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Earlier today, I rebooted my computer. Partway through the boot process, it shut down suddenly. When I tried again, I was prompted to run Startup Repair, and I did. Afterwards, my computer booted normally and everything seemed to be in order.

Then I noticed that my My Documents folder contains a mix of old and new files. On closer inspection, it appears that Windows has reverted my system to a previous state. Two things puzzle me:

1) According to Microsoft, "System Restore does not affect personal files, such as e-mail, documents, or photos [...]", yet many of my personal files have been affected.

2) Why were some things reverted, but not others? I had recently reorganized a bunch of files in My Documents. The reverted directory structure seems to be a hybrid of old and new, with a lot of new stuff missing. It's hard to say for sure, but it looks like the stuff that's missing would have been in conflict (two folders with the same name, for example), and Windows favored the old stuff.

Is this normal behavior for Startup Repair/System Restore? To modify personal files, I mean? Is there a pattern to the mess it's made of My Documents?

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Anything is possible if the hard drive is corrupted somehow. –  Daniel R Hicks Jun 26 at 12:01

2 Answers 2

Startup Repair probably rolled your system back to the previous restore point that was known to boot successfully. System restore points aren't supposed to contain anything except system files, but it's possible that it triggered something in the Volume Shadow Copy service to attempt to restore files in your personal directories - I would imagine this is where the old versions of your documents came from.

I hope you didn't lose any important data, though if you did first try searching the "Older Versions" tab in the file properties for a newer version of the file. If that brings you no luck, stop using the system and search this site for posts about file recovery - there's a good chance the files are still hidden on your hard drive, as long as they haven't been overwritten.

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System Restore includes a lot more file types than you might think: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/aa378870%28v=vs.85%29.aspx. 574 in total, including .js, .as, .cs, .hlp, .ini, .1st. Any file of those types on a disk with System Protection turned on (C: by default) will be reverted or deleted to match the state when the restore point was made. More details in http://superuser.com/a/773300/132953.

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