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Various files on desktop disappeared (advanced user)

Last response: in Windows 7
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April 25, 2012 9:35:41 AM

Hello all,
first off here are a series of related threads that have not been solved:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/76126-45-problem-file...
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/40749-63-files-docume...
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/40748-63-disappearing...
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/240328-45-several-fil...
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/5993-63-missing-deskt...
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/270971-45-missing-des...

and here are some threads on a "hidden files/folders virus" that have been solved but are -not- my problem (nor what others like me seem to be experiencing)
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/270970-45-disappearin...
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/11365-63-disappearing...

Main Problem:
While working (though not specifically while I was watching, ie: I was cycling through firefox, acrobat reader, outlook 2010, and microsoft word 2010 without viewing the desktop very often) all of the documents on my desktop disappeared.

Meaning, they were all there (some have been there for months) this morning when I came to work and turned my computer on, and while working (without rebooting or doing anything abnormal) the files disappeared. None of the folders have disappeared nor have their positions on the desktop changed. The only thing out of the normal routine that I did today was update Adobe Acrobat Reader 9. I don't use X because it conflicts with my printer, though lately it's been acting up anyway so I thought it might be 9 and did the check for updates(I've had check for updates turned off until now). It updated from something like 9.2.5 to 9.5.1. Other than that it's been a usual day of typing in Word, opening PDFs and printing them out, with a little Outlook 2010, Mozilla Firefox, and some wordpad.

Some specs:
Windows 7 Professional 64-bit (no pending windows updates)
ESET Smart Security, active, up to date, and running the entire time. (Full scan returned no problems)
8gigs ram, C drive 500GB, D drive 80GB, E drive 1TB
and other various goodies I'll be glad to divulge if anyone wants to know.

Things that are -not- wrong:
I've been using computers for over 20 years, I built this one from parts as I do with all my computers, yada yada, I'm the "computer guy" at my company I run the network, I setup all the boxes, and take care of all the repairs and problems. Then again I am not certified or licensed in anything, there is plenty about Windows, and especially Windows 7 that I do not understand. Also, and this is quite unfortunate, I live and work in Japan so my OS is in Japanese. I am fluent to an extent but I cannot navigate some of the control panel areas without a little trial and error because the chinese characters get a little tricky when you get into too specific of a subject; BUT, I love and have been using ACDSee Classic forever, with it's "show hidden" and "show system" files options, I have free reign over hidden files and programs from the rest of the people that use this computer who do not know what ACDSee is (safer for them).

Nothing shows up in ACDSee or explorer with show hidden files active in my desktop folder or any other user's desktop (there's only one user but windows makes those "all users" folders anyway) or on the desktop itself. All the folders remain untouched. Files that were positioned between two folders are missing, meaning I didn't accidentally click and drag the whole desktop into my recycle bin and some how clean the bin without noticing.

Only one file shows up in quick recovery scans of the recycle bin or the desktop, and I'm currently in the process of a deep scan of the entire C drive. (though I didn't delete the files, so why should they?)

Solution?
The only thing I can imagine is that somehow some sector of the desktop got "archived" or sectioned off in some manner. If I can assume the folders within the desktop folder have their own paths (their own separate sectors on the disk, albeit within the desktop sector) and that the files within the desktop folder all share a common sector (the desktop folder) perhaps that sector got somehow funked with? For example the shortcut to "My Computer" even went missing. All I had left was a recycle bin and 9-10 folders scattered across the desktop. So is there some way I can look into recovering that specific sector? Some sort of indexing/archiving that might cause this?

I don't have recovery points, nor that recent of backups to recover files such as last nights work or last weeks work, but more important than getting my data back is, What Happened!? So it doesn't happen again.

It seems there are actually a fair share of people (on this site and MANY others) that have or have had this problem and now fear their desktop as an evil devourer of mid-term papers. In my case as well, weeks of work, in a business environment, definitely NOT acceptable, and this will be sent to Microsoft in several languages.


Help!
If anyone has any insight or ideas of what could be causing this that would be great. We need an open discussion on this. Again it does not have to do with Human error (me), nor does it seem to be a virus (the hidden files deal); I have plenty experience with computers and after scouring the task manager and the hard disk with various tools I cannot find tens of files all from one single location, that were all there just hours ago!.............??? Trying a search or turning desktop icons on something simple like that has already been done :na:  no offense, but this is not that simple.

Thanks for any input! :pt1cable: 
a b $ Windows 7
April 25, 2012 9:56:07 AM

Failing Hard Drive?Developing bad sectors, namely the ones where the missing items were stored...
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April 25, 2012 10:40:39 AM

dodger46 said:
Failing Hard Drive?Developing bad sectors, namely the ones where the missing items were stored...

Thank you for the reply!

The drive in question is a WESTERN DIGITAL WD5000AAKX [500GB SATA600 7200RPM] bought new right about 12 months ago, has never been formatted, is kept cool, and really only receives light work. It currently only has 87 gigs out of the 465 in use.

Certainly not impossible, but I would consider in very unlikely. Especially with such a specific cluster of files. There were probably about 25 files that went missing, mostly excel, word, pdf, and jpgs; maybe a couple psd files and a couple ppt files.

There weren't any warning or messages that ever popped up, one minute all was well, then one minute all the files on the desktop were gone *poof*

Because of the acrobat reader update I can't help but assume that's our culprit, but I doubt that everyone with the same problem has done the same thing, nor why that would have any affect on file structure or my desktop folder....... But I just don't know at this point.


ps: the deep recovery scan showed some of the files I'm missing (overwritten older versions, etc) but not all of the files. I'm going to reboot with a full scandisk now see if I get any bad sector reports.
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Related resources
a b $ Windows 7
April 25, 2012 11:19:21 AM

I had a strange situation with recorded video files from a webcam, the files could be seen and manipulated from the 'Save as' window, but disappeared in the folder to which they had been saved. I discovered by accident that the files could be 'seen' when the folder was exported to an external drive, namely an SD card. Won't do you any harm to send one of your missing file folders to an external drive to see if the files turn up...just on the off-chance!
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a b $ Windows 7
April 25, 2012 11:31:19 AM

Think I'd uninstall Reader 9 temporarily too, just in case it's responsible for some obscure reason...
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April 25, 2012 12:49:28 PM

Weird. I'll give it shot Friday, I have tomorrow off... I messed with it for almost 5 hours today and only got back like four files I didn't really need =o=

My co-worker is going to be bummed when he checks in tomorrow, sees the desktop, and reads the e-mail I sent him haha. just hope he doesn't wake me up at 9 in the morning asking for me to repeat everything I wrote in the e-mail for him in words he can understand XD j/k j/k!
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April 27, 2012 4:44:04 AM

Back in my office...
I remember now that I made a backup of the Dekstop folder and all its subfolders (31G) right after the problem onto a different drive. Looking at that folder now it is indeed lacking the files that were immediately on the desktop; though all of the subfolders remain in tact. >_<

It makes no sense!!
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September 3, 2012 8:33:41 AM

I just had something similar occur again.

I never did fix the original problem and just had to deal with it.
Since I've made it a habit of moving any files on the desktop (other people use this computer, though no one has admin privledge but myself) into folders for at least that small level of security as no folders were harmed in my problem back in April.

So I didn't lose any files, there was only one file on the desktop, a pdf, and it didn't dissapear??? The only other files on the desktop were folders and shortcuts. None of the folders seem touched, though all but two of the shortcuts dissapeared!

It makes no sense!
Even the shortcut to My Computer was deleted.

Immediate response: other people use the computer = someone else did. Answer: no way. None of the five or six people that use this computer understand what they are doing half the time, and the would have to select individually (the don't know how to use ctrl) over 12 shortcuts, some in between folders, and maliciously delete them for no good reason in a work place. That's just silly, and I don't work with crazys.

This time only a pdf and two shortcuts were left over?... and this all happened sometime between use in the last hour.... I never did upgrade my Adobe Reader, though I cannot fathom why that would cause anything... 2011's version of Reader X had problems with my printer... I'll try update now though, maybe it's gotten better...

Just weird all round... weird Windows 7 nonsense...
I don't like the new Outlook as long as I'm complaining... way fewer options than express = sucky
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