I can only hope this is a Photoshop-answerable question, haha.
I have a folder on my PC full of super old photos (the newest being from 2008). Some of these were badly Photoshopped by 2008-or-prior me, in an attempt to color grade or crop or what have you. Weirdly, whenever I open the folder, the split second my computer takes to load the thumbnails displays the ORIGINAL photos...before then replacing the thumbnails with my "new" version. AKA, the old, untouched version of the photo EXISTS in some kind of strange ghost-like state. Like, a backup or memory file or something I don't quite understand.
The point is, I would love to be able to access these "original versions" so I can edit the photos properly. I don't have the original files anymore, just these seemingly-baked-in edits...but clearly my computer understands they used to look a different way. So...is there a way to access the original versions? Some sort of restore, either in Photoshop or in Windows?
I'm sorry if this is too off-topic for this particular forum, I have just gotten help so many times from this site, and Googling this issue isn't turning anything up, so I hit up the pros once again.
I'm afraid that's just the thumbnail cache image that was saved when you originally copied the files to the disc. That doesn't mean there's anything else left of those files, if you have saved over them using the original file name. There is no archive of earlier versions unless you have manually archived them elsewhere or have set up a scheduled archiving system for files.
IF the files are on an external hard disc AND the original files were there as well, you can try a file recovery software to see if there's anything recoverable on that disc, but don't get your hopes up, especially if you've filled up that hard disc with other files or used that disc much otherwise. The chances of anything being there decrease every time you write something new to the disc.