It was just there, and now it's gone - What the hell is going on?
It is so frustrating when we cant find something - we think the worst, did my phone 'eat' it, are there hackers on my computer? The answer is likely not, and below are some steps you can take to find the item that vanished.
- think back and make sure you actually saved what you were looking at - if you got half way through writing a new document which doesn't have a name, and somehow closed the application you may have lost that data. Often, apps will keep the last unsaved file so open up the app again to see if it is there. If so, phew! Save it now
Another common problem is that when an application saves its data, it can put it in any number of strange folders. Usually the files are saved to the Documents folders, but not always.
The way to find these files is to open the application again and save a new blank file, but this time take note which folder it is going to save it to. Then cancel that fake save, and go look around that folder to see if the document you saved before is there.
If it isn't there, keep reading on for the next tip..
The best way to do this is to use the operating systems search feature. You will want to do an advanced search so you can tell where to look (or if you really cant find it, try looking everywhere though that will take a long time [I have seen people save files in the root of the C: drive and strange system folders])
Think about what the file contained - if there was a specific thing you know was in there you can use the advanced search to search the contents of the file.
If you are on Linux or MacOS you can start a terminal window and use the command
grep -Rnw '.' -e 'blah'
This will find all files from your current folder that contain the string 'blah'
Ouch - this is not good, but it may not all be permanently gone. The first thing to do is not to panic - turn OFF the computer and leave it for a couple of hours. This does 2 things:
1. Lets the hard drive get completely cold (small chance it may boot again once cold)
2. Lets you calm down and work out what to do next.
If you don't have IT experience, the best thing to do is to take it to a professional to get the data retrieved. A good one will get your system working again AND give you a way to backup your data to another device (external hard drive) so if it happens again, at least you will have your files.
As soon as you get your computer working again - setup your backup strategy. This can simply be getting an external Hard drive and running the backup software once a month, or setting up some cloud backup strategy (usually you pay per month for this)
The quickest way to find something lost in your cloud files is to use search - try searching for part of the name in case you called it something different.
If you get too many results try again but limit the search to dates, so if it was a recently updated file choose the "modified in last month". If you know it is at least 2 years old, change the settings to that instead.
If you do know the name of the file and think it should still be there, contact the cloud support with the filename and the location where it should be and ask them to locate the file (or tell you what happened to it)
Say you deleted the wrong paragraph and clicked save - can you get it back. Usually - the trick is to look at the version history of the document.
To get to this you usually need to open the document on the cloud provider and look for a link or option that says "Edited on [date]" or "Previous versions" or "Version History"
This will list the previous versions of the document - browse through the previous versions to get to the place where the paragraph exists and copy that deleted content (don't restore the document or you lose changes made since that old edit), back into your current working document.
If you successfully found it, well done - if not my condolences :(
The next thing to do is to make sure you have backups of your data so if this happens again, at least you'll have another copy to fall back on.
See this post about downloading your data from the cloud - https://www.lifepim.com/blog/5819_How_to_Download_your_personal_data_from_the_cl...