Microsoft forced reinstall of Windows 10. Where's my Onenotes files? Case number 143 155 8954

Not applicable

On bootup my HP kept trying to "solve" issues but failed to boot. The message said to reinstall Windows 10 setting  the desktop back to original software/applications same as day of purchase. I had no choice so let it reinstall. As expected, all applications installed by me are gone (I reinstalled, no problem). I was pleased that I still have all my Word documents and Excel spreadsheets.  But where is my Onenotes personal files? Onenotes opens up as a newly installed app, completely empty. 


By the way, this happens every two years, or so, and I lose all my Onenotes work. I phoned Microsoft support but couldn't understand what the guy was saying. His broken English was muffled by background noise. It sounded like he was splashing around in a swimming pool. When I ask to speak to someone I could hear and understand he hung up on me. I truly regret not switching to Apple years ago. Every application I needed to reinstall, the sellers were  there to help me. Microsoft is always an ordeal. It's simply not worth it. Does anyone know if my files are backed up somewhere? Why isn't Microsoft consistant with their handling of personal files and why do they tell me my personal files will not be destroyed, but now I can't find them? 

3 Replies

Hi Larry,


Really sorry and I am sad to say this but if you re-imaged your machine and don't have a backup of the .one file its likely to be lost.  One note stores a notebook as a .one file. The default is Documents/OneNote Notebooks.. You should see the new Default notebook there.. but that will be small in size and devoid of your previous data.


If you use OneDrive, iCloud or similar or have a backup of your files on an external drive you should hopefully be able to reconnect to them. Just treat the .one file like any other document such as  Word or Excel file. Search for it and copy it across.


To be honest, I now keep all my OneNote files on OneDrive (Microsoft data centres are far more secure than anything you and I can put together) - as I can open them on Phone, Tablet and Desktop and synchronise locally. The latest version also has ransomware protection. Office 365 gives you 1tb of storage free (compare that to Apple...)  so put everything important there and set up the synchronisation so you have a local copy. Then please make sure you backup the local copy to another drive ideally and external device.


Unfortunately if you don't have a backup the data will almost certainly be lost. 


Microsoft support, like any other is only as good as the support engineer you hit. On the whole I have had a good experience  with them when I needed it, unfortunately that tends to be when something critical has happened.


I really hope you have the backups and can recover your data but if not please spend some time looking at how any product you rely on stores its files and how you go about taking a backup, and do that before a machine meltdown.. 


Sorry don't have a magic data wand I can wave, thoughts are with you,






Andrew, thanks for your comments and advice. 


1) I checked the new (re-installation of) Windows 10 and a switched showed "Backup" was "ON". However, when I looked deeper into the application I saw another "switch" saying backup was "OFF". My fault for trusting Microsoft.


2) Prior to losing all applications and having to do the rest to original software & configuration, Onedrive seemed to bog my computer down and I often waited while it took hours to upload my work.  I hated Onedrive...and I never gave permission for it to install. One day I started getting a daily message saying "Onedrive is full".   Microsoft "support" emailed a list of instructions but it never resolved my problem. I explained I didn't want Onedrive on my computer but that wasn't addressed.


3) Now that Windows is reinstalled I am getting the "Onedrive is full" message again. But when I look at the files there are only three folders, each with just couple-three short documents in it. I'd like to use Onedrive, but so far it has dominated my computer and made my quality of use very poor. As are all the popups.  I did install a program t remove malware and am learning most popups are coming from using Microsoft Edge.


4)  Now, a rogue program keeps trying to force an install every few hours. It's called "Scheduflow ( I blocked it from being installed when Windows reinstalled.  but it won't give up and I see it listed on my list of applications.  Microsoft is bad about installing software without permission and without explaining it.  When Onedrive & Cloud were on the scene all I ever got from Microsoft was emails telling me to use them. 


5) As for luck of the draw with Microsoft support. Well, I disagree, it's not that way. If you are not paying for a service you are funneled to the cheap help in Indonesia or another country.  Over there an enterprising person hires staff and those "technicians read from a script. They may speak a little broken English but they do not understand the nuances of American English, and certainly not the technical terms used with the applications they are "troubleshooting" Get hem off the written script and it dows downhill fast. On the other hand, if you are a subscriber and payng  Microsoft, you get an American, int he USa and they are qite proficient. Otherwise, the customer is "punished" with low-grade support to induce them to spend money. Bill Gates has 93 billion dollars and the company gets it from the sweat of cheap foreign help and over-priced software.


6) Since I cannot trust a Microsoft program when it says 'Backup is on" then Iike so many others, I am forced to do the work myself and inspect al that Microsoft claims and presents and make sure I have backup independent of anything Microsoft provides. Ditto for malware protection. The only time I've EVER had a computer virus or malware was while relying on "Defender". Each time I switched to a fee-based anti0virus program,  the invaders couldn't get in. Microsoft is simply too big and too ahead of the low to serve its customers.


7) Even this "community" of support is peculiar. Your reply came as an email.  The comment I am writing now is shown as a "message" but I don't know if the correspondence between us is private or will appear on the community message board where I placed my original comment.  Microsoft explains only what they must explain to sell a product. The world's population must spend its time learning the Microsoft way.


8) Microsoft has so little respect for its customer base we must endure a commercial in order to see a "news' video clip. Any hustler can pay Microsoft a fee and place an advertisement in the "news slider and divert eyeballs to watch their promotions for pills or other nonsense. Often the commercial is longer than the news video. Gone are the days when a homeowner could slam the door int he face of an unwanted aluminum siding salesman. Today, our computers are constantly bombarded with attacks by unlimited sales organization trying to get money from us. This is all tolerated by the younger generations so there's no incentive for the billionaires to change a thing..unless, of course, an invasion of privacy complaint festers. Billionaires, like politicians, react when their power and fortunes are threatened, otherwise, status-quo is the game.


Don't get me wrong, it didn't start with the mass marketing of personal computers in the 1980's. Or even with cable television, or "free" TV, as they call it today. In the days of radio infancy, the owners learned quickly they could sell more grain seed to farmers, at planting time, if the traveling salesman simply talked about his seed on the local radio show.  The salesman could sell more seed to more farmers in a few minutes of radio time than in a week of traveling door to door. Radio had a purpose!  And because of radio's new experience selling to farmers, they became known as "broadcasters" just like the farmers broadcasting seed, at planting time, over his acreage.


I recall when cable television was first imagined. I asked, "why would anyone pay for television when it's already free?" The answer was always the same, "Because by paying a cable TV fee they didn't have to show commercials."  Cable was sold that way and folks signed up. Today, as we all see, cable has plenty of commercials and charges a fee too! A similar argument is used with Facebook and other "social media" profit centers. The billionaires who argue, "without the commercials it couldn't be "free." are taking a lesson form how Americans were duped into paying for free television.  Well, I'm telling you, social media is anything but "free". Our society is paying a heavy price so a few techy billionaires can rule the world. And isn't it ironic hustlers are now advertising antennas for "free" TV to avoid cable bills, as though free TV is a secret.


Please don't mistake me for a neophyte computer user who hasn't learned the ropes yet. I was programming before most of you were born.  I've watched as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs infested the world with their way. We are more easily triggered by emotions these days and we live in a distracted and detached world of instant gratification and copycat mass killings. The contrast from earlier days is not so noticeable unless you've lived through it.  I remember a time before Americans were so isolated from each other. Isn't it ironic they named this form of isolation "social networking?"  It's so odd that we've gone from a nation of talkers to a nation of thumb typist. For over a hundred years we've had a perfectly good voice transmission capability only to replace it with two-finger texting. I'm a touch typist, those gadgets are not designed for me. They are dumbed down for the masses, to ensure the greatest market saturation possible.  Was Steve Jobs warning us when he announced, "I create useless devices and then convince people they need them."? If Alexander Graham Bell could visit today he'd retreat and say, "Watson, never mind."

Hi Larry,


The backup can be confusing.. Microsoft File History backs up the folders and files of your choice, on a schedule to an external drive. It relies on having sufficient space available but ran fine for me. I tend to run manual backups in addition to Microsoft inbuilt tools. AOMEI Backupper Standard is worth a look and is free but does a similar job to File History. My approach is never trust anyone or anything but yourself with backups. Worst case simply copy and paste important stuff manually to an external source. I think there is a lot of information overload though and this stuff should be far more transparent and its still too techie reliant. 


Its a shame you were directed to a full rebuild of your machine. The refresh option usually works for me if I hit a problem - that retains files and simply puts windows back to a clean state. You have to re-install apps etc but  files are retained.


The basic install of one drive only provides 5Gb, which isn't a significant amount and probably explains the OneDrive is full message. OneDrive installs as part of Windows 10 but it can be removed through the Apps and Features settings. I purchased Office 365 which come with 1TB per user free and you get 5 user installs for other family members. Its a cheaper option than iCloud...


For me the Office 365 option made sense and as for performance I have had no issues. In fact I have two instances of OneDrive, one for personal files, one for business stuff and both happily synchronise over 500Mb of files. Whether you use OneDrive, iCloud, DropBox - all have to synchronise between a local folder and the cloud - all need more space in cloud than you have locally, so its worth checking how many files are in the folders and how much space you have.


I am concerned you mentioned lots of popups - to be honest Windows 10 is relatively pop-up free. You get alerts in the notifications area but f you are getting application popups - either look at the old Control panel - Add/Remove programs or the Settings Apps area and remove any unexpected applications (after reviewing online to make sure they are indeed disposable).. Sheduflow from Duoserve is one such application. 


Was your machine pre-configured when you bought it - many OEMS add lots of rubbish apps to their solutions and if you go through their system refresh -- it all gets re-installed. My dell laptop had tons of rubbish. If you are not using Duoserve, you should be able to uninstall it - its a calendar synchronisation tool and isn't to my knowledge part of a standard Microsoft build.


My experience with Microsoft support is that from the UK, I hit a US support person, who was brilliant and sorted a complex problem first time. I do understand the whole scripted call center issue though, drives me nuts when I hit one (British Telecom are a classic example) and it may be luck of the draw as to where you get routed. 


Totally agree re confusion of forums - I am pretty new to them but yes I got an email too presume everything is public and gets added to the cloud...


On the whole I agree about subscriptions and pervasive adverts everywhere - Outlook was one such product - if you go free it has advertising, same with all their games now. I guess I can live with that, if I use something enugh, I am pretty happy to pay for it - hence Office 365, which took away Outlook ads. I was impressed that Microsoft gave away Windows 10 initially - mine was a free build and on the whole I like it - for me its more stable than Windows 7 or 8 ever were and that stability seems to be improving.


I too am an old school programmer - COBIOL/BASIC and grew up in the Home PC revolution with ZX Spectrums etc - it was a great era but now crave simplicity...


Hope you get stuff sorted - trust no one but yourself with backups and clear out the clutterware - if you have lost your one note files really sorry and hope a few steps will help stop something similar happening. Also sorry I cant be of more direct help.