Lost all User documents and Program Files after Feature update on many domain PC's RRS feed

  • Question

  • Since early this week our domain computers started to download the new Feature Update 1903 using Windows Update. On some of the computers the users are prompted with the choice to upgrade, on others the upgrade just started automatically.

    However, on all computers that ran the upgrade so far, the documents folder was cleared and both Program Files folders were “reset” to default, resulting in a loss of all documents and applications after the upgrade. Currently (in our company of ~20 people) we have had 7 computers that are now “lost” and had to be reinstalled completely.

    To prevent losing any further computers, after the third lost computer, I’ve quickly activated the (GPO) policy that set Windows update to defer receiving Feature Updates for 30 days. However, all PC’s that downloaded this GPO-setting only after downloading the update, still installed or prompted to install this new version.

    Unfortunately, on 2 PCs (running 1803) an update was ready to install 1809 and this upgrade also resulted in exact the same problem, so it doesn’t seem to be specific to 1903. So I extended the deferral to 365 days now.

    I know there was a big issue with the 1809 release with known-folder-redirection, however we do not redirect folders, so I don’t think that’s a problem here.

    What I did see during installation is that the User folders and the Program Files folders are initially moved to a temporary folder before the reboot request pops up, but after reboot that temporary folder is gone (including all files in it).

    Although most of our PC’s contain multiple applications, which could all be part of the cause, there’s 1 PC that suffered from this and only runs 1 small application (a batch file) and has Kaspersky Antivirus (Endpoint Security for Windows running. So, to make sure Kaspersky isn’t the cause, I’ve installed a Hyper-V virtual PC with Windows 1803, made a snapshot and first upgraded it to 1809 and 1903 without Kaspersky running and then recovered the snapshot and tried the same with Kaspersky running. In both cases all went ok and the documents-folder wasn’t cleared.

    So, it seems to be caused by something else that was installed or configured on our domain-PC’s. We don’t have many GPO settings, so we’re now thinking it might have been another Windows (security?) update that is conflicting? Also, I’m not sure if the Feature Update actually succeeded or failed on those PC's, so maybe it failed and was unable to recover?!

    We only have 1 PC left that’s not reinstalled yet, on which I might still be able to find some details on what Windows Update did/failed to do.

    Has anyone seen similar issues and is there anything we can do or set that will ensure updates will succeed without data-losses, when I disable the defer option again?

    Friday, July 12, 2019 2:26 PM

All replies

  • Hi Peter,

    From what I know, there was a bug in the beginning with the upgrade to 1809 from Windows Update, the users data was be deleting after the upgrade, but its resolved by Microsoft and the ISO media installation is updated too.

    By cons, I don't think that the 1903 upgrade encounter the same problem, here is a list of 1903 known issues:


    SAAD Youssef


    Please remember to mark the replies as anser if they help, thank you!

    Friday, July 12, 2019 2:37 PM
  • Hi Saad,

    Thanks for your reply. Indeed, I was aware of the fixes wrt 1809, so I was clearly surprised to see the failures with our current upgrades.

    Also thanks for the link, but I think it only contains problem in version 1903, not problems with/during the automatic upgrade.


    Friday, July 12, 2019 2:51 PM
  • Do you are using a WSUS or SCCM to push the software updates on the clients or, directly from the Windows Update without any policies?
    Friday, July 12, 2019 2:55 PM
  • The clients get them directly from Microsoft update servers; we don't have a WSUS or SCCM running.
    Friday, July 12, 2019 2:57 PM
  • You need a solution as WSUS server or SCCM to manage the software updates on your clients.

    There are a way to prevent this, its to disable Windows Update service on all your clients and upgrade their manually but it's not recommended.

    Friday, July 12, 2019 3:23 PM
  • Thanks for your reply; I do understand that I can use WSUS to prevent specific updates, however I don't want to prevent these updates, I  just want to make sure that if I re-enable the set defer, I don't lose all data on the remaining computers...

    So first I have to find out what's causing the loss of data after the update begins... and I have currently no clue what could cause this.

    Monday I will start to check the last failed PC, maybe there are some windows update logs that give me more information...

    Friday, July 12, 2019 3:27 PM
  • Check this:

    EDIT: You can install the ADMX template for Windows 10 1809 and check if there are a policy to prevent data loss or anything like this, then deploy it on your clients.

    Friday, July 12, 2019 3:33 PM
  • Hi Peter, 

    We have not heard any data loss issue about Windows 10 1903. As you encounter such issue, we should recovery deleted user files from Windows.old folder in C drive at first.

    Here is a link might be useful for you to recovery file.

    How to recover deleted User data files & folders after Windows 10 Feature Update 

    As the issue just occur on domain joined devices, I also suspect it would related with configuration on domain just like your thoughts. So I would recommend to check the CBS.log which located in C:\Windows\Logs\CBS\CBS.log for more information. As complex of analyzing your environment and corresponding log which is out of our forum support scope, I would recommend you to create a ticket with the link below for further support.

    Note: This is a third-party link and we do not have any guarantees on this website. And Microsoft does not make any guarantees about the content.

    Thank you for your understanding.



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    Monday, July 15, 2019 11:03 AM
  • Hi Joy-Qiao,

    Thanks for your reply. Unfortunately there's no Windows.old folder at the C:-drive. I did, however, find a folder structure in $WINDOWS.~BT\NewOS that seems to contain old folders, but no old user-data for actual users.

    When running the Get-WindowsUpdateLog powershell command I get a log, but it only contains event since the failed update. I do find older logging information in the CBS.log. I will inspect that and see if it gives me some clues. I will also try to contact Microsoft at the link you provided. Maybe they have some ideas...


    Monday, July 15, 2019 2:13 PM
  • Hi Peter,

    Thank for your feedback.

    As Windows.old folder will be deleted by system automatically after upgrade for 10 days, so I suspect it has been deleted by now.

    CBS log will contain system action during windows update, if you have trouble to analysis the log, Microsoft phone support might be helpful for you.

    If my reply is useful, please mark it as answer.


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    Sunday, July 21, 2019 2:07 PM
  • Hi Joy-Qiao,

    Unfortunately the update never succeeded, so there was no Windows.old after the update (I checked hidden/system files), only that $Windows.~BT folder before the reboot and nothing after...

    Monday, July 22, 2019 8:47 AM
  • Hi Peter,

    Thank you for your feedback.

    I am afraid we should contact Microsoft phone support for log checking through creating a new ticket.


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    Wednesday, July 24, 2019 7:15 AM