General discussion

  • Creator
  • #2211055

    External Drive Backups just … vanish!


    by appalonius ·

    I have a ‘MyBook’ 1-Terabyte external drive, mfgr. Western Digital, USB connected, about 2 yrs old, for monthly backups on my home PC. To backup, I simply create a dated folder (like ‘Bkup_20110801’), and manually copy my doc- & pic-folders from my PC into that dated folder.

    The drive now contains about 22 dated backups, and is a bit over 1/2 full.

    But this last time, the newly backed-up docs would vanish before almost my eyes! The Copy completes normally, and I can see the copied subfolders within the dated folder. But when I pop out of the folder and go back in, the subfolders are gone.

    What is wrong? Does the external drive have a limit on the number of files or folders it can hold? Note, the file system is FAT32, my Windows OS is Vista, and the manufacturer is Dell. I do regular maintenance and virus/malware scans on my PC (using AVAST, Ad-Aware and other tools). None of the backed-up files are >2G in size.

    I am now running a Defrag on the external drive in hopes that this might solve the problem. The defragmentation has been running about about 24 hours now. It probably has a long way to go. But I suspect this is clutching at straw.

    Please help me save my backups. Thanks.

All Comments

  • Author
    • #2901606

      If you are copying files

      by robo_dev ·

      In reply to External Drive Backups just … vanish!

      and the copy fails, you should get an error right there.

      IF you are not able to see a directory, right after you create it, I would suspect that:

      a) the drive file-allocation-table is corrupt
      b) the drive is somehow failing, like it’s not getting enough power, or losing connectivity
      c) some sort of malware process is running

      To start with, if you just copy a single file, can you read it?

      Note that external drives can and do often overheat, and also that some drives draw more power than the USB port can supply, so that you need to either use a USB y-cable or an external power supply.

      I would begin with downloading the WD DataLifeguard diags from the WD website. I would run a full extended diag test on the drive. If there is ‘priceless’ data on the drive, first make a copy of that, as a diag test might end badly.

      • #2901604

        "To start with, if you just copy a single file, can you read it?"

        by charliespencer ·

        In reply to If you are copying files

        Before you try that, can you create a single file manually directly on the drive?

        Try reposting this in the ‘Q&A’ forum. The ‘Discussion’ forum is for matters of general discussion, not specific problems in search of a solution. The ‘Water Cooler’ is for non-technical discussions. You can submit a question to ‘Q&A’ here:;content

        There are TR members who specifically seek out problems in need of a solution. Although there is some overlap between the forums, you’ll find more of those members in ‘Q&A’ than in ‘Discussions’ or ‘Water Cooler’.

        Be sure to use the voting buttons to provide your feedback. Voting a ‘+’ does not necessarily mean that a given response contained the complete solution to your problem, but that it served to guide you toward it. This is intended to serve as an aid to those who may in the future have a problem similar to yours. If they have a ready source of reference available, perhaps won’t need to repeat questions previously asked and answered. If a post did contain the solution to your problem, you can also close the question by marking the helpful post as “The Answer”.

    • #2901691

      Problem solved (mostly)

      by appalonius ·

      In reply to External Drive Backups just … vanish!

      After the external drive Defrag, the copied folders appeared again. Then disappeared. After some fiddling, I found that the Copy had for some reason assigned them the ‘Hidden’ attribute (and the Backup folder was set not to show Hidden subfolders). This had never happened before, and I am still unsure of the cause — a drive glitch, perhaps. But now I know what to look for, and how to fix it. Thanks for your hints!

Viewing 1 reply thread