Deleted files may not be gone

Q: Some of my files, pictures and documents have disappeared. Is there a recovery program that can locate my documents and pictures?

Jesse Andrews

A: Files seldom just disappear. So before doing anything more elaborate it makes sense to search for the files. You can use the Windows search feature to try to find them. Just click on the start button and you'll see the search box. If you can remember any part of the file name, type it in that box. If you don't remember the file name, you can search for specific types of files. For instance, photos are often saved as a JPG file. So typing in JPG will return a list of all photo files. Same deal with word processing files, they're often stored as DOC, DOCX or TXT. But if your files don’t turn up, there's still hope. Deleted files aren't always gone. Start by clicking open the recycle bin to see if they're hiding there. If not, you can try one of the programs that "undelete" files. One such program can be found here: Download the free demo version. Then, if it does find the files, you can pay for the full version. If it doesn't find them, the full version won't help. One important thing to keep in mind if you mistakenly delete a file and empty the recyle bin: Avoid saving any new files if you plan to undelete your lost files. Saving new files may overwrite the area on the hard disk where your deleted files are hiding.

Q: I purchased a new PC  that has Windows 7. The old computer uses Windows XP. I'm not sure how I can move my "stuff" from my old computer to the new one. I would like to keep as much from my old computer as I can (programs, music, photos, documents, etc). What is the easiest and best way can this be done?

Teresa Griffin

A: Windows 7 makes it easy to transfer some -- but not all -- data from an old computer to a new one. You can read about the free feature and how to use it at the words Easy Transfer into the search function. For files not automatically transferred, you can use your back-up. All computer users should back up their data routinely – new computer or not. If your back-up files are on an external hard disk, simply connect the disk to your new computer and transfer the files.

When it comes to your old programs it's best to install them on the new computer using the original installation disks. There is commercial software that can and will transfer programs, but I've had the best experience with a fresh installation for a variety of reasons. One really important thing to do: Keep the old computer around and running on your home network for a few months after you start using the new computer. That way if there's information you forgot about you'll have it right there. Another thing to keep in mind -- making the jump from Windows XP -- is that you're probably moving from a 32-bit operating system to a 64-bit system. Some of your old programs may not work on the new machine.

Q: Whenever I try to open a link in an email I get a pop up that says “This operation has been cancelled because of restrictions in place on this computer. Contact your system administrator.” Any ideas?

Bruce Schoppe

A: Go to this web page: First read the entire page. Then -- unless you have a specific reason not to -- click on the link called "fix it." If for some reason you want to fix the thing yourself -- instead of using the Microsoft fix it button, you'll find directions for making the changes needed by hand. But most people probably should click the button that automates the fix.