Lost memories
January 29, 2010 10:24 AM   Subscribe

Whoops! Just deleted my Windows.old folder with System Cleanup. Can I get it back?

I just ran Disk Cleanup on Windows 7 to free up some space on my hard disk. It asked me if I wanted to delete "Windows.old" from a previous Windows installation, which had some of my documents, downloads and photos in it. I said yes, presuming it would just delete the system files in Windows.old. It deleted the lot, and now my documents have vanished. Unsurprisingly.

They aren't in the recycle bin, and I haven't got any system restore points set up (I have now though). I don't have much hope, but is there any way I can get my treasured documents back?
posted by hnnrs to Computers & Internet (3 answers total)
The "Windows" folder usually doesn't any user data, they get placed in "Documents and Settings" or the "Users" folder depending on what Windows version you were running. Are you sure the files were there?
posted by wongcorgi at 10:40 AM on January 29, 2010

wongcorgi: When you install Windows 7, it moves all of your documents and program files from your previous Windows installation into the special Windows.old directory. This is what happened when I did a clean install of 7 over Vista. Sorry I don't have any advice for you, hnnrs.
posted by puritycontrol at 11:35 AM on January 29, 2010

You could theoretically go for a data recovery service. They're expensive, though. When you delete a file, all it does is remove an entry in the file allocation table, all the data is still there. For a while. The computer thinks it's free space, and it will be overwritten later on.

So, if you stop using the computer now (so nothing else ends up on the hard drive) it might be possible to recover the files by scanning the hard drive. You could also take the drive out and set it aside to recover later. Install windows on a fresh drive, and find some undelete software.

But this is all in theory. You might not be able to get anything back :(

this is why you should always do backups :)
posted by delmoi at 12:15 PM on January 29, 2010

« Older Cheap girls looking for a good time   |   How can I get my GF to understand a relationship... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.