USB Flash/Thumb drive not displaying files

Compaq / R3000
November 8, 2010 at 08:01:43
Specs: Windows 7, 2.699 GHz / 759 MB
I came into work today, plugged my USB flash drive in as usual, the explorer window opened as usual, but instead of listing my files as usual, it showed just 25 or so folders all with jibberish names like "abcd.ef". Any one that I click on and try to open i get the error "H:\abcd.ef is not accessible. The Filename, Directory Name, or Volume Label syntax is incorrect" I right click - Properties each file and it says 0 bites for size on disk. i right click - Properties the drive in My Computer and it says capacity is only 1.38 MB and 1.22MB used. This is a 2GB Drive. Please Help! My Life is on this drive.

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November 8, 2010 at 08:05:16
Troubleshooting USB device problems including for flash drives, external drives, memory cards.
See Response 1:

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November 8, 2010 at 08:24:29
Thanks but that doesn't really apply to my situation. I have been plugging this drive into the same port for a few years now. I did however realize something else since my first post. The drive somehow got converted to a FAT file system. I have an exact identical drive connected to the same computer used for backups, and this file system is FAT32. Is there any way to convert it back to FAT32 WITHOUT loosing my files. Here are a few ideas that I have, but would rather expert advice before proceding with them. Reformat the drive with the FAT32 system, then use some kind of file recovery program to "restore" those files.
In an unrelated problem I recently lost all of the data in the MY Documents folder, and am currently looking into data recovery programs for that data. Just wondering if I "delete" the data and restructure the drive, will the recovery program be able to retreive the data?

I think i know how it got converted it if makes any difference. I was playing around with Norton partition magic, and found this option to create restore disks. I plugged the USB drive in and told it to create disks there, but this feature wasn't the restore disks I was expecting. I got an error, canceled out of everything unplugged the drive and went about my other business. That was the last time the drive was even plugged into any computer until today.

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November 8, 2010 at 08:25:37
Try using a program called testdisk to rebuild the partition on that drive. Be sure to read all instructions prior to using it. Get testdisk at the link below. Improper removal of your flash drive may have caused that issue. Always use the safely remove icon in the tray by the clock

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November 8, 2010 at 11:11:50
That did it good enough. Thank you. I am now able to view my files and such, but the file system is still in FAT. No Biggie though, I can just copy all files to hard drive, reformat the flash to correct file system and copy the files back.

I have an interesting question though. In the process of recovering my drive I was able to recover old deleted data/files also. My flash drive is only 2GB, but when copying files from within testdisk, I was able to copy/retreive 6.5GB of data whick most of it was old deleted files). If the drive is only 2GB how can it hold 6+ GB of data?

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November 8, 2010 at 11:22:31
You evidently were recovering files from elsewhere on the computer.

If you read and followed the instructions in testdisk you should have been able to recreate a FAT32 partition. At this point if you have the space I would do as you mentioned and copy all to hard drive and then rework the drive.

Also, are you sure the flash drive is only 2GB?

One more thing. Keeping only ONE copy of personal data is playing Russian roulette. It is not IF hardware will fail, but when. Add that to the possibility of loss, theft, fire, etc.


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November 8, 2010 at 11:46:58
The FAT software partitioning used has nothing to do with your problems.
Flash drives, or memory cards, with a capacity of 2gb or smaller are supposed to use the FAT software partitioning; ones that have a capacity larger than 2gb up to and including 32gb are supposed to use the FAT32 software partitioning.

Using NTFS software partitioning is NOT recommended for any partition of 4gb or smaller because more capacity is used up by what is required for it, and some devices will not recognize the flash drive or the memory card if you do use the NTFS.

You can use the FAT32 software partitioning for flash drives or cards with a capacity of 2gb or smaller, however
- by default you cannot change the partitioning used on removable drives (other than external hard drives) in Windows itself (at least in 2000 and above) - you need to use a third party program, or do something to "fool" Windows into seeing the removable drive as an internal drive, which isn't recommended.
- some devices may not detect the flash drive or memory card at all if it's capacity is 2gb or less and it's using FAT32.

Software partitioning and formatting are two different things. In ME and previous, those are done separately in the operating system itself. In 2000 and up, if you are allowed to software partition or re-partition a drive, they are done at nearly the same time, formatting takes longer, so people often assume it's only formatting when you are making or re-making a partition.
By default you can only format a removable drive (other than an external drive) in Windows -you have to use a third party program if you want to change the software partitioning type used.
If the software partitioning used has damaged data problems, you can't fix that by re-formatting the flash drive or memory card in Windows itself - you must use a third party program to fix that problem.

The manufacturer's stated capacity of a flash drive is most often it's RAW size - it's a little less than that after some of the capacity has been used up by software partitioning and formatting it.

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