Earlier this month, Microsoft pulled the October Windows 10 update (Build 1809) after it was discovered that a small number of users suffered a catastrophic failure when they upgraded, with the contents of their Pictures, Videos, and sometimes Documents folder deleted. Here’s how Microsoft describes that failure:
Prior to re-releasing the October 2018 Update our engineering investigation determined that a very small number of users lost files during the October 2018 Update. This occurred if Known Folder Redirection (KFR) had been previously enabled, but files remain in the original “old” folder location vs being moved to the new, redirected location. KFR is the process of redirecting the known folders of Windows including Desktop, Documents, Pictures, Screenshots, Videos, Camera Roll, etc. from the default folder location, c:\users\username\, to a new folder location.
In other words, if you created a new folder on a new drive to save space and told your device to treat the “Documents” folder as being on D:\ rather than at the default C:\ location, the OS might well wipe any data left in your “old” folder while leaving the new one intact. That’s a major problem if you didn’t move all of your data from the old Documents folder to the new one and had instead treated the old directory as an archive while all new data was saved in a different location.
The new 1809 build, which hasn’t yet been released to the general public, solves this problem. Unfortunately, it may have introduced new ones. Ghacks has rounded up a number of complaints that could point to a problem with Microsoft’s Unzip application, including reports that it either automatically replaces all files in a directory with the same name as the files you are unzipping without asking if you want to override them, as well as reports that the unzip may fail because you have files with the same name already present in the directory.
There are reports of both kinds of behavior — overwriting files without prompting and silently failing on identical file names without updating — making it difficult to know if this is two different versions of the same bug, two different bugs, or something else entirely. It appears to only impact the unzip capability baked into File Explorer, not the function of third-party applications — if you use a utility like WinZip, WinRAR, or 7zip, you should have no problems.
We’ve had our doubts about Microsoft’s method of updating its operating system since it fired much of its QA team and reorganized itself around the idea that coders would test their own work and the rest would be pushed out to Windows Insiders. But there’s evidence that Windows Insiders knew about and reported this problem, and Microsoft didn’t follow up on it, apparently not realizing the severity of the issue. The central issue here is that Windows Insider builds are explicitly not recommended as daily drivers, which means most people that test don’t test in what would be considered a real production environment. They test via VMs or on secondary systems. I certainly wouldn’t put a Windows Insider build on my own daily machine.
Sampling of Feedback Hub reports of data deletion from as early as 3 months ago pic.twitter.com/xlfsuEbh1d
— Rafael Rivera (@WithinRafael) October 6, 2018
When Microsoft rolled out Windows 10, one of its major goals was to eliminate the problem of people waiting until a Service Pack deployed before adopting the OS. I don’t think it’s solved that issue. There are more reasons to stick with the stable version of Windows than ever, and while Microsoft is certainly delivering its updates much faster, I’ve seen little evidence that it’s delivering them better.
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