Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Recovering lost files and folders is easy if they were backed up. If not, it's going to be a long process and your technician will need to know all the details about how the files were lost.

Recovery Windows Live Mail, lost all files and folders.

In this excerpt from Answercast #76, I look at a case with lost files and folders. You know what? This wouldn't be a problem if there was a backup.

Recovering lost files and folders

Now normally, I would skip a question like this. It doesn't really tell me enough about what happened at the time the messages were lost, what version of Windows we're running on, what the email service is, and so forth.

So, I can't answer this specific question because it doesn't have anywhere near to close enough information for me to be able to give it a shot. However, I wanted to use this is as an opportunity to talk about my favorite topic and that is backing up.

Backing up saves files!

I don't care what the problem is. I don't care what the operating system version is or what email service you're using. A backup, a full system backup, or a backup of your email, or anything that would create a copy of your email that you could restore, would solve this problem.

In other words, if you lose all of your emails on Tuesday morning, then the backup that happened Monday night (if you're doing backups daily) would have all of your emails in it. You could restore everything from that backup.

I keep harping on backups for the simple reason that, although they feel somewhat cumbersome to set up, they are so good and so important at recovering from almost anything that can go wrong - that it's the "default answer." You could have avoided whatever problem it is you're experiencing right now because of data loss by having had a proper and recent backup before "whatever" happened.

Backup before you lost files

So, I wanted to use this as an opportunity to continue to harp on what I think is perhaps the single most important thing that all computer users can do. That is to somehow set up some kind of a backup system: an automated backup system that will help protect you when stuff happens. And trust me... stuff happens all the time.

How to back up

I have a bunch of articles on about backing up. If you just search for "backing up," you'll find all of them. There are a couple that I would you start with.

Probably the best one to start with is "What backup program should I use?" In reality, I consider what backup program you use to be a lot like what exercise program you should use to lose weight. You should use whichever one you will actually use.

In other words, whichever one you can get setup, you can make sure is running reliably, and you know will be there when you need it.

I recommend Macrium Reflect in general as a good, solid backup program. But like I said, that's not a hard and fast thing. If for whatever reason you can't get your head around Macrium Reflect, if you prefer to copy files by hand, if you prefer to do cloud backups of some sort... I mean, there's so many different ways you can backup and save yourself from exactly this kind of a problem that I can't insist that you follow any specific way.

I do recommend in general something like: backing up to an external hard drive and Macrium Reflect as the most reliable for most people. But any backup that you do is better than no backup at all.

You can avoid ever needing to ask a question as vague as this one again.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Article C6102 - December 5, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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1 Comment
January 8, 2013 2:14 PM

I deleted in Windows Live (on a Windows 7 PC) my POP3 account before creating an IMAP account and I lost all my folders and a lot of older mail no longer available on the mail server.

Is there any way to recover these mails and folders ?

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