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Win 10 Upgrade = Total Data Loss

Your Data Going Up In Flames

Your Data Going Up In Flames

As you all may know by now, I try to make a point of documenting avoidable disasters as an educational tool.  Today’s complete clusterf*ck comes courtesy of Microsoft’s Windows 10 upgrade process and was further enhanced by Microsoft “Support” (if you want to call it that).  If you don’t want your data to go up in flames (figuratively speaking) read on.

Let’s take this in a timeline approach.

  1. Client has a perfectly functional Windows 7 machine.
  2. Microsoft displays the ready for Windows 10 icon in the taskbar
  3. Client figures upgrading to Windows 10 is a good idea and proceeds to follow instructions (2nd mistake)
  4. Post-upgrade none of their myriad desktop folders of data (bad idea – 1st mistake) are to be found
  5. Their desktop background has also changed
  6. The son gets involved and locates the folders, putting shortcuts on the desktop and replacing the wallpaper (3rd mistake)
  7. No data exists in the folders.  – THIS WAS THE PLACE TO STOP EVERYTHING AND CALL US
  8. The next day the desktop is gone again
  9. Client calls Microsoft support (4th mistake)
  10. Microsoft talks them through reverting to Windows 7 (5th mistake)
  11. All data is still gone
  12. Client takes laptop to Microsoft store where they spend another 2 hours or so on the phone with Microsoft support and store staff trying to fix the mess.  (6th mistake)
  13. $150 later, no improvement in the situation
  14. They call me after the concierge service at TI gives them my number

Let’s just say going to number 14 in the first place would have been far less expensive.

After evaluating the hard drive in this computer, no data could be found at all.  The file structure was thoroughly scrambled.  It took two separate passes and a full day of scanning to recover 178 GB of data, some of which was irreparably damaged with all this activity.

In evaluating everything that took place, there are some factors likely contributing to the total destruction of data:

  1. Norton 360 was installed (NEVER do an upgrade without first uninstalling your antivirus)
  2. An AVG CloudCare virus scan of the hard drive turned up TEN very nasty infections
  3. The client had no backup (ALWAYS backup your data before doing any upgrades)

Now that we have all the data recovered, Windows needs to be reinstalled, as the data structure on the hard drive cannot be trusted.  Then the data can be restored (I scanned it for infections after recovery) and AVG CloudCare can be installed to properly protect the computer in the future.

To recap:

  1. NEVER store data in desktop folders.  The desktop is part of your user profile.  If you profile becomes corrupted your data is GONE.  Store your data in your Documents folder or better yet on a secondary hard drive and put Shortcuts to those folders on your desktop.
  2. Always have a backup.  We can recommend excellent products and solutions if you are in doubt how to proceed.
  3. We do NOT recommend Norton.  I worked for Symantec before founding my own consulting company in 1994 and we sold their products exclusively until 2005 when we found computers equipped with Norton routinely coming back infected.
  4. Always verify your system is completely virus-free before upgrading.
  5. Always uninstall any antivirus before upgrading.
  6. If you discover loss of data – STOP everything.  The more changes you make to the file structure the worse the odds are for successful recovery of your data.

Name of author

Name: Wizard

Short Bio: The Computer Wizard (TCW). TCW was founded by Warren P. Harris in 1994 to service and repair computers in the San Francisco Bay Area. Relocating the business to Plano, Texas in 1999, TCW continued to flourish when an unfortunate loss of data for a wedding Mr. Harris photographed, caused him to research data recovery options. Realizing he would have to either pay someone to recover the photos or find out how to do it himself, the rest, as they say "is history". Approached by a friend who was a Private Investigator in 2006, Mr. Harris studied for his Investigator's license and began honing his skills in Computer Forensics. The company was renamed DFW Computer Integration in 2015.

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