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  • OneDrive Seriously Messed up My Files

    Home Forums AskWoody support Windows Windows 10 Questions: Win10 OneDrive Seriously Messed up My Files

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        AskWoody Plus

        This will take a little time to explain, because I’m not sure of the entire sequence of events, which could be important in trying to put things back the way they were before OneDrive darkened my doorstep. It’s probably more detail than is required, but I don’t have the computer knowledge to figure that out on my own.

        The basic problem is that last night I ran OneDrive on my desktop computer for what I thought was the first time, and when I checked things this morning, many of my folders and files had been rearranged in an almost incomprehensible fashion. It also appears that many files, or at least the current versions, were deleted or replaced by older versions.

        Since this is going to be a long story, let me first say that I suspect that the solution is going to be to uninstall or disable OneDrive, then use File History to restore everything back to where things were before this happened, and then either reconfigure OneDrive in some fashion or, if it’s not really compatible with my setup, just stop using it altogether.

        So, if some kind soul realizes very quickly, and without having to read this entire message, that that’s the way to go, I’d appreciate guidance just on the File History issue. I know how to disable OneDrive, but I’ve never used File History to restore everything to an earlier state. I’ve only used it to restore specific files. So, more than anything else, I need to know what the file restoration project entails and whether there’s any special I have to do or be aware of.

        Anyway, I have Win 10 Pro Version 2004. I bought this computer a year and a half ago, to replace a Microsoft Surface, which quickly turned out to be a piece of junk and which I got rid of. I mention the MS Surface because it’s the source of how my files were initially organized on the new desktop computer, although they’re not currently organized that way. That initial organization may explain what happened.

        I don’t remember doing anything with OneDrive over the last year and a half, other than as follows. I believe that at first I did nothing other than notice that OneDrive was installed on the computer, and that I kept getting annoying pop-ups concerning it. (Assuming that I had to do something to specifically enable it, then I obviously must have done so, although I don’t recall. Had I actively enabled it, I wouldn’t have done anything further, and would have assumed that nothing would happen unless and until I specifically designated files to be backed up. I wouldn’t have expected anything to happen automatically, although I now understand that that happens with the Documents folder.)

        After some period of time without my using OneDrive (I don’t recall how long, weeks, maybe a period of months), I got tired of the pop-ups. I looked up how to disable OneDrive, and then proceeded to disable it through the Group Policy Editor. But I now know that, one way or another, files & folders from the Documents folder on the computer apparently had already been uploaded to the OneDrive online folder. I speculate that that happened because, from what I read yesterday, the Documents folder automatically is included in what gets uploaded. But I don’t know that for a fact.

        Another bit of relevant background: I don’t have my files organized in the standard way that MS likes, where most files are in C:\Users\ < user name > (in my case C:\Users\Bob). I have two drives, with all apps on the C: drive and virtually all data on the D: Drive. Because too many programs, when I create a new file, insist on defaulting to the drive where the Documents folder is, I changed the default location of that folder. My entire D: drive is now the Documents folder, and, within various subfolders, it contains virtually all of my data files.

        In the period immediately before I purchased this desktop, my files were all kept on the since-discarded MS Surface, which wasn’t partitioned or have multiple drives, so everything was organized per the standard C:\Users\Bob scheme. I backed it all up with File History. After I purchased the desktop, I used File History to transfer all of my files to the new desktop. As a result, the initial file organization on the desktop computer corresponded to the C:\Users\Bob scheme, and it continued to do so for some poorly remembered period of time before (and maybe leading right up to and even after the time) I disabled OneDrive. I now assume that during that time, whatever was in the Documents folder was backed up automatically.

        Which brings me up to yesterday, when I read some instructions on OneDrive and then went into the Group Policy Editor and re-enabled it. Before OneDrive started to sync things, I looked in the OneDrive online folder to see what was there. Aside from the Personal Vault and a pdf “Getting Started” file, it had three folders. Desktop, Pictures and Documents. All of the subfolders within the Documents folder were dated 12/23/19, which, I believe, was the date I received and initially set up the computer. So clearly files organized per the C:\Users\Bob\Documents scheme were uploaded on the very first day I used the computer.

        I ran OneDrive last night. The instructions I read said that the Documents folder was backed up automatically. Since the D: Drive is now the Documents folder on this computer, I naively assumed that OneDrive would deal with it accordingly, upload the entire set of files from D, and discard the files previously backed up from C:\Users\Bob\Documents, resulting in an online backup that corresponded to how I currently have things organized on the desktop computer.

        Wrong assumption. This morning, I checked out how things had gone. There were 22 GB of files in the Documents folder in the OneDrive online folder, and the folders on my computer had been reorganized, so that over 100 GB of data was still on the D: Drive, but 22 GB was now in C:\Users\Bob\OneDrive. (Maybe some of it had already been there; but definitely not all of it, because many of those files didn’t even exist at the time I originally disabled OneDrive). So now I’m guessing that OneDrive doesn’t, as advertised, upload the “Documents” folder automatically; instead, it uploads stuff only if it’s in C:\Users\Bob]Documents. Live and learn.

        Some of the folders in that 22 GB of OneDrive data correspond to folders on the D: Drive, but contain, in part, older versions of the files, while other folders apparently were simply “moved” out of the D: Drive altogether. That is, they are no longer on the D: drive at all, and are contained solely in C:\Users\Bob\OneDrive.

        I don’t understand all this. If OneDrive’s operations are supposed to be limited to C:\Users\Bob, why were files removed from the D: Drive? All I did was set the sync operation running; I didn’t specifically designate the D: Drive to be backed up, because I thought that it would be automatic.

        Also, I put “moved” in quotes in a preceding paragraph, because random sampling of the files in C:\Users\Bob\OneDrive suggests that some are older, discarded versions of those files; and others are the current versions. So the solution isn’t a matter of “moving” files back from C:\Users\Bob\OneDrive to the D: Drive, because that won’t get me back up to date. What I need to do, primarily, is get my current files back. Secondarily, I need to know if I should forget about using OneDrive.

        So my most general question is: what and why happened, and (mostly important) what to do now?

        I assume I have to disable OneDrive before I do anything to restore my files from File History. If not, then what? If so, should I first delete everything in the OneDrive online folder, so it doesn’t “retain a memory” of whatever perverse image it has of how I want my files to be organized? If so, do I simply pause the syncing function first, so OneDrive doesn’t immediately decide that just because I’m deleting stuff from the online folder, I want the stuff on my desktop computer to be deleted as well? In short, how do I go about dealing with OneDrive before I restore my files from File History?

        Next, as already mentioned, as far as File History is concerned, I know only how to restore individual files. I’ve never used it to restore everything. How can I do that, and are there any special precautions I need to take?

        Or have I completely misconceived what has to be done? Is there a better way? If so, what?

        Finally, Is there a way to use OneDrive so this doesn’t happen again? Or, given how I like to have my files organized, should I just give up on OneDrive?

        Finally, finally, I noticed that although the OneDrive folder on my computer appears to be at C:\Users\Bob\OneDrive, when I right click the OneDrive icon in the system tray, and then click “Open your OneDrive folder”, possibly a different OneDrive folder opens. When I click on the up arrow see what the parent folder is, it takes me to a folder for the desktop, and shows a OneDrive subfolder that supposedly exists inside it. Yet when I look at the desktop itself, it doesn’t contain such a OneDrive folder. So what is that all about? Is there a OneDrive folder on my desktop or not? If not, why does clicking on “Open your OneDrive folder” lead to such a weird folder? And if there is one on the desktop, why don’t I see it when I look at the desktop itself, and how is it different from the one at C:\Users\Bob\OneDrive?

        Thanks large.

        • This topic was modified 2 weeks, 2 days ago by BobStr.
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