lost document
May 19, 2008 9:05 AM   Subscribe

Need help recovering lost document on PC

i got an email this morning from a distraught friend - i am about as computer savvy as a nudibranch so I thought I would ask the hive mind for some help.

email is as follows -
i am horribly depressed. i lost a document on my computer. i have searched EVERYWHERE for it and it is not coming up. I know I was saving it along the way. but the problem was, the whole time i was saving it in those retarded TEMP files with names like 4PTYU7L8 you know.

here is my question... since i have searched high and low for the file and have not been lucky.... can anyone tell me is there any sort of fancy search on a PC where you type in WORDS and it will search your computer? not names of files...but words within those files? Like if I searched for words IN the document I lost...can the computer find it?

you know what is retarded....i have searched high and low in those temp files and computers save the stupidest shit!!! little icons and encrypted crap you cant read...it even had empty folders.

so even if i was retarded enough NOT to save it....dont you think it would have saved some sort of footprint from the file somewhere?!?! if it still has stupid links from 2005 it should be able to save something i did today!

Any Suggestions?
posted by fogonlittlecatfeet to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Windows search used to have a 'words in files' or some such checkbox in the advanced options of the built in search. I'd assume the option is still there.
posted by jjb at 9:12 AM on May 19, 2008

What OS are you using?
posted by TedW at 9:13 AM on May 19, 2008

The search function in Windows XP can do this for you. Open up a Search window, click 'All files and folders' and you'll be able to search by words in a document, among other criteria. Good luck.
posted by Diskeater at 9:13 AM on May 19, 2008

Also, what program was the file created with; what kind of file is it?
posted by TedW at 9:14 AM on May 19, 2008

I would also try searching by when a file was last modified. If he was working on it yesterday, search for all files modified within the last three days or so and something will hopefully come up.
posted by Diskeater at 9:17 AM on May 19, 2008

Yes - search for date created, and open any temp files that appear around the time that you last saved it.

Also, try going into Word and going to "recent documents" - it might just open up.

PS, what about the temp files makes them mentally challenged?
posted by k8t at 9:21 AM on May 19, 2008

here is a bit more info on the situation
OS - Windows XP working in Word.

what she did was open the document from the email which opens it as a temporary document, then made changes and just hit save... which we are assuming has been overwritten by now...???
posted by fogonlittlecatfeet at 9:27 AM on May 19, 2008

You could try using a tool like FreeUndelete to undelete the autosave files (which Word in all likelihood deleted when she closed the application). You might want to look for files with a .wbk extension...those are Word's temporary backup files. Restore those, then launch Word, and it may just autorecover the file.

I've done this using Salvage on wbk files on a network volume and when the user launches Word, the documents automagically reappear.
posted by JaredSeth at 9:31 AM on May 19, 2008

I would download AGENT RANSACK - install it


and then search every way possible - text ( takes 5 min or so ) - title (shorter time) - date - etc - if it cannot find it - not much can - but it would be more like data recovery - Good Luck -
And GOOGLE Word back up files . . . .
posted by epjr at 9:34 AM on May 19, 2008 [2 favorites]

Try opening the document again in Word from the email message. Then do a "Save As". Don't actually save anything but see what folder the Save As dialog puts you in. That is probably where it goes if you simply hit Save. You'll probably need to hit the dropdown at the top of the SaveAs dialog to see the folder tree to figure out where it is.

But ... it may not be a simple as that. You didn't say what email program she is using. I just tried sending myself a Word attachment in Outlook. I did some edits and a SaveAs. It ends up in a sub folder of my Temporary Internet Files, not temp, but then it gets weird ...

For me, the final folder is: MyName and the final folder name will be different for you.

C:\Documents and Settings\MyName\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\OLK138

The weird thing is that if I go to that path with Windows Explorer, I don't see folder OLK138. I have my folder options set so that I see hidden and system things but it's still not there. The folder also disappears if I'm in the SaveAs and hit the "Up One Level" button, there is no way to go down again. So ... there is something special about that folder.

What I did find which could be useful is that I can select any or all files while in the SaveAs, right click, copy and then paste them into a normal folder. Then you can see if there is anything useful there.

Good luck :)
posted by tetranz at 9:56 AM on May 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

What system/ program is your friend using? If it's Outlook Express on Windows XP, there's a good chance your document is stil there. Searching by date, like people above said, is a good bet. Remember to tick the boxes that says "Search System Files" and "Search Hidden Files" in advanced options.

Here's another way, in case it's not turning up :

Open up Windows Explorer and type this in the Address bar:

C:\Documents and Settings\ACCOUNT_NAME\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5

ACCOUNT_NAME should be the name of your friend's account. If you don't know this, it's on top of the start menu, next to the little picture.

You'll find a bunch of folders in there, with names like KXYVK56V and the like. When you try to open them,
you will get an error message, just click ok. Open each one, and sort the files by name to look for Word documents.

If you do find your file, make a copy into a regular folder, don't leave it there.
posted by ghost of a past number at 9:59 AM on May 19, 2008

Install Google Desktop Search and let it index the hard drive, then search for a known text string?
posted by Roach at 10:15 AM on May 19, 2008

There is a search facility where you can search for text that the file contains, in Word. If your friend is using Word 2003, select File Search from the File menu. This will open up a search dialog in the right sidebar. Select Advanced File Search (underneath the search entry box) and then you can search in specific folders (or the root folder C:\ ) for any files that contain specific text.
If not using Word 2003, select File|Open then select the Tools dropdown list (top right in the dialog box). I can't remember what the dialog box looks like for Word 2000, but you it should be fairly self-explanatory -- again, you can search for any files containing specific words.
Tell your friend to hang in there ... :-)
posted by Susurration at 7:15 PM on May 19, 2008

posted by fogonlittlecatfeet at 5:27 AM on May 20, 2008

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