Windows 10 October Update Deletes User Documents

John Lister's picture

Microsoft has fixed a problem with a Windows 10 update that inadvertently deleted user documents. Oddly the problem had been highlighted in early testing, but doesn't seem to have been fixed.

The issue received widespread attention when the October 2018 Update started rolling out to the wider public. That's the second of the two big annual updates that bring new features to Windows 10, a system that replaces the old set-up of having service packs rolled out every few years.

Some users discovered that after the update, everything they had stored in their Documents folders had disappeared. Some were able to restore the files using specialist recovery software, but in many cases if the user didn't have a backup, the files were gone forever.

Redirected Folders Cause Glitch

Microsoft has now issued an update with the somewhat confusing explanation that "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." (Source:

It appears that the bug affected users who have redirected standard folders such as "Desktop", "Documents" or "Downloads" to another location, rather than storing these folders (by default) on the C drive.

For example, on some machines the C drive might be a solid state drive (SSD) to store Windows, while a traditional drive (the D drive) is used for storing user data. In this case, the Desktop, Documents and Downloads may have been stored on the D drive (but only if it was configured by the user to do so).

Double Trouble Causes Deletion

The unintended deletion came from two separate mistakes by Microsoft. The first came earlier this year when it discovered the redirection was sometimes creating duplicate folders that had the same name but were empty.

The second mistake came with the recent update which was designed to automatically delete the duplicate folders but, with some set-ups, was actually deleting the folders which contained the files.

What's particularly odd is that public records suggest more than 200 members of Microsoft's Windows 10 testing program reported the deletion during the summer, before the final update went out to the public. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Do you know anyone who's been affected by this problem? Do you backup these folders (or your entire hard drive) as a matter of habit? Are you surprised Microsoft didn't fix the issue before rolling out the update?

Rate this article: 
Average: 5 (8 votes)


rohnski's picture

Windows 10 October Update Deletes User Documents

What does that title say? That the update is fubar, don't install it. So then in the very first line of the article you contradict the title!
Microsoft has fixed a problem with a Windows 10 update that inadvertently deleted user documents.

This contradiction makes the article seem like click bait.

Don't say it was just an "oops". I've seen too much of this trend of misleading article titles in the computer industry.

Dennis Faas's picture

Sorry, but I disagree. The title does not say "don't install the update" - it says that the update deleted user data; in this case, it happened to multiple users, hence the word "deletes" was used. So to say that the "Windows 10 October Update Deletes User Documents" is in fact correct - even if it happened a few days ago, because we have reports from multiple users stating exactly that. Microsoft also issued a fix - that is also a fact; mentioning it in first line should not matter. This was not meant as click bait. Take it for what you will.

Rusty's picture

It seems this is fixed. I hope it is because Dennis helped me redirect my personal files to an SSD d drive a couple years ago. Just in case it isn’t fixed though, he also set up Macrium image backups for me, so worse case, I would be able to restore a deleted Documents folder from that. Because of those backups, I assume I am also well protected from the growing threat of ransomware.

Focused100's picture

You will be protected from ransomware IF your backup drive is physically disconnected from your PC when not backing up or at least turned off with the auto wake on LAN feature disabled if it exists.

NickyK's picture

The best advice, it seems, is never click "Check for updates". If you do this, you are a guinea pig.

aquaman100_2510's picture

I had an interesting thing happen to me with the Oct update, I can not switch from my speakers to my headphones on my desktop. I have to go into my settings and change it back and forth from speakers to headphones, I can control the volume of the device from the taskbar but I can't change the devices. Is it possible to get this back as before?

hawkeye's picture

Windows 10 'Deleting User Documents'... surely this is a 'Major Flaw' rather than a 'Bug' let alone a 'Glitch' as described by Microsft ... Not only unnerving for anyone of using Win10, let alone thinking of upgrading to Win 10 .. or should than be downgrading to a huge, intrusive, unreliable and dangerous OS.