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Windows 7: weird file duplication

04 Oct 2014   #1

Windows 7 Pro 64-bit
weird file duplication


A few months ago I purchased a new Lenovo ThinkPad E545. I haven't had any trouble with it.

Recently I noticed that when I open My Documents, there was an extensive listing (over 2,000!) of files inside of My Documents, but not in folders. These files ranged from documents that should be in folders to program files such as address books and calendar files. I think subconsciously I knew this was going to be a headache, so I ignored it for awhile.

But today it's becoming a problem. I'm in the process of reorganizing my files (which I do often), so I decided to take a closer look at the loose files in Windows Explorer. I also looked inside the subfolders where I keep all my documents, and found the files safely where I expected them to be.

I made a new folder on my desktop and copied all the loose files there. Then I deleted the loose files - not the subfolders - from the My Documents folder. After doing this, all the subfolders were empty. So I copied the files back from the new folder on the desktop into My Documents, but that didn't actually bring back any of the documents. So I restored them from the Recycle Bin, and that worked.

Now I'm back to having a couple thousand loose files in My Documents. I decided I'd just go ahead and finish reorganizing my documents inside the My Documents subfolders, and then do a backup (I do backup regularly). But in the process of creating new subfolders within subfolders, say for example:
>My Documents, >IT, >Windows 7,
when I drag & drop files from >IT to >Windows 7,
the files don't disappear from the >IT folder, although they show up in the >Windows 7 folder.
If I then delete them from the >IT folder, they also disappear from the >Windows 7 folder!

Can someone help me figure out what's happening here?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Oct 2014   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit, Windows 8.1 64-bit, Mac OS X 10.10, Linux Mint 17, Windows 10 Pro TP

Don't know if it applies directly to your situation but I've noticed at times that having the Ctrl key pressed while dragging can create copies but usually it will have " - Copy" at the end of the file name [before the .extension].
Example: Fresh Jam 40 Hours in Buffalo - YouTube.mp4 duplicates as Fresh Jam 40 Hours in Buffalo - YouTube - Copy.mp4
Crumbs in the keyboard can press down the membrane under the plastic key activating it, but then nobody lets it get that dirty, do they. Unfortunately the Ctrl key doesn't appear to do anything by itself unless the function in Control Panel, Keyboard is set for locating the cursor/pointer when Ctrl pressed.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Oct 2014   #3
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8

Don't drag and drop. That leads to those kinds of problems. Use copy/past or this:

Context Menu - Add Copy To Folder and Move To Folder
My System SpecsSystem Spec

05 Oct 2014   #4

Windows 7 Pro 64-bit

The advice on drag & drop is duly noted. Over the years I have had issues with this, including dropping files or folders in an unintended location and then having to find them. When I said
when I drag & drop files from >IT to >Windows 7,
it wasn't meant to be a literal statement of a cast in stone copy & paste procedure.

This situation is very strange. The process I used when I originally deleted the loose files from the >My Documents folder and the files from within the >My Documents subfolders disappeared was a multi-step process:
1) copy
2) paste in new folder on the Desktop
3) highlight and delete from >My Documents.
This was the process I used which caused the subfolders' contents to disappear.

When I attempted to replace the original copies by moving them back to >My Documents from the Desktop, I did so by the cut & paste method, and it did not work - and resulted in 2,000+ invalid files now being loose in >My Documents, and because I was flustered and shortsighted I left them there, not realizing it would later be an issue. It was by restoring the original contents that had been deleted to the Recycle Bin, that my files returned to where they were supposed to be, and now I have double the loose copies - but only one copy appears in the subfolders.

Since posting yesterday, I made a >new My Docs folder on the Desktop and created new subfolders and populated them with copies of my files (copy and paste). I tested to ensure these copies were valid and not attached in any way to the originals. Then I backed these up to an external drive when I did my regular backup yesterday.

Then, in an effort to make this just a little less confusing, I painstakingly went through >My Documents and deleted all my document files, leaving behind only the program files and my Kindle files. Then I waited for a reply to my help request, and slept on the problem.

As I'm writing this, a light bulb went off - the program files, which includes address books and calendar items as mentioned yesterday, all belong to my Thunderbird profile - which has a manual backup folder in >My Documents! So I can also delete all these without issue.

What that leaves is the Kindle books - and there are two copies of everything there now. As with all the documents, I expect one is valid and one is not, and the only way to tell the difference is going to be to delete either all the first copies or all the second copies to figure out which are the valid copies. Or maybe it would be cleaner to delete them all and re-download the books... I don't want to mess up my Kindle, which is working just fine.

So I've got a cleanup plan, but the problem that prompted me to start this thread yesterday is still unanswered: what was/is causing files to be deleted out of >My Documents subfolders when I delete the loose copies from >My Documents, where they shouldn't even be showing? I normally have zero loose files in >My Documents; all files are within subfolders.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Oct 2014   #5

Windows 7 Pro 64-bit

I emptied everything from >My Documents. The subfolders remained on the left side of the Windows Explorer window, but did not show on the right side of the window. I right clicked and deleted each of them individually.

I opened Kindle, which now had no contents, and downloaded one book. It created a subfolder >My Kindle Content, and the book files are there. But they are also now "loose" in >My Documents.

Obviously, I can't use the My Documents library as it is. Is it safe to delete the library and then re-create it? I don't want to further complicate things by trying to delete it if it's baked in, like Internet Explorer is.

Is this a symptom of a corrupted profile? Would the answer be to create a new user? That seems like an extreme solution and I'd rather not have to do that unless it's necessary.

Attached Images
weird file duplication-docs.jpg 
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Oct 2014   #6

W7 Ultimate SP1, LM18.2 MATE, W10 Home, #All 64 bit

When you are using Windows Explorer you can usually undo the last operation (e.g. accidental copy/delete/move) by using:
  • "Ctrl + Z"
  • Edit menu > Undo
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Oct 2014   #7

Windows 7 Pro 64-bit

lehnerus, that's a handy command to know. I'll try to remember it!

I'm marking this thread as solved, because I've created a new user and copied my files into it, and everything is working as one would expect. My suspicion at this time is that somehow the user profile got corrupted, and I didn't want to risk any other problems by not taking care of the issue once it started interfering with my daily activities.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Aug 2015   #8

Windows 7 Pro 64-bit

OK, I know this thread is almost a year old, but IT HAS HAPPENED AGAIN - on a different computer that's a different make (1st computer=Lenovo laptop, 2nd computer=Dell desktop). Notice on the screenshot there are over 22K items showing in My Documents! Following whs's advice, I quit EVER dragging & dropping, because I didn't want this to happen again. Obviously, creating a new user isn't something one wants to do very often, as it's quite time consuming and leaves a bit of a mess behind.

What else could possibly cause this to happen, and is there a way to fix it without creating a new user and deleting this profile? I've been getting around the problem for about a month now by not displaying the contents of My Documents in the right window pane; but something is wrong, and I'd like to fix it. The two computers run several programs (i.e., MS Office, IE, Firefox, Chrome, VLC, Audacity, Paint.NET, and SpiderOak) that are the same, but the computers are used for completely different purposes, so I haven't been able to ID a buggy program that might be responsible.

Maybe this is related - right about the same time this happened, I got a Microsoft Viscual C++ Runtime Library error message just once:
Runtime Error!
Program: C:/Windows/Explorer.EXE
-pure virtual function call
Are there any new ideas on resolving this?

Attached Thumbnails
weird file duplication-mydocs-messed-up.jpg  
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Sep 2015   #9

Windows 7 Pro 64-bit

The problem has been identified and fixed. It occurred to me to try looking at the folder via C\Users\Me\My Documents, and when I did this, the display was correct. I figured the Library shortcut must have gotten corrupted somehow, so deleted the Documents library link and recreated it. This resolved the issue. I still don't understand what caused it, but should it ever happen again, I'll know it can be fixed simply, and without creating a new user.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 weird file duplication

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