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  #466322 6-May-2011 20:53
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Ok. Let's have a closer look at that disk. USB interfaces (and windows) can be untrustworthy so...

Plug the drive into an internal sata/ide port, disconnect any other drives, and boot the GParted Live CD. Accept the default GParted boot choices during boot.

Let us know what things look like in GParted, and any information GParted reports about that disk.

Hi there gzt, thanks for your help.  I finally got around to installing Gparted and here's what it has to say about the drive:

Cluster accounting failed at xxxxxxx (xxxxxxxx), extra cluster in $bitmap. (there are several of these)
Files system check failed.  Totally 144 cluster accounting mismatches.
NTFS is inconsistent, run chkdsk on Windows then reboot it twice.
Unable to read content of this file system and because of this some operations may not be available.
The cause may be missing software package. 
The following is required for NTFS support: ntfsprogs.

Yikes ...!

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  #466345 6-May-2011 22:22
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I'm pretty sure the ntfsprogs package is on the livecd by default. If so, the reason gparted is having trouble reading the content is due to the consistency errors identified.

This has been looking like a corrupt file table/metadata from the beginning, but it is surprising that chkdsk did not report these errors.

Before you attempt any repairs you need to make a reliable disk image back up of this drive. The GParted LiveCD page suggests some disk imaging tools you could use. If any repair fails or does nothing useful, then restore the image and start again. A restore after each failed attempt is a good idea or things might get very messy indeed.

Repair suggestions.

I guess there is always the possibility chkdsk /f will fix errors which chkdsk without /f will not report to the user, so that might be worth a go.

The GParted LiveCD does include TestDisk for repair of NTFS MFT's. It might be worth a go, but looking at the description and the failure type above I really doubt it will help in this case. Maybe.

TestDisk might also recover a deleted or misplaced partition, but I doubt that is the case here.

It looks to me like space is allocated for the desired files in $bitmap, but there are no records for the files in the $MFT.

The TestDisk package link above has links to commercial recovery software. Most have evaluation versions, running one of those might give a good indication of the problem, which could give a better target.

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