Solved! I removed all files from my hard drive and laptop - can I get them back?

Nov 27, 2018
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I am terrible with computers and I made a huge mistake.

I have a relatively new laptop. I was planning on setting up automatic backup with an external hard drive. I plugged the hard drive in and there was quite a bit of stuff there, 60% filled. I used it to transfer files from my old laptop to the new one.

My mistake was that I assumed I could delete everything on the hard drive and then set up automatic backup to back up the current files. When I deleted everything, it deleted many things from my laptop as well. I guess I had already done a backup or something and it was somehow connected to my files on the actual laptop.

I still have Windows 10. I lost all documents/videos/pictures/music. I lost all programs, such as Office (which my computer came installed with), iTunes, etc. I'm hoping I can simply download these again. The only icon I have on my desktop is Recycle Bin.

So I messed up badly. I've had this computer for just two months, so I can get old files from my old one, but I lost everything for the past two months.

Is there any hope? Or do I have to start over?

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UPDATE (Please read): Embarrassing what I did....I literally took a DVD/CD external drive thinking it was an external hard drive. I deleted all the files on my computer instead. I thought I was just deleting the stuff on my external drive. Instead, I deleted everything on my computer.

Problem persists - is a reset of Windows and just dealing with the loss the best case scenario here?
 

hang-the-9

Titan
Moderator


Once you do a factory reset the files in the recycle bin are gone. You need to start trying to restore files before messing with anything else on the computer. After this clean Windows setup you will have nothing on the computer that you had before. After a factory reset and then another clean Windows setup even the file recovery programs won't be able to find deleted files since the space they may be on would have been over-written with new data from the Windows setup.
 
Nov 27, 2018
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I think I will do that tonight.

Small update - I plugged in my DVD/CD drive thinking it was a hard drive. That's why I was confused when I couldn't set up an automatic backup. So I deleted everything, not realizing I deleted everything from my actual laptop. What a colossal mistake. I'm glad I have my old laptop and all that backed up, just losing all my progress from the two months I've owned my new one.
 

hang-the-9

Titan
Moderator
How exactly did you delete things? If you just select it and hit the Del key they would just go to the Recycle Bin till that is filled to the capacity it was set for. Just go to there and restore the files.

If you can't tell what drive is what, don't mess with deleting or moving things without someone there that knows about computers to help you. Get a friend/relative to check on the system. There are programs to recover deleted files, so don't touch the computer till it's looked at.
 
Nov 27, 2018
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The how is simply that I thought I was careless and thought I was deleting files off of an external drive to set up new, automatic backups on this external drive.....only to realize it was my C: drive. Even worse, I had plugged in my external DVD/CD drive thinking it was a 1 TB external drive. Just extreme stupidity on my hand.

I ended up doing a factory reset of Windows last night, which completely deleted the user name so I couldn't log in. The laptop is at the Windows store now getting a clean install.

Once I get it back, I will search the Recycle Bin. Yesterday, I searched by most recently deleted and there were only three folders, all under 1 MB. I couldn't find anything I just deleted so I will try searching once my computer is back, maybe I missed it.

Either way, not sure to mark this solved or not - I think my only option here is start fresh once I get my computer back. I have the backup from two months ago so I luckily don't have a ton of crazy stuff missing, just a couple spreadsheets and pictures for two months but it's livable.

Lesson learned for sure.

 

hang-the-9

Titan
Moderator


Once you do a factory reset the files in the recycle bin are gone. You need to start trying to restore files before messing with anything else on the computer. After this clean Windows setup you will have nothing on the computer that you had before. After a factory reset and then another clean Windows setup even the file recovery programs won't be able to find deleted files since the space they may be on would have been over-written with new data from the Windows setup.
 
Nov 27, 2018
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Ahh I see.....I'll have to start fresh then. Definitely a big mistake on my part. Thanks much for the info!

 
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