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Recover documents lost during folder compression

Posted on 2011-09-21
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Last Modified: 2012-08-14
So I can't quite believe my eyes.  I turned on folder compression for an archive folder on my Windows 2003 server because I needed to free up some space.  I'm sure I've done this thousands of times without ever having a problem.  Nor have I ever heard of anybody having a problem when enabling folder compression.

Suddenly my drive has an extra 140Gb of space available.  No way folder compression could be that good!  So I go to the folder I just compressed and everything except 1 file is missing from one of the subfolders!  I had to do a double then triple-take to be sure I'm not on drugs or something.

Has anybody ever seen this?  Any recommendations on recovery options?  This particular area is a temporary holding area, so I don't have it backed up.  Probably not a big deal, but you know 'ol Murphy.  Somebody is going to ask for the files now that I lost them!

Yes I looked in the recycle bin just because it was so strange I thought maybe I had screwed up an deleted stuff.  Not there.
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Question by:mds-cos
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by:Cris Hanna
ID: 36579683
Can you right click on the folder, select properties.  do you have a previous version tab?
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by:mds-cos
ID: 36581821
No, I'm not running snapshots on this drive.  It is a USB drive hung off the server for archiving items prior to deletion and for other "non-critical" data.

The data itself is what I copied from a PC before rebuilding it.  I'm fairly sure there is nothing at this point that is needed....but 'ol Murphy hanging out there...

Plus, since this is a new one to me I want to figure out how to deal with it in case I run across in the future!  You can bet I won't be quite so caviler about compressing a folder from now on!!!!
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by:Cris Hanna
ID: 36581842
without snap shots and no other backup...you're pretty much toast
There are some tools out there where if you run the trial it will tell you before you buy whether it finds anything to recover...then you pay to actually recover it.

so the moral is of course, always have a backup...no matter what
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by:mds-cos
ID: 36581980
In this case the folder I lost actually is the backup.  Basically it comes down to I lost my backup about a month prior to scheduled deletion.

But the fact that it got lost by turning on folder compression disturbes me a bit.  What disturbes me more is that only part of the compression process failed.  If I had lost only a dozen files, I would never have noticed without doing an intentional "before" and "after" comparison.

Hmmm...this one might warrent a call to Microsoft.  Though they might not care since it is Windows 2003 server.
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by:Cris Hanna
ID: 36582253
Wiindows Server 2003 is no longer in Mainstream Support (ended July 2010).  That means that all they are doing at this point is security issues/updates.   Calls for products under extended support are expensive but that's your call.

How big was the drive?  How much free space was left when you tried to compress the drive?
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by:mds-cos
ID: 36582533
Thus my comment about "they might not care..."


Drive is 500Gb.  I did not try to compress the whole drive, just this particular archive folder.  The folder I compressed was about 150Gb.  Free space on the drive when I ran the compress was somewhere around 200Mb.  All subfolders compressed successfully except the last one (there are 4 main subfolders under the top folder I compressed).  On the last subfolder, one file compressed and everything else disappeared.
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by:Cris Hanna
ID: 36582671
was trying to find an article to confirm my theory, but I suspect that you had insuffienct free space available  for the compression job to work properly
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by:mds-cos
ID: 36582858
I had that suspicion myself, but could not find anything to substantiate it.  Actually, I didn't find anything about compression failing and loosing documents with a quick search.  If space creates a problem, compression should fail with an error message but not loose anything.

I may do an experiement in lab environment since low disk space is easy to recreate.

My other theory is the USB drive itself caused the problem.  We all know that USB drives are not as stable as SCSI or SATA.  Perhaps some sort of communication error occurred -- though again I would expect an error message, or at least something in the logs.
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Cris Hanna earned 500 total points
ID: 36583078
Guess it depends on the amount of time you have on your hands
This is one of those where I'd go, hmmm that was pretty strange, but so long as this is not a critical loss, I'd probably drop it there.

Personnally...and depending on who you ask...between 5% and 10% of free space remaining is typically considered low diskspace.  so once you hit 50 GB (25GB worst case) free on a 500 GB drive...time to start moving stuff off.
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by:mds-cos
ID: 36583119
Time?  What is that?

Yes, agree with you on the space guidelines...which is why I was compressing the folder to begin with ;-)  I just didn't catch that the other stuff I threw on there was going to use up all the space.

Course now I have plenty of space hanging out there!  Just don't tell Murphy I also have my tail hanging a bit for the next couple of weeks.
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by:mds-cos
ID: 36583144
I probably will try to recreate just because inquiring minds want to know.....and it involved file loss in a scenario where no file loss should have occurred.  If this is a Microsoft bug it needs to be documented (even if they choose to ignore it).
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