OneDrive DELETED user libraries and files


New Member
Oct 9, 2023
I'll explain the situation.

OneDrive had files and folders which were present from a previous Windows 11 installation ('Documents' libraries). Old 'Documents' and old 'Photos' were kept so that I could go through them over a period of time, removing any old files I did not need.

Once I reinstalled Windows 11, I did not setup OneDrive straight away. Relying on local files, no cloud. Through general computer use, I created files and folders within my user library directories.

I recently decided that I would setup and configure OneDrive. I didn't want to automatically download the files and folders from OneDrive though. All I wanted was to have local library folders ('Documents', 'Photos', 'Downloads') with OneDrive as an additional handy option, like if I need to access a file from another computer.

Throughout my process, the 'Documents' library with it's files, along with 'Photos' library disappeared entirely. The contents or libraries weren't in any recycle bin on my local machine or on OneDrive. I lost everything.

I'm hoping a Windows repair could at least repair my user libraries...

I lost folders and files. Lost my desktop shortcuts (exception Recycle Bin). Lost those files. Whilst Steam has cloud for saved games, there are other applications which don't. So all that is lost.
I'm sorry to hear about the issues you've been experiencing with OneDrive and your user libraries. Losing important files can be frustrating, but let's try to troubleshoot the problem and see if we can recover your data.

Firstly, it's worth noting that reinstalling Windows 11 might have caused the local user libraries to become unlinked from OneDrive. When you set up OneDrive again, it could have synced with an empty cloud storage, resulting in the disappearance of your files. However, it's puzzling that your local libraries also disappeared.

Here are a few steps you can try to recover your user libraries:

1. Check the "OneDrive" folder: Open the OneDrive folder on your computer and verify if your files are located there. By default, the "Documents," "Photos," and "Downloads" folders within your user directory should sync with the OneDrive cloud storage.

2. Use the "Restore previous versions" feature: Right-click on the parent folder of the missing libraries (e.g., the "Users" folder), and select "Restore previous versions." This feature allows you to recover files or folders that may have been deleted or modified in the past.

3. Use a data recovery software: If the above methods are not successful, you could try using a data recovery software. These tools scan your hard drive for deleted files and might be able to recover them. However, keep in mind that the success of data recovery depends on various factors, including how long ago the files were deleted and whether any new data has overwritten them.

If none of these options work, your best bet may be to contact Microsoft Support or a professional data recovery service for further assistance. They may have additional tools or methods to help recover your lost files.

In the future, I would recommend regularly backing up your important files to an external hard drive or a separate cloud storage service to ensure their safety.
I eventually got libraries back, they weren't pinned in file explorer like they were before. Only issue is they're empty of files. Been unsuccessful with recovering them.

My thoughts what caused the issue...
I deleted Documents and Photos folders on OneDrive in my web browser...

I reckon what OneDrive did was cut the local libraries files... went to paste it to a OneDrive location which didn't exist... resulting in them becoming lost. I think it tried to move files to a location which didn't exist... I tried to prevent OneDrive from moving my local libraries.
I understand that you have experienced a loss of files and folders in OneDrive after reinstalling Windows 11 and configuring OneDrive. I'm sorry to hear about your situation. Losing important files can be frustrating.

First, let's try to troubleshoot the issue. Please make sure that you have signed in to OneDrive using the same Microsoft account that you used before the reinstallation of Windows 11. Also, ensure that you have checked the recycle bin on both your local machine and OneDrive. Sometimes, the deleted files may still be recoverable from the recycle bin.

If the files are not present in the recycle bin, they might have been permanently deleted. In that case, you can try using data recovery software, such as Recuva or EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, to attempt to recover the lost files from your hard drive. However, please note that the success of file recovery depends on various factors, such as the duration since the files were deleted and the extent of disk usage since then.

Regarding the disappearance of your user libraries, it's possible that the reinstallation of Windows 11 caused a change in the default library locations. By default, the libraries (such as 'Documents', 'Photos', and 'Downloads') are located in the user profile folder on the system drive (usually C:\Users\<YourUserName>). If this location has changed, it may explain why the libraries are no longer accessible.

To check and configure the library locations in Windows 11, you can try the following steps:

1. Open File Explorer by pressing Win + E on your keyboard.
2. Right-click on the "Libraries" item in the navigation pane on the left.
3. Select "Properties" from the context menu.
4. In the "Libraries Properties" window, ensure that the library names and locations are correctly set. You can click on each library, such as "Documents" or "Photos," and then click on "Set save location" to specify the correct folder location.

If the library locations are incorrect or not set, you can adjust them accordingly. Once you have set the correct locations, your libraries should be accessible again.

In the future, to avoid data loss, it's always a good practice to have regular backups of your important files, either using cloud storage services like OneDrive or external storage devices.

I hope this information helps you recover your lost files and resolve the issue with your user libraries. If you have any further questions or need assistance with any specific steps, please feel free to ask.
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