Help me find my missing folder on a USB drive.
June 8, 2010 4:54 PM   Subscribe

I have a little USB Thumb drive. It is aging and I should know better than to use it, but I do. Today the biggest and most important folder on it dissapeared. Now, I'd think that I'd just deleted it, but the space is still consumed on the drive, meaning that the folder is still 'present'. How'd it dissapear and how do I get it back?!
posted by GilloD to Technology (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
For what it's worth, the folder is about 2 gigs. It's not something I'd overlook. It's probably 85% of the total drive contents, which is why I know it's on there, somewhere.
posted by GilloD at 4:55 PM on June 8, 2010

Also (I'm in panic mode!), every other folder on the drive is present and accounted for. It's just this one folder that's missing. The only thing I did was save a few Word docs in it last night.
posted by GilloD at 4:57 PM on June 8, 2010

The partition table is probably corrupted. You can probably recover the files with a utility like Recuva.
posted by sockpup at 4:58 PM on June 8, 2010

Stab in the dark, but I have accidentally on occasion *moved* a folder into another folder when I was moving things around quickly. You might want to just double check that you didn't accidentally move it into another folder on the drive, causing it to be "hidden." Good luck!
posted by Spyder's Game at 5:05 PM on June 8, 2010

The above links seems broken. Here is a working link.
posted by lampshade at 5:07 PM on June 8, 2010

I have recovered many, many documents from flash media using open source PhotoRec.
posted by yoyoceramic at 5:08 PM on June 8, 2010

It won't be the partition table. Corrupted partition tables render entire filesystems unreadable, and yours still has accessible folders on it. Assuming it's not something trivial like the deleted files having accidentally been moved to the Recycle Bin, what you're looking at will be filesystem corruption. The usual cause for this is failure to unmount a USB stick before physically unplugging it (on Windows, this is what the Safely Remove Hardware thing in the system tray is for).

The first thing to do is stop using the drive so that you don't make the corruption worse.

Second thing is to copy its entire contents, block for block, to a file on a hard disk somewhere. This copies everything that's at all accessible on the drive, without regard to the formatting of its (possibly corrupted) filesystem. Fastest way to get this done on Windows is not to use Windows, but to boot from a Linux live CD and use that instead (post back for instructions).

Third thing is to make another copy of that backup.

Fourth thing is to run a deleted-file recovery utility against the second copy.

But the zeroth thing is to embrace the notion that digital data - especially digital data you care about - doesn't really exist until there are at least two copies of it.
posted by flabdablet at 5:13 PM on June 8, 2010

Thanks for the above. I was actually careful about Safely Remove... in the past, but last night it was acting weird and I may have yanked it in a rush. I'll try the above and let you know how it goes- What's the best way to do a block for block copy in Windows?
posted by GilloD at 5:46 PM on June 8, 2010

dd for windows

Once you've made the copies, you can use dd to write the image onto another thumb drive of the same size. Then try running the various file finders. If they fail, rewrite the image and try again. Also, try chkdsk /r.

The partition table is not going to be the issue, but the file allocation table may well be.
posted by gjc at 6:58 PM on June 8, 2010

Le sigh. It turns out I backed up my stuff last week, at most I lost maybe 10 hours of work or so. A bummer, but I'll live. Thanks for all the advice and help! For what it's worth, PhotoRec did a way better job than Recuva at nabbing the files.
posted by GilloD at 7:20 PM on June 8, 2010

Now go spend the $10 on a new USB drive. And sign up for DropBox and keep a copy of what's on your USB drive there. 2 gigs on DropBox is free and super-easy to use. Change your routine to use dropbox as the standard storage location and carry the USB as backup.
posted by chazlarson at 7:15 AM on June 9, 2010

« Older How do I best automate testimonials from emails?   |   Using a character as a custom list bullet Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.