Microsoft’s secret Windows 10 V1809 ‘Data recovery tool’

[German]During upgrading to Windows 10 October 2018 Update (V1809), some users are lost their personal files. Setup has rigorously deleted all user data. But there was always a rumor about a Microsoft support tool, a kind of secret weapon, for recovering the deleted data. I’ve now discovered the secret. Here’s a compilation what you can expect – but I warn you, there’s some involuntary slapstick.


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Windows 10 V1809 feature update deleted all user data

On October 2, 2018, Microsoft released the feature update to Windows 10 October 2018 Update (V1809). People who searched for updates received this new build. And there are reports that some users were offered the feature update automatically.

The problem: There was a serious bug in the Windows 10 build 17763.1: Some users lost their user folders after installing the update. Microsoft stopped the rollout of Windows 10 V1809, and explained the incident later. And they promised help to those affected. Dona Sarkar, representing Microsoft’s Insider Program, has published the following tweet.

Sounds good: Just call Microsoft’s support and probably send the device in for repair. Based on this suggestion, there was always a rumor, that Microsoft has a ‘secret data recovery’ tool available in support.

Experts was skeptical

MVP colleague Barb Bowman has already responded to Dona Sarkar on Twitter and expressed her scepticism.


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She asked if Microsoft could recommend tools that could restore the data. Woody Leonhard from askwoody already recommended the freeware Recuva on ComputerWorld, to recover the lost files (but that’s risiky, and won’t work on SSD).

German support says: Contact a Data recovery specialist

Recently I got a comment within my German blog that disturbed every hope that the Microsoft support could really help. Here is what a affected German user found out after contacting Microsoft’s German support (German computer site Golem had seen the support chat):

Within a chat history, Microsoft’s German support always recommended only to reinstall the operating system. There were no offers to restore deleted data.

When the customer contacted Microsoft support yesterday by telephone again to get the lost files back, he was only forwarded to professional data recovery companies – the customer would then have to bear the corresponding costs himself.

It is currently not known whether this is an isolated case, but it makes much sense to me. Only a professional data recovery service has a chance, to recover the lost files. I’ve tested years ago tools from Kroll Ontrack with good success on hard disks (I covered it within my German blog post Datenrettung mit Kroll Ontrack EasyRecovery – Teil 4). But it’s nothing for inexperienced users.

But there is a secret data recovery tool, isn’t it?

It can be assumed that especially users from the USA want to ‘take up’ Microsoft’s ‘offer’ for data recovery with the help of Microsoft’s customer support. Otherwise it would be a smoke candle, what Microsoft writes on its KB page. Recently I came across the following tweet with hints about the ‘secret weapon’ of the US Microsoft.

A user who tried to use Microsoft’s support describes his experiences on reddit.com. It’s simply funny, what Microsoft’s ‘professionals’ recommended:

  • There is no data recovery tool to download from Microsoft. If there is one, it’s so secret that nobody in support knows about it.
  • The Level 1 supporter advises that affected users perform a system restore based on creating a restore point before the upgrade.
  • Level 2 support, which is called when someone says that System Restore was disabled before the upgrade, can initiate a remote session and look for backups, or try restoring the files.

I don’t like bashing, but the case shows two things: Microsoft doesn’t have its processes under control – they throw a big smoke candle by writing ‘call support’ in the KB articles, but they don’t have an answer there. Sounds good to the mass of people who are not affected. A mistake has happened, but Microsoft do something. The affected person will quickly notice that this is just hot air. But what throws an even more serious light are the answers from Level 1 support in the USA.

  • System Restore has been disabled by Windows 10 for some time with each function update.
  • System Restore has never been enabled for data drives, only for the system drive (except the user has turned it on).
  • System Restore refers only to system files, never to user data – they are explicitly omitted. And that’s a good thing, because who wants to lose user data/files through a System Restore?

Well, be mistaken is human and should be granted to a Level 1 supporter. But such a thing must not happen to a company that has its support under control. At the latest after the ‘data accident’ became known, an advise should have been sent to all supporters, not to mention system restore to get the lost data back. The German Microsoft support has therefore done the right thing: Advice people to contact a professional data rescuer.

Reality of life is hard …

Within this article myitforum it is pointed out that the message from the Windows 10 1809 data deletion disaster reached Dona Sarkar when she was at a conference on the West Coast of the United States. There she gave the keynote How to Build Your OWN Insider Testing Program. In retrospect, the description of the keynote (see link) is a joke:

Many testers just don’t plain get listened to. Management doesn’t seem to listen despite you having a really good idea on how to reduce costs without reducing quality. How can a well-meaning tester act as an agent of change and change your corporate landscape? Dona is the Lord of the Rings at Microsoft where she co-creates the future of Windows with 10M + #WindowsInsiders all over the world. They are one of the biggest fan and influencer programs in the tech industry—one that helps shape the future of Microsoft technology every single day. She will guide you on how to create a fan and influencer program for your business and empower these members to be your first ring of defense against low-quality products. Come and hear the secrets of modern product testing and how YOU can emerge as the hero of your own story.

The text suggests that Dona has the answer. It’s a pity that Dona Sarkar, the representative of the Insider Program, has been hidden by the mess, created from Microsoft’s developers. But according to this information Dona is on the road for 9 weddings at the same time. Besides working as a fashion blogger she designed a fashion collection Prima Dona Style, wrote six works as an author and somehow does the Windows Insider program on the side. My German MVP collegue Martin Geuß wrote on his site Dr. Windows: Since the departure of Gabe Aul, the program has become more and more a silly party around ninja cats and taco hats. I just stumbled across a tweet from WZor, which nailed it down with a few words and an image that says more than a thousand words:


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One Response to Microsoft’s secret Windows 10 V1809 ‘Data recovery tool’

  1. wsusuak says:

    Hello, you have error in article:

    “System Restore refers only to system files, never to user data – they are explicitly omitted”

    System restore in only tool – if you create restore point – actually shadow copy of whole drive is created. You can later use tools like ShadowExplorer to restore any files from that time.

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