Microsoft releases fix for data deletion bug

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Microsoft is working to re-release the October 2018 Update publicly, but it is first testing a new build that it says fixes the file deletion issue.

In this case the update was only available to those who manually clicked on "check for updates" in Windows settings.

"While we can not guarantee the outcome of any file recovery work, if you have manually checked for updates and believe you have an issue with missing files, please minimise your use of the affected device and contact us directly", Cable said, tendering an apology "for any impact these issues may have had on any of our customers".

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On a support page issued on Tuesday, Microsoft's sparse explanation of the bug is as follows: "An incorrect timing calculation may prematurely delete user profiles on devices subject to the "Delete user profiles older than a specified number of day" group policy".

Users who lost files typically had Known Folder Redirection set up, but the files hadn't been moved, Cable explained.

Microsoft made a decision to remove these duplicate folders through code incorporated into version 1809. "While the reports of actual data loss are few (one one-hundredth of one per cent of version 1809 installs), any data loss is serious", Cable said in a statement. Other folders you can move include Desktop, Documents, Pictures, and Videos. "Based on feedback from users, we introduced code in the October 2018 Update to remove these empty, duplicate known folders".

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Unfortunately for some users, "that change, combined with another change to the update construction sequence, resulted in the deletion of the original "old" folder locations and their content, leaving only the new "active" folder intact", Cable said.

Correcting the issue required three specific fixes, each of which you can read about in more detail in Microsoft's blog post. "This occurred if Known Folder Redirection (KFR) had been previously enabled, but files remain in the original "old" folder location vs being moved to the new, redirected location".

The update was initially offered for download last week to early adopters, but Microsoft paused the roll-out and took the update down while it investigated the issues. "We have added an ability for users to also provide an indication of impact and severity when filing User Initiated Feedback". The company has released Windows 10 cumulative updates to several previous versions of the operating system, including the April 2018 Update, Fall Creators Update, Creators Update, and the Anniversary Update. Microsoft retail stores will also try to help, and may be able to aid you in recovering your deleted files.

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