Help! Recover file!
March 3, 2013 1:14 AM   Subscribe

I was just working on a proofreading file for hours. I closed it, thinking I had been saving it (I'm pretty sure I was saving it!). Then I went to email it , and it's nowhere to be found on my computer. I searched for it. I thought that if you don't save something it will be recovered when you open Word again, but nope. And I can't find it on my computer anywhere. Does anywhere have an idea where it could have gone and how/if I can get it back?! Thanks!
posted by bearette to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How did you open this file? Did you open it from a web page?

IE has this nasty habit of letting you open files from its webpage cache. The problem is that the IE cache is not a normal folder on the HD, and you can't browse or access it directly. This guys suggests a solution that might work. Folder paths are a little different on newer versions of Windows.

In the future, make sure you download files first, then edit from the Downloads folder.
posted by sbutler at 1:21 AM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: thanks...I checked out the link you gave me. But one of the instructions says to view the temporary files which I cannot open. It said to change the settings, but I don't know how to do that. Any ideas?
posted by bearette at 1:45 AM on March 3, 2013

There are other ways to get to it, but: Control Panel, Folder Options, View, then select "Show hidden files, folders, and drives".

I only have Windows 8 handy, but you can get to it from the Control Panel, Internet Properties, General, Browsing History, Settings, View Files, then go back a directory if you need to copy it. But you might not have to I guess on some newer versions of Windows.
posted by sbutler at 2:01 AM on March 3, 2013

Response by poster: Hmm, the settings were already clicked on "show hidden files".

This is from the link that sbutler provided:

How to find a file in the hidden internet explorer cache:

1. Go find your temporary internet files: C:\Documents and Settings\userName\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files (parent folder is hidden, so you have to go to your explorer options to view these hidden/system files).

2. Next Copy-Paste the entire folder to somewhere else.

3. After that finally completes, you can browse the contents normally. **Search** for your filename/extension since there is a lot of stuff nested in that folder.

My problem is I cannot open "local settings" and I don't know how. when I try to open it says "access denied"
posted by bearette at 2:14 AM on March 3, 2013

I don't think you're accessing the right userName then. It should be the userName of the user you're logged in as. Are there more than one options?
posted by sbutler at 2:15 AM on March 3, 2013

Response by poster: the only option is "administrator" and "all users". I opened "administrator"
posted by bearette at 2:20 AM on March 3, 2013

Were you using something like Microsoft Word to edit the file? If you open the software you were using and find the recent documents list is your file in there? Alternatively, if you go to the start menu and mouse over the software you were using sometimes a list of recently opened files pops up out to the side (it does for Word 2007 in Windows 7 on my machine anyway) and it might be listed in there.

Once you get it open again then just 'save as' in a better file location.
posted by shelleycat at 2:21 AM on March 3, 2013

Did you see if you had a View Files in Internet Options? And BTW, what version of Windows are you using?
posted by sbutler at 2:21 AM on March 3, 2013

Also, sometimes just doing a file search for the filename (or part thereof) in the start menu will bring it up again, depending on how well your files have been indexed.
posted by shelleycat at 2:22 AM on March 3, 2013

Response by poster: I searched in the start menu and I looked in recent documents (several times each). Nowhere to be found.

I was able to view files, but the file I found with the right name just took me to the email box where I first opened the file.
posted by bearette at 2:29 AM on March 3, 2013

"Local Settings" is there for backward compatibility with Windows XP, and doesn't allow its contents to be browsed. The Vista/7/8 equivalent is "AppData\Local".

But your fastest way through this is probably not browsing, but searching. The file will almost certainly be somewhere inside your user profile folder (the one that contains Documents and AppData and Pictures and Local Settings and whatnot) so try searching that for files modified today. Leave the Name box blank, and just search by date.
posted by flabdablet at 2:57 AM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Assuming that you know the name of the file: Download Locate32, let it search the entire hard drive, and then look for your file.

If you don't, an indexed file searcher like dtSearch will index the contents of files. The indexing will take a long time, but it is a powerful tool.
posted by yclipse at 6:19 AM on March 3, 2013

When you open Word, (which version are you using?), look in its list of recent files.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:34 AM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

This Microsoft article lists pretty much every method for recovering word documents. In particular I think method 4 will be the most helpful to you.
posted by JDHarper at 6:49 AM on March 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

If the file was sent to you as an email attachment that you opened and edited, then it is probably saved as a Temporary File. Have you used your computer's file search function to search your entire harddrive for the filename? Windows stores temporary files in a very strange place.
posted by muddgirl at 1:14 PM on March 3, 2013

When this happens to me I use a free program called fileseek that searches inside files. Tell it to search every file on your HD for a certain phrase or uncommon word, walk away, and come back in a half hour.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:55 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

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