Recovering desktop data

I made a big uh-oh today. I was clearing out my external HDD of all previous backups of my Vista files over the years, and after everything was done, my Desktop was totally empty of all of my personal files. I attempted to recover them using a data recovery program but they weren't actually deleted some how. Also, searching for them using Windows Search yielded no results, just shortcuts to the files (which obviously don't work).

I also attempted to fix the User Shell Folders and paths as others suggested, but my original files are no where to be seen. I don't understand why clearing out my external HDD caused this, except that when deleting files such as the "Desktop" file or any desktop.ini files associated with it, it caused this. Any ideas would be superb. Thanks guys :fou:
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More about recovering desktop data
  1. They only way your files would be gone if you selected a few too many files when deleting or they were stored on the old drive. The Desktop folder contains all your files, so if you delete that, you delete the files with it.

    You need to explain things a bit. You had shortcuts on the desktop and those files are missing where the shortcuts went to, or you had files on the desktop and they are no longer there?

    Did you search the external drives for the files or just the local disk? Did you use any secure delete software to delete the files? If they were deleted from the local disk, they should be in the Recycle Bin, unless you deleted them in a non-standard way.
  2. I had files on the desktop that were deleted (although not to my knowledge since I wasn't even deleting things from the main drive). I tried a system restore and it only brought back a few things (mainly program shortcuts) but none of the data that I wanted. Mainly it was an .img file and a .txt document.

    I deep scanned both drives, the external HDD and the main drive and searched for the .txt document on both and found nothing. Nothing was in the recycle bin because I was deleting 100GB worth of stuff.
  3. Best answer
    Try an file recovery program like Recuva see if will find anything. When you did a search did you do it under an administrator account and select hidden files?
  4. Best answer selected by mustbepbs.
  5. System restore only restore back system settings, it does not recover back your lost files. Also, system restore would likely to causes files to be read and written on the hard drive which is not a good news for data recovery. So do not do the system restore before you get back your lot files.

    Even you didn't delete them, it's likely some operation which causes the files to be deleted. The best way to retrieve back those files is to use data recovery software. you may see this guide:

    You may also try to scan the computer with virus. Sometimes virus could cause the files to be missing. you may download this antivurs software from

    You may also try this command. In command window, enter attrib -h -r -s /s /d H:\*.* Take note that we assume the removeable drive is H:, if it's other drive letter, please change accordingly. e.g. if it's G:, then the commend will be attrib -h -r -s /s /d G:\*.* Press "Return" keyboard key to run the commend.
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