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Since Microsoft started forcing Windows computer users to upgrade to Windows-10 in 2015, the tech giant started forcing updates semi-annually whether the user wanted it or not. Although several work-arounds were discovered that postponed the updates, sooner or later you had to allow Microsoft to take control and push the updates to you.
The latest update, called Windows 10 October 2018 Update (version 1809), was released October 2, 2018. Just a few days later, users worldwide started reporting that some of their desktop files were automatically deleted after they installed the update. That included files stored in the default folders for documents and pictures, among others.
Hopefully, you haven’t had to suffer this nightmare.
First of all, if you haven’t downloaded the update yet, you’re in luck. Microsoft has paused the distribution of the update, so you can’t manually download the file.
“We have paused the rollout of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update (version 1809)* for all users as we investigate reports of users missing files after updating” Microsoft wrote in its 10-6-18 support page.
But in case you have downloaded the update, you should avoid installing it if the option is available on your flavor of Windows 10. The other thing you can do is defer PC restarts until you’ve backed up your files.
Microsoft is urging all users who have lost files to stop using the affected PC immediately and call its support line right away at +1-800-MICROSOFT, or you can find a local number here. But if you have ever tried to contact Microsoft support, you’ll know to expect a long wait and a support person from another country that may or may not speak understandable English.
Dona Sarkar, head of the Windows Insider Program, posted a tweet saying that users whose files are affected should call the company’s support line for help recovering their data. But BleepingComputer found that support reps are simply asking people to use System Restore to roll back to an earlier point. In some cases, they’re running NTFS File Recovery for customers via remote login. You can go down that route, but results are not guaranteed and the process has been reported as “sketchy”.
While you can postpone installing the new Windows 10 update through various means, it is always advisable to regularly back up your important files to some form of external media. If you are a person who foolishly never backs up their files, now is the time to start the practice.
If your User files (ie: My Documents, settings and preferences) are gone, for the most part they are gone. You just lost years of your photos, personal documents and memories.
Most cloud storage services like Google, OneDrive, and Dropbox offer automatic backup and sync options for the important folders on your PC. But the free accounts of those cloud storage services do not contain enough space for the average user to make a full data backup. If you have a lot of data that needs backing up, you should purchase an external hard drive with a size capable of containing your User files.
Meanwhile, if you downloaded and installed the update and still have files in your My Documents folder, you’re one of the lucky ones who avoided this problem. Simply pause, take a deep breath, and give thanks.
But if you did actually lose important data, you may wait and try to join one of the growing lists of people and small businesses that have lost important data, and are organizing to sue Microsoft for lost business information and revenue.
It won’t restore your data, but it could give you a chuckle to help stick it to Microsoft.
Be Safe – Backup Your Data Regularly!
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