How to Recover Files After a Windows Update (2021)

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Recover files after windows updateWindows has been notorious for having numerous updates that come at any time and any hour. During these updates, sometimes we may have not been able to save what it was we were working on, we could lose internet connection, or our computer could have experienced a crash.

No need to worry though, there are multiple ways to restore your data and in this article, we’re going to take a look at how to recover files after a Windows update.

What Is the Process of Updating Windows?

Knowing how to update Windows and being conscious of what is happening during the update will help give you a better understanding of what is going on and why some of your files are missing after a Windows 10 update.

How Do I Update Windows?

Updating Windows is quite easy, and only requires a few steps. To make sure your computer is secure and has the latest features, you will want to keep your version of Windows as current as you can.

Step 1. Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update , and then select Check for updates. If updates are available, install them.

checking windows for updates

Step 2. I have an update available here that I can choose to download and install. If you don’t have any showing up here, that means that your computer is up-to-date.

What Happens During an Update?

When you update Windows, the code structure of the operating system is changed. There have been updates in the past that create new routes for folders, change directories, or add and remove support for software programs. The reason for the code changes is normally to bring security updates, new features, or performance enhancements.

All of these things help make your machine run smoother and last longer. However, not every update goes well and you might have files missing after a Windows 10 update.

Most of the time, your files are still there. They may just not be visible to you or they may now be in a different location that isn’t where they used to be. The good news is that lost files after a Windows update can be recovered most of the time even if a Windows 10 update deleted files.

Recovering Files Using Search

If the file that you’re trying to find isn’t where it was before, using File Explorer is a powerful tool that will allow you to search your machine and restore the file.

Step 1. Open File Explorer on your Windows machine (Windows Key + E).

Step 2. On the left-hand side, click the This PC option to search through your computer.

Step 3. You can then use the top-right to search your computer for the name of the file or folder that you’re trying to find.

using file explorer to find files

Most of the time, this will be all that you need to do if a file isn’t in the same place as before. If after doing this method you’re still not able to find the file, then we can move onto some other methods for recovering files after a Windows update.

Recover Using Windows.old Folder

When you update Windows, there is a folder created that will store and hold the data from your previous version of Windows. You can use this folder to recover files if they’re lost or even roll back to the previous version of Windows 10.

Step 1. Launch File Explorer.

Step 2. On the left-hand side, click the This PC option.

Step 3. Click on the Local Disk (C:) drive. This is your main hard drive that Windows will use.

open file explorer

Step 4. Look for the Windows.old folder and your files should be located within the folder. You can find and put back any files that were lost during the update process by using this folder.

windows.old folder

If the above methods didn’t work, then we can look into how to restore files using a Windows backup and how to use third-party data recovery software to recover files after a Windows update.

Restoring Files from a Windows Backup

Windows will back up your computer if you use an external hard drive or have a wireless backup device that your machine can access.

Recovering from a backup is easy and only takes a few steps. This is also a very stable way of ensuring that when you do decide to do a Windows Update, your data will be saved.

Step 1. Launch Settings > Update & Security > Backup.

go to backup settings

Step 2. Backups that you have created will appear here.

restore files from backup

Step 3. You can select the backup that you would like to restore files from and search through it to find the files that you want.

restore files from windows backup

Recover Files Using Data Recovery Software

If you still can’t find the file after using the above steps, then it’s time to turn to third-party recovery software. This step would be best if the Windows 10 update deleted your files.

Disk Drill will allow you to recover files on your Windows machine. It works by scanning your computer and looks for files that can be recovered. Updating your computer may have marked some of your old data as free space, meaning that the data is still there but just not visible to you.

If you notice that files are missing on your Windows machine after an update, it is best to stop using your computer as saving new information to it could overwrite the data that we’re trying to recover. If you can install and use Disk Drill on an external hard drive or thumb drive, this will increase your chances of being able to successfully recover the overwritten file.

Step 1. Download and install Disk Drill for your computer.

install disk drill Step 2. Select your storage device to scan it for lost files after Windows update.

disk drill main window

Step 3. Wait for the scan process to complete.

wait until scan finished

Step 4. Review the files that Disk Drill was able to recover. You can then search for the deleted file or files that were lost during the Windows update.

preview files after scan

Step 5. After finding the file or files that you would like to recover, checkmark the blue box and then click on Recover

select files to recover

Step 6. Lastly, you need to choose a location for the lost files to be recovered to.

choose file recovery location

Step 7. You will then receive a confirmation letting you know that the recovery was a success!

successful recovery message

Conclusion

Windows updates are something that your computer will do for the life of the machine. Knowing how to find files after an update or knowing what to do if files have been lost on your machine will ensure that you don’t lose important information that you have been working on.

Joel Lockard has had a love for technology his whole life. He works as a flight instructor and when not flying spends his time tinkering with technology especially Apple-related tech and Mac apps. He is always looking to make his Mac experience the most productive and unique.
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12 years of experience in software development, database administration, and hardware repair.