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Major Document Disappearance Problem

Windows Vista Business






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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 07-18-2008
 

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Major Document Disappearance Problem
I have lost six hours of valuable work time today and I'm so frustrated with Vista/Sony Vaio that I could scream! On approximately Thursday, 7/10, a window popped up saying that there were upgrades for the system and software. I told it "Later." When it popped up again on Monday, I told it to go ahead and download/install.

Immediately afterwards, I suddenly couldn't find any of my Documents. When the computer restarted (which takes FOREVER with this "dual-core" machine), and I clicked on "Documents" (which is how I've always reached them), the folders simply weren't there. I finally located them under my name, and then "Documents."

I also couldn't get online after the restart--it said the Wireless was turned off (which it wasn't--the switch was set to on and the little blue light was on). I had to have it turn itself back on, and then it connected immediately (I work from home, and I"m approximately 20 feet from all the wireless "stuff")

Then, when I got back online, every single one of my bookmarks on Google was gone--totally & completely! And all of my "remembered" passwords for various websites had been wiped out as well.

But the worst part came this morning, when I went to open up two different document files. I KNOW those files had documents in them after the restart on Monday, because I checked them after the "Documents" "super-file" moved itself to a different place. I had not accessed either one of these files since Monday, 7/14, and I had not been away from the house (i.e., using an outside network).

I almost had a heart attack when I opened one file--and it was completely empty! It should've had 5-6 Word files in it! And it got worse when I opened the second file, which had 3 Word files, but should've had an additional Word file and an Excel file in it! I tried searching, but got a message saying my "shortcuts" were no longer valid, as the documents had been either "moved or deleted." Then, when I found the file names for the documents during an advanced Search, it shows them as "C:\Users\TEMP"--but I was unable to open them from that search window.
I plugged in the jump drive that I'd copied them to after I finished working on two of them last Saturday night--and they weren't there, either, although I had verified that the transfer had been done before removing the jump drive.

By then, I was in full-blown hysteria--these files represented close to 40 hours of work for an accounting class I have to complete in two weeks. I'd lost lesson notes and a homework assignment!

My husband is a computer scientist, and he tried every way he could think of to help me from his office, over the phone, but nothing helped. I called Sony's support line (a TOTAL waste of time!), and the guy there said, "Well, it takes advanced procedures to recover missing files. Here's a number to call for a data recovery company." (Bear in mind, this stupid computer is only 9 months old, and I'm having to PAY to get my documents back?!?)

One last hope--I connected with the Sony online chat people, and although that took forever (they must help 37 people at a time!), he told me how to find the "shadow folders" that each folder apparently contains. For some reason, the primary folder was dated today, and the last shadow folder was Monday, 7/14--the day of the "upgrades." I managed to restore everything, but I simply do not understand why all of these problems occurred.

If I had done something wrong in copying the files over to the jump drive, they wouldn't have been in the folders on 7/14, which they were, even after the restart (although the master Documents folder had been moved.). And why would a folder bear today's date, only to be empty? In addition, I found one Word document in a completely different folder, far, far away from its home folder. I know darned good and well I didn't put it there!!

At this point, I'm starting to look into Macs. I'm going away to graduate school in a month, and I cannot afford problems like this ever again!

Anybody want to buy a Sony Vaio 2.7# laptop??? I will go to my grave thinking that the downloads on Monday caused the problem!
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Old 07-18-2008
 

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Unfortunately for you, it looks like you were caught by a virus or rootkit.

Firstly, on Vista, everything is updated manually or through Windows Update (As far as I have seen, at least). While it is unlikely that, providing you have adequate anti-virus software, someone had sent you a rootkit or virus, it is always wise to take precautions.

I hope you were using the System Restore function? If so, you could return to a previous restore point, to undo the "update." It may not return your files, but it will prevent this "update" from doing any more damage to your system.

You could always try using an undelete tool on your folders, to recover anything you may have lost. You could try here for one.
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Old 07-18-2008
 

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Thanks, Gareth! Yes, we have good virus protection, and my firewall protection is also always on. We did another complete scan all through the night last night and it found nothing. The update of 7/14/08 appeared to be an update notice from Windows/Vista, but could you please tell me what a "rootkit" is?

I didn't do a System Restore yet, as when the Sony online chat guy told me how to find the shadow folders, I was just trying to retrieve all my documents and get them completely off that system, along with anything else I cared about! Then we wanted to run a complete system scan again to see if it picked up anything. Now we'll do a System Restore.

I had one other document that suddenly appeared in a folder other than its own (and I hadn't accessed it for several months, so I know I didn't move it! :>) , but so far, it seems to be just these two folders and their documents that were affected. Any ideas about that?

My husband's in computer security, although they use almost only Macs where he works, and he's going to go over it with a fine-toothed comb, so to speak, this weekend.

But I'm still going to get rid of it and get a Mac for school. It's a great little computer for traveling--weighs just 2.7 pounds, with an 11-inch screen--and has all sorts of bells & whistles built into it, but I simply don't trust Vista.

Thanks again for your reply!

Kate
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Old 07-19-2008
 

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I have had different but similar frustrating problems with Vista and an 8 month old VAIO. We also have a Macintosh in the home and Leopard is a beautiful thing!

However the VAIO is an elegant unit which is good to use. It is more stable now since updating all drivers from the Sony website. A number have come out in the last 8 months including a BIOS update.

I have also been using Crashplan Pro (CrashPlan – Automatic Offsite Backup). I learnt about it in a Mac magazine (MacFORMAT) and it works on both formats so you can back up your Vaio to your partners Mac over your home network, or if you choose remotely while you are travelling.

The restore function of this program is incredibly elegant as it puts files such as outlook.pst back in the right place. It even keeps deleted versions of documents.

I have no connection with this company, but have been saved on a number of occasions by crashplan. It is an "always on" back up system like Leopard's time machine. It maybe worth trialing it before you make further more expensive decisions and gives a sense of security while continuing to use Vista.

John
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Old 07-19-2008
 

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Thanks for your reply, John! I'll pass this information on to my husband, who's our resident computer expert. I just like the darned things to work!

That's interesting to know that you can back a PC up to a Mac, if I understand your message correctly. At this point, we're still planning to sell the Vaio and I"ll get a Mac to take back to grad school. They use only Macs where my husband works, and since he's a computer scientist, I'm going to take his word on it! :>) We've had PC's since the mid-90's only because of the availability of so much software, but the time has come . . .
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