep getting email alerts that "many files were deleted" in Onedrive (because I had to delete a bunch of files it started syncing).

I tell you, Microsoft goddamn sucks with these practises. Over the years I have lost a lot of files thanks to shitty Onedrive and one time it even changed all of the file creation dates of twenty year old files to the date they were restored from the trash bin of Onedrive. So photos from 2003 suddenly had creation dates of 2017. I really hate it with a passion, incase you didn't notice.

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On 03/04/2024 at 09:56, Sgt_Stryder said:

What do you mean by gone from there.

I mean that it is not synchronised to OneDrive anymore.  It may also be gone from your OneDrive - you may want to check.  And then check the trash if needs be.

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On 03/04/2024 at 02:11, Steven P. said:

Yeah I hate Onedrive with a passion for this kind of thing. It decides all by itself to reinstall and enable itself and if you had the Desktop folder sync turned on previously, that is what will have happened. By default Onedrive syncs Desktop, Documents and Pictures folders, so if it is syncing another computer (like your main machine) it could have decided to delete everything "extra" on the laptop. What kind of messed up ###### is that?

What you can try is going to Onedrive on the web and see if the files are in the "trash".

This actually happened to me as well, but I didn't lose files the last time, what happened is that Onedrive reinstalled and enabled itself directly after a Patch Tuesday update in February. I had to research how to stop this from happening and long story short, it's a Group Policy setting that you have to change to block Onedrive from reinstalling, but now I keep getting email alerts that "many files were deleted" in Onedrive (because I had to delete a bunch of files it started syncing).

I tell you, Microsoft goddamn sucks with these practises. Over the years I have lost a lot of files thanks to ###### Onedrive and one time it even changed all of the file creation dates of twenty year old files to the date they were restored from the trash bin of Onedrive. So photos from 2003 suddenly had creation dates of 2017. I really hate it with a passion, incase you didn't notice.

Trash as in recycle bin? If so, nothing. 

Even restoring to the only other data, which was March 5th, nothing. 

At this point, I think I need software solution to recover from the SSD. I'm considering taking it to a professional, but I worry about theft of data. I have had my laptop mostly turned off since the files disappeared. I suspect the SSD has been TRIMed. However, I haven't transferred any files to the SSD so nothing should be overwritten. I understand that despite having lots of free space, there are no guarantees the files aren't written over. I've only done a virus scan with Windows Defender and using Recuva. I have also briefly used Google Chrome. I worry I won't be able to recover my data. Do you think restoring Windows to a previous state will help? I wonder what kind of software a professional will run to try to retrieve the data?

 

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On 03/04/2024 at 11:30, Sgt_Stryder said:

Trash as in recycle bin? If so, nothing. 

I mean here https://onedrive.live.com/ and looking in the Recycle Bin

But yeah, it is looking like you will need to try a software recovery solution sooner rather than later before your SSD is TRIMed https://www.techradar.com/best/best-free-data-recovery-software

TRIM is done automatically by the OS, and once that happens recovery will not be possible with commercial software.

On 03/04/2024 at 11:30, Sgt_Stryder said:

Do you think restoring Windows to a previous state will help? I wonder what kind of software a professional will run to try to retrieve the data?

No. System Restore will never recover personal files. Creating a system restore point simply takes a snapshot of system files, system settings, installed programs, and Windows registry. (source)

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Should I leave the laptop off in the meantime? Should I just remove the SSD from the laptop and plug in something else to use in the meantime? How often and when is TRIM run?

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On 03/04/2024 at 11:42, Sgt_Stryder said:

Should I leave the laptop off in the meantime? Should I just remove the SSD from the laptop and plug in something else to use in the meantime? How often and when is TRIM run?

Yeah, definitely remove the SSD if you plan to have it recovered by a professional or if you plan to research how to do this yourself (with an SSD enclosure connected via USB).

Windows automatically runs the TRIM command in the background, generally on a weekly basis when you're least busy, to keep the drive in top condition. This also applies to USB connected SSD drives.

You can also disable TRIM in Windows https://www.makeuseof.com/why-how-disable-trim-command/ but also remember that once new data is written to the SSD, it can remove previously marked deleted data to make way for the new data, this process does not always wait for all areas of the drive to be completely written at least once before it decides to overwrite a previously occupied datasector.

You said you did not have the laptop on for a long time before all this happened, so I really hope the command wasn't executed already, if the laptop was idle for an extended period before you turned it off?

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On 03/04/2024 at 03:00, Steven P. said:

Yeah, definitely remove the SSD if you plan to have it recovered by a professional or if you plan to research how to do this yourself (with an SSD enclosure connected via USB).

Windows automatically runs the TRIM command in the background, generally on a weekly basis when you're least busy, to keep the drive in top condition. This also applies to USB connected SSD drives.

You can also disable TRIM in Windows https://www.makeuseof.com/why-how-disable-trim-command/ but also remember that once new data is written to the SSD, it can remove previously marked deleted data to make way for the new data, this process does not always wait for all areas of the drive to be completely written at least once before it decides to overwrite a previously occupied datasector.

You said you did not have the laptop on for a long time before all this happened, so I really hope the command wasn't executed already, if the laptop was idle for an extended period before you turned it off?

The problem after removing the SSD, if it's anything like in the past when I removed the hard drive where the OS is installed, is that I won't be able to reinsert it back, turn on the laptop and boot to the desktop. Won't it ask me to reinstall Windows? I think I'll need to exhaust all options before resorting to this. 

I don't think the laptop was idled for long. I probably used my laptop for 5-6 more hours researching after discovering the files were gone. 

If I disable TRIM, can I continue just using Chrome and not install new apps or transfer more data to the laptop?

If I plug in a thumb drive, can OneDrive do this again and delete more files?

How do I completely disable OneDrive from syncing and cause more problems going forward?

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Disable TRIM like in the instructions link I sent in the previous post.

If Onedrive is still installed, I highly suggest "unlinking" your laptop from it first. You will have to look up on Google how to do that, because I can't remember exactly from memory, it will be in the settings.

Then: Here is how to prevent the godawful Onedrive from enabling itself https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/onedrive/how-to-disable-onedrive-and-stop-it-from-coming-up-when-i-use/m-p/3948642

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On 03/04/2024 at 07:10, Sugadevan said:

OneDrive won't just delete files automagically. What's synced and not synced by OneDrive can be easily changed/managed by some simple clicks.  But, You guys are free to "hate OneDrive with a passion". Why not?

https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/msoffice/forum/all/how-to-prevent-onedrive-from-ever-deleting/34a6d734-41c3-4034-93e8-f08dd9ed1338

OD.PNG

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Not sure what happened but Microsoft deletes Onedrive files from the cloud if they haven't been accessed for so long, I think two years. If you haven't used it for a long time and it got reenabled and synced up to your desktop maybe it decided to delete the files. I don't think it's supposed to do that but we all know how perfectly Microsoft's stuff always works, lol. Anyway it's a common complaint as anyone can see by Googling Onedrive deleted my files. Hope you are able to recover them.

Edited by Thrackerzod
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On 03/04/2024 at 17:36, Thrackerzod said:

Not sure what happened but Microsoft deletes Onedrive files from the cloud if they haven't been accessed for so long, I think two years. If you haven't used it for a long time and it got reenabled and synced up to your desktop maybe it decided to delete the files.

This seems to be the issue with OneDrive. Another update resets the user settings. Google shows multiple examples of this when I took a look.

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Have you simply rebooted to see if your files come back? I had a couple users tell me they powered on their computers one day and all their stuff was gone. It all came back with a reboot in both instances. 

As for OneDrive, when I enable it, I uncheck file sync for everything but the OneDrive folder itself. If I want it in the cloud, I put it there. Not helpful to your current situation, but there it is...

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On 03/04/2024 at 15:15, Warwagon said:

I hate onedrive with a passion.

 

Agree. If proton drive had a 1 TB tier I would switch in a second. 

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On 03/04/2024 at 20:56, Xenon said:

Agree. If proton drive had a 1 TB tier I would switch in a second. 

My project in the next month will be setting up NextCloud. Might be worth looking into? You've got to set up your own redundancies, but in the long term it could be cheaper.

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On 03/04/2024 at 16:47, Nick H. said:

My project in the next month will be setting up NextCloud. Might be worth looking into? You've got to set up your own redundancies, but in the long term it could be cheaper.

Major overkill for what I need. Plus the price is a little too much for me. I need this personally not for work.

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While I continue to research this topic before resorting to professionals, would you guys say disabling TRIM and not using any SSD space to mitigate any further damages? After disabling TRIM, can I use Chrome or try another search for those files without potentially compromising the integrity of the missing files?

I'm also reading about cloning the drive with Acronis software and trying to look for the files like that? 

When installing any software, can I install it to an external hard drive and run it from there? Is there any self-contained software that won't require installation to the SSD?

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On 04/04/2024 at 02:00, Sgt_Stryder said:

While I continue to research this topic before resorting to professionals, would you guys say disabling TRIM and not using any SSD space to mitigate any further damages? After disabling TRIM, can I use Chrome or try another search for those files without potentially compromising the integrity of the missing files?

I'm also reading about cloning the drive with Acronis software and trying to look for the files like that? 

When installing any software, can I install it to an external hard drive and run it from there? Is there any self-contained software that won't require installation to the SSD?

 

On 03/04/2024 at 21:39, JustGeorge said:

Have you simply rebooted to see if your files come back? I had a couple users tell me they powered on their computers one day and all their stuff was gone. It all came back with a reboot in both instances. 

As for OneDrive, when I enable it, I uncheck file sync for everything but the OneDrive folder itself. If I want it in the cloud, I put it there. Not helpful to your current situation, but there it is...

Oh yes! I forgot to mention that Onedrive also forcefully changes the path of Documents, Pictures and Desktop to its own folder, usually under C:\Users\<account name>\Onedrive\

It's a long shot, but try looking under C:\Users\<account name>\Desktop\ and also see if Documents and Pictures folders are still there under your account name folder.

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On 04/04/2024 at 04:38, Steven P. said:

 

Oh yes! I forgot to mention that Onedrive also forcefully changes the path of Documents, Pictures and Desktop to its own folder, usually under C:\Users\<account name>\Onedrive\

It's a long shot, but try looking under C:\Users\<account name>\Desktop\ and also see if Documents and Pictures folders are still there under your account name folder.

I hate that!!! Normally what I will do when someone has me transfer from an old computer that doesn't use one drive to a Windows 11 machine that they JUST purchased, is just create a new user profile and delete the one they created during the first boot, which Is undoubtedly connected to one drive. This allows me to take their profile data from their old computer and copy and paste it into their new computer.

At which point if they want to use one drive go for it. Other wise if you copy and paste it while connected to one drive it hits the folders for desktop, documents and pictures which are not used now. So then you have to copy and paste them into the new one drive folders. It truely is a cluster F*CK.

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