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Need help opening file folders

I'm in great need of tech help. Some files on my external hard drive changed formats. I had a lot of file folders, which contained microsoft word files. I also had file folders that contained music sheets and music. It seems that the "file folders" changed into "files" and now I can't access the file folders/files. When I click on them, a window pops up asking me which program I want to use to open the file. Does anyone know what happened or what I can do to open them?
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More about need opening file folders
  1. Have you changed how you use the external hard drive? Changed PCs or operating systems?

    Find one of those file folders, right mouse click on it and choose Properties. What are the properties shown?
  2. Maybe you disconnected the external hard drive without first using the Safely Remove Hardware option?

  3. I didn't disconnect my external hard drive at all or change my operating systems. I truely have no idea what happened. I did move some folders/files to the external hard drive earlier in the day and it worked fine. If I click on properties for the file folders/files then it says:

    Type of file: File
    Description: Essays
    Location: J:/Writing
    Size: 32.0 KB (32,768 bytes)
    Size on disk: 32.0 KB (32,768 bytes)
    Created: Saturday, October 11, 2008, 6:05:07PM
    Modified: Saturday, October 11, 2008, 6:05:08PM
    Accessed: Today, March 29, 2009
    Attributes: Nothing is checked in the Read-only, Hidden, or Archive

    It should be "file folders" as the type of file, but now it says file, which is why I can't access it anymore.
  4. udonluvr said:

    Size: 32.0 KB (32,768 bytes)
    Size on disk: 32.0 KB (32,768 bytes)

    This is the part that concerns me - the size of the "file".
    I've seen that 32.0 KB figure a lot when the File Allocation Table is broken. (32 KB is usually 1 cluster on a HDD)
    I bet all the broken folders are the same size.

    Just to make sure you're not the victim of some virus or malware have you run a good virus & spyware check?
    What security software are you using? Make sure you run the checks in Safe Mode.

    How big is the external HDD - and how much room is left on your main HDD?
  5. Yea, all the "files" are 32.0 KB. I have a 500 GB external hard drive and I still have 232 GB free. I usually run the AVG Anti-Virus full system check daily and the last few checks didn't find any spywear or viruses. Just to make sure, I did run a scan on the external hard drive a few minutes ago and it also didn't find any viruses or threats.
  6. I don't suppose you have 500GB of free space on your main hard drive?
    If you're going to try and recover from the error on your external drive you'll want to make an image of the drive as a backup, and maybe even use the image to try and recover the files.
    Have you tried running any file recovery software, or run any other utlities yet?
  7. I actually did copy my external hard drive onto my main hard drive after I realized that the folders weren't opening correctly. Right now I have 321 GB of free space on my main hard drive after the copy. I haven't run any other utilities/programs because I wasn't sure what to do or where to start.
  8. I don't suppose you have backups for the files on the external HDD, do you?

    Making a copy of your hard drive would have just replicated the errors on the external drive to your main HDD.
    Making an image of the external drive is making an exact copy of the disk as it is right now.
    http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-disk-image.htm
    http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-imaging-software.htm

    How much space will your main HDD have if you detele the copy of the external HDD?
    Do you have any other HDDs?

    Im thinking of having you remove the copy of the external drive and putting the external drive image there instead. As a backup, in case anything goes wrong with trying to rebuild the folders on the external.
    I'm pretty sure the data is still there - you'll need one of the "repair utilities" that are out there.
  9. Best answer
    The File Allocation Table (FAT) on your external drive is probably damaged. There is a special section of the FAT for directory tables where the folder information is kept. There is a good chance all your data is still intact, it's just that it "can't be found" due to the FAT being damaged.

    You'll want to try a data recovery utility to see if you can get it repaired, or in a worst case scenario, rebuilt.
    I've worked on maybe 30 drives and my success rate in fully recovering the data has been about 50%. The success rate is best when people haven't tried to run System Restore, Chkdsk /F and other "repair utilities".

    The largest amount of data I've ever worked with before has been about 60GB. And the time it took the computer to rebuild & recover things was nearly 40 hours.

    I've been using Active@ File Recovery Professional for the last couple of years. I know another person that's used File Scavenger Data Recovery 3.2 sucessfully.

    I don't know a lot about what other data recovery utility programs are out there. Used Google trying to find a review site that would show what the best data recovery utility programs without much luck. Did find this:
    http://data-recovery-software-review.toptenreviews.com/
    But I can't vouch for its accuracy or authenticity. There are quite a few "scammer utilities" out there.
    I'd check out Downloads.com by cNet to double check the ratings of any program you choose. You can sort the options by Editors Ratings or User Ratings.

    To maximize your chances of getting you data back read this general advice, especially the items in red at the bottom of this page:
    http://www.file-recovery.net/troubleshoot.htm#maximizing
  10. I have another external hard drive, but it's already full and doesn't have enough memory for a drive image. I did what you suggested and deleted the copy and added an image of the external hard drive onto the main drive using Macrium Reflect. I'll look into the data recovery utilities and check out which one to use.
  11. Best answer selected by mousemonkey.
  12. This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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