USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

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Moonbeam
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USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

Postby Moonbeam » Mon Jan 06, 2014 8:31 am UTC

.... so, in a nutshell .... I'm trying to back up some files from my PC.
Approx 16 Gig in total. I tried backing up to a pen drive. I backed it up, checked the drive to make sure everything was there and everything was ok. I "safely removed" the drive .... came back to it at later .... and some of the files have gone. Removed it and tried again and some more have gone.
Anyway, I tried backing up again and it did it again, so I thought it might have been a dodgy pen drive, so I tried it again, this time on to a 32 Gig USB stick.
Eveything is ok at first .... looking at the properties of the USB stick and it says 16 Gig ish. However, I safely remove it, come back to it and some files have gone again. Anyway, I tried again and it's just done the same ..... anyone any ideas what's going on plzzz ????

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Re: USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

Postby cphite » Mon Jan 06, 2014 8:31 pm UTC

Moonbeam wrote:.... so, in a nutshell .... I'm trying to back up some files from my PC.
Approx 16 Gig in total. I tried backing up to a pen drive. I backed it up, checked the drive to make sure everything was there and everything was ok. I "safely removed" the drive .... came back to it at later .... and some of the files have gone. Removed it and tried again and some more have gone.
Anyway, I tried backing up again and it did it again, so I thought it might have been a dodgy pen drive, so I tried it again, this time on to a 32 Gig USB stick.
Eveything is ok at first .... looking at the properties of the USB stick and it says 16 Gig ish. However, I safely remove it, come back to it and some files have gone again. Anyway, I tried again and it's just done the same ..... anyone any ideas what's going on plzzz ????


Can you identify any of the specific files that aren't copying? If so, what happens if you try to copy those files individually?

When you "eject" the USB stick, are you making sure that there is no activity (flashing led) on the stick before actually removing it? Part of the reason you "eject" a USB stick is that that tells the OS to write everything it has cached from whatever operations took place for the drive. Even if you no longer see the Windows file copy box on the screen, it's possible that Windows isn't completely done copying data. If the led is still lit or flashing, it's still moving data. Look for any files that are 0K size on the USB drive - that's a sign that files were killed in the middle of a copy.

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Re: USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

Postby Moonbeam » Mon Jan 06, 2014 8:56 pm UTC

I wait a while before I remove the drive.
I check it beforehand by right clicking on it and selecting properties and also by opening the drive to see if everything has copied okay. When I remove it (by selecting safely remove, etc) and replace it (either into the pc or my laptop), some of the files appear to have disappeared >.<

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Re: USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

Postby Suzaku » Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:23 am UTC

If you're seeing the same behaviour on two different USB drives, then I'd recommend running a virus/malware checker over both your PC and the drives themselves. Random deletion of files from a storage device is most certainly not normal behaviour.

Other questions:
Do the same files disappear every time, or is it different?
Is there anything the disappearing files have in common?
Does the same thing happen if you copy a bunch of random files from the PC? Howabout from your laptop?

And for the record, what OS (make and version) are you using?
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Re: USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

Postby Clix » Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:41 pm UTC

Just a silly thought, (I'm a check the on/off switch first kinda guy) but they're not system files that Windows likes to hide from us poor ignorant users are they?
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Re: USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

Postby cphite » Tue Jan 07, 2014 4:21 pm UTC

Moonbeam wrote:I wait a while before I remove the drive.
I check it beforehand by right clicking on it and selecting properties and also by opening the drive to see if everything has copied okay. When I remove it (by selecting safely remove, etc) and replace it (either into the pc or my laptop), some of the files appear to have disappeared >.<


So... just to be clear... you see ALL of your files on the USB stick, remove it, and then when you put it back into the original PC or your laptop, some of the files that were there before are now gone?

Is it always the same files that disappear?

If so, what happens if you copy those specific files (and ONLY those specific files) onto the USB stick, remove the stick, and then put it back again? Do they still disappear?

Do the files have anything in common? Ie. are they all the same file type, do they have similar names, are they in certain folders, etc?

Given that this is happening on more than one USB stick, I second the recommendation of a full malware scan.

What OS are you using? Also, what format are the USB sticks? Assuming you use Windows, have you used these sticks in non-Windows systems?

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Re: USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

Postby Moonbeam » Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:33 pm UTC

Clix wrote:Just a silly thought, (I'm a check the on/off switch first kinda guy) but they're not system files that Windows likes to hide from us poor ignorant users are they?


.... they're just normal files - the majority of which are videos, pictures and music files.


cphite wrote:
Moonbeam wrote:I wait a while before I remove the drive.
I check it beforehand by right clicking on it and selecting properties and also by opening the drive to see if everything has copied okay. When I remove it (by selecting safely remove, etc) and replace it (either into the pc or my laptop), some of the files appear to have disappeared >.<


So... just to be clear... you see ALL of your files on the USB stick, remove it, and then when you put it back into the original PC or your laptop, some of the files that were there before are now gone?


Yea, all the files are there and appear to have been copied across successfully. I right click on the USB stick and it's the correct size (approx 15 - 16 Gig). I even opened the files on the USB stick to do a quick check and everything appeared to be in order. When I remove it and plug it back in, I right click and the size has shrunk. Now this is what I don't get - all of the folders are still there - it's the content in some of them that disappeared. I'm actually copying 1 folder across on to my USB stick and this folder contains approx 20-30 folders. When the USB stick loses some of the content, the 20-30 folders are still there, it's just that some of them are now completely empty.


Anyway, I've managed to back up what I wanted to, on to 4 DVD's and transferred this to my laptop. I'm going to try copying this on to my USB stick and see what happens ..... and I might try even transferring it back on to my PC and see what happens then.

I don't really need any definitive answers now, as I've backed eveything up .... but I would actually lke to know what's happening.

My PC uses Win XP ...... yea, you can all stop laughing now >.<

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Re: USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

Postby cphite » Tue Jan 07, 2014 7:49 pm UTC

Moonbeam wrote:
Clix wrote:Just a silly thought, (I'm a check the on/off switch first kinda guy) but they're not system files that Windows likes to hide from us poor ignorant users are they?


.... they're just normal files - the majority of which are videos, pictures and music files.


cphite wrote:
Moonbeam wrote:I wait a while before I remove the drive.
I check it beforehand by right clicking on it and selecting properties and also by opening the drive to see if everything has copied okay. When I remove it (by selecting safely remove, etc) and replace it (either into the pc or my laptop), some of the files appear to have disappeared >.<


So... just to be clear... you see ALL of your files on the USB stick, remove it, and then when you put it back into the original PC or your laptop, some of the files that were there before are now gone?


Yea, all the files are there and appear to have been copied across successfully. I right click on the USB stick and it's the correct size (approx 15 - 16 Gig). I even opened the files on the USB stick to do a quick check and everything appeared to be in order. When I remove it and plug it back in, I right click and the size has shrunk. Now this is what I don't get - all of the folders are still there - it's the content in some of them that disappeared. I'm actually copying 1 folder across on to my USB stick and this folder contains approx 20-30 folders. When the USB stick loses some of the content, the 20-30 folders are still there, it's just that some of them are now completely empty.


Anyway, I've managed to back up what I wanted to, on to 4 DVD's and transferred this to my laptop. I'm going to try copying this on to my USB stick and see what happens ..... and I might try even transferring it back on to my PC and see what happens then.

I don't really need any definitive answers now, as I've backed eveything up .... but I would actually lke to know what's happening.

My PC uses Win XP ...... yea, you can all stop laughing now >.<


That is odd.

What it sounds like is that for whatever reason, Windows is leaving those files open and even though you eject the drive, it isn't actually finishing the copy. Bear in mind, that when Windows copies a file, if that file isn't properly closed you won't be able to access it on the drive anymore - even though the bits are technically "there" on the USB stick.

Nothing really wrong with using XP - it's a solid OS. The only real downside is that security updates will be discontinued this year - April I think. What that means is that when people find new exploits and backdoors for XP, there won't be any updates forthcoming to fix them.

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Re: USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

Postby Jorpho » Wed Jan 08, 2014 1:50 am UTC

Is the drive NTFS-formatted or FAT32-formatted?

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Re: USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

Postby PM 2Ring » Wed Jan 08, 2014 6:27 am UTC

cphite wrote:That is odd.

What it sounds like is that for whatever reason, Windows is leaving those files open and even though you eject the drive, it isn't actually finishing the copy. Bear in mind, that when Windows copies a file, if that file isn't properly closed you won't be able to access it on the drive anymore - even though the bits are technically "there" on the USB stick.

It does sound like that. But surely Windows won't tell you it's safe to remove the drive if it has open files on it... unless some nasty malware is compromising the service that looks after that stuff.


@Moonbeam: How old are these flash drives? My first instinct was to suspect that the drive is just getting old and starting to get flaky, but it's pretty weird that this flaky behaviour is just starting to happen with two different drives at the same time. As cphite said, see if you can reproduce the flaky behaviour by just copying one (or a small number) of the files that disappear.


@Jorpho: Good question, since using NTFS (or any other journaling filesystem) on a flash drive can lead to premature wear. But I suspect that we can safely assume that they are still using the FAT filesystem they came with.

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Re: USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

Postby Suzaku » Wed Jan 08, 2014 6:41 am UTC

It's a while since I had to maintain any XP machines, but IIRC its handling of USB devices could be a bit flaky, especially in the earlier Service Packs. That said, I agree it probably wouldn't let you eject (safely remove) a USB drive with open files on it.
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Re: USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

Postby Moonbeam » Wed Jan 08, 2014 8:09 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:Is the drive NTFS-formatted or FAT32-formatted?


.... ermmm .... pass >.<


PM 2Ring wrote:@Moonbeam: How old are these flash drives? My first instinct was to suspect that the drive is just getting old and starting to get flaky, but it's pretty weird that this flaky behaviour is just starting to happen with two different drives at the same time. As cphite said, see if you can reproduce the flaky behaviour by just copying one (or a small number) of the files that disappear.


..... they're both brand new, previously unused, etc.

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Re: USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

Postby PM 2Ring » Wed Jan 08, 2014 9:48 am UTC

Moonbeam wrote:
Jorpho wrote:Is the drive NTFS-formatted or FAT32-formatted?


.... ermmm .... pass >.<

If you didn't re-format them to NTFS, they're almost certainly FAT32. (Older, smaller flash drives are often FAT16).

FWIW, in Win XP you can find out what filesystem a partition uses by going into My Computer and right-clicking on the partition icon and selecting Properties. The filesystem type will be listed in the General tab. You can also see this info for all partitions at once in Control Panel / Administrative Tools / Disk Management / Storage.

A filesystem is basically a protocol that controls the details of how files and folders actually get stored onto a storage device. See Wikipedia for details.

There's rarely a good reason to use a different filesystem on a flash drive. An exception to this rule is if you need to transfer big files, since FAT32 can't cope with files larger than 4GB.

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Re: USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

Postby Jorpho » Wed Jan 08, 2014 2:16 pm UTC

PM 2Ring wrote:There's rarely a good reason to use a different filesystem on a flash drive. An exception to this rule is if you need to transfer big files, since FAT32 can't cope with files larger than 4GB.
There's also a sharp restriction on the number of files, particularly with long file names, that can be stored in the root directory of a FAT32 or FAT16 formatted volume. But since we are talking about subfolders here, that's probably not an issue.

EDIT: See below.
Last edited by Jorpho on Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:38 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

Postby Moonbeam » Wed Jan 08, 2014 5:37 pm UTC

Okay ..... oooooops ...... this MAY have something to do with it:

Someone mentioned the formatting etc and it occurred to me that I didn't actually format either of them myself - I assumed (foolishly) that my missus did it, as both the pen drive and the USB stick were her's. Well, I asked her earlier today and she didn't format them as well, so I'm guessing that seeing how neither drive was formatted .... this is what happens ......

Ooooooops ..... I feel a bit foolish now, but I'm guessing that this is the reason why eveything on the drives kept disappearing ??

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Re: USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

Postby cphite » Wed Jan 08, 2014 9:14 pm UTC

Moonbeam wrote:Okay ..... oooooops ...... this MAY have something to do with it:

Someone mentioned the formatting etc and it occurred to me that I didn't actually format either of them myself - I assumed (foolishly) that my missus did it, as both the pen drive and the USB stick were her's. Well, I asked her earlier today and she didn't format them as well, so I'm guessing that seeing how neither drive was formatted .... this is what happens ......

Ooooooops ..... I feel a bit foolish now, but I'm guessing that this is the reason why eveything on the drives kept disappearing ??



Nah, they're definitely in a format that Windows can use or else you'd be getting errors and wouldn't be able to see anything on them...

Jorpho might be onto something - how many files were you copying, total? You might be running into a hard limit on the drives.

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Re: USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

Postby Moonbeam » Wed Jan 08, 2014 9:37 pm UTC

cphite wrote:Jorpho might be onto something - how many files were you copying, total? You might be running into a hard limit on the drives.


The folder that I copied from my PC, is now on my laptop. I've just done a right click ----> properties and it contains 3458 files and 315 folders and is 15.4GB in size. That's slightly higher (although not much) than the amount I was trying to copy over, as I've copied a few items from my laptop into this folder, making it slightly larger than the original folder.

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Re: USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

Postby Suzaku » Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:09 am UTC

MS TechNet wrote:The root folder on a FAT32 drive is now an ordinary cluster chain, so it can be located anywhere on the volume. For this reason, FAT32 does not restrict the number of entries in the root folder.

Since the disks are too big to be FAT16, the number of files is not the problem, AFAICS.
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Re: USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

Postby Jorpho » Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:38 am UTC

Suzaku wrote:
MS TechNet wrote:The root folder on a FAT32 drive is now an ordinary cluster chain, so it can be located anywhere on the volume. For this reason, FAT32 does not restrict the number of entries in the root folder.
Since the disks are too big to be FAT16, the number of files is not the problem, AFAICS.
Aie! I was clearly not reading from an informed source.

Moonbeam wrote:Someone mentioned the formatting etc and it occurred to me that I didn't actually format either of them myself - I assumed (foolishly) that my missus did it, as both the pen drive and the USB stick were her's. Well, I asked her earlier today and she didn't format them as well, so I'm guessing that seeing how neither drive was formatted .... this is what happens ......
No, no, no. Everything comes pre-formatted these days. I can't image that's something to worry about.

It doesn't exactly address the problem at hand, but I started using the magnificent TeraCopy on all my Windows PCs a long time ago and have never had a file copying problem since. It integrates seamlessly and I can't recommend it enough.

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Re: USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

Postby speising » Thu Jan 09, 2014 7:56 pm UTC

Jorpho wrote:It doesn't exactly address the problem at hand, but I started using the magnificent TeraCopy on all my Windows PCs a long time ago and have never had a file copying problem since. It integrates seamlessly and I can't recommend it enough.


i used that too - until i realized that it silently doesn't copy ADS (alternate data streams, which my pvr software uses to store metadata).

to the problem at hand i really intuit a virus.

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Re: USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

Postby Moonbeam » Thu Jan 09, 2014 8:34 pm UTC

speising wrote:to the problem at hand i really intuit a virus.


The pc in question doesn't get switched on that often (which is why I wanted to back everything up) .... but it's got up to date anti-virus (MSE) and it gets scanned now and again with malwarebytes. I'll try and switch it on tomoz and do a full system scan .... I'll try and use Trend Micro as well. Anything else I should be doing ????

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Re: USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

Postby Suzaku » Fri Jan 10, 2014 1:58 am UTC

If you can, try scanning the USB disks as well, just in case.
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Re: USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

Postby theburnckm » Thu Mar 14, 2019 1:49 pm UTC

The issue you are describing is a counterfeit flash drive.
China does this quite often now. They take an old small flash drive memory and reprogram the controller to tell the computer it is larger than it is.
For example: I purchased 4 128gb flash drives on eBay. Plugging into the computer they say they are 128gb, but when I test the memory it says they only have 15.5gb of memory. Anything I write to the drive after the 15.5gb will still try to write it to the drive, but because it only really has 16gb memory installed inside the flash drive.... Anything else will be deleted from the drive.
It is a scam. Hopefully you were able to return your product for a refund.

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Re: USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

Postby slintyflinty » Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:48 am UTC

Get it scanned. It would be due to some malware. I had faced a wierd issue like 2 years ago. Whenever I used to use my USB, its space decreased automatically.

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Re: USB stick keeps "losing" files - what's going on ??

Postby SecondTalon » Thu May 02, 2019 2:17 pm UTC

Why the hell is this five year old thread attracting so much attention lately?

Man am I gonna be pissed if y'all are spambots.
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