Ask the Doctor: Where Are My Documents?


The XP Home SP1 install on my girlfriend’s old laptop was getting a little buggy, so I decided to wipe and upgrade to XP Pro SP3. She had about 16GB of music and pictures stored on the laptop, which she wanted to keep. I created a new partition in the drive’s free space and moved those files over so they’d be safe. All was well until the partition program goofed up the original XP Home installation so that it wouldn’t boot anymore. The restore function didn’t work, and loading the XP Pro CD restore function didn’t help either.

Fortunately, XP Pro recognized the newly created D:\ drive, so I installed there. Everything went fine, but the My Documents folders in both partitions were blank. Weird thing is, XP Pro shows drive C:\ as 32GB (original drive size) with only 2GB free… and recognizes the D:\ partition it is installed on as being 7GB with nearly 6GB free. I still get two boot options on start up—XP Home and XP Pro. So her files are still taking up space, but they don’t seem to be anywhere. Help!

—Andrew Kleinfeldt

First, search for one of the missing music files—they might just be lost somewhere on the drive.
No luck? It’s possible you don’t have permission to view those files. If that’s the case, you can reset the file permissions: Microsoft’s Knowledge Base KB308421 ( ) provides information on how to do this.

If that doesn’t work, it’s time to bring out the big guns. You don’t want to risk screwing up the drive even more, so first remove it from the notebook and connect it to your desktop using a laptop-to-IDE hard drive adapter, which can be picked up at your local computer store or online for about $10. Both partitions should show up under My Computer, provided the drive isn’t horribly corrupted.

Next, install File Scavenger ( ) on the desktop computer. We’re not sure what file recovery software you tried, but we’ve had great success with File Scavenger in the past. Sure, it’s $50, but it’ll recover the data if it’s recoverable at all. And that’s a small price to pay to get out of the doghouse.

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