procainestart SuperDork
5/18/24 2:26 p.m.

I've lost 100s of GBs of data on my PC. Mistakes and poor choices were made. Details follow, or please see questions, below.

  • Gettin' E36 M3 done: With Robocopy, I copied ~70 GB from a USB HDD (not SSD) to my PC. I then deleted the data from the HDD, assuming it'd go to a Recycle Bin (yes, foreshadowing here).
  • E36 M3 goes sideways: I screwed up the destinations of some data. Again with Robocopy, I tried to copy it to the right folders. Except, I inadvertently copied/pasted a command string with the /MIR switch, so Robocopy deletes 200+ GB of data before I catch it. This includes some data copied from the HDD.
  • What, me worry?: I haven't really lost any data, I thought. First, I'll restore everything in the external HDD's recyle bin. But it turns out, the Recycle Bin was empty.
  • Microsoft Sucks, Part 1: Well, I'll recover the lost data that was already on the PC, from a daily File History backup. Nope: error message says, not enough space to recover to. That's odd -- should be plenty of room. But, I stupidly tried to make room by deleting the Recycle Bin, and during the copying process, I'd deleted some duplicate data that had been on the PC.
  • Microsoft Sucks, Part 2: No, problem, I'll manually recover the data from File History (on another HDD). Nope: the File History backup is a joke -- tons of data missing, e.g., folders contain perhaps one-third of the files they're supposed to.
  • Tears and depression: With Recuva, I get a list of all the deleted files it can find. But either it can't filter by deletion date, or that information just isn't available. And there are thousands of files I don't want to recover.


  • GRM-IT Kenobi, is there any hope?: Is there a tool or method with which I can locate all the files that were deleted on a given day, and recover them? If not, how would you proceed?
  • Overcoming the dark side of the (Windows File History) Force: Recommendations for a reliable, preferably FOSS, backup tool?


PS I use Robocopy because I can do a trial run, get a log, preserve dates, and because it's been more reliable than copying/pasting.

StilettoSS New Reader
5/18/24 3:14 p.m.

Screwed you are. -Yoda


Seriously though, I'm not IT, but I think it's gone gone.

Noddaz GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/18/24 3:42 p.m.

I really hope someone can chime in and help you.

GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/18/24 11:01 p.m.

Looks like you've generally been following the right process, basically you'll have to recover everything and then re-delete the stuff you don't want. This is what a big-money data recovery shop would do too, you'd get recovered files with a whole bunch of previously deleted stuff mixed in.

Reliable FOSS backup tool? That's easy, rsync. Problem is that it's not really made for Windows and its convoluted NTFS filesystem metadata, so if you want to make a backup of your C:\ drive you can boot from later it's not very good for that. I've been using the Windows official backup tool to make backups of my gaming PC.

procainestart SuperDork
5/19/24 1:28 a.m.

In reply to GameboyRMH :

I started to recover files with Recuva, but I'm going to have to buy a proper app - found some decent info on a data-recovery subreddit and will pay ~$70. The free version of Recuva can't preserve file structure - tens of thousands of files all in one directory, plus many renamed, isn't... useful. And Recuva lies about file integrity - pretty sure  photos in raw format, which should be at least 20 MB, aren't actually 4 K. Biggest copy/paste berkeley-up of my life. šŸ˜

GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/20/24 11:40 a.m.

In reply to procainestart :

If you haven't bought the software yet you should give testdisk a try.

procainestart SuperDork
5/21/24 7:40 p.m.

In reply to GameboyRMH :

Thanks for the suggestion. I tried testdisk, but it found nothing from my FUBAR event. There's another flavor of the app (PhotoRec), but it doesn't recover file names or paths.

Side note: I've been Linux-curious, and I wanted to preserve the nuked data, so I put testdisk + Fedora (per testdisk) on a thumb drive. Maybe it's Fedora, but I was surprised I had to use a terminal window to both extract and install testdisk. I also learned how hard it likely is to do FOSS well: testdisk's documentation is... suboptimal. Anyway, on to the next recovery attempt.

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