Disappearing folders into the blue

Hi, I am on Windows 7, 64 bit>
Microsoft Outlook 2010
Last year, I saved a number of files (word, xls, pdf) in a specfic folder. I have done this method for a number of year.
In feb 2012, I checked in a file, under last years folder, and all good.
However, last week, I went to check on a couple of files, and noticed that the FOLDER icon had a padlock on it.
As i have no idea how to put a padlock on. Then an IT man told me to follow the web, regarding unlocking the folder, which I di.
To my horror of all horror, every file under that specif folder has disappeared in the blue.
My Computer person, has checke d my desktop PC thoroughly, all avenues, including trwling through my hard drive, for the files and also in case it had 'self deleted'. Not a trace anywhere>

These files are extremely important to me>
How can I recover (apart from system restore) these files>

Is this a WINDOWS 7 issue & how widespeard is this.??>

Ni viruses.

I would really appr5eaciate any help, and as now I dont feel happy about saving docs onto my computer.

My back-up overwrites each file update each time, so not showing here either!!
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