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Windows 7: Files disappeared/unreadable

22 Mar 2011   #1

Windows7 32bit
Files disappeared/unreadable

User reports desktop icons missing. I open Windows explorer to check user profiles, but the root directory of the system drive appears empty. Some popup window reports 37% of the drive is unreadable. I shut down computer remove the drive, attach it to my Win7 box and scan for file curruption and/or infection.

Chkdsk notes 120,074 files on disk but not problem. Avg free scan 232,216 objects but finds no infection. But Windows explorer shows root folder as empty. And by way of an aside the Recycle bin corrupted error pops up, but I elect to ignore it.

I attach screen shots. First the chkdsk screen:


Note the dir command reports nothing. Then the avg scan:


Then the explorer screen.


And for completeness the security settings.

Name:  security.jpg
Views: 21
Size:  67.5 KB

I am totally lost here and would appreciate any pointers.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Mar 2011   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Ult. x64 Windows 8.1 x64

Hi McCart,

Can you post an image of the Disk Management? Is D: a separate disk, or a partition on the same disk?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Mar 2011   #3

Windows7 32bit

Thank you for your reply.

Yes D is a separate disk. Here is the Disk Management screenshot:


My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Mar 2011   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Ult. x64 Windows 8.1 x64

Bizarre. Can you install and run a FULL scan using Malwarebytes, preferably from Safe Mode?

I'm not yet convinced this is a malware issue, but its easiest to close that off by scanning with something else.

If that doesn't turn up anything, can you try taking ownership of the drive using this shortcut:

Take Ownership Shortcut

My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Mar 2011   #5

Windows7 32bit

Thank you again for your replies and suggestions.

I have added the reg key, and Malwarebytes is running as I write.

The problem with the reg key is I can't see anything on the D drive to take ownership of. To illustrate I attach 3 screenshots. First the context menu from a folder on my working C drive shows the "Take Ownership" item correctly.
Second if I right click over the whole D drive the Take ownership item is not there.
Third, if I open the D drive there is nothing there to hover over.
I will post again when the scan has finished.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Mar 2011   #6

Windows7 32bit

I attach screenshots from 2 Malwarebytes scans. The first found a couple of items in _restore files. I can't believe these were doing any harm, but I removed them anyway. The screenshot is shown below.


The second scan found nothing (screenshot below).


My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Mar 2011   #7

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Ult. x64 Windows 8.1 x64


Thanks for the clear feedback and good illustrative images. So, at the moment:

- AVG = no malware
- MBAM = no malware after cleaning

I'm going to ask some of our more experienced members to post here to troubleshoot further - its looking more like a system/harware issue. Whilst we wait for them to do that, could I bother you to do one last scan again? I don't think it will find anything, but its just one last nail in the coffin of any malware issues.

Please go to the ESET online scanner and do a scan there.

Please visit back here to see any other suggestions.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Mar 2011   #8
Orbital Shark



Just out of curiocity could the files/folders have been somehow given the hidden attribute?

If you open explorer then click Organize > Folder and Search options > View and set the following...

Name:  Folder Options.PNG
Views: 12
Size:  44.9 KB

Now try to access the drive. The fact that it's not giving and error when accessing the drive makes me think that it's being read correctly just the files/folders are the main issue.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Mar 2011   #9

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Ult x64 - SP1/ Windows 8 Pro x64

Looks like the drive directory is corrupt or was deleted.

Do you have any image backups?
Seagate and Western Digital offer free versions of Acronis on their websites, Macrium Reflect is free and very good.

Try a HDD scan from the drive manufacturer:
For Seagate: SeaTools
For Western Digital: Western Digital Data Lifeguard Tools
Available software from WD: Downloads SATA & SAS
If it's a different one, just search their website.

If they are no help then try running Recuva.
Accidentally deleted an important file? Lost something important when your computer crashed? No problem! Recuva recovers files deleted from your Windows computer, Recycle Bin, digital camera card, or MP3 player. And it's free!
Recuva is recommended on Seven Forums 'FREE Great Programs for Windows 7'
Recuva (pronounced "recover") is a utility to restore files that have been accidentally deleted from your computer. This includes files emptied from the Recycle bin as well as images and other files that have been deleted by user error from digital camera memory cards or MP3 players. It will even bring back files that have been deleted by bugs, crashes and viruses!

Another option, run:
How to Repair Windows 7 System Files with System File Checker
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Mar 2011   #10

Windows7 32bit

Thank you all again for taking the time to look at this problem.

In particular, thank you to Orbital Shark, because after changing that setting I can now see the folders on the D drive and I seem to be able to drill right in as far as the user files, which seem to be there unharmed.

Two questions arise.

First, how did the hidden attribute get on to every file? I am following Golden's recommendation and running the eset online scan, but it will take a couple of hours to complete.

Second, how do I get it off most files while leaving it on important system files. I was tempted to take it off everything, but it won't let me (see below).
Name:  attrib1.jpg
Views: 8
Size:  40.2 KB
But if I navigate to a documents folder, I can take it off everything there (see below). But it will take a while fixing all the folders that need fixing (desktop, favourites) individually.
Name:  attrib2.jpg
Views: 5
Size:  56.9 KB
Does anyone know of any shortcuts?

My System SpecsSystem Spec

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