Syncthing deleted many files after folder sync with older version. How to restore?

I just readded my smartphone to my device list after it had been inactive for several months. The sync caused my main sync folder on my desktop to be replaced by the older version of it on the smart phone.

I just spent 5 hours writing a paper for nursing school on my Windows 11 desktop, and it is gone just like that. I did not have file versioning on and have no system restore points on my desktop. I have no other devices that are updated enough to restore the paper I just wrote. I’m not extremely software-savvy. Can someone walk me through step-by-step how I can reverse this sync and file deletion? I lost a lot of homework assignments and files, not just the paper I just wrote. :frowning:

Absolutely the first thing to do is to turn off the computer and don’t power it back up until there’s a recovery plan. Every minute that goes by decreases the odds of recovery even more.

It sounds like there might have been additional complications that resulted the loss of files. From personal experience, Syncthing really goes out of its way to prevent that from happening.

Generally speaking, Windows System Restore doesn’t cover user files. Restore points provide a way to roll back changes to Windows system files, but wasn’t designed as a backup system.

There’s no mechanism for reversing the sync and file deletion, but there might still be a chance to recover some of the files.

Assuming that the drive is the “C:” drive in Windows:

  1. Remove the drive from the PC.
  2. Plug it into another PC as a secondary drive. Do not boot from it.
  3. Run recovery software.

Step 3 is going to depend a lot on the level of computer skills. Some of the basic “undelete” tools are pretty easy to use, but if the deleted files are harder to recover, the more advanced tools require more effort:

Depending on how comfortable you are with this kind of thing, it might be better to find a friend or perhaps someone at the school who can help. There are also some data recovery services that don’t charge a fee unless they can recover data if that’s of interest.

I found out that my phone’s SyncThing setting was set to Send Only, instead of Send & Receive. I read into it more and it seems there is no way to reverse the mass deletion. I have now set my phone to Send & Receive and have turned on file versioning. Lesson learned…back up your files in multiple locations.

As the saying goes, I’ve “been there, done that”. :smirk:

Only the really lucky people have never lost any files. After having lost files myself due to user error, software errors, and drive failures (the last one more than once) – even my backups have backups.

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