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Vanishing Files and Folders

2313 Views 3 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  KeyFob
I have a strange problem. I hope somebody can help me.

I am running Windows XP Home on a laptop. Windows is on the internal disk drive but I also have a large external drive, a Maxtor 5000XT.

I was just copying some files on the Maxtor from one directory to another. It stopped half way complaining that the file couldn't be found.

When I checked, it was true. One of my directories, which used to have 192 folders and 7 files in it now has just 96 folders and 4 files. Note - the total is now 100 items, when it used to be 199. The 100 is a suspiciously round number.

I downloaded a program called '[email protected] File Recovery 4.0' from and ran it. It shows the directory as it used to be, with nothing missing at all. The folders which Windows can't see are shown in [email protected], just like regular folders. They're not shown as 'deleted, but recoverable', just as normal folders.

However, I see 3 warnings from [email protected]:

MFT record has invalid fixup offset (56053). Damaged MFT record: 126969
MFT record has invalid fixup offset (8712). Damaged MFT record: 126970
MFT record has invalid fixup offset (26010). Damaged MFT record: 126971

Note - that is for 3 consequtive MFT records. I'm wondering if that might be related to my problem.

The Maxtor drive has both Firewire and USB2.0 interfaces. The affected directory appears the same whichever interface I use.

The affected folder used to have folders beginning with pretty much every letter of the alphabet. Now it only has folders beginning with letters A through J. It seems the folders which are missing are the '2nd half', in alphabetical order.

The laptop is dual-boot, so I tried booting it into Linux (something I hadn't done for months before). Amazingly, in Linux I still see that the folder is damaged, but I see a different subset of folders and files listed in Linux. Some of the ones listed in Windows are also listed in Linux, and there are some which are only present in Windows, or only present in Linux. There are still more which aren't present in either OS.

I noticed a few times before this happened today that during file operations the external disk drive would 'disappear' - the E: and F: drives would vanish from windows only to reappear a few seconds later. I put this down to the drive's driver crashing and restarting. I am wondering if that could be what caused the problem I am seeing now.

What on earth could be going on? I would really like to recover these lost files. Does anyone know how I can fix the 'MFT record has invalid fixup offset' warnings I'm seeing?

Even stranger, I just discovered that if I show the 'address' toolbar in explorer and type the exact pathname to one of the missing folders in there then I can see and access the files which I previously thought had been lost.

It's almost as if half the contents of the affected directory have been 'hidden' (except that I am including hidden items in explorer, so it's not that).

Furthermore, if I use a 'DOS Prompt' (cmd.exe) window to 'dir' the directory, then it lists the same as it does in Windows Explorer, but after listing the 96 folders says "File Not Found" and a "speech bubble" pops up from the system tray saying:

cmd.exe - Corrupt File

The file or directory F:\boplex is corrupt and unreadable. Please
run the Chkdsk utility."

If I run chkdsk it tells me:

WARNING! F parameter not specified.
Running CHKDSK in read-only mode.

CHKDSK is verifying files (stage 1 of 3)...
Deleting corrupt file record segment 126971.
File verification completed.

Errors found. CHKDSK cannot continue in read-only mode.

I have found in the past that allowing Chkdsk to modify disks has caused more problems than it has solved. In this case it wants to delete the file record 126971 (the same one that was reported by [email protected] (see my first post)) - that sounds dangerous to me. I don't want to lose this directory!

Thanks a bunch for any help you can offer...

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I'd suggest you remove the disk from the USB case and install it as a slave in your system. Part of the problem could be the USB-IDE interface. This may not help, but it eliminates one variable. You may also want to check out data recovery software.

BTW, this is why you should have backups. :)
The drive has 2 interfaces, USB and FireWire - they both show the same problem.

I can't install the drive internally - the computer is a laptop and the drive is about the same size as the laptop. I don't think the laptop has anywhere to plug it in, anyway.

Thanks for the suggestion though.
After backing everything up I ran chkdsk/f and it put everything back to how it was before. How it was before is that there was a bad sector in one of the files. I tried the copy operation again and when it got to the file with the bad sector the directory got corrupted again. I can only assume this is a bug with the Maxtor driver.

Running chkdsk/r spotted the bad sector and replaced a 4 kilobyte section of the affected file with NUL characters. Now everything seems to be fine.

Thanks for your help.

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