I just performed a Windows update which took over half an hour. When my laptop restarted, all my desktop files and folders were gone, all the contents of the Library (My Docs, My Music, My Videos and My Photos) had been deleted, the desktop and Windows Explorer had changed completely. I immediately did a System Restore and was extremely relieved to find everything back where it should have been on restarting.

1. How on Earth does a Windows Update strip a computer of all saved files and folders?

2. Where are all these files and folders stored so they can be restored during a System Restore?

A VERY concerned rubystar


Extraordinary Member
ad 1) This is a good question. It really should not happen and it never occurred to me (knock on wood)

ad 2) The restore points are stored in the shadowstorage and are called shadows. Each shadow is between 500MB and 1GB. You can check how many restore points you have with this command in elevated command prompt:

vssadmin list shadows

In the future you should make frequent images to an external disk - especially before you make major surgery on the system. System restore points are very volatile and can disappear for multiple reasons. You were lucky to find a suitable one for the restore. Here is a tutorial about the best imaging program you can have for free:



Senior Member
I don't think those files are deleted. Your files maybe placed under Windows.old folder where you can move your files from.


This is scary stuff. Why would Windows Update be touching user files at all? Also, restore points and windows.old don't deal with user files. Could this have been something like the user profile being corrupted during the update and the files disappeared because the user disappeared (files still there but nothing pointing to them)? Anybody aware of updates that affect the user profile? I need to rethink my backup strategy.

Just to clarify, what do you mean by "windows update"? Do you mean from the windows update from MS that we get occasionally and the big once a month patch Tuesday? Or an up upgrade from 8 to 8.1 or 8.1 to 8.1.1?

Hi. Thanks for the replies.

1. WHS. Thanks for your info.

2. Bad Robot. I do not appear to have a folder in C drive entitled Windows.old, even in the Users folder, or the normal Windows folder. Can you think of where else these files would be stored, as they were restored when I did the System Restore so must have been stored somewhere? I wonder if this has something to do with System Restore. I had read somewhere that System Restore was unstable, and I have been unable to use System Restore previously as the restore date on the date list appeared not to work. I tried a System Restore once before when my laptop was extremely slow and refused to co-operate with simple tasks for a few days, and other remedies failed to work. I chose the restore date as (I think) a date in early 2013 (the latest date on the available list). It went through the entire process, and restarted. Then an error message popped up telling me that the System Restore was unsuccessful and no files were changed. I tried again, no change.
Since then, this is the first time I have tried to use System Restore and am relieved it worked this time.
I have backed up my system and files onto a separate hard drive toward the end of last year, but that is not the point. A simple Windows Update should not wipe all files and folders from my C drive!
My laptop is a Sony Vaio, and there is an entire wealth of pre-installed Sony Vaio programs and monitors already on-board, which I did at one time suspect as being responsible for the slowing of my laptop, and many of the programs I have since stopped.

3. Bassfisher. By Update I mean the standard Windows Update that installs patches and error fixes, occasionally new versions of iExplorer. I did notice that one large installation this time was Internet Explorer 11. I have found in the past that new versions of Explorer from an update have caused problems.

Yeah...with just the standard updates from MS....I agree with you, that should have not happened. With the update, did you get the KB 2919355, about 900 mb. If so, that was the update to 8.1, called 8.1 update 1 and a lot of users are having problems with it. Either not updating at all, partially updating or in some cases like yours, messing up the system file. More than likely and clean install might be in order for your particular situation.

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