Deleted a little too much!

Greetings Zorinarians,
I'm starting a new thread before concluding the last (the one about Proton VPN) because trying to resolve that one has lead to a much worse problem, which in turn prevents me from finding out if I can get back online again.

What's happened is another monstrous c**k-up by Yourstruly:
I went to the Proton support center Ubuntu page using my laptop because my pc was unable to connect to the internet (this was due to the vpn for those who never saw the previous post).
Obviously I could not copy and paste the commands like I usually do so, on my pc I typed out "rm -rf ~/.cache/protonvpn" and "rm -rf ~/.config/protonvpn".

You can probably guess by now where this is going.......

I did two disastrous things as far as I can remember:
I put a space after that forward slash, and I may also have swapped the "~" squiggly thing for a plain dash (minus?).
As some of you know I'm still pretty close to the bottom of the Linux/computers learning curve, so I had no idea of the abyss I was teetering on the edge of! And then of course I sent my self over the precipice with a press of the enter button!
In my defense the size of the type, and the choice of font that the Proton website designers have chosen, coupled with my small screen on the laptop made it pretty unclear to say the least.

Now its over a week later and I can't remember the exact sequence of events but I may have got the generic Zorin 16 desktop screen immediately or maybe I even restarted the machine, but anyway the present situation is that my computer looks like it would if I'd done a new install. Home folder gone etc.
The system still has Justin (me) as the user, asks me to login etc. but when everything opens my files and profile etc are all gone.

I have a backup, so the abyss isn't actually that deep (I do like a wee bit of drama!), though I only last updated it a couple of days (and a couple of fairly large spreadsheets) before I performed this foolish action, so I'm keen to try to see if I can get those spreadsheets back.
I've tried test disk from a usb boot but could only see the files and folders that are presently on the os, with no red deleted files to restore.
Should I assume that somehow a new instance of the os has overwritten itself in the same location and all is lost? Or might those files be somewhere else?
Maybe a deep scan would do it, but it seems to me that if I've navigated to the home folder the deleted files should be there no?

Any ideas?

And what has actually happened? Did I just delete the the home folder? If so it should be somewhere shouldn't it? Or has a new instance of the os somehow overwritten the original?

Final question: Would it make any difference to start the machine as normal (existing Zorin partition on the main hard disk) and download test disk or some other better program there?

Sorry very long post!

From what you typed, it is not really clear what exactly happened.
The rm -rf command is indeed a dangerous one. And there is a Windows OS Equivalent that will perform the same action, by the way.
Since we cannot be sure of what actual command was put into the terminal (you might have been able to check your bash history - but that was in the Home Directory that you say is now gone), we cannot say what the effect was.

But- I would highly recommend you reinstall Zorin OS completely.
At least that would also solve the VPN issue...

But trying to salvage this one with an unknown rm-rf command having floated in the wild is a great way to flirt with disaster.

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Oh right it could get even worse!
I'll do as you say, but do you think doing a deep scan with test disk first would be risky either from the usb boot or from the actual os?

From a LiveUSB - by all means go right ahead. Never do an fsck on a mounted drive. That can be very destructive.

If you are referring to S.M.A.R.T. test, you can run that on either.

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Did you ever have Timeshift installed? This can be a life saver when such events as this happen. Linux Mint has Timeshift as one of it's default applications. Useful to save to an external drive if you can afford one. What I am trying to convey here is that if your system has become unusable but you had installed Timeshift, using a live version of Linux Mint might be able to restore any snapshots you made. I hope that Zorin 17 will have Timeshift present as standard in Core.

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Thank you both, I'll let you know if anything interesting crops up.
BTW I had timeshift installed but not used yet.
I'll have to reinstall it now....
Anyway many thanks again

As I wrote in the Core to Pro thread:

Doing it this way, you can completely wipe your OS drives and reinstall, and you'll still have access to your personal files.

I also use protonVPN,

Don't use the GUI, it's extremely buggy.

use protonvpn-cli c --fastest and/or protonvpn-cli c --random

Yes it seemed very slow to start up as well. Sometimes I thought it had just got stuck halfway through opening.
I'll try the commands instead next time.

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