Windows 10 has developed a critical error and, following the assessment of an expert technician, I have been advised to reinstall. The process will remove all apps but preserve my files which are, in any event, backed up daily. I am not sure if the reinstall will erase Outlook's pst files and I'm not sure if I included them in my daily backup routine. I really don't want to risk losing all my archived emails. I am, therefore, looking to find these files on my Dell Inspiron PC's hard drive and save them to an external hard drive before I initiate the Windows 10 reinstall. I thought my PC's hard drive was partitioned into C and D drives only but when I enter the DOS window the default drive is X. I have tried searching for files with *.pst extensions within these three drives using DOS dir or find commands but am unable to locate then. I can't find the directories for Word or Excel files either, for that matter. I assume they are hidden in some way. Can anyone suggest a means of finding files stored anywhere on the hard drive in my PC, whether hidden or not, using only DOS commands?
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It is in the hidden AppData folder for your user account:
I found the files exactly where you said they would be. Many thanks. I then copied them to an external hard drive. The copy was successful until a large .pst file in the directory was encountered (almost 12GB) at which point the copying process stopped and a "parameter" error message given. No matter what command I use, copy, xcopy, robocopy, move etc. I get the same message at the same point in the copying process which leads me to conclude that there must be some maximum file size limitation. Can you suggest a way for me to copy or move this large file?
Typically if the target file system doesn't support large files, Windows tells you that upfront because it checks all of the files you intend to copy at the beginning, and then the error specifically says that the destination doesn't support large files. However, go to This PC, right-click your external hard drive, and choose Properties. If the File System is listed as FAT32, then yes that can only support files up to 4GB. It's possible to perform an in-place conversion of a FAT32 into an NTFS partition, but that might cause the disk not to be read-only (or not readable at all) to other non-Windows devices you may want to use it with, so you may or may not want to do that. But if your external hard drive is already either NTFS or exFAT, then max file size isn't your issue.
If you're still having trouble, it would help to post the exact error you're seeing.
And for future reference, if you want to search for all files with a given extension, use PowerShell. It is VASTLY more powerful than any DOS-era commands. Open PowerShell console, use "cd" to go to the highest directory from which you wish to begin your search, e.g. the C drive, and then enter the command in the attached screenshot below, substituting the desired extension. For some reason, every time I try to enter it as text, this forum hangs when I try to submit the post. Note that the "-Force" parameter is what causes hidden files to be included in the results.
There are LOTS of great things you can do with PowerShell for scenarios like this. You could modify this command to sort the list by last modified time, and/or include information other than just the file path in the output. You could even change the "where" query so that it would show the 25 most recently modified files, or the 25 largest files. PowerShell is an amazing tool.