Computer recovery after reset to original settings
March 12, 2013 1:48 PM   Subscribe

Computer froze up, only letting me access the recovery manager. Burned 6 recovery disks, then reset to original factory settings. Reinstalled the recovery disks, the program said it was successful, but the files are nowhere to be found. What next?

I have an HP laptop running Windows 7, about 3 years old. Hate to admit it to all the computer people out there, but I had never set it up to backup files. Will be fixing this gap in future, assuming I have files to backup.

The computer stopped starting up, only went to the recovery manager. Tried running the checkup, that didn't fix it. Ended up burning 6 recovery disks, then resetting to factory settings. Now the computer starts, at least.

After making sure that I could access the programs the files were from (mainly just Word, Excel, that sort of thing), I reinstalled the recovery disks. File names went whizzing past, end screen said recovery was successful. However, I can't find any of the files on the computer. Where did they go? Or what step did I miss? What do I do now?

As you can likely tell by now, I'm not much of a computer person. If your best recommendation is to take it to someone else, feel free to say so. I've already gotten info on computer repair places in my area. AskMe is my last try at fixing this myself, before handing the computer over to someone else before I screw it up further.
posted by dorey_oh to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
Your data is gone. The recovery process you went through reformats the drive.

Its purpose is to restore the computer to the exact state it was in when it left the factory. Any changes you made are lost.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:52 PM on March 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'd agree with Chocolate Pickle.

Having had people ask if I could "take a look" at their computer to see where things went after they ran the recovery process, that's what I've found -- everything is gone, drive formatted and a fresh OS install.

Can you look at the disks for what's on them ?
posted by k5.user at 1:56 PM on March 12, 2013

Your data is gone. The recovery process you went through reformats the drive.

Its purpose is to restore the computer to the exact state it was when it left the factory. Any changes you made are lost.

I don't believe this is correct. dorey_oh seems to be describing something like this process (scroll down to "If you want to back up your personal files, follow these steps to create a backup"), which involves burning personal files onto backup discs. I have never used this type of process so I don't have any idea of how to troubleshoot it, but the personal files should be there on the discs that were burned.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:59 PM on March 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

This happened to a friend and I was able to find the files by searching with the Windows search tool. All the files were in a random location and were all hidden from view. I hope you are so lucky!
posted by unreasonable at 2:06 PM on March 12, 2013

Yes, burnmp3s, that's what I did! And when I tried to reinstall, there were actual file names whizzing by, which makes me think they are still somewhere, if I could only find where.

unreasonable, I tried the Windows search tool with no luck, will try that again with more files.
posted by dorey_oh at 2:09 PM on March 12, 2013

Maybe try looking on the DVDs themselves? While I'm sure they're in some sort of archive file, maybe they separated out the user files from the operating system files.
posted by dobi at 2:14 PM on March 12, 2013

Six DVDs would be huge for just a system recovery image, so I think your files are probably still there. The file recovery utility should have asked you where to restore everything, but this suggests that the default location is "C:\System Recovery Files".

If they're not there, it sounds like you already tried searching for the files, but by default Windows only searches indexed locations, which are only a portion of the system. At the bottom of the search window should be a "Search again in" option. Try "Computer" (as opposed to "Libraries", etc.)

Good luck!
posted by Sibrax at 3:40 PM on March 12, 2013

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