Vista Disk Cleanup DELETED all my program files! RRS feed

  • Question


    Need Help ASAP!! I ran Vista's disk Clean up & I lost my work programs (luckily i have different drives and it did not delete my actual files but - all my program files are GONE!)


    Okay - this has happened to me twice since Vista Home Premium came with my new Dell XPS 720 (a little over a month old).


    The first time I ran disk cleanup (like i usually did on my other XP machines weekly) - it says i had over 800 GIGAbytes of files (hibernation files, Per User Archived Windows, Error Reporting (200gb), Per User Queued Windows Error Reporting (250gb), temp files, recycle bin, etc. etc.


    All were checked - and when I went to clean it, ALL my icons on my desktop and quick launch started disappearing one by one. Poof!! they were ALL gone in a matter of seconds.


    Then i went to my Start Menu - EMPTY! All my program files were gone. I typed in Outlook  -- outlook came up and wanted to install - all my emails are gone. I installed Office 2007 again, then it couldn't find my outlook.pst files (personal files). So i lthink I lost everything there.


    Went to open Firefox - Error message: Core DLL files not there
    Went to open Ad-Aware : Skin File Error: 19811 has occured. Description: Cannnot load graphics. Application termitates.
    Went to open my two FTP clients: Both tried to install it new again.


    Get the jist... every program eitehr tries to reinstall or has a DLL error or missing file error message.



    So... Lucky me right? I'm smart - i did a system restore backup before I did this for the second time. But guess what?!?! The system restore is corrupt!! WTF?!?


    I go to system restore from yesterday -- machine takes about 45 min to try to restore.. then re-boots itself saying it cannot Restore the last system restore point and everything is still gone!


    What is happening?!?! This (will be) my second format because of this same problem in one month.

    Would microsoft really have that in their Disk Cleanup for anyone to go and LOSE everything?!? Or does this sound like a virus? (BTW - I scannned before my disk cleanup with Ad-aware, Spybot & AVG and nothing was picked up except some lame tracking cookies).


    I need help - I lost another 3 weeks worth of emails, etc. etc.

    I googled till my fingers fell off and only found ONE other website that has a similar problem - but no solution.

    Please help!  :blink:


    My new machine is running vista Home Premium, 2 quad core cPU, 4 gigs of ram, etc. It's a sweet computer! Stick out tongue

    ...and to answer some reasonable text book questions first: No i did not install any hardware or software right before this & I have not been playing with any settings. And when i did a search on my harddrives for outlook.PST i found one file from yesterday (yay right?!?!), but it's corrupt!!! . I downloaded three (free) software programs that are supposed to help with corrupt/missing outlook *.pst files but they were not able to recover my pst files. Sad Sad  


    I also just purchased $125 worth of ITunes/movies/tv shows for my new IPhone and I tunes won't load as well - I hope that stuff is not gone too!!


    please help asap - i don't want another format - I want my program files back! with outlook*pst, etc.


    Wednesday, September 19, 2007 2:18 PM

All replies

  • After hours of research and cursing when my own disk cleanup decided to kill my OS, I figured I'd try to find a cure - and I have!

    Open Regedit (start - run - regedit) and go to:


    There you will find 4 keys called Windows error reporting.
    Now if you look closely you will see that one (or more) is missing the Folder string.
    Now, lets get to fixing it.

    If you are in the " Windows Error Reporting Archive Files " key

    Right click - New - Expandable String Value.

    Call it Folder and use the following entry:


    If you are in the " Windows Error Reporting Queue Files " key

    use: %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\WER\ReportQueue

    If you're in the " Windows Error Reporting System Archive Files " key

    use: %ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\WER\ReportArchive

    and if you're in the " Windows Error Reporting System Queue Files " key

    use: %ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\WER\ReportQueue

    This worked for me atleast, i tried removing the Folder string and the bug was back, hope this helps guys! Wink
    Thursday, September 27, 2007 9:46 PM
  • As a member of another (Dutch) forum i'm curious if this problem is known by MS. Recently another forummember had the same problem!

    Is this a known bug within Windows Vista, and if it is, will there be a patch available at Microsoft soon?

    Thanks in advance!
    Wednesday, November 21, 2007 7:48 AM
  • As i don't work for MS i can't say for sure, but I've been in contact with Microsoft through mail and phone and I've yet to encounter someone that actually was aware of this bug..

    Hopefully it will be fixed in SP1, but for now, i dont know.

    Wednesday, November 21, 2007 8:53 AM
  • Thank you very much for your quick reply!

    So the person of MS who you had contact with, was aware of this bug?
    Wednesday, November 21, 2007 9:04 AM
  • Sorry if I wasn't clear enough, but no one I've talked to have been aware of this bug. Not a single one.

    I admit i gave up after a while, I just spread the word on my fix to all forums that had similar questions.

    - M
    Wednesday, November 21, 2007 10:04 AM
  • Ok....thank you!

    I googled several forums about this issue and some people presume that some kind of registry cleaning tool could be responsible for this. Did you use any kind of regtool?
    Wednesday, November 21, 2007 10:16 AM
  • Guys I've run into same problem. After cleaning 150GB on 60GB drive all folders and files disappered. Is there is any solutions yet? Its seems that alot of users experiencing same issue. Lets work on it to solve it.


    Tuesday, February 19, 2008 9:17 AM

    I'd just completed a repair installation of Vista Ultimate and wanted to dump its residual installation trash. Just like kindpeacho's nightmare, my icons began vanishing one by one. Before I could stop the process, Disk Cleanup had devoured all my documents, many settings, and terminally damaged a bunch of programs.


    And yes, I'd run Registry Mechanic on an unrelated cleanup issue between the resintall and using Disk Cleanup. Thankfully, I'd done a complete system backup before the repair installation -- which, unlike kindpeacho's, was not corrupt -- so I could restore my entire c:\-drive. But that, along with a second repair installation and a Windows Update cost more eight hours of life and more stress than I care to swallow.


    But I've now got a fresh Vista installation and I've just checked my registry against Marius Jones' brilliant findings and all of the proper entries are in place. Could Registry Mechanic have been the culprit? I just ran it again, replicating the process from today's earlier disaster, but none of the registry errors Registry Mechanic found had anything to do with those problematic Error Reporting registry entries.


    I do remember, however, that Disk Cleanup displayed a huge amount of Error Reporting data before it ran amok -- perhaps gigs in the tens or hundreds. It caught my eye, but given Microsoft's habit of pigging-up on data, I figured Vista was simply at it again. My mistake, but I guess I'd been warned. 


    This time, I went to "Problem Reports and Solutions" in Control Panel and clicked "Clear solution and problem history," rather than run a risk.  


    BTW, I hear that installing Vista's Service Pack 1 prevents the ability to to repair installations by doing an in-place upgrade. True? If so,I won't be going there. Yikes!






    Monday, March 10, 2008 11:02 PM
  • The exact same thing happened to me. All my partitions were using 79Gb out of a total of 140 GB, I ran cleanmgr from cmd and i noticed windows error reports was taking huge amounts of data so thinking i was doing something good for my computer i chose to clean the files, big mistake.

    It was only after all my desktop icons and programs wouldnt run and disk cleanup was eating 200mb ram i noticed what was happening so i wuickly shut down the comp.( i risked the files getting corrupt they were being deleted anyway). My os got corrupt and i had to do a fresh install. I was thinking it was me that had done something stupid but good to see it's a bug and not my fualt. I have a laptop and i was rebooting from the hardive and my comp. shut down while i was reinstalling winodws(no idea why) so basically i had no OS.

    I've had to reinstall everythiing i have used cleanmgr many times but now i am cautious hopefully this bug will be fixed soon. I have sp1 and i so far have not seen this bug but neither did i see it before on vista.

    I am still trying to fig. out why can diskmgr delete everything from your hardive i had only selected the c: drive but the memory it was cleaning up was my c: and f: drive put together. Well i hope microsoft acknowledge they messed something up.

    I have not used any registry editor except regcure maybe this caused the problem?
    Tuesday, March 11, 2008 7:55 PM
  •  Mike in L.A. wrote:


    .. Could Registry Mechanic have been the culprit? ...

    It was for me atleast. I tried installing reg mechanic and running it again and I found the keys in question in the list when I went through them manually. So needless to say, I didn't go through with it Wink

    Sunday, March 16, 2008 5:10 PM

  • MARIUS;;;;; bless you,,,,,,when disk clean can free up 156g on a 120 g hard drive,,,,something is not right,,,,,

    I have  spent hrs looking for the problem,,,,you are awesome,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,I just bought  a  hp notebook for a friend
    and blew away the very large amount of junk that hp loves to put on,,,,,and after getting rid of everything, my c: went
    from 21g to 30g,,,,,,Im still missing  a few g somewhere,,even with page f and everything else on c:,   but when I looked at
    disk clean,,,,,,well,,pretty funny to have 77g for error report,,,,,,,   but before doing anything,,,,,,after first start of
    notebook,,, reg mechanic found 1000 bad keys,,,,,,,I was not checking everyone,,,,,, so thanks again,,,,,,,

    Thursday, March 20, 2008 9:27 AM

  • As for the poster,,if you see the archive or queue error report in disk clean,,it is because of the key files missing
    in the registry,,,,,so do what MARIUS said,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    as for your sweet pc,,,,,,my old x2 64 6400 black is as fast as your 2 quads,,,,,but it is fast,,,,try system recover with your
    OS disk if system restore does not work,,,,
    this your best bet if you don't want to lose your files,,,,,,,,your best bet is to run a external hard drive using 1394a
    not usb,,,,no usb is not faster when your talking hard drive ,,,,yes usb is 480mb and firewire is 400mb but not for
    a hard drive,,,,,,,,then put all your apps and stuff on the external,,,,,safe,,,secure,,,,, for your sweet pc,,run nod32
    or kaspersky,,,,,,AVG is nothing but garbage,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,as for your sweet vista home,,,it can not see more than 3g
    memeory,so you wasted a 1g,,,unless your running duel,,,then you need the 4g for duel,,,,even though it will never
    use 4g only 3g,,,,,,

    #5-bit defender
    Friday, March 21, 2008 12:19 AM

    Yep, Exact same thing happened to me! Surely this is a major oversight on the part of Microsoft, as anything trivial that can wipe your entire hard disk using Disk Clean up is unforgivable. What if this happened to a newbe, they could be forking out a fortune to technical support to get their computer fixed. Not to mention those that have lost all their work. GRRRR this makes me mad. Not to mention the 9 hours it took me to format my PC and get everything back the way it was.


    The problem is caused by Disk Cleanup.


    It shows an entry under "System Archived Windows Error Reporting" as xxgigs of files.


    I dont have any more info ont he problem, but my advice would be dont run it, just in case.

    Sunday, March 23, 2008 10:01 AM

    Same thing happened to me, twice.  Disk Cleanup erased some 10 years of my documents and emails.  The first time I had a back up.  This time, i don't. I will try the solution offered here by one of you.  Pray for me...
    Tuesday, May 6, 2008 11:55 AM
  • This is not a Vista problem as such.  It is a registry cleaner problem.  If you clean out the files mentioned in the second post, kiss your system goodbye.  The simple solution is to give up reg cleaners.  The practical solution is to look at what you are deleting and ensure that avoid the files mentioned.

    More information is available here.... http://forums.computeractive.co.uk/thread.jspa?threadID=128994&tstart=60


    Friday, May 16, 2008 9:45 AM
  • Hi. I too have had this problem, post SP1, and it is a very serious problem. Whether it is a Registry Cleaner problem or a Windows problem shouldn't even have to be discussed in my opionion, as I lay the blame firmly with Windows. As far as I'm concerned, no Operating System should allow any registry cleaner to cause this sort of damage. A fix deperately needs to be released Microsft, as I have lost all my files, documents, emails and programs, and had to do a complete reinstallation of Windows on my week old laptop, all because Midcrosft aren't protecting their registry files. For this issue not to have been fixed in Service Pack 1 is ridiculous. All it should take is for Microsoft to keep the registry files affected under more security. Please release a fix Microsoft, now!
    Friday, July 18, 2008 6:20 PM
  • Hi guys,

    This thread totally saved my butt. I thought it odd that disk cleanup had such large error files and google took me here. I'm very happy I didn't press OK Big Smile. FWIW, I've never run a registry cleaner. As a developer, I don't believe in it unless the key is somewhere important and actually incorrect.
    Saturday, August 23, 2008 2:26 AM
  • This is not a Registry Cleaner problem, it is a problem inherent in the Vista Operating System. What is absolutely astonishing is that MS has not provided a patch. There are a couple of forums like this one that have .reg downloads to automatically fix the registry and manual instructions here.  Blame in it on MS and everyone needs to contact them via their blogs and forums.


    SHAME ON YOU!!!!


    • Edited by SuperTweaker Wednesday, December 23, 2009 8:33 AM tad harsh
    • Proposed as answer by SuperTweaker Wednesday, December 23, 2009 8:34 AM
    Monday, September 15, 2008 2:53 AM
  • I lost all of my data over the past year in the same way.  Microsoft rushed out Vista before it was ready, which was negligent in my opinion.  We should have a class action lawsuit against them for the damage they have caused, which is significant.  I never cared about Microsoft vs. Mac before, but this seals the deal for Mac.  Microsoft willfully hurt the public this time..  I agree w/ NiceGet - SHAME ON YOU MICROSOFT!!
    Sunday, September 28, 2008 6:33 PM
  • kindpeacho,thanks for the infoI did what you suggested but nothing changed ? Is thereanyway to get my files back? It ate my pictures all my music and all my games. Can I get them back or am I just screwed?
    Friday, December 26, 2008 9:23 PM
  • Marius Ive tried to do as you suggested but to no avail. Is there any way to recover  my files? please help
    • Proposed as answer by SuperTweaker Wednesday, June 17, 2009 2:16 AM
    Friday, December 26, 2008 9:26 PM
  • This just happened to me.  Nice to see Microsoft hasn't solved this problem in 2 years.  Lost all my files while preparing to upgrade to SEVEN.  BASTARDS
    Sunday, August 1, 2010 9:12 PM
  • This was reported sometime back in some Windows Vista systems. The problem occurs after running a registry cleaner which tends to remove the "folder" registry value inadvertently. This breaks the Disk Cleanup WER handler causing Disk Cleanup to enumerate every file/folder in your system for deletion (poor design IMO). I had blogged about this earlier and included a registry fix that fixes the WER handlers.

    Serious Disk Cleanup Problem in Windows Caused by Broken Registration


    Ramesh Srinivasan | The Winhelponline Blog
    Microsoft MVP, Windows Desktop Experience
    Sunday, March 27, 2011 4:35 AM
  • I'm not sure how much of this is relevant, but I ran into a similar issue and would like to share my findings...

    This Vista machine had a virus, mimicking hardware failure.  I popped the drive out, and scanned it on a well-guarded machine.  It found a few things, and I cleaned them up.

    After putting the drive back into the machine, I booted just fine, and decided to update all AV software, which included removing an out-of-subscription Norton install and installing MSSE.

    After this, I decided to do a defrag and a cleanup.  This not being my machine, I thought everything was fine, packed it back up and delivered it to it's owner.  Come to find out, most desktop items were not there, and it seemed like everything associated with the user profile was blasted.

    It seems as though all of these files became hidden somehow.  I ran windirstat to see the structures and confirm that the files were not deleted.  I was then able to use an elevated cmd console to dir /a and see the files.

    From here I just enabled the ability to view hidden files, and changed the properties back to visible (uncheck Hidden in properties).

    This may or may not be the same as the OP, but it is strikingly similar, with a deceptively simple solution.

    Friday, June 17, 2011 3:13 PM