Windows Refresh removed thousands of personal files; how do I recover photos, documents, videos, and music?


New Member

I helped a family member do a Windows Refresh on Windows 8.1, and thousands of her personal files have been removed. According to Microsoft, "you can refresh your PC without deleting any of your personal files or changing your settings." This was not the case for her.

I have searched online and have not been able to find an answer. Before going further, I'd like to address a couple things of which I am certain:
  • I did a Refresh, not a Reset; and
  • I am not talking about program files from software - I know those are removed.

The family member had thousands of:
  • personal pictures (e.g., camera photos, downloaded wallpapers);
  • documents (e.g., Word documents, PDF files);
  • videos (e.g., movies, self recordings); and
  • music (e.g., purchased mp3 files).

I think the issue is this: She stored all of those files in the Program Files folder. Examples include:
  • her photos were stored in the IrfanView folder (IrfanView is an image viewer);
  • her documents were stored in multiple folders, such as PDFs in the Foxit PDF folder and Word documents in the Microsoft Office folder; and
  • her videos and music files were stored in the VLC folder (VLC is a media player).

Yes, I know she probably should have stored these in her Windows Libraries personal folders, such as Pictures, Documents, Videos, and Music. However, she explained that it made sense to her because those programs are what is used to open the specific files.

How can she fully recover those thousands of files? I am hoping Windows simply moved them elsewhere instead of me having to use a tool like Recuva. Thank you.


Windows Forum Team
Staff member
Look in the Public user directory for a username directory and also in C:\Windows.old


New Member
Look in the Public user directory for a username directory and also in C:\Windows.old
Thank you for replying. I'll do that when I am over at her residence this evening. I was really hoping something along what you mentioned is the easy fix, that Windows simply moved her files elsewhere. Thank you.