with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Restoration Saves My Butt

I know there are a lot of reasons to hate Microsoft and Microsoft products. Having worked for them at one time, I know that there is more heart behind what they do than most people believe. And I worked in the legal department. Trust me, it’s always easier to blame than to understand.

BUT, there are some things that Microsoft products do that make me crazy. Either they are bugs or things that they haven’t gotten around to fixing, or they just don’t realize how dangerous these things are. The dangerous I’m talking about is the ease of deleting whole folders.

When you click on a file, you can hit the delete key and the file will go to the recycle bin, giving you a second change to change your mind. That’s nice.

When you click on a file to delete, move or copy it to another folder, after the action is completed, the “select” point tends to move from the item to the folder it resides/resided in. The item (or next in line) “looks” selected, though if you look REALLY close, you will see that it really isn’t. It’s a lighter shade. What IS highlighted is the folder.

So you think it’s the file and so you hit delete, believing you are deleting the file and not the folder, mindlessly say OKAY to the “ARE YOU SURE” auto response, and then you scream in shock as you watch 3 gigs of folder data disappear into the ether world of nothingness.

See, the folder won’t easily go to the Recycle Bin because there are size restrictions. Sure, a little folder, but 3 gigs? It vapourizes.

And yes, I’ve done this more than enough times to KNOW BETTER. And I just did it again last weekend.

The phone company had disconnected our phone three days early (preparing for a move within the campground) and a lightning strike had taken out my WIFI router, AND the cable company cut off our cable two days early. So I had no phone, no internet, and no way of getting a program on my machine to undelete the files.

Brent was at work, so I asked him to research it and bring something home to work with. While waiting for him, I remembered some old utility disks I had tucked away somewhere in this mess of a trailer and I dug those out. Unfortunately, like the program that promised so much that Brent finally brought home, I could “recover” the files, but I couldn’t “restore” them without paying for the software. I could see the fies, but I couldn’t read them, open them, copy, or move them. Assholeware!

I worked from my laptop’s second hard drive for days, concentrating on the move in the middle of a storm rather than the computer, terrified that anything I did might overwrite the deleted stuff still sitting on my hard drive. It took two extra days for the cable to finally be turned on, and I quickly sought out anything and everything I could to try to find something that was free for me to use to save these files before I invested in something more sophisticated that may or may not work for me.

I found Restoration. This program is so simple, you can put it on a floppy or CD and run it from there, never touching your hard drive. It won’t restore more than one file at a time, but it will get EVERYTHING you’ve ever deleted (unless it’s been written over) for months and months back and allow you to restore whatever you can, and as much as you can, over and over again. You just can’t select more than one file at a time – no big deal. Takes just a little more time, but it is fast, easy, and really impressive.

Designed by Brian Kato of Japan, from the notes, this hasn’t been updated since 2002, but it works, simple and easy. I highly recommend you put this on a floppy or CD that you keep for your backups and recoveries. Amazing.


Yes, there are many things you can do to prevent this from happening. Norton and others feature softare that is TSR (Terminate-and-Stay-Resident) which comes on when you turn on your computer and sits in the background and “protects” your data. Basically, it stores everything you delete in a secondary Recycle Bin. These tend to eat up hard drive space and memory a bit, but worth investing in if you don’t want to take the risk.

Frequent backups also helps to minimize your risk of deleting the wrong files or folders, which would have saved me except that I normally don’t backup this particular folder….live and learn.

Windows XP features a System Restore, which is great if you want to restore your system backwards before you updated the last drivers or installed buggy software. But it doesn’t restore your personal data and files. Only the system and program files. Good for what it does, not good enough for my needs.

Why Microsoft eliminated their undelete, I have no idea. It was so useful for years. I know I must have it somewhere on an old Windows disk, but all of those are in storage in Oklahoma. I’m not sure they will even work on WinXP.

Lesson learned. Pay attention and be careful. Forewarned is forearmed. When you delete a folder or a large file, there is often no undelete and no going back.

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