Microsoft released a buggy security update for Windows 10 last week. Some Windows users report all the files on their desktop have been deleted. Here’s everything you need to know, including how to fix the bug and get your files back.
Thankfully, those files aren’t actually deleted. The update just moved them to another user account’s folder. This is better than the time Microsoft actually deleted people’s files with the October 2018 Update.
Update: Some Windows 10 users have now reported the update did completely delete their files.
Why the Bug Appears to Delete Files
Some people report that their desktop files are “deleted” after installing the update. Their taskbars and Start menus are also reset to the default settings.
However, it appears those files weren’t actually deleted and are still present on your PC. You can get them back.
Files appear to be deleted because Windows 10 is signing some people into a different user profile after they install the update. As Bleeping Computer‘s Lawrence Abrams put it, it looks like Windows 10 “is loading up a temporary profile to be used during the update process and failing to restore the user’s profile when done.”
Microsoft told Bleeping Computer it was aware of the issue on Feb. 12. Woody Leonhard reported on it for Computerworld on Feb 13. On Feb. 17, Windows Latest wrote that multiple Microsoft Support employees had said Microsoft engineers are working on fixing it. We don’t know for certain exactly what’s causing the problem on some PCs and not others.
Blame the KB4532693 Security Update
The buggy update is KB4532693, which Microsoft released for Windows 10 on Feb. 11, 2020. Windows Update will automatically install it on your PC. If you’re using Windows 10, you likely already have it installed.
We’ve installed this update on several PCs and haven’t run into the bug. If your PC has already installed the update and you haven’t experienced the bug, you don’t need to uninstall the update or take any action. The bug seems to occur during the update’s installation process.
How to Uninstall the Update and Get Your Files Back
If you’ve encountered the bug, there’s one simple way to fix it and get your files back: Uninstall the update that caused the problem. Several Windows users have reported this solved the problem for them.
To uninstall an update, head to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > View Update History > Uninstall Updates.
You can also browse to Control Panel > Programs > View Installed Updates. Both sequences take you to the same window.
Copy-and-paste “KB4532693” (without quotation marks) into the search box at the top-right corner of the list of updates and press Enter.
You’ll see “Update for Microsoft Windows (KB4532693)” appear in the list if you have the buggy update installed. Click it and then click “Uninstall.”
Restart your computer after uninstalling the update. Sign in normally and your PC should function as normal.
If this doesn’t work for some reason, you can also head to C:\Users\ in File Explorer. You will likely see that your main user profile folder has been renamed. For example, if your user folder is normally “C:\Users\Chris”, you might see a “C:\Users\Chris.bak” or “C:\Users\Chris.000” folder. You can open that renamed folder to find all your files.
Microsoft support employees told Windows Latest that they were able to fix the problem for some people by creating a new local user account and transferring the files from the old user account folder to the new one.
However, we recommend simply uninstalling the buggy update. It’s much easier and will reportedly fix the problem, too. Microsoft will likely re-release the update in the future when the problem is solved.
Another Recent Update Is Causing Problems, Too
This is just one of several bugs in February 2020’s updates. Microsoft pulled KB4524244 from its servers last week after the update was causing various problems on some PCs, including breaking the “Reset This PC” feature.
Unfortunately, Microsoft hasn’t yet pulled the KB4532693 update that’s moving people’s files around. Microsoft hasn’t even listed this problem on its Windows 10 “known issues” page, which should list known problems like these along with any planned fixes.
In other recent update bug news, Microsoft did at least fix the black wallpaper bug it introduced with what was supposed to be Windows 7’s final security patch.
Initially, Microsoft said only organized with paid Extended Security Updates contracts would receive a patch for the bug. Everyone else, including all home users, would just have to deal with it. Microsoft then changed course and made the update available to everyone.