Microsoft

Windows 10 file-wiping bug: What happens if you're affected?

How one business user's experience of trying to recover deleted files ended in disappointment.

The Windows 10 October 2018 Update had only been available for six days before it was pulled due to a file-wiping bug.

The bug deleted files stored in the user's Documents and Pictures folders, resulting in the loss of years' worth of files on some PCs.

In the wake of the problem emerging, Microsoft reassured those affected that its support teams might be able to help recover their files.

Dona Sarkar, head of the Windows Insider Program, tweeted: "If you've run into the "missing files after update" issue for 1809/October 2018 Fall update, please call our support line. They have the tools to get you back to a good state."

However, one business' experience of trying to recover these files ended in disappointment.

Reid Fishler, who works for a small New York-based company, discovered all the files in his Documents folder were missing after upgrading to an early build of the October 2018 Update.

His firm doesn't have an in-house IT department, and had purchased the laptop the Microsoft Store with a support deal with Dell.

Dell were unable to help him, and Fishler engaged in a series of lengthy phone conversations with various Microsoft support agents, who he says told him the "only way that they have to try to recover the files is by leaving any computer at a Microsoft store for 48 hours".

SEE: Windows 10 power tips: Secret shortcuts to your favorite settings (Tech Pro Research)

However, this solution didn't work for Fishler, and he believes this option would be unacceptable to many business travellers.

"Obviously for someone who travels for business and has files on their machine that are company secrets, just leaving a machine with the password for two days with no idea who can access it or where the files would go is not an option, not to mention I won't be in the same city for three working days until the Thanksgiving timeframe."

After much back and forth with Microsoft support, Fishler says firm was unable to offer him an alternative solution and said he felt let down by the response.

"As of right now, I figure I lost my data," he said.

"I thought that if you paid for Microsoft products you would get support, and if they made an error they would stand behind what they did, and at least not tell you they will no longer talk to you.

"To basically treat the customer as if we did something wrong for paying for and updating their product is insulting."

A Microsoft spokesperson, pointed TechRepublic to the firm's advice to affected customers, which states Microsoft Support and its retail store staff will try to recover the missing files free of charge. Microsoft does stress, however, "we cannot guarantee the outcome of any file recovery work".

Microsoft has said it is making progress on fixing bugs in the October update, ahead of resuming its rollout.

In the wake of the rollout being halted, Microsoft has faced calls to slow the pace at which it major feature updates are applied to Windows 10. For it's part, Microsoft has introduced new measures for those testing early builds of the OS under the Windows Insider Program to flag the severity of bugs.

Read more about the Windows 10

About Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox