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Disappearing folders/ inaccessible files in Windows 7

Posted on 2011-09-06
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Last Modified: 2016-10-27
Hi guys,

Have just received a customer's ASUS laptop with windows 7 Pro installed.

The customer has been noticing since June/ July that it seems that files and folders have been disappearing. In some cases, he can see the files or folders but, when he goes to access, gets the message, for example: 'E:\business\EMC Global 2011-2012 is not accessible. The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable.'

I have run NOD32/ MBAM scans on the machine in case it is related to malicious content, but can only find adware associated with downloaded programs the customer has been using for ages (1+yrs), so am not too worries about that.

Thinking that it was maybe Windows that was not seeing what was otherwise there (and to generally be thorough), I ran an Acronis backup and viewed the contents on my Windows 7 Pro office PC - the files/ folders in question were still not there.

I have also run checkdisk on the primary C: partition and the subsequent e: logical partition and all results indicate no issues with the drive. The HDD, from memory, was a replacement 6-12 months ago and is a Seagate 500GB 2.5" HDD.

I have also run GetDataBack for NTFS as Administrator and, although I didn't perform the super-indepth scan that takes many, many hours to complete, the initial scans show nothing more than I can already see through Windows.

The information being 'lost' in critic business information and is very important for the customer. Of course, as would be the case, he has not been backing up for the last few months and has not accepted my advise to use an automated backup program like Acronis - perhaps this is the wake-up call?!
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Question by:Servant-Leggie
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by:Reece Dodds
ID: 36493056
DL the latest Ultimate Boot CD - http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/download.html - and run a HDD diagnostics utility (SeaTools or the like) full test on the drive(s).  It is possible that bad sectors can cause the data to be unreadable yet still have the system operational.
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Author Comment

by:Servant-Leggie
ID: 36493625
Reecem27, I've run the Seatools for DOS v2.23 and have been told that the drive passed. Originally, it did an initial scan which took all of 20 seconds, but I then set it up to run the long scan and, after 2 hours, the results suggest the drive is OK.
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by:ded9
ID: 36493710
Sound like the cust might have copied the file to a wrong location in the computer...ask the cust for the file ext ...and then search for the file.



Ded9
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by:ded9
ID: 36493715
E:\business\EMC Global 2011-2012  not accessible ...this seems to be external hard drive...try taking ownership ..check the filesystem of E drive.

Can run this fixit to repair folder and files

http://support.microsoft.com/mats/windows_file_and_folder_diag/


Reboot and check.



Ded9
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Author Comment

by:Servant-Leggie
ID: 36493790
ded9, E: is the secondary partition on the main physical drive. He showed me exactly where the files were.

I have even tried to view this location through Knoppix and the files cannot be seen. So, guess they're definitely not there - but where?

Could this have stemmed from an MFT issue (or does the fact that I can't see the files in their original location through Knoppix lay waste to this suggestion)?

The customer also installed a registry cleaner (yes, alarm bells ringing in my head too) some 3-6 months prior to this issue occurring - a program called Pareto-Logic. As with most of these products, the few forums I've checked basically say not to go anywhere near this stuff. That I knew, in general, but wasn't sure if there were a couple out there which aren't too bad. Guess not. I put Uniblue into this same 'popular, but crap' category (but am happy to be 'educated' if wrong).

Time to blame the registry cleaner, perhaps?
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by:ded9
ID: 36493857
You are right registry cleaner might be the problem.

If you get accesses denied error then you can try taking ownership first.

http://www.blogsdna.com/2159/how-to-take-ownership-grant-permissions-to-access-files-folder-in-windows-7.htm


Is there a particular type of files missing like excel, word etc.

There is a known issue with windows 7 where some files missing and it can be resolved by creating new user account.




Ded9
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Author Comment

by:Servant-Leggie
ID: 36494005
ded9, it's not that the file can't be accessed because of file permissions (unless there's a way of making files invisible (not simply hidden) in a non-domain environment - I'm no expert at this, so it's possible there is.

Unfortunately, he's talking about xlsx, docx, pdf, etc... you know, all the common ones. Haven't been able to get exact file names off him, either - guess he's just stored them and forgotten which, if everything works, is OK.

New user account, you say. Hmm... wait...

Well, just tried it and, regrettably, I can see the same as I could in the other profile.
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by:ded9
ID: 36497387
There is a know issue with windows 7 wherein files are missing...one step is to do sfc /scannow

http://www.ehow.com/how_7342090_fix-missing-files-windows-7.html

But i personally thing repair install will fix all issues...

Boot to desktop...insert the windows 7 disc...launch setup...click upgrade option....this will repair your windows install... complete the repair install.

You will not loose any data or programs during the repair install process




Ded9
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by:ded9
ID: 36497460
Pl ignore the link i posted ...that is for missing system files not docs, pdf etc...but anyways the last option is repair install...

You need to perform repair install.



Ded9
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Author Comment

by:Servant-Leggie
ID: 36499707
ded9, tried to do a repair reinstall but it wouldn't work. Tried restarting the PC and now it won't load - even in Safe Mode, it gets to a certain point and then power cycles. Think it might be time to format reinstall windows, etc.

Glad I ran a full system backup prior to all of this!
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by:Servant-Leggie
ID: 36499721
Sorry, ded9, to fill in more of the picture, I uninstalled the registry cleaner and, since doing so, the system PC has been responding terribly. When I tried to create a new user profile this morning, I kept telling me that it couldn't do it (sorry, there was an error message but I didn't take it down). There were also messages from other installed software (Nokia, Adobe, etc) saying that a certain file couldn't be opened and that there may be a corruption as a result.

I booted with the Windows disk and, via the cmd window, can't access that partition - both the little partition created automatically and the other partition with the disappearing files on it could be accessed.

So broken.
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by:Reece Dodds
ID: 36499754
Take the HDD out of this system, connect it to a different PC and copy across every bit of data you can from both partitions.
It really does sound like either the partition(s) are corrupt or the HDD is failing (yes, even though it passed the seatools deep scan).
What model hard drive is it?

Once you have backed up all you can with the HDD connected to a different PC, you may be able to try a recovery utilitiy (such as RecoverMyFiles - trust me it is worth the license purchase) to attempt to get anything you couldn't with a standard file copy.  
You could also try ghosting this HDD to another drive if you have one, just so you have a copy of the entire drive.
Then I'd be doing a full OS rebuild (with re-creating the partitions), but not before testing the HDD with another diagnostics utility other than just SeaTools.
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Author Comment

by:Servant-Leggie
ID: 36499824
reecem27, I've run an Acronis backup of the whole disk prior to all this going down, so that should have provided me with an image of the disk.

I've also run Seatools and Chkdsk and both have said the drive is OK - do you think that I really need to do another scan and, it so, would it give me more reliable information that Seatools/ chkdsk (and, if so, which one)?

I have Get Data Back for NTFS, and that seems to be a good program (I your opinion, is that better/ worse than RecoverMyFiles, or just a different option)?
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Reece Dodds earned 500 total points
ID: 36499880
just a different option.   The only reason I say to run a different diagnostics utility is if your drive is anything other than a Seagate drive... if it is, SeaTools is fine, if it isn't, there is WD, Samsung, Hitachi and even a gereric tool on that UBCD.
If your problem has progressed from a few missing docs, to bugging out during operation, to now missing system files (causing the startup loop), i fear that the issue is either a serious partition corruption or a failing drive.
Best of luck champ
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by:ded9
ID: 36500809
Are you able to boot in safe mode with command prompt.

If yes then run the system restore command and do system restore.
rstrui.exe

You said repair install did not work...what exactly happened ..can u post the error.






Ded9
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Author Comment

by:Servant-Leggie
ID: 36520493
By way of an update, I have managed on Friday to get the laptop to boot properly and have been able to run a repair reinstall successfully. I am now back to where I was originally where the files/ folders in question are missing. Think it's time to call on a data recovery agent (we have a preferred one who is very good, but you do pay a lot for the privilege!)
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by:ded9
ID: 36520806
You said files and folders are missing...did you peform clean or upgrade install (repair)...Check users folders under C drive.


Ded9
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Author Comment

by:Servant-Leggie
ID: 36527559
ded9, I performed upgrade (repair) install. The user's folders under C weren't where the files were located which have gone AWOL - they are in a logical partition on this same physical HDD.
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Expert Comment

by:ded9
ID: 36528524
I think windows 7 was installed properly in this computer....backup all data recreate all partitions and then install windows on C drive.


Ded9
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Author Comment

by:Servant-Leggie
ID: 36533639
ded9, drive has gone to data recover agent and turns out that slight head issue causing probs. Guess reecem27 was spot on with his synopsis regarding Seatools not necessarily giving a 100% accurate readout (or that the HDD wasn't playing up at that moment. Oh how I hate intermittent issues!
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Author Closing Comment

by:Servant-Leggie
ID: 36533641
reecem27 was spot on with HDD error and, although the tools in question didn't pick up the error, this seems to only have been due to intermittent nature of faulty heads on HDD.
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