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Important files disappeared somehow on external harddrive, and I need them back!

This is a discussion on Important files disappeared somehow on external harddrive, and I need them back! within the Windows XP Support forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. Currently I am between personal computers for myself and am running all of my personal stuff on my Seagate 500


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Old 10-21-2008, 02:10 PM   #1
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Currently I am between personal computers for myself and am running all of my personal stuff on my Seagate 500 GB external USB harddrive on the family computer. (Windows XP, 80GB harddrive, 256 MB RAM, etc.) I'm a photographer and recently returned from a two week trip with a lot of photos, which I put onto my external drive (since that's where all my stuff is). I've been editing and uploading from there. When I'm done with the drive I always use the safely remove hardware tool. Half the time it doesn't seem to want to work and says "device can't be stopped, try later." I unplug it anyway, and there is never a problem. A few nights ago I was waiting for it to give me an answer (to either be safe, or give the error message). I waited longer than usual and nothing was coming up, so I unplugged it, and a second later it finally said it was safe to remove. The next day I was going to upload more of the photos, but was first going to go to the folder to look at some of them. Here's a quick overview of how I have my folders set up: On the desktop is a 'Pics" folder. In there is another 'Pics" folder among with other files. Inside that folder I have a selection of folders, including all photos from 2008 so far, ones that are edited and ready to print to different sizes, and one from my recent trip. Inside the recent trip folder I have folders dedicated to the different memory cards I used. Recently I have been working only in the folders dedicated to the cards.
Anyway, back to the story, I open the 'Pics' folder on the desktop (which is actually a folder in the external drive, dedicated to my last computer so that everything is in the same place for when I transfer the files to a new computer soon). When I try opening the second 'Pics' folder, it gives me a message saying "*...file extension...* cannot be opened. File or directory is corrupted and unreadable."

It says the folder is empty.

All of my 2008 photos appear to be gone, and I don't know how it could have happened like that. I've been meaning to make backup DVD's but I'm busy right now, and want to do it once I get my own computer again. Obviously these photos are very important to me, and I really need them back. I know that even when things get deleted from the recycle bin that they can still be recovered with some programs. I know that they couldn't have simply vanished from the harddrive (or at least I dont think so).

I've tried two free programs so far: ParetoLogic Data Recovery and Recuva. I specifically searched the desktop to get to the more specific area of the drive and with both programs nothing has been found (and Recuva a few times said there was an I/O device error, which has been a common message I have been getting after leaving it on for long enough and trying to do things).

So, what can you suggest? I'll do what it takes to get these photos back (thousands of them). Suggest free programs that might actually work, or if I need to, I'll buy a program. My last option will be to take somewhere and pay a lot to see if it can be fixed.

Any help is very appriciated. I'm not in a hurry as long as I know that the photos can be saved.
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Old 10-21-2008, 10:23 PM   #2
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Would this get more attention if it were in another forum on here such as the external drive forum (I think it's called). I just posted here because it is XP being dealt with on the machine.
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Old 10-23-2008, 02:23 PM   #3
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Anyone?
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Old 10-23-2008, 02:58 PM   #4
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Sorry it tool so long to get to your post here I just sen it today.

Have you tried Seagate's tech support on this, they might have a fix or some new type drivers for the hard drive or it might be a glitch with the actual hard drive itself.

Does Windows still see the drive in My Computer?

Also I would try a system restore to a day after you put the last pictures on the drive.
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Old 10-23-2008, 09:02 PM   #5
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I haven't looked to Seagate's tech support yet, because this seems to go beyond that. I'll check it out though. Windows recognizes the drive just fine and everything else on it works perfectly except for that folder, which appears to now be empty. I'll try a system restore to see if that does anything.

Why a system restore to a day after I put the last photos on? Why not a day before? I actually still have all of the photos from the trip on my SD cards, so I haven't actually lost those, but it's the many other photos that I'm worried about.
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Old 10-24-2008, 02:21 AM   #6
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try imaging the harddrive it usually gets every last piece of data off the hard drive also you might have ticked a box saying hide files and now you cant see them
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Old 10-24-2008, 05:18 AM   #7
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Have you looked into any recovery software yet? If you uploaded the photos to that hard drive, they will definately still be there. XP may not recognize them for some reason.

It doesn't sound like a problem with the hard drive enclosure, so I think this is still the right forum.

Have you looked into any data recovery software yet? I use Undelete myself.

Also, check the obvious - your recycle bin.
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Old 10-24-2008, 11:37 AM   #8
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I looked into a system restore, but since I only have the drive plugged in when I'm using it, it doesnt have a checkpoint set on that drive and won't be able to fix it.

I know I didn't hide the files, and I know they aren't in the recycle bin.

I have now also tried UndeletePlus and it doesn't find anything...

I'll see what an image of the drive might do...
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