How to find files your cloud ate
With so much of writing now digital, the days of “the dog ate my novel” are gone. It’s simple to track, isn’t it? It’s either in My Documents or the cloud.
Maybe. Should be but the new problems are “Someone stole/hacked it” or “The cloud ate it”. Every adult I know (myself included) has lost a critical, time-sucking digital file. It was saved wrong or got corrupted or simply vanished. The reason doesn’t matter. All that matters is that a week’s worth of work is no longer where it should be; now it’s forever-gone.
There’s a learning curve to knowing where to save files, how to do that correctly, and then ultimately how to retrieve them. It can be especially complicated when you use different digital devices or if you use an online webtool that saves work to their server (like Canva).
There is a pretty effective starting place when you can’t find a file:
- Go to the digital device’s general Search field. This will find the file if it’s on that digital device or any drive connected to it.
- Search for the exact name or whatever part of the name you know.
- If you don’t know the file name but do know the file extension (maybe it was created in Google Docs or Excel), search for that using the general search term: *.[extension].
When you can’t find a project, here are six questions to ask:
Where did you save it?
Most programs have a default location where files are saved. This may be preset or it may be the system default.
“Save” puts the file in the same spot it was opened. It takes about half a second to find it. “Save-as” changes the location where it’s saved or the name under which it’s saved.
What’s the file name?
Some people don’t know the file name. If you make a habit of appending the date when saving files, that helps.
When did you create the file?
Many people who can’t remember where a file was saved or by what name can pin down the date they created it based on stuff they were doing at the same time. The steps for finding a file by date created will differ depending upon the operating system but all are pretty similar. Here’s how it works in Windows:
- Open the Windows File Explorer.
- In the search box (or simply push Ctrl+F), type datemodified.
- A calendar will appear; select the date for when you believe the file was created.
- If it’s not in the drive you selected, reselect to search another drive.
If you don’t remember what date you created the file, start in the digital device’s “Recent” folder. This is found not only in the digital device being used but in many programs (like Office).
Here’s one more way to search by date created: If you’re on a PC, click Cortana on the taskbar and a list of recent activities shows up under ‘Pick up where you left off’. This includes the most recently saved files.
Did you delete it?
Sometimes, you delete the file by accident. It’s always worth checking the trash. If it’s in there, it’s easy to restore.
What digital device were you using?
Were you using your laptop? Desktop? iPad? Smartphone? You may have saved the file to that device’s local drive.
I’d love to hear what you do when your files disappear.
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Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and Born in a Treacherous Time, first in the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for TeachHUB and NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Survival of the Fittest, Spring 2019, first in the Crossroads Trilogy. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning