Photos kept on the computer are probably still there and won’t be hard to recover, but those on an external drive could be a separate problem unrelated to the upgrade, writes Patrick Marshall. Meanwhile, another user’s strange computer experience seems to defy explanation.

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Q: For a few years I have been using a Western Digital 150GB external drive as a backup for my photos. I normally keep them on the PC also, but some not.

Anyway, like many, I have upgraded to Windows 10 from Windows 8 and before that from Windows 7. Sometime during all this upgrading, thousands of photos have disappeared from the external hard drive.

I run an HP HPE180t desktop with 500GB of memory. Several folders were old enough I thought I should put them all on the external drive. At some point before the upgrading I moved them over. Now they are gone. They are not on the desktop, either. When I go to the WD to check properties, it shows only a tiny fraction being used and shows only about 40 photos and no folders.

Is there a chance those photos are still there, and how would I find them?

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Also, Windows 10 won’t let me change some of the older folder names. Can it be done?

— Walter Brown

A: With respect to missing files on your computer’s drive, those photos aren’t gone. It’s just that the new Windows doesn’t know where they are. So long as you haven’t deleted the Windows.old folder created by the upgrade, you should be able to retrieve your missing photos.

You’ll find detailed steps for how to do so here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/restore-files-upgrade-windows-old.

As for files missing on an external drive, I’m a bit more concerned about those. I suspect the drive itself might be corrupt. (It does happen, and it may be just coincidence that you noticed it after the Windows upgrade.)

It may still be possible to retrieve the files with a data retrieval program or by sending the device to a data retrieval service.

Finally, being unable to change file or folder names is generally the result of not having correct permissions for the folder. Logging in as an administrator should solve the problem. You could also change your regular user account to an administrator account, though that’s not considered good security policy. A better alternative is to manually change permissions on those groups of files.

To change permissions, right-click on the file or folder and then click on Properties. Next, click on the Security tab. From there, it’s straightforward to select which permissions should apply to which users, though you may have to log in as an administrator to be able to change them.

Q: Yesterday, I opened up a web page for my financial investments on my PC and I wanted to print the summary page. What popped out of the printer was a complete surprise: a copy of an email chain in which I participated in November 2012, and which was done on a different PC, printer and email program from my current setup.

That this email chain involved the death of a dear cousin makes this even more spooky. The color ink cartridge is quite low and the print was light but totally readable. The second page of what I wanted to print is also overlaid at the top. I know there are rational explanations for everything.

Can you explain this one?

— Jim Wells

A: That’s one of the strangest computer experiences I’ve heard, I grant you — and I’ve been doing this for a while. I surely do wish I could give you an explanation, but I can’t.

This is the kind of glitch that would take forensic analysis, involving a hands-on look at your computer, to figure out. It’s not the kind of thing that malware or a virus is likely to explain. My guess from this distance is that it could be corrupt memory.

Even if the email chain was written on a different computer, if you have configured that account on your current computer, that chain would be available.

If you see any other strange things going on, I’d certainly recommend taking your computer into a shop for diagnosis.