Files disappearing from Home directory in Qubes

Not sure if this has been discussed before. I searched for “files disappear” and could not find anything relevant.

I understand that the system folders all get reset when the AppVMs are rebooted. However, I thought the home folder contents should remain. I rarely reboot my qubes machine because it is so stable running on 128GB of memory, but I have found when I do, I have had files I have created under my home folder completely disappear. Most are still there, but some such as some website captures I had done while browsing which I thought I saved in a subfolder under Documents are just missing, and I went through my entire home folder and could not find any of them. I bunch of documents I saved in a completely different AppVM that were saved under Documents are also missing (ironically the only ones remaining are the two Untitled 1 and 2 documents I forgot to save). No now I am a little nervous to save anything in Qubes at all.

I am not sure if this is related, but Thunderbird repeatedly crashes after a long period of use. When I reopen Thunderbird afterwards, or if I reopen after the AppVM has been restarted, my default profile is completely gone and starts blank. The default folder is still there, but I am guessing some files underneath might have been randomly deleted as well, and might even be the reason for the crashing. I literally have to reimport an old profile fom my server saved in QubesIncoming (that file seems to stay put) and redownload all my emails every time I Thunderbird is closed or crashes.

This is absolutely not expected.
The only cases I have seen where this happened were where users were
using disposables, or mistakenly using the root account: I have never
seen a validated case where this happened using the user account in
normal appVMs.

From your report it seems that you link this to a reboot of Qubes, but
it is not clear whether you think it affects dom0, or template based
Can you clarify this?
Can you also confirm whether files disappear if you restart individual
qubes? (It isn’t clear if you keep qubes running all the time until you
restart the machine, or whether you restart them while the machine is
Also, can you confirm what templates are affected, and whether you have
made significant changes to those templates or qube configurations.

I don’t use Thunderbird, so I’ll leave that to others. But a quick search
suggest you aren’t alone in losing your profile - it seems to be a
Thunderbird issue. (It may or may not be the explanation for your case.)

Many thanks for your response.

I have no idea what is triggering it. I assume it is probably not dom0 since I try not to touch that when possible, but I guess it is possible. Part of the problem is I literally had this installation of Qubes running for close to 2 months without having to reboot and not even having to reboot most of the qubes. I some of the qubes were shut off and restarted while Qubes was running, but I am not sure if the two AppVMs I experience this on (one was for general browsing, the other for office like applications with no online activity). I only noticed it after a reboot due to a power outage (and I had a UPS so I was able to shutdown cleanly before the UPS lost power).

The browser template did not have any changes to it as it is a clone of fedora-32. In the applications template I created another fedora 32 vm, and I installed a ton of non-included applications (I want to keep these in separate VMs in case any of these packages are compromised), and then cloned that into the AppVM I used. I double checked that these were not disposable VMs. And there are some files that remain like the Untitled 1 and Untitled 2, and I do not think that could happen if it was a disposable VM issue.

How would I mistakenly use the root account? I would imagine that would be pretty hard. I was thinking maybe it was possible for example that FIrefox tried to save html files outside the Home folder, but I am not even sure how that would be possible as I do not even see how to navigate outside of home when saving files. Either that or it was saved to a hidden file I cannot see somewhere. But I enabled hidden files and could not find them. Just really odd certain files there and others not. IT was the firefox web page captures, and I had a lot of them becauasae I clip things i read all the time, and the text files I had saved which included probably a 5-10 files that are the ones missing. So not everything, just some.

If you’ve been using print on your keyboard your screenshots are beeing saved in dom0 under /home/admin/Pictures
Have you been looking there? (Run Program → Thunar → Pictures folder)

Sorry, I missed the last part of your 2nd post. I don’t save web pages but the path where your files are being saved could easily be different from your documents folder. I guess that this is something you have to read up in the firefox documentation (or the add-on you’re using) and has probably nothing to do with Qubes.

Yeah I thought I might have saved it somewhere outside of documents accidentally, but when you save a page in Firefox it gives you the option of saving anywhere on the home path, like saving any other document. You cannot even navigate to a system path that is outside the home user unless you deliberately click Other Locations which I am pretty sure I did not do. Same issue with saving the text file in the other VM…and I know the default was home because that is where it saved the two “unsaved” files.

Thanks for that information on print screen though as I did not know that. That probably will come in handy.

Obviously a major problem here is that there’s a lot of “I think …”
If you had any backups (and you should after 2 months), then you could
restore them, and confirm whether files you thought you had saved were
present at the time of the backup. Then we would have some hard evidence.
As it is, there’s not a lot to go on.

There’s some confusion in my mind about what you say is
happening. Originally, you said, “Most [files] are still there, but some
such as website captures… are just missing”.
Does this mean In the browser qube “most files are still there…”,
or Across all my qubes, “most files are still there…”
If you look in the browser, do you have history and any bookmarks?

As to the other qube, you say that the only files that persist are those
you “forgot to save”. This strikes me as odd, but I don’t know what
program you were using - it may well autosave WIP. But in that case, you
seem to be saying that some files persist, and some do not.

I can think of mechanisms where changes in a qube could not persist - I
cant think of a mechanism where some changes in /home/user in a qube
persist, while others don’t.

Unless these are the only qubes you use, then you should have other
reference points. Since you’ve singled out these qubes, I assume that
files persist in those other qubes. Or maybe not.

On an aside, unless you are not updating your system, I don’t think you
should be running continuously for months on end.

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