After I successfully upgraded two Windows 10 VMs to the 1809 release at the beginning of October, I tried to do the same with more VMs and an actual laptop this week. But I couldn’t, no update was offered. While trying to find out how to install the 1809 update, I found out why I couldn’t—Microsoft withdrew it after the update, among other things, deleted users’ data.
Reading about the details left me stunned (though only momentarily, and now I can write about it). The complaints included this now-famous gem: “I have just updated my windows using the October update (10, version 1809) it deleted all my files of 23 years in amount of 220gb. This is unbelievable, I have been using Microsoft products since 1995 and nothing like that ever happened to me. […] I am extremely upset. Not sure what to do….please let me know.”
One would like to answer “easy—just restore the files from your latest backup” but that could perhaps be construed as insensitive.
The fact that someone has been using PCs for 20+ years and still hasn’t figured out that yes, your data can and will go poof is just mind-boggling. External hard disk? NAS? USB stick or two? A cloud backup if there’s nothing else? There are so many options. And are there really people so lucky that in over twenty years, they never had a bad sector on a hard disk, never a bricked SSD, never an accidental file delete caused by a slip of the finger? That’s amazing luck.
But then there is the other side of the story. Files got deleted because of confusion caused by “Known Folder Redirection” aka KFR, which manages to make symlinks look good. The key takeaways are that a) the complexity of Windows is out of control (not news, I know), and b) someone at Microsoft thinks that upon encountering a set of unknown user files, deleting them without asking is an appropriate response. That’s just… wow.
It also turned out that the file deletion bug was reported months ago but ignored, presumably (speculation on my part) because it was a) lost in the deluge of low-quality bug reports, and b) only affected a tiny fraction of users with who were convinced that there was nothing special about their configuration and anyone not seeing the bug was either not looking hard enough or lying. That at least is not surprising.