Why Microsoft Keep Getting the Focus of your PC Wrong

Mike Halsey MVP
Jun 22, 2011
Updated • Dec 27, 2012

It's the age-old problem with Windows and something I get more email about than anything else.  All the time people are emailing me saying that Windows has failed and they're at risk of losing all their files and data.

It is really appalling to me that this is still happening.  After all, the focus of your PC has for too long appeared to be Windows itself, but it just isn't.  The main focus of your PC is your files and documents surely!

Windows is designed to be installed on single disk systems, it's always been that way.  You install Windows onto your C: drive and a folder will be created for your files.  Your 'personal' folders will automatically be stored there (Documents, Pictures, Music and the like) and any new files you copy over to your PC will be put there.

The problem is that as and when something goes wrong with Windows, which is inevitable eventually, you risk losing all your files and data if you don't keep regular backups.  I get emails from people all the time asking for help with this and how they can get their data back, or at least not lose it to begin with.

This should therefore mean that Microsoft need to guide people and help them to keep their files and data safe.  They've made precious little progress here in the last decade though, having only added the ability with Windows Vista to cut and paste your 'user folders' to another location easily.  There's no indication you can actually do this however, no help on the matter and no nagging from the Windows 7 Action Centre to remind you to do so.

With Windows 8 I'm beginning to feel the gloom setting in that nothing more will change.  What we desperately need is one of the following two scenarios but I'm doubtful somehow that either will happen.

Scenario 1 : Separation at Installation- It wouldn't be too difficult for the Windows installer to ask you, when times comes to install Windows.  "Do you want to install Windows and your user files onto this 1Tb hard disk in your computer or would you like to separate them", before going onto explain why seperating them is a good idea.

The installer could then do one of the following, ask what you want to use your computer for (light use, music and photos, work, gaming) and create two partitions of recommended size.  Alternatively it could split the hard drive by proportion, 50/50, 30/70 and so on or finally it could ask you what size you want the two partitions to be and make recommendations to you.

All of these options would be simple enough for people to understand and it would be easy and simple for the Windows installer, on a clean install anyway, to do this for you.

Scenario 2 : Separation after Installation - Windows already has the ability to grow and shrink partitions.  Why doesn't it suggest to you after you install it through an Action Centre message that "You can greatly decrease the chances of losing files and data by moving them away from Windows, would you like to do this now?"

Here there would again be several options.  It could shrink the current Windows Partition and then move the user folders for you.  Alternatively, if you have a separate hard disk it could simply move the user files there.  It's easy for Windows to determine what is internal and external storage so this wouldn't be at all difficult.  This would also mean that if you're reinstalling and have already moved the folders in the past, the pointers will be updated in Windows to where you've put them.

Are either of these scenarios likely to happen though?  Moving your files and folders away from your Windows installation is something I feel very strongly about and it's something I write about at some length in my book Troubleshooting Windows 7 Inside Out.

There are ways to make sure you don't ever lose your files and data (unsurprisingly I write about those as well, and will write additional articles on the subject here in the coming weeks) but in the mean time keep the emails coming to mike@MVPs.org.


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  1. Some Dude said on March 19, 2023 at 11:42 am

    Are these articles AI generated?

    Now the duplicates are more obvious.

    1. boris said on March 19, 2023 at 11:48 pm

      This is below AI generated crap. It is copy of Microsoft Help website article without any relevant supporting text. Anyway you can find this information on many pages.

  2. Paul(us) said on March 20, 2023 at 1:32 am

    Yes, but why post the exact same article under a different title twice on the same day (19 march 2023), by two different writers?
    1.) Excel Keyboard Shortcuts by Trevor Monteiro.
    2.) 70+ Excel Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows by Priyanka Monteiro

    Why oh why?

    1. Clairvaux said on September 6, 2023 at 11:30 am

      Yeah. Tell me more about “Priyanka Monteiro”. I’m dying to know. Indian-Portuguese bot ?

  3. John G. said on August 18, 2023 at 4:36 pm

    Probably they will announce that the taskbar will be placed at top, right or left, at your will.

    Special event by they is a special crap for us.

  4. yanta said on August 18, 2023 at 11:59 pm

    If it’s Microsoft, don’t buy it.
    Better brands at better prices elsewhere.

  5. John G. said on August 20, 2023 at 4:22 am

    All new articles have zero count comments. :S

  6. Anonymous said on September 5, 2023 at 7:48 am

    WTF? So, If I add one photo to 5 albums, will it count 5x on my storage?
    It does not make any sense… on google photos, we can add photo to multiple albums, and it does not generate any additional space usage

    I have O365 until end of this year, mostly for onedrive and probably will jump into google one

  7. St Albans Digital Printing Inc said on September 5, 2023 at 11:53 am

    Photo storage must be kept free because customers chose gadgets just for photos and photos only.

  8. Anonymous said on September 5, 2023 at 12:47 pm

    What a nonsense. Does it mean that albums are de facto folders with copies of our pictures?

    1. GG said on September 6, 2023 at 8:24 am

      Sounds exactly like the poor coding Microsoft is known for in non-critical areas i.e. non Windows Core/Office Core.

      I imagine a manager gave an employee the task to create the album feature with hardly any time so they just copied the folder feature with some cosmetic changes.

      And now that they discovered what poor management results in do they go back and do the album feature properly?

      Nope, just charge the customer twice.

      Sounds like a go-getter that needs to be promoted for increasing sales and managing underlings “efficiently”, said the next layer of middle management.

  9. d3x said on September 5, 2023 at 7:33 pm

    When will those comments get fixed? Was every editor here replaced by AI and no one even works on this site?

  10. Scroogled said on September 5, 2023 at 10:47 pm

    Instead of a software company, Microsoft is now a fraud company.

  11. ard said on September 7, 2023 at 4:59 pm

    For me this is proof that Microsoft has a back-door option into all accounts in their cloud.
    quote “…… as the MSA key allowed the hacker group access to virtually any cloud account at Microsoft…..”

    so this MSA key which is available to MS officers can give access to all accounts in MS cloud.This is the backdoor that MS has into the cloud accounts. Lucky I never got any relevant files of mine in their (MS) cloud.

  12. Andy Prough said on September 7, 2023 at 6:52 pm

    >”Now You: what is your theory?”

    That someone handed an employee a briefcase full of cash and the employee allowed them access to all their accounts and systems.

    Anything that requires 5-10 different coincidences to happen is highly unlikely. Occam’s razor.

  13. TelV said on September 8, 2023 at 12:04 pm

    Good reason to never login to your precious machine with a Microsoft a/c a.k.a. as the cloud.

  14. Anonymous said on September 18, 2023 at 1:23 pm

    The GAFAM are always very careless about our software automatically sending to them telemetry and crash dumps in our backs. It’s a reminder not to send them anything when it’s possible to opt out, and not to opt in, considering what they may contain. And there is irony in this carelessness biting them back, even if in that case they show that they are much more cautious when it’s their own data that is at stake.

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