User folder missing after system repair

Discussion in 'Windows 7 Help and Support' started by mcw, Aug 21, 2011.

  1. mcw

    mcw New Member

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    Hello, and sorry to have a first post asking for help. I did a forced shutdown when my PC seemed to be incredibly slow then hanging while logging off. On restarting, I got 'disk read error' repeatedly, after the BIOS boot screen but before any of Windows.

    I used my Windows install CD to run System Repair, which went like this:
    * couldn't identify an OS to fix and since I couldn't find a hard disk driver to install, I just carried on to find Repair
    * short first disk repair, then approved a restart
    * much longer second repair cycle, accompanied by 'File or directory \Windows is corrupt and unreadable' window - very persistent but kept OK-ing it until it stopped. [Is this genuine or malware?]

    It was taking a long time (>1 hour) so I went away to do other things and popped back from time to time. Next thing I saw was the normal choice of users login screen, with User and our two named accounts, which I thought was a good sign, but all is not well.

    I now have the following situation for my account, which was the one being logged off when I powered it down:
    * Logging in the first time, and a second time after a reboot, invoked 'Preparing Desktop', and leads to a default desktop and minimal icons
    * I can't see any of my files, either via Libraries or in \Users.
    * Applications have no history, 'Recent Files' etc.
    * But... I do have familiar files in my Recycle Bin!

    The User account [administrator] seems OK but we don't leave much there. I can't see the Event Log - a DLL is missing. I can't get our wireless connection to work. Other software installed - Photoshop, Office - seems OK though Office did think to itself a bit. I can't see my files from this account either - \Users\username is just not there.

    I ran a disk check on C:\ as administrator (via Windows, not command line), with the full sector check, and it reported no problems. I don't know how to find any report from the System Repair process.

    The other normal user account seems fine - familiar desktop, files present.

    In retrospect, no, I probably shouldn't have forced the shutdown; I should have made some restore points; probably other things too... but too late now. I have many of the files elsewhere, one way or another, but I can't help thinking these files are still there somewhere, just disconnected.

    I'd be very grateful if anyone could suggest what to try next.

    Thanks.
     
    #1 mcw, Aug 21, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2011
  2. kemical

    kemical Windows Forum Admin
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    I'm thinking that the reason the original repair couldn't find a disk is because you were missing a driver. Although, quite how you got it to work after is strange even after reading your account. Reading through it does sound like some sort of re-install took place probably like an update installation which is why you can still see some of your apps ect..

    You could try running the repair again although this time having the required SATA driver (if that is indeed the problem.)

    Another option which might help is running the file checker. Open command prompt by right clicking and running as admin.

    Type: sfc /scannow

    Press enter and wait for results.

    Failing the above you might want to consider a custom install.
     
  3. Saltgrass

    Saltgrass Excellent Member
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    When Windows takes a long time to shutdown, it might be having a problem closing a particular program. When this happens, it might put a message on your screen about what program was hanging or having problems. Did any such message ever show up?
     
  4. mcw

    mcw New Member

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    I think I know the kind you mean - black and white, yes? - but not this time, no. It sat at the 'logging off' blue screen, with the rotating icon, for about 15 minutes, at which point we decided it must have got stuck. Perhaps I should have just left it. I am running sfc /scannow as recommended by kemical and will report back. Also I apologise for not giving any system details: Windows 7 Professional 64bit, running on Asrock Ion (Atom 330) with 4GB RAM. I confess I have no idea what the HD is and could not see a driver for it in my Asrock CD, but perhaps I just didn't know what I was looking for. Thanks.
     
  5. mcw

    mcw New Member

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    Thanks, I have just done this. Verification 100% complete, then "Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some of them." I looked for the log file it identified (C:\Windows\Logs\CBS\CBS.log) but this file was dated three days ago (older than the failed shutdown) and has zero size. When I tried to open it, Notepad failed to open or do anything, and Wordpad failed with a message that ODBC32.dll is missing. sfc also gave me "System file repair changes will take effect after next reboot", so I guess it's worth a try just rebooting it? And if that makes no difference, then what? Thanks
     
  6. kemical

    kemical Windows Forum Admin
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    Personally, I'd re-install..

    You could try pressing F8 when booting to open the advanced boot console and then choosing 'boot from last good known config'.

    Your web page for drivers ect is here: ASRock > Products > ION 330
     
  7. Saltgrass

    Saltgrass Excellent Member
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    You may want to think about any noises the hard drive may have been making that were different from before. I don't know how old your drive is, but reinstalling on a bad drive would not be a good thing.

    The CBS.log will probably have to be copied to the desktop to open. There is a way to extract just the SFC information which is explained on this Microsoft site. If it is actually from three days ago, it certainly will not help.

    But it does sound like you have had a substantial disruption of your system.
     
  8. mcw

    mcw New Member

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    Thanks. I have copied CBS.log to the desktop and it's now 6.9MB, but with a timestamp of now. I can't get Wordpad to work, though of course I could copy it to another computer. Is there any other way to open it, and/or any risk of having it on another system?

    I will try the Microsoft link you suggest as well, but am running out of bravery just now.

    Somewhere along the line today, with sfc or a restart or trying F8 (not sure it achieved anything), I have got internet access back, so something has improved. I tried looking for automatic restore points but the only one listed is yesterday (no good).

    I did find some 'reliability report' thing that lists events on various days. There is nothing for when the problem occurred, but for yesterday there is a message 'registry hive was corrupt'. Does that help diagnose anything? Is it something I could repair at all by hand, to find my files, before getting a copy of everything and starting again?

    The disk wasn't making any horrible noises but just occasionally I find everything hangs, I do a hard shutdown and have to wait half an hour or so before it will restart (entirely unproblematically). I have always assumed this is overheating. The disk is one year old and still under warranty, but I can't identify a problem on which I could claim.

    Thanks for all these replies: even without some magic fix, it is better not being entirely on my own with it.
     
    #8 mcw, Aug 21, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2011
  9. Saltgrass

    Saltgrass Excellent Member
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    Notepad doesn't work to read the file? Wordpad should work also, but it seems something is missing on your system. You will find out it is a large file. There shoud be some type of summary at the end of the SFC check.

    The site I mentioned talks about using Findstr to pull out lines that contain [SR] which are SFC entries. The reason SFC cannot repair the files is probably the backups have been corrupted.

    But if you feel your hard drive is OK, or will be OK until you finish a repair install, at least you could make a backup image in case it goes out again.

    Have you run any anti-virus programs?
     
  10. mcw

    mcw New Member

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    Oh yikes, the more I look the worse it gets.

    I have looked at CBS.log on another computer, with Notepad. I don't understand much of it but there are lot of files it couldn't repair, including notepad.exe, regedit.exe, write.exe & bfsvc.exe, and some that had 'source file also corrupted'. It didn't look hopeful and I'm amazed it works at all.

    I have just tried to run Sophos, which we had already and keep updated, and that complained on startup too. It is running a full scan, including rootkits, but will take a while.

    Obviously there is going to have to be some drastic action with this system, but I'd still love to know if there's any way to find the missing home directory before flattening everything. There are non-critical but useful files that I'd like (e.g. bookmarks) that of course should have been backed up but weren't. I have never seen something this catastrophic on any system of mine, not that that's an excuse of course. Any ideas? Might it show up if that hard drive was connected to another computer?

    Thanks again.
     
  11. mcw

    mcw New Member

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    P.S. Another source suggests using Knoppix to back everything up before a complete reinstall. Does this sound sensible? Might it find directories that Windows can no longer see?
     

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