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USB Flash Drive File Names Gibberish

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Ice4, Feb 17, 2020.

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  1. Ice4

    Ice4 Thread Starter

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    I'm trying to help a friend who has a 16 GB USB pen drive that's been giving her trouble. The files are currently not accessible at all, and the file names have turned to gibberish.

    This apparently happened while she was watching a video on it, and a large truck vibrated the building. Suddenly the menu disappeared, and when it popped back up the file names were scrambled, and she got an error message that the drive could not be used and or fixed.

    She is on a Mac that runs Snowleopard (2010?). She tried it on a PC as well, and it couldn't even find the drive. On my PC the drive was recognized, but all I can see are the gibberish files. All the files say they are 0 KB, and I tried Recuva which found nothing, but when I look at the properties and the device manager, it still displays that about 14 GB are being used, so it appears the files are still there. I was also able to run a virus check, which came back clean.

    Apparently the vibrating building has caused problems previously as well. Some of the videos on that drive suddenly were missing half of the file. Never seen that before! I've seen files either work or be completely unusable, but she could still watch half the video, but the rest was gone.

    The drive is currently with me and my PC, so that I can see if I can recover those files, but I'm at a loss. Does anyone have any ideas? Thanks so much.
     
  2. Oddba11

    Oddba11 It's My Birthday!

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    Sounds like a faulty drive. You can try using data recovery software, but as you noted with Recuva, it's not seeing the data. So it's likely gone.

    The amount of space used is simply a reflection of what was on the drive. The data is corrupted or gone, but as it was simply corrupted as opposed to the files being deleted, the FAT hasn't changed. In this case, that is just misleading information.

    Time for a new USB drive.
     
  3. plodr

    plodr

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  4. Ice4

    Ice4 Thread Starter

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    I'm not quite ready to give up on the drive yet. I had a problem with one of my own drives recently and was able to recover it all. In that case the permissions had changed somehow, but after a couple of rounds of changing the permissions, I got everything back. I don't see anything about permissions on this drive (it's a small stick, while the other was most substantial).

    She's always had strange experiences with the drive on the Mac, which I could never reproduce on my PC. Except that I witnessed videos that where complete when I put them on the drive for her, get cut in half. Never seen anything like it. Still playable, but half the file is gone. I don't even know how that's possible.

    I know the videos were not infected because I scanned them before I put them on the drive, and I scanned the drive again since, and found nothing. Is there an antivirus program that would work on her Mac, to rule out any infections? Mac users always tell me that they couldn't possibly have any malware, because Macs are immune, so they don't bother with any software to keep themselves safe.

    I know it seems weird that a vibrating building could have this effect, but since I live here as well and experience the movement of the building, I actually find it believable. We've essentially lived on a construction site for the last few years, in such an old building that we still have two-prong outlets. I'm frequently amazed the building hasn't vibrated to a new address yet! ;)
     
  5. plodr

    plodr

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    Think about it. You live in the same vibrating building as your friend and don't have the weird problems affecting the Mac. I suspect, it is not the vibration causing the issues.

    I haven't used an Apple hardware since 1989 so I can't recommend programs.
     
  6. lynx1021

    lynx1021

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  7. Ice4

    Ice4 Thread Starter

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    I guess it's possible that the moving building and things going awry on her computer are unrelated, but there appears to be a strong correlation. I have a totally different computer setup than hers, newer PC laptop vs older Mac desktop, and I don't live quite as close to the construction as she does.

    Yeah, I thought maybe there was a formatting issue, but I formatted the drive on my PC in FAT32 before I gave it to her, so that it would work on both of our computers, and it worked for months on her Mac. Well, except for the occasional, inexplicable disappearance of half a video.

    I've looked a bit closer at the properties, and noticed that the amount listed as used is actually a lot less than I thought. It's MB, not GB, so I'm now thinking it probably all got deleted and is irretrievable. So now I'm thinking of trying to reformat the drive to see if it still works, and start over.
     
  8. Oddba11

    Oddba11 It's My Birthday!

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    Perform a full format, not a quick format.

    As for testing, try filling the drive and then ensure all of the files are readable.
     
  9. managed

    managed Trusted Advisor Spam Fighter

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    FAT32 has a maximum file size of 4GB so if any of the Videos are larger that could explain why they seem to be too small.
     
  10. Ice4

    Ice4 Thread Starter

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    No, there were no files over even 1GB on the drive. I kept them purposely small.

    I did a full reformat and filled it up about 80%, and it looks perfectly functional on my PC. I'll give it back to her tomorrow and we'll see how it goes.

    I told her to copy each video to her desktop and play it on her media player from there. She had been playing videos directly from the drive, which I suspect may have contributed to the problem.

    Thanks so much for the feedback here. Hopefully this resolves the issue, but I'll wait and see how the drive fares on her system.
     
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