What Happens When You Lose Your Files?

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Digitally, nothing worse can happen than losing all your files. Imagine all those family and travel photos. You will never get those back. Once people started taking more photos but printing them less, we put ourselves in the difficult position of someday losing all those files and photos. Can you ever forgive yourself for losing decades’ worth of photos? These are moments that will remind you of a more carefree you, but all that can be lost with a single mistake.

Hard drive corruption and data loss happen all the time. There is nothing special about your system to be hacked or breached specifically. It happens because it’s the way computer works. When there’s a foreign component or program that enters the system, it can wipe years’ worth of data or render the computer itself useless.

You won’t lose your files only through hacking, phishing, and natural calamities. You can lose them to more common events such as viruses. Or better yet, you can render a hard drive inoperable and dysfunctional because you dropped your laptop down the stairs or you spilled coffee on it. There are so many reasons why you might lose your digital files, so it’s also important to understand what you have to do once it happens.

Search Your Backup

By now, in the 21st century, you should have a hard drive backup. If you don’t, you are in big trouble. Data loss is only catastrophic if you do not have a backup for the files you have on your computer. There are generally two ways you can back up your files: one is through synching (though technically, this is not a backup); and two is through an actual backup where your files are saved in another location.

When you lose your data, you can check the cloud (either Google or Apple or other cloud services) if you can still access them. Most cloud services use the sync method which means that the files only exist there when they still exist in the other location, which is normally your phone’s or laptop’s hard drive. Synching means the cloud “copies” all files you have on your device. When you delete these files from your device, it disappears from the cloud, too.

Of course, other cloud services will allow you to upload the files to it, so they have a separate version of them. If this is what you did, lucky you because retrieving them will be easier. That’s also how an actual backup works. For example, you have thousands worth of photos on your laptop. What you can do is to copy them to an external hard drive or USB device. Keep those in a secure place so they won’t get corrupted.

When you lose files, look to your backups and sync. You might be able to retrieve many of those lost files. It’s so easy to set up a backup that it’s often a wonder why so many people don’t do it.


There is also another way you can recover files from your actual hard drive. Some programs will allow you to tap into versions of the hard drive where your files still exist. If you can get your hard drive to work in those versions, you might retrieve some of the files that are present on your computer during that time.

However, retrieving files this way is often an expensive endeavor. Not to mention that it is also a lot of technical work that ordinary folks might not be up to. If you are not confident with your ability to do this, bring your hard drive to a technician and let them handle the file retrieval. This is a safer way to go about relocating your files.


If you are lucky, it might be a simple glitch. Did you accidentally delete your files? Check your trash folders. Most of the deleted files stay there for at least 30 days more. After the 30th day, the system deletes these files permanently. That’s why it is worth looking at your trash folder from time to time. Who knows what you or your kids accidentally deleted from your documents folder?

One of the habits that people should develop living in this digitalized world is backing up their files. You can set the schedule of the backup to make sure your computer backs up at least every two days or so. In most cases, you should set the schedule every day, so your backup is always up to date. This simple task will help you sleep better at night.