The folder names on my external hard drive have turned to gibberish

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  1. Posts : 148
    Windows 10
       #1

    The folder names on my external hard drive have turned to gibberish


    I have a nearly new portable external hard drive which is organized into 30 or 40 folders, each with further files in it. The names of the folders on this hard drive have turned to gibberish and I have no idea how to fix this problem. Here is a screen cap showing the problem:
    The folder names on my external hard drive have turned to gibberish-2017-05-27_foldernames_gibberish.png

    For what it's worth the folder names are also gibberish when I view them from a command prompt. And here's what happens if I click on one of the folders to see what's in it:

    The folder names on my external hard drive have turned to gibberish-2017-05-27_foldernames_unusable.png

    I've tried running Avast and MalwareBytes scans but they don't find anything wrong.

    Is there anything I can do to repair my folder names and access the files once again?

    I've only had the external hard drive a few weeks.
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  2. cereberus's Avatar
    Posts : 11,338
    Windows10
       #2

    Something has corrupted the FATs.

    Try and recover files to another drive using recuva
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  3. Posts : 1,114
       #3

    You have no current restorable backups on external media? If no, you are in for a long recovery haul.
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  4. Posts : 275
    Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
       #4

    Plug it into another PC just to see.

    Run a chkdsk and pray.
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  5. Posts : 148
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter
       #5

    cereberus said:
    Something has corrupted the FATs.

    Try and recover files to another drive using recuva
    I've installed Recuva but am having trouble finding any files on the problematic hard drive. When I searched on the root, it found only three files, none of which I'd ever found before. PortableHD02 is the main folder beneath the root which contains the files I want; when I searched it, it didn't see *any* files. When I tried to search one of its subfolders, I got the audio signal that happens when a new drive is added or removed from the system and all my USB drives disappeared, the external hard drive *and* the two flash drives, all of which are on the same weeks-old USB hub. (They do that occasionally for no obvious reason, then they reconnect again eventually - hours or days later - for no obvious reason.) The weird thing was that I heard the audio signal over the speakers: I've got a dongle in one of the USB ports for my wireless headset and that normally ensures that all the audio goes to the headset.)

    I just tried unplugging the hard drive from the USB hub and putting it directly into my laptop but it's not visible that way either. I did the same for one of the flash drives but it isn't visible to the laptop either. What the heck is going on here??

    I suppose I have to wait now until the USB devices come back online....
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  6. Posts : 1,808
    W10 pro x64 Skip Ahead + Edge Dev
       #6

    Would using a Linux Live disc enable the files to be viewed and copied elsewhere ? The USB issues sound like something else is going on to me.

    I would also suggest trying the drive and your USB flash drives on a different PC but with a proviso that if there is something nasty lurking on the drives then you could an issue on the other PC.
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  7. Posts : 148
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter
       #7

    vram said:
    Plug it into another PC just to see.

    Run a chkdsk and pray.
    I plugged it into another laptop and the folder names were gibberish there too. I ran chkdsk and it found many errors. I ran chkdsk /f and it found the same errors. The errors referred to lost chains and cross-linked chains. After doing the "repairs", my PortableHD02 folder had disappeared entirely!!!

    Just for interest sake, I copied a small folder with pictures in it onto the hard drive and found that I *could* see the files in it and the names were not gibberish. But it seems that I've lost EVERYTHING in the folder that I wanted to keep.

    What the **CK caused this problem and why did everything I do to fix it just make it worse???
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  8. Posts : 275
    Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
       #8

    Your data was probably toast regardless.

    Not a data expert, but I'd speculate a faulty HDD controller on the portable drive.

    You could send your drive off to a data retrieval firm, but expect to pay $$$.

    Consider this a lesson: if your data isn't copied to at least two different locations, you're toying with fate. Hardware can fail at any time.

    "FAT Chkdsk has found chains of clusters that do not belong to any file. These chains can be converted to files in which case they will appear as FILExxxx.CHK in FOUND.xxx, or they can be released to free space. User Action: Choose Y to recover the data as files."

    "Cross-linked files. Cross-linked files are FAT entries that point to the same cluster. Cross-linked files are created when the computer is improperly shut down or an application abnormally aborts. Cross-linked files can be corrected using disk correction utilities such as CHKDSK or Scandisk."
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  9. EdTittel's Avatar
    Posts : 3,753
    Windows 10
       #9

    Before you send it off for 3rd-party data recovery, consider spending $69 to obtain and use a full-blown copy of MiniTool Power Data Recovery. You can download and try out the free version which will recover up to 1 GB of data at no charge. If that works, it may then indeed be worth the $69 it costs to buy a full-blown copy which can recover an unlimited amount of data. I accidentally repartitioned a data drive recently and it was able to recover 95% of the files from that drive. You can grab the free version at Download Data Recovery Software Free MiniTool*Power Data Recovery, then visit the purchase page if it works.
    HTH,
    --Ed--

    PS: here's a blog post I wrote about this tool in mid-May of this year: MiniTool Power Data Recovery Rocks - Windows Enterprise Desktop
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  10. Posts : 148
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter
       #10

    EdTittel said:
    Before you send it off for 3rd-party data recovery, consider spending $69 to obtain and use a full-blown copy of MiniTool Power Data Recovery. You can download and try out the free version which will recover up to 1 GB of data at no charge. If that works, it may then indeed be worth the $69 it costs to buy a full-blown copy which can recover an unlimited amount of data. I accidentally repartitioned a data drive recently and it was able to recover 95% of the files from that drive. You can grab the free version at Download Data Recovery Software Free MiniTool*Power Data Recovery, then visit the purchase page if it works.
    HTH,
    --Ed--

    PS: here's a blog post I wrote about this tool in mid-May of this year: MiniTool Power Data Recovery Rocks - Windows Enterprise Desktop

    Thank you VERY much for that suggestion, Ed!

    The files I've lost are not worth hundreds or thousands of dollars to me but I might be game for spending $69 if the 1 gig tryout works for me.
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