Vanishing backedup files


I have or had multiple files and documents backed up on several computers and hard drives. They are in folders, in subfolders, in subfolders. Over the years they've been copied from computer to computer and through various external drives. Recently some documents have vanished from D: where I usually store them 1st before copying to a USB HD. Some folders are missing. More document folders are totally empty. Many contain only thumb.db files. For example, one folder that was 70 GB when created is now 8.4 MB and has a lesser number of documents. Even more of the vanishing documents have vanished from my current USB hard drives or the internal secondary hard drive on both Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 computer.

Now I have discovered that a folder (Audacity) which resides on the desktop as 19.5 KB contains only a thumb.db file. Audacity can be copied to my hard drive folder and that there it contains 1.57 GB with 5 separate entities.

Could this desk top-document folder disparity provide a clue as to why I have the missing documents. I have ensured ownership of these files and customized them to “optimized for documents”. No folders are hidden.

I will greatly appreciate any comments.

When you say no folders are hidden, do you mean that you did not hide any folders or that you went looking for the missing stuff, checked for hidden folders, and didn't find any?

The fact that you can copy an apparently almost empty folder to somewhere else and contents magically appear would indicate that your other missing files may still be there. Yours is about the fourth case I've heard of in the last couple of months involving files disappearing on a large scale as you describe. In the other cases, the files all had their attributes changed to hidden or hidden/system.

Set Windows Explorer folder options to display hidden and system files and see if your missing files show up. If so, change their file attributes back. I would also do a malware scan.

I appreciate your comments. I could not and can not find any of the missing files. Malware scans were negative. All folders have always been set to display and everyone, the administrator (me) as well as my user name individually had all permissions.

I suspect the multiple transfers through a variety of USB devices has something to do with this. One of my older "My Passport" USB 2 devices repeatedly produced the BSOD with Windows 8, and it's quite likely that many of the missing files passed through this particular device. I've always been a fanatic about safely remove a USB.

I'll go ahead and mark this, as read or solved. If I ever come up with a solution, I'll try to let you know.

Thank you.

Bummer. A couple of thoughts.

Is that problematic "My Passport" device the place where the files disappeared from? If so, there may not be much you can do to recover them from there. However, it sounded like you were describing them disappearing from your internal hard drive. That's a different matter. In fact, if the files were ever on your hard drive, you may be able to recover them, even if they just passed through the hard drive on their way to the bad USB drive.

In general, file contents remain on your hard drive until they are written over, either by a hard format, which actually writes a data pattern over whatever was previously there, or new material being stored in the same location. Deletion (and soft formatting), just removes the reference to the data and the space becomes available for re-use. If your files were ever there, they are either still there but "hiding", or the contents are sitting on the hard drive platters waiting to be over-written (or by now, partially over-written). The first thing to do is stop doing anything that writes to the hard drive in order to preserve what might still be there.

Download Swiftsearch from here: . If you have a good USB drive, save it directly to there. My recollection is that you can use this program without installation, you just run it. It only works on NTFS, but that's what most current internal hard drives are. It looks directly to the file table instead of indexing the drive, so it is not only extremely fast, it will find anything that is known by the system to be there. See if it finds the missing files. If so, we just need to figure out how to make them visible to you. If not, on to step 2.

Step 2 is to recover what can be recovered from what used to be there. Download Revuca from here: . Again, download to an external hard disk or good thumb drive. Don't try to save it to a CD or DVD because that process writes it to the hard disk first. When you run this program, do all recovery to an external drive, as well, so the recovered data doesn't over-write other lost contents. This can also be run in "portable" mode, which doesn't require any installation.

The processes of moving data around don't delete files in a way that allows simple un-deletion. Still, since we don't know for sure what happened to the files, try a simple undelete first. However, you will likely need what they call a "deep" scan, which scavenges anything that is not a hard format pattern or accounted for as a known file. If this produces results, it is often overwhelming--thousands of poorly identified files. If that's the result, get back to the forum and I can offer some hints for sifting through it.

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