Can't See files on USB Hard Drive

Posted on 2009-04-26
Last Modified: 2012-05-06

Here is my situation.  I have a SBS 2003 server that is used for multiple purposes.  One partition on the server is used to store 100GB+ of photos.  I back these photos up to Maxtor External Hard drives using robocopy.  I have a script that runs robocopy every few days.  Then once a month I swap out drive #1 for drive #2 and store the other offsite.

I just started doing this two months ago. The problem came up when I swapped the drives the first time.  When I go to the drive in Explorer it shows that there is 100GB+ of data on it.  However, I cannot see any of the files.  When I run the robocopy script is shows all of the files.  Yet there are invisible.  Someone said that this may be the cache for the drive wasnt released when it was swapped.  Does this sound right?  How do I fix this?
Question by:MrChip2
    LVL 70

    Expert Comment

    The good news is you've discovered this before you had a major failure and actually needed the backup.

    There are a couple of potential issues ...

    First, NEVER remove a USB attached drive without doing a "Safely Remove" operation.   You may find that after the drive's been attached for such a long time the system will refuse to allow a "Safe Remove".   If that's the case, shut down the server; then remove the drive; and then reboot.   This isn't absolutely necessary -- as long as you've set the drive to optimize for quick removal (thus disabling write caching) it SHOULD be safe to remove it without being quite this "paranoid" ... but it's always best to err on the side of caution.

    Second, if these were both new external drives of the same make/model, they may very well have the same labels -- which can further confuse the issue.   At this point, since your data is still all safely on the server, I'd attach one of the drives; reformat it (in NTFS -- it may be in FAT32 now); and give it a distinctive label (perhaps "Backup1").   Then copy your entire photo folder to the drive ... and then Safely Remove it.   Then attach the other drive and repeat the process ... but this time give it a different label (perhaps "Backup2").

    I presume you've got the drive letters set the same for both drives so the RoboCopy script isn't simply failing with the 2nd drive because it's a different drive letter -- right??
    LVL 12

    Expert Comment

    you can turn on View Hidden files under tools, folders.

    That will allow you to see the "Hidden files of which you speak"

    LVL 70

    Expert Comment

    If the files are simply hidden that will do the trick :-)
    But RoboCopy shouldn't "hide" the files ... unless the script is set to do that (and I'd think MrChip2 would know if he'd hidden the files !!).   ... but anything's possible :-)

    Author Comment

    Hi garycase,

    Thank you for your great reply.  I am sorry I did not post sooner, things have been a bit crazy with my IT environment due to a false positive from my AV software (another topic).

    I think you may have hit the nail on the head.  Yes, the two drives are 100% identical.  One of the drives is in offsite storage.  I will pick it up this afternoon.  I did assign the same drive letter to each drive so my robocopy script would work with both.  I suspect I assigned the same labels too.  I will verify this once I have the second drive in house.  

    As a rule I use the "Safely remove" option.  There is a chance I forgot to do so in this case, but I doubt it.  My server was already set to show hidden files, and that did not work.  The drive is formatted as NTFS.  

    Here is something interesting.  When I tried running the dir command on the drive through a command prompt,  I received an error:

    Directory of Y:\
    File not found

    I wonder if I should try to run a chkdsk on it?

    Your idea about reformatting, labeling differently, and then running robocopy may be the best idea.  I have found the robocopy is surprisingly fast with the 100GB of photos and this way I would know that the drives are set up correctly.

    Do you think I should just do the reformatting or should I try chkdsk?  If I should run chkdsk, what syntax would I use?

    Author Comment

    Oops - one more thing.  I just want to confirm that robocopy doesn't care about the drive label.  As long as both drives are assigned the same drive letter (Y), the script will work with both.  Is this true?  I would want to confirm this before I do the reformatting.

    Also, I read somewhere that it is best to turn off caching with these external drives.  I assume this means selecting "optimize this drive for quick removal".  Do you agree.

    FYI, I have a third identical external USB drive connected to the server.  It is used to backup a separate partition.  It has a different drive letter.  I don't think this is relevant, but thought I would point this out.
    LVL 70

    Accepted Solution

    I'd just reformat the drives rather than bothering with any recovery/fix efforts.

    Yes, RoboCopy will work fine as long as the drive letter is the same.

    ... and yes, (as I noted before) you should optimize the drives for quick removal (which disables caching and reduces the likelihood of issues if you forget to "safely remove" it).

    Author Closing Comment

    Thank you Gary!  I never knew that giving the two drives the same label would cause problems.  Your help was extremely useful and is greatly appreciated.

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