Ask the Expert

I reinstalled my OS and lost all my files!

I recently encountered a problem with Windows XP Home. I decided to reinstall the OS, hoping to recover the files. I found out that the admin folder is not accessible. Please help me on how to recover my original files located in the admin folder that was already overwritten by the newly installed OS Windows XP Home. Thank you!
It really depends on which folder you are referring to by the "admin" folder. If you are referring to the old Administrator account's My Documents folder, and all you did was reinstall/repair Windows XP (i.e., you did not reformat the hard drive), then I'd look in the C:Documents and Settings folder and look for another folder called Administrator. You might still find the old files in that folder.

If you reformatted the drive, however, when you reinstalled Windows, then you have little chance of recovering those files. Your best bet would be to stop using the computer immediately and send the drive to a data recovery firm, but that is an expensive proposition. Only you can decide if the value of your data is worth the cost of professional restoration.

This was first published in December 2006

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