Increasingly, as Windows 7 moves generations up to Windows 10, Client are losing touch with where files are actually stored on a computer. We will often be asked to recover data on a failing hard drive and when we ask where the data is, Clients believe shortcuts and history are the only way of accessing their valuable files.
Generally, Documents, Music and Pictures are stored in the location C:\Users\username\ This is the default location given by Microsoft. You will normally see shortcuts to these files either on the start menu or by going to My Computer.
More often, we are finding computers will have a secondary drive which the shortcuts will often divert to. To find the exact location of your data, right click on a shortcut (for example Documents) and left click on Properties. This will show you the exact data location.
3rd party software, for example, Sage Accounts or Dropbox, will have its own default location. Sage stores its files in a hidden folder called Program Data whilst Dropbox will often use the root of your hard drive. No matter where the location of your data, ensure that when you backup each day (yes, each day),you store your backup on an external drive.
If you use Office Outlook, prior to Office 2013, your PST folder (contains all your emails), will be stored in another hidden file. C:\Users\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook. This location is not easy to get to due to the AppData being hidden. It is far easier to take a backup of your data using the Import / Export option within Outlook. If you are are using Outlook 2013 or 2016, the PST folders are now kept within My Documents.
Finally, remember that hard drives are increasingly large in size. It is not quick nor cheap for an engineer to backup and recover your entire hard drive. If you know where your data is or better still, you have a full backup, then this will help reduce your recovery bill.