Weird file corruption problem with mp3 and wma files.
April 21, 2009 9:10 AM   Subscribe

.mp3 and .wma (played with Media Player on Windows XP) files seem to have amalgamated into a file named 'USBC°ïæå.' of varying size. Any clue why and how to fix it?

I'm trying to help a friend whose music library has been scrambled in some way I don't recognise at all.

In the folder where the mp3 and wma files should be, there's a single file whose name and size change unpredictably, although it seems to be consistently of the form "USBC****." (where asterisks are varying characters).

Size varies between about 3GB (approx size of original files) and about 81K.

I've never seen this before at all, and can't find any information about what kind of virii, or other things, are around at the moment that might do this.

Any help would be very much appreciated. I'm running a full virus scan on my system right now just to be sure, but I'm totally baffled.
posted by sparklejess to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Sounds like they're being corrupted by something. Some things to consider:
Do the files change on playback, or are you just saying that they use Media Player in general? If so, does it happen with other software such as iTunes or WinAmp?
Once the file names have changed, can you still play them?
Have you run a disk check on your hard drive lately?
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 9:45 AM on April 21, 2009

Run Process Explorer and examine the DLLs that are loaded with or hooked into Media Player.
posted by shinybeast at 9:57 AM on April 21, 2009

Sounds like they've been assembled into some sort of archive. Does this single file still carry an mp3 or wma file extension? Can this single file still play in any other player?
posted by Thorzdad at 9:59 AM on April 21, 2009

Are the files on a usb drive?
posted by I-baLL at 10:13 AM on April 21, 2009

Hi I'm the friend whose problem it is, I really appreciate the help.

Yes the files are on a USB drive.

I can't playback the files, (in media player or winamp) Where there was once loads of folders with my music in, it is now just this one weird file, when I go into file properties it doesn't give info on the file type, so its not a mp3 or wma file type.

Re: the question about the hard drive check, no I haven't run a disk check recently but I took the USB memory stick to another computer so thinking it can't be anything to do with that, right?

The person who suggested running Process Explorer, if you still think thats worth doing could you explain to me how I do that, sorry I'm not very computer literate.

Thank you
posted by joannadancer at 2:50 PM on April 21, 2009

Best answer: Unless you're pretty familiar with Windows, forget about Process Explorer. Sorry.

However, the few things I've managed to scrape off the web (people asking about similarly named files) all indicate a data corruption problem.

It sounds like (warning: technical jargon ahead) USB protocol streams are being written in a most unfriendly fashion to your USB drive.

Unless you really care about what was on that drive and want to attempt recovering some files, I would recommend reformatting it (or buying a new one) and monitoring it closely when first using it again, looking for signs of yet another "USBC...." corruption problem. If the problem doesn't happen again after exercising the drive in all of your typical usage scenarios, I would write it off as an unrepeatable event.

[For anybody else who cares, USBC is the "command block wrapper" signature for USB mass storage "bulk-only data structures." Interestingly, USBC is followed by a 4-byte tag used to track the status of commands via the "command status wrapper" aka USBS. If you want more info, google this: USBC usb signature protocol]
posted by shinybeast at 5:21 PM on April 21, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone for their input. The extra technical details from shinybeast satisfy my curiosity if not my desire to fix things!

Can anyone see a reason why it would hit one directory and not all? Are we looking at a snafu in the way the USB stick deals with data transfer, or some hardware conflict between the stick and the motherboard.

I seem to remember it's a 16GB Hewlett Packard-branded stick.
posted by sparklejess at 4:42 AM on April 22, 2009

Crikey - 16GB? RMA the POS. It sounds like it could be a minor corruption issue, instead of a catastrophic drive failure. Maybe you could be fine by avoiding that one directory, but it would probably be best to return the drive citing faulty hardware due to no action on your friends behalf.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:52 PM on April 23, 2009

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