Large folder with thousands of files has vanished

Hi everyone!
My machine dual-boots Win98SE and Win XP and I am currently slowly transporting and sorting close to a terabyte of software and information into the XP operating environment. I work with computer graphics and video, so my machine has a lot of files.
Keeping catalogued backups has been part of my routine for many years due to a bad experience in the past and funnily enough, ever since I started keeping careful backups, I never needed to use them. Not ever.
Recently, I set up a temporary folder on a separate partition on one of my 3 hard drives to download a large number of Photoshop, art and video related Web sites using a site downloader (running under Win98SE) so I can browse them at my leisure later and sort and add them to my “knowledge folders”. Normally, I do not download a large number of Web sites at one time. Also, normally they are sorted into different sub-directories/folders immediately after downloading them. However, this time, I let the files and sub-directories build up in this temporary folder because I did not have the time to sort them. Knowing that overloading a folder with files and sub-directories could cause problems, I still did not worry as I thought that I would just get an error message, or refusal to write any more files. I was wrong! Last time I checked, the temporary folder had tens of thousands of files and sub-directories. Yesterday I noticed the temporary folder was completely missing.
Here is a list of symptoms and the things I did to try and recover the files/folders:

* Temporary folder with many files and sub-directories disappeared.

* Checked how much free space the partition has – There is close to 2 gigs unaccounted for on the partition, most files were very small text or gif files.

* Ran ScanDisk - Noticed that it was checking the thousands of files and sub-directories within the invisible folder.

* Booted into Win XP and repeated above steps – Same results and folder still not visible.

* Ran “PC Inspector File Recovery” – It listed the missing folders and subdirectories inside the “Deleted” area. However, saving anything to another drive only resulted in folders being created, without any files. The “Lost” area showed random, related, but not malformed files. They were –probably- files which were overwritten or deleted when I updated the mirror of a Web site.

* Clue – I last used Vallen Jpegger to look at the images from a site I had mirrored. The folder of the mirrored site I looked at displayed a number of unusual, malformed file names when looking at it inside the “Deleted” area of the recovery program. In other words: While looking at them inside the recovery application, I could not find ANY files in the folders of other sites, but found malformed filenames inside the folder I browsed last with Jpegger. Jpegger saves catalogue files of each folder of images inside that folder, and while I noticed no odd behaviour, I suspect something happened to my FAT while Jpegger was saving that catalogue file.

* Used Spinrite - Found no errors on that partition.

* Used S.M.A.R.T software – Found no hardware warnings.

* Always use firewall and antivirus/spyware – No warnings.

So the question is (besides “Why did you knowingly overload your folder”): What does it mean when ScanDisk still checks the invisible folders, “PC Inspector File Recovery” can see all the invisible folders, but not the files and what software can I use to (hopefully) correct this?

The lesson from this is that I should really be backing up my temporary folders also, no matter how messy they are at the time. I still hope someone can help me because it would be a shame to lose all those files and have to start over again. I also had a file that I was going to save and back up inside that directory which is now gone also. I honestly don’t think this is a hardware problem, but specific to Win98. Still, I posted here since I see similar posts in this section.

Please share your experience and advice, it would be greatly appreciated and thank you for reading this long post.

I should also mention:
The partition is relatively small at 4.6 gigs. I created a separate partition for this very reason, in case something goes wrong while working with the temporary files before burning them to DVD. Interestingly, the partition has another large temporary folder which has been unaffected. The problem which occurred within a sub-directory has "taken out" the entire tree.
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  1. Can you guess how embarrassed I am right now? Maybe I'll feel better if I tell you a little story:
    A number of years ago I was a little short on cash and decided to buy the cheapest brand of motherboard I could find to upgrade my machine for an upcoming project. Everything was fast and running as expected, however sometimes when I saved a very large file, the system would hang and the file would be damaged. One day, the system hung again, but when I rebooted, the entire directory tree containing the file was missing. Disk Doctor found thousands of errors it was not able to fix and I had to give up trying to recover the tree. Luckily, I had backups so all was well. I got around this “hanging” by using “save as” instead of “save”, for some reason. For extra safety, I decided to partition my drives into many smaller drives, in case an error knocks out a tree or partition, thus minimising damage. Needless to say, the motherboard (it was known to cause problems) was quickly swapped for a better brand and I never had a problem again.
    This time, when the entire tree disappeared, I thought it had happened again. The problem could not be fixed before, so I assumed the worst and went all panicky and technical. Being a respectful, and experienced IT student (and all-round gentlemen) I kept my occasional, mild amusement to myself as I witnessed other people “go Einstein” on something that was not plugged in before helping them out. So there is a lesson in all this for –me- now.
    The entire folder, with the thousands of files ended up in my “System Volume Information” folder of my partition. How or when that happened, I honestly don’t know. Thank you for reading this. I’ll happily put all this behind me now.
  2. very sorry for your loss :? It does hurt alot to lose important data. That's why you should always backup data into another harddisk. Use a software that can do it for you every few hours or a day or so. :lol:
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