NTFS, I hate you
July 11, 2009 7:18 PM   Subscribe

I have a 300gb SATA drive, NTFS formatted, that has most of my movies & music on it. After a lengthy move and installing a new operating system on a different drive, it's done something I never have seen before: about half the files on the disk point to some random location of the disk, so movie files go to the middle of MP3s, MP3s go to random places in entirely unrelated MP3s, etc. It's a massive mess. I ran the NTFS repair utility (without doing a backup, stupid) and it only had the effect of setting about half of the affected files' sizes to zero. I'm fairly sure at this point it's a lost cause, and I'll save what I can & reformat, but has anyone run into this problem before? Is there some magical way out? What on earth could have caused it?
posted by devilsbrigade to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This is totally a shot in the dark, but a friend's NTFS-formatted drive once went corrupt. Just for kicks, I plugged it into my Mac, and I was able to read and recover everything. Something to do with the way it reads NTFS versus the 'native' method? I don't know. And it was a slightly different issue, and he hadn't run any sort of repair utility on it.

But still, plugging it into a Mac (or Linux) machine is a two second test that may just work.
posted by mhz at 7:24 PM on July 11, 2009

plugging it into a Mac (or Linux) machine is a two second test that may just work

If you want to try that, it may be easier to just use a linux Live CD (ubuntu, knoppix, whatever). That said, I'm not sure that it'll help if the filesystem is truly b0rked.
posted by chrisamiller at 7:45 PM on July 11, 2009

I'd do a sector-by-sector backup of the drive now before anything else. For this I like dd_rescue.

Afterwards, plug the original into another machine and use your preferred data recovery software. I like R-Studio and GetDataBack products, and use both when time allows since there is often stuff one gets that the other doesn't.
posted by lmm at 8:26 PM on July 11, 2009

Also, I've never encountered this issue before but I would guess the issue is a corrupt MFT, and would be optimistic about the data recovery if the drive is in decent shape. (Sometime after a backup of the drive I'd run some fitness tests on the original drive.)
posted by lmm at 8:31 PM on July 11, 2009

Nthing making a sector-for-sector image before you reformat. It'll take a lot of space, but it'll be worth it, and you can go back to using the hard drive. The image means you can try other techniques later or have someone else work on it if they have a better idea of the problem. To do this right, you probably will be making a boot disc anyway, so you can see if it magically works with your hard drive.

I also suggest doing a test of the hard drive to see if it has any problems that could have caused this corruption, so you don't end up having the same problem.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:38 PM on July 11, 2009

When my NTFS-formatted drive died about a month ago (not the same problem you're having, but the filesystem went bye-bye, so this might help you anyway), I had good luck using Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery. It's a little pricey--or not--but in the end, it located just about everything I thought I'd lost and was able to recover everything save for some random unimportant files. Might be worth a shot.
posted by andrewcilento at 11:05 PM on July 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

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