> Lost desktop files Windows 7/8/10

Lost Desktop File Recovery: You Can Recover Desktop Files Easily

Lost Desktop Files Annoyed Lots of Windows Users

Searching lost desktop files in Google or other search engines, you'll find a huge number of Windows users are troubled by this issue, no matter they are running Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, or other Windows OS. Below are 2 typical cases I picked out from forums.

Case 1: I just upgraded to Windows 10 from 8.1, and have lost my desktop shortcuts and files. How do I recover them? During the upgrade I did choose "Keep personal files and apps", but they also disappeared. What's happening?

Case 2: Last week, when I logged in, I noticed all my desktop files were missing. Library files missing (including pictures, videos, music & docs). What's rather funny is that none of the folders are missing, but every possible file in each folder is missing. There is no way I could have had deleted them by mistake. How can I get these missing desktop files back?

Of course, your case might be a little different from those, but as long as your files disappeared from desktop, you are very likely to be interested in topics below:
  • What could cause desktop files lost.
  • How to recover lost desktop files, folders, and shortcuts.
  • Why Desktop File Recovery Should Be Done Immediately.

Next, let's talk about all these 3 issues in detail.

7 Factors Could Cause Desktop Files Disappeared in Windows 10/8/7, Etc.

Missing files/folders from Windows 10? Don't be anxious please! As we know, desktop files are always saved in C:\Users\user name\Desktop, like this:

desktop location

However, our important files, folders, and shortcuts might be missing from desktop due to one or some of the following 7 factors:

Reinstall Windows or upgrade Windows without keeping personal files.

Reinstalling Windows will format the drive where Windows is installed, and it is always the drive where desktop files are located. Therefore, original desktop files will be removed after successful reinstallation.

In addition, upgrading Windows, like upgrade Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10, also requires reinstalling Windows, which means the drive holding desktop files will also be formatted, but there is difference between reinstallation and upgrade: during upgrade users are allowed to choose keep personal files and apps or not.

upgrade windows to Windows 10 whether to keep personal files

If you choose "Keep personal files only", your current settings and apps (contain desktop shortcuts for apps) will be removed. If you choose "Noting", everything in drive C will be deleted, including desktop files, folders, shortcuts, and so on.

Accidents emerge when you update or upgrade Windows 10/8/7 and Server.

If accidents such as power outage and wrong click are generated during Windows upgrade or update, you may lose some desktop files.

Your computer suffered from virus attack.

Viruses may delete or hide your desktop files, folders, and shortcuts, and sometimes they even move those files to other locations.

Some anti-virus software may also delete your desktop files.

There are cases reporting that MacAfee and AVAST Antivirus deleted or hidden desktop files without letting users know. Therefore, your desktop data might be deleted or hidden by MacAfee, AVAST Antivirus, or other antivirus programs.

You boot computer from another Windows OS.

Each Windows OS has its own desktop files. When you are booting computer from this OS, you'll be unable to find desktop files belonging to other systems.

You logged in with a temporary or different account.

As we know, under one operating system we can create multiple accounts. If you log in using this account, desktop files under other accounts might be not shown or partly shown.

Many people reported some of their files disappeared from desktop after they upgraded computer from Windows 7/8.1 to Windows 10, though they chose "Keep personal files and apps", and they finally found they are logged in with a temporary account which isn't created by themselves.

Users deleted desktop files by mistake.

In daily computer use, mistaken operation can't be avoided completely. For example, you were going to delete a useless desktop file but deleted a needed one and then emptied recycle bin without knowing this; or you mistakenly deleted an important desktop file using the "Shift + Delete" combination key.

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After knowing causes for losing desktop files, by convention, we will show users how to make missing desktop files appeared again. But in this post, let's talk about the following issue at first, because this could help increase data recovery rate.

Why Desktop File Recovery Should Be Done Immediately

Desktop files are always saved in the drive where Windows is installed, and it is Drive C in most situations. Unlike other partitions where files should be written manually, drive C will receive temporary files, caches, cookies, software/Windows updates, and other files automatically as long as Windows is running, and these continuously coming data might be allocated to be saved to the space released by your deleted desktop files. As a result, desktop files are easier to be overwritten. Unfortunately, overwritten data cannot be recovered anymore.

Further Reading: deleting a file just operates File Allocation Table (FAT) of an FAT partition or Master File Table (MFT) of a NTFS partition, telling Windows space occupied by this file can be allocated to new files, but the file is still there until new files are written in. At this time, we say the deleted file is overwritten by new data.

Therefore, desktop file recovery should be done before lost files are overwritten. The faster the better. And in the future, you'd better not save important files on desktop since it's a very dangerous place. The desktop should be used only for shortcuts which are very easy to be recreated.

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Consider this situation, we suggest doing data recovery at first if you cannot afford losing those data. But if the lost files are not very important, you can try other methods at first.

Follow Our Methods to Quickly Get Your Lost Desktop Files Back

Here are 7 methods in total, and you need to choose the most proper one(s) by considering your practical situations.

Method 1: Recover Missing Desktop Files/Folders If You Can't Afford Losing Them.

Recover from Backup
If you are used to backing up important data or have set Restore Point, it's easy to recover your desktop files: copy and paste those files to their previous locations, or recover from previous version or restore point. For detailed steps, you can refer to the post How to Recover Mistakenly Deleted Files.

But if you don't have such a backup, you'll need a piece of data recovery software.

Recover Desktop Files Using Data Recovery Software
If you don't know which data recovery program to choose, try MiniTool Power Data Recovery, which perfectly supports all versions of Windows operating systems, including Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/10 and Windows Server 2000/2003/2008/2012. It is able to recover deleted files, and recover files from formatted, inaccessible, or lost partitions.

Steps to recover desktop files with MiniTool Power Data Recovery are as follows.

Note: to recover desktop files, you'd better shut down Windows, then take out the system disk, and do recovery on another computer, which could prevent lost files from being overwritten. But if you have no extra computer to use, MiniTool Power Data Recovery Boot Disk can help you, because it is able to recover data without loading Windows. However, free edition only supports scanning disk. If you want to recover data, you'll need to purchase a license. Purchase here with enjoying discounts. Both Windows version and bootable version have the same functions.

Firstly, launch the program to get its main window:

lost desktop files recover usign data recovery software select proper function

Then, select the "Undelete Recovery" module which is specially designed to recover deleted files.

lost desktop files recover usign data recovery software select c drive

Next, select the drive where desktop files are originally stored, which is always the drive C, and click "Scan". Then, the program will search the selected drive and list all scanning results in a short time.

However, if this module fails to find desktop files you want to recover, go back to the main window of Power Data Recovery, and choose "Damaged Partition Recovery" module to try again since this module will deep scan your drive.

Tip: if your drive C saves lots of data, "Damaged Partition Recovery" module will cost much time to finish the scan, so please wait patiently. But if you just want to recover some types of files, you can use the Settings feature to filter out needless files, which could help you save much time.

lost desktop files recover usign data recovery software advanced setting

After successful scanning, you'll see all scanning results:

lost desktop files recover usign data recovery software save recovered files

Here, find the partition and look for the desktop folder to see whether your missing desktop files are there.

Or you can recover specified types of desktop files from Type path:

lost desktop files recover usign data recovery software save recovered files

If you are lucky to find needed files, just select and save them to other location.

Kindly Reminder:

  • Please do not save recovered files to the drive where data loss appears, because this may overwrite lost files.
  • MiniTool Power Data Recovery only allows users to recover 1GB data for free. If desktop files you want to recover are more than 1GB, you'll need to purchase a license. Purchase here with enjoying discounts.

  • If you want to recover programs or shortcuts of programs, data recovery software may not work, and you need to manually recreate shortcuts of apps on desktop or even reinstall programs.

Nevertheless, if Power Data Recovery fails to recover your missing desktop files, it seems these files have been overwritten, and you are very likely to lose them forever.

But if you don't want to do data recovery at first (the disappeared desktop files are not that important), you can try other 6 methods.

Method 2: Show Desktop Icons.

If there is no icon, file, and folder on your desktop, please right click on the desktop, choose View, and select Show Desktop Icons. Then, all shortcuts and desktop files should be visible again.

lost desktop files show disktop icons

But if you just missed a part of desktop files, you can try next method.

Method 3: Show Hidden Files.

Please go to Folder Options (Windows 7) or File Explorer Options (Windows 10), then choose "Show hidden files, folder, and drivers", uncheck "Hide protected operating systems", and click Apply button.

lost desktop files show hidden files

Then, the disappeared files should emerge on desktop again if they are just hidden by virus or yourself. Otherwise, look for desired data in drive C.

Method 4: Find Files in Desktop Path.

We have said desktop files are always located in C:\Users\user name\Desktop, so you can try finding your missing desktop files in this path. But if they are not there and lost after upgrading to Windows 10, please search the Windows.old folder.

Method 5: Find from Windows.old Folder.

If you are missing desktop files after upgrading to Windows 10, you can try finding those files in the Windows.old folder where files belonging to previous OS are stored. This folder is always located under the root directory of drive C.

lost desktop files windows.old folder

In this folder, select all files you want, right click, and send or copy them to another location.

lost desktop files recover from windows.old folder

However, if they are not in Windows.old folder, please continue to do the following attempts.

Method 6: Set the Folder Temporarily to Hidden and Read-Only

If folders exist on desktop but files in those folders are missing, setting those folders to be hidden and read-only may make missing files visible:
Firstly, select and right click the desktop folders with missing files, and choose "Properties" from popup window.

Then, give check marks on "Read-only" and "Hidden" options, and click Apply.

lost desktop files set folders to hidden and read only

After that, the missing files should appear in desktop folders again. But if this method doesn't work, please search the disk though it would cost some time. Your desktop files might be moved to other locations by virus, Windows or yourself.

Method 7: Search Entire Hard Disk.

Open Computer or This PC and type the exact file/folder name, or type a part of file/folder name in Search box, and then your computer will look for related items automatically.

lost desktop files search the disk

But it should be noted that this may take some time if the disk saves a huge number of files. Please wait patiently.

Well, what if searching the computer doesn't find desktop files you need? Most probably, those files have been lost, and you need to do desktop file recovery. Go back to Method 1 and do desktop file recovery.

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Are you losing desktop files after upgrading to Windows 10 or due to other unknown factors? Now, it's your turn to try our solutions out, one or some of which may bring your missing desktop files back. Should you have any problem, feel free to contact us.