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Windows 7: Moving directory tree doesn't delete folders?

18 Feb 2013   #1
rashkavar

Windows 7 Professional x64 SP1
 
 
Moving directory tree doesn't delete folders?

I've been using Windows 7 for quite some time now (though admittedly I'm only just getting around to understanding the whole Libraries thing - I always keep my stuff on a separate HD from my OS/programs, and have only recently realized that Libraries are not constrained the way the XP My Documents system was.)

Anyway, I have occasionally had a minor issue with moving folders - particular those with subfolders that contain the actual files. When I move a folder, I generally want it gone from where it currently is (otherwise I'd copy). However, I find Windows Explorer, or perhaps TeraCopy, sometimes seems to forget to delete the directory tree after having created a duplicate directory tree at the target and moving the files over. It's a bizarre and totally minor problem, though it does get tiresome if I fail to notice it for a while and leave extraneous directory trees sitting around. (I'm a bit of a control freak; I like my files and folders to be neatly and categorically sorted, so empty folders are anathema to me). It's consistent when it happens, which suggests to me that I'm somehow changing a setting, but I honestly have no idea what it is. (A reformat makes it disappear for a while, but, while I do feel those are a necessary component of computer maintenance every year or so, it's a rather extreme measure for such a minor problem.)

Any idea what my computer is doing, or rather, how I can make it stop? I've yet to find a place in folder settings or TeraCopy's preferences that has anything to do with moving folders.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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18 Feb 2013   #2
MSchild

Windows 7/8/8.1 x64 &&& Debian-Based Linux
 
 

That is quite odd. Are the folders that you are moving (that leave 'phantom copies' behind) part of a Windows library? Or does this happen regardless?

If they're part of a library, Windows will re-create the folder (not sure about the contents) as soon as you move/delete it. You can remove a folder from a library's collection by right clicking it in the left pane of Explorer. You can also restore the original library shortcuts this way. I personally leave the libraries alone, as they are merely links to a folder or a collection of folders. If you don't like the whole libraries thing (I don't either) you may prefer to just add shortcuts for the Music, Videos, Pictures, and Documents folders (or any folders on your 2nd hard drive) to your My Favorites so that they populate in the left pane. Then you can navigate straight to the directory you need and not even bother with the library links.

If this problem is not specific to the libraries, may I ask if you can delete the 'phantom copies' left behind? If not, it may be a case of bad sectors on the disk. Sometimes odd behaviors such as files/folders that wont delete (or do but immediately reappear) can be attributed to this. You can run a checkdisk if you haven't already (ticking the option to scan for bad sectors), and that may solve the problem. I agree that a format seems to be quite overkill for a rather minor issue; but your comment that a reformat fixes the issue for a while makes me wonder if this could be the issue.

However, if this is something that happens every time you do a move operation, I would take another look at TeraCopy. You may wish to disable/uninstall temporarily for the sake of troubleshooting to see if it makes a difference.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Feb 2013   #3
rashkavar

Windows 7 Professional x64 SP1
 
 

It's not part of a library, though I didn't know about that behavior. My comment on libraries was more to illustrate that my skillset is still primarily that of an XP user, despite having used 7 for a while.

The "phantom copies" are easily deleted, (though I generally check the root directory's properties to ensure the files are actually gone, first - that's the main reason it's annoying). I haven't run checkdisk, since it's not having major issues - as you said, things being undeletable for no reason can be problematic, but that isn't the case, here.

I find it unlikely that TeraCopy is causing this, since it's all happening within a drive. TeraCopy only triggers if it has to actually write data - copying within a drive or copying/moving to a different drive. Moving files around within a drive (or rather, partition) simply requires a quick change to the MFT. (It opens a different transfer window, so it's obvious when it's in use and when it's not.) However, I felt it might be worth mentioning - I know from being on the other side that bug reports that only give you half the information are very hard to work with - too much info is better than too little.

And of course, now that I've actually mentioned the problem, I don't seem to be able to make it happen again, even moving things back to where they were when this occurred earlier and repeating the exact same move command. Yay for intermittant problems.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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18 Feb 2013   #4
MSchild

Windows 7/8/8.1 x64 &&& Debian-Based Linux
 
 

Well TBH, I have never used TeraCopy. If this happens when TeraCopy plays no part (during move operations within a drive) as you say, Id think ruling it out is not an unsafe bet. However, based on these key points:

1 - This only occurs on a single physical disk (or partition rather).
2 - This (only?) happens during move operations.
2 - It is very intermittent and hard to reproduce.

I would think these point to a file system error. I would run an offline diskcheck to check the MFT for errors. If that doesn't detect anything, I may have to admit technical defeat, and leave you in the hands of the Gurus lol.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Feb 2013   #5
rashkavar

Windows 7 Professional x64 SP1
 
 

I've only really noticed it on one disk/partition (in my computer, it's the same thing - unlike the FAT systems, NTFS doesn't really have any technical reason to limit partition sizes, and I have 4 hard drives (plus an external for backup purposes), so I don't need to partition based on organizational needs, either). The disk in question is where a large percentage of my high traffic data goes (music, documents, images - basically all non-video data), so it's where I tend to do the most organizing. I don't recall observing it on the video, os/programs or download heap drives, but I don't tinker with the organization on those drives anywhere near as much, either.

It only happens during move operations, and I believe specifically on the same disk (that said, with my organizational setup, I rarely feel the need to move things off of the drive they're on (with the exception of the heap of random downloads), so I again can't be sure.) Delete operations work normally, and copy doesn't screw with the source directory (or if it does on your computer, your issue trumps mine).

It seems to run in spurts. Yesterday it was happening every time I moved a directory with subfolders (meaning most of what I was doing) in a reorganization project - today, I couldn't make it happen even by recreating the same circumstances.

So an MFT problem seems like a logical possibility to me as well.

One other point - I've noticed that some of these files have somehow gotten themselves labelled read only (largely irrelevant as they're mp3s and my only musical skill is listening). Any possibility that could cause such oddities? I have to admit, I've never really gotten into how Windows handles permissions like that - unlike Linux (which I've tinkered with in the past but always find a bit high maintenance for regular use), permissions generally don't effect the end user.

That said, my computer's been a bit laggardly of late, so I was already planning to do a reformat. Given the MFT hypothesis actually has a logical basis, I might as well give this drive a reformat as well. It does mean I have to copy about 700 gigs of data off of it for the time being, but I can live with that. File operations like that are exactly why I have TeraCopy - it handles errors much more gracefully than Windows...though again, I'm drawing primarily on my XP experience, since I was already reliant on TC by the time I switched to Seven.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Feb 2013   #6
MSchild

Windows 7/8/8.1 x64 &&& Debian-Based Linux
 
 

The read-only thing is odd. Though if that were the cause of the 'phantom copies', one would think they'd be full copies of all the files that were read-only, not just their containing folders.

Lolz @ the 'musical skills' line. In Windows I think attributes, like permissions, can either be explicitly assigned or inherited from a parent directory. Though unless you were copying to some exotic locations, IDK how they would have gotten set to read-only.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Feb 2013   #7
rashkavar

Windows 7 Professional x64 SP1
 
 

My guess is that it was set by the uploader. Music and video file formats usually imply it's not meant for editing, but I guess some people want to be extra sure to point it out.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Feb 2013   #8
lehnerus2000

W7 Ultimate SP1, LM18 MATE, W10IP VM, W10 Home, #All 64 bit
 
 

When you Move folders:
  • Do you use the left or right mouse button?
  • Do you still have the old folder and its contents PLUS a new folder with the correct contents?
  • Does the tooltip say "Move to <destination folder name>"?
Moving directory tree doesn't delete folders?-folders-move.png
Does the problem still occur if you use the "Cut & Paste" method?


My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Feb 2013   #9
rashkavar

Windows 7 Professional x64 SP1
 
 

Left mouse button - drag and drop.
The old directory tree remains behind, but with no files left; in the place I move things to, the directory tree and files exist with correct contents
Yes, the tooltip says "move to <destination>"

I have not tried cut and paste (it's even more cumbersome than deleting the empty directory tree after moving files). Unfortunately, as MSchild and I discussed above, the problem is intermittent. I shall try cutting and pasting next time I encounter the issue and report the results.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Feb 2013   #10
lehnerus2000

W7 Ultimate SP1, LM18 MATE, W10IP VM, W10 Home, #All 64 bit
 
 
sfc /scannow

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by rashkavar View Post
The old directory tree remains behind, but with no files left; in the place I move things to, the directory tree and files exist with correct contents.
That happens to me when I am working in the "Start Menu" programs folder:
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs
It only happens there and only ~75% of the time (i.e. sometimes it works properly).

What happens if you use the right mouse button to Move folders?


Have you tried running "sfc /scannow"?

Tutorial
SFC /SCANNOW Command - System File Checker
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Moving directory tree doesn't delete folders?




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