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0 Byte Files

by cgoodlein / September 27, 2008 3:36 AM PDT

My system (WinXPSP2) generates 0 byte files for some reason. The files are associated with other MS Office or PDF files and prohibit the associated file and the 0 byte file from being moved, copied, or deleted. Frequently, the MS Office or PDF file that is associated with these 0 byte files is corrupted and unreadable; other times they are not. There is apparently no virus per NIS 2008. Some of these files are opened and used frequently and others have not been used in months. I am looking for suggestions concerning the possible cause(s) and solutions. I have been able to delete these 0 byte files with Unlocker. These files interfere with backups and file maintenance.

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do you
by B123456H / September 27, 2008 6:40 AM PDT
In reply to: 0 Byte Files

have show hidden files turned on?

I use office 2007 and pdf and i haven't ever seen the 0 byte files that you are talking about.

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0 byte files
by cgoodlein / September 27, 2008 7:23 AM PDT
In reply to: 0 Byte Files

Yes, the "show hidden files" is turned-on. I turned it on after I could not delete certain files and at the suggestion of my company's IT person. I found the 0 byte files and discovered that it was the reason that I could not delete the file (or so the IT guy told me). At first, it was possible to delete these files using a DOS command prompt. Later, this strategy did not work and I used Unlocker to remove these files and the companion Office or PDF file that was often corupted. I ran AntiMalware software at the suggestion of reply in another forum and did find two Trojans that were removed. I am going to run AntiSpyware again and see if I find any other offending files.

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Where are these files?
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / September 28, 2008 3:45 AM PDT
In reply to: 0 byte files

Some files are located in one of the Temp folders, and those that are created 'today' cannot be deleted until the next day.

Where are your files located, and what file names?


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0 byte files
by cgoodlein / September 28, 2008 4:22 AM PDT
In reply to: Where are these files?

The files are not "Temp files" and are .doc, xls,.pps, & .pdf files contained in the "My Documents" folder. They are files that I have created and files that I have received from students.

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Why do your students sends you 0-byte files?
by Kees Bakker / September 28, 2008 4:36 AM PDT
In reply to: 0 byte files

Or did I miss something in your last post?


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0 byte files
by runninonmt75 / October 9, 2008 5:20 AM PDT

I'm in IT support and I have a user w/ the same issue. She clearly remembers creating the files, etc, and not all files in the directory are "bad", but many now show 0 bytes under properties and cannot be copied/moved/opened/deleted. In her case it pertains to pdf and doc file types. It seems to have to do w/ the directory itself somehow. Once a sub-dir contains one of these 0 byte files (this is the mystery, how did it get to that point) she can longer save any files to that directory, but any other directory works fine. You can copy the files that are still "good" out, and even rename the parent directory (1 level above corrupted directory) but not the sub-dir itself. This just started happening to her around the 26th, or so, of Sept 08, and based on the lack of info I'm finding on the web and the timing of the original post in this thread I'm wondering about an update, etc, or even something more sinister, that may have just started to show up. Been in IT for almost 15 years and have never seen anything like this. Please continue this thread and post info as necessary. My user is on XP Pro SP2 (I think, though it could be sp3), running office 2007 and acrobat 8 pro.

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This is a mystery
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / October 9, 2008 8:32 PM PDT
In reply to: 0 byte files

and I can't recall having seen a problem like this before.

Part of the difficulty is not seeing the process as it happens. In your user's case this means not seeing how she creates and saves these files, and the path of the folder/directory where she saves them to.

In the original poster's, (OP), case, the files seemed to be from students, and so the questions would have been even more complicated, eg, were these files saved on the students' computer hard drives satisfactorily? How were these files sent to the OP, and what did the OP do with them, open them straight away, save them straight away, if so how, and to where?

Back to your case, what has changed on the user's computer, if anything, from before this problem first appeared?

Is any other user seeing this problem?

If this user saves files to multiple locations, do all the files become 0 byte files?

At what stage do they become 0 byte files? EG, immediately, or after a reboot, or the next time she tries to open the files?

If good files can be removed from this folder, can you use a utility like MoveOnBoot, (MajorGeeks), to delete either individual 0 byte files, or the problem folder, or both?

If so, then does this problem re-occur? If it does, is it in the same folder path?

Sorry for all these questions, and some of them may be irrelevant, and there may be more questions to come, but this is unusual to me, and I am as much in the dark as you. Also, you are there of course, and we are not.

Good luck. Hopefully others here will have better ideas.


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Another thing I don't understand about this problem
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / October 9, 2008 9:06 PM PDT
In reply to: This is a mystery

It's this;

If your user has a Word.doc open on her desktop, one she has created herself, then she goes to File > Save As, navigates to the folder where she wants to save it, types in a file name, then saves it, what happens then?

What I mean is, if she does not immediately close that Word.doc down, is the data in it still there, all the words, paragraphs, etc?

If so, and with the document still open, you then use Explorer on that computer to navigate to the folder and find the file, is it 0 bytes? If not, can you open it as well, (read only), on another computer on the network?

It's all very strange. In the film Red Heat with Arnie and James Belushi, Arnie played a Russian policeman who went to America to catch a Russian Mafia criminal. Belushi said at one point, after a particularly gruesome encounter, "Its all very Russian". I think this is "all very Windows". Happy


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clearer explanation.
by runninonmt75 / October 10, 2008 1:57 AM PDT
In reply to: This is a mystery

This user has been in her role for years and has a typical process for doing her tasks. She works primarily in Excel and generates pdf files from QA testing for documentation.

On her current project she created a new subdir tree w/ various folders, etc. She went back to reference some of the files and when she attempted to open them nothing occurred. Once I checked it out I found that certain files in a few of these sub dirs all had zero bytes if you look at the properties via file->properties, but if you were looking at them in the explorer folder view it showed the proper size, name and extension.

There are other files in these sub dirs that are fine and can be copied out, however once a subdir contains one or more of these unwittingly converted 0 byte files you can no longer save any files to the directory. All files affected have a timestamp of 9.26.08 or later.

We've re-run through the processes that she used to create the identical files, in addition to some she had never tested before, and they can be saved in other directories just fine, but not the directories that have the 0 byte files. Very strange...doesn't appear to be a virus, ran defrag to make sure nfts wasn't hosed up somehow.

Again, this only started occurring on 9/26 or so, and it it's still popping up in newly created directories. I don't typically request assistance for issues on the web, but the original posters symptoms were so similar, and the date of the post too, I thought they my might be similar.

As far as the student thing, I think the poster meant they were files created on the system with the issue in addition to files from other systems, which again leads me to think this is an OS problem rather than application.

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0 byte files
by cgoodlein / October 10, 2008 4:01 AM PDT
In reply to: clearer explanation.

I agree with many of the opinions offered concerning this matter and believe that it is some type of OS problems. To clarify my original post, the files (pdf and doc) were created or obtained by both my students and myself. Some of the PDFs were created by myself, some by students, and some were downloaded from websites.

It may be unrelated, but I recently found two Trojans (undetected by NIS 2008) using Malwarebytes Anti-malware (Trojan files were serauth1.dll & serauth2.dll) and removed them to quarantine.

I am in the process of checking all of my doc and pdf files. The doc and pdf files were in different subdirectories of the My Documents folder on my laptop.

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Thanks for these replies.
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / October 10, 2008 5:31 AM PDT
In reply to: 0 byte files

I am seeking help from other Mods here, and hope to get back to you both soon.

Any contributions from other members would be welcome as well.


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by runninonmt75 / October 10, 2008 5:43 AM PDT

We use Trend Micro Officescan, which I've always found to be an adequate product on the av/mal-spyware/ids front, but I will try your scanner on monday to see if it finds the malware you described.

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Re: zero byte files
by Kees Bakker / October 10, 2008 7:31 AM PDT
In reply to: clearer explanation.

The strange thing in the story is that these files have the right size in the detail listing in Explorer and the wrong size (0 bytes) in their (right click) properties or File>Properties. Those should be identical, of course.

What happens if you transfer such a file to another device (like a USB-stick or a diskette) and look at it on another PC? If there's something blocking that transfer, try it in Safe Mode. If even that doesn't work, use a Linux distro to burn it to a CD or put the drive in an external hard disk to view it on another PC.
This experiment should show if it's the file itself or this machine showing it that's corrupted.

Whatever the cause, I'm rather sure that it can be solved by a clean install of Windows. It's up to you if you want to spend the time to find the cause.


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Other things to play with to try to find the cause.
by Kees Bakker / October 11, 2008 1:37 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: zero byte files

- Run Windows in Safe Mode
- Run Word in Safe Mode (winword /a or winword /safe)
- Disable Office add-ons of your antivirus program
- Totally disabale your antivirus program
- System Restore back to when it still worked.

It would be interesting to know the cause once you found out.


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0 byte files
by cgoodlein / October 11, 2008 12:27 PM PDT

Interestingly, in addition to using Unlocker to delete the 0 byte files, I have been able to delete some of the fies by going to the DOS prompt and working my way to the subdirectory where the file is located and deleting it using a "del" DOS command.

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0 Byte Files created in Matlab and . . . .
by celawrencejr / October 28, 2008 4:04 AM PDT
In reply to: 0 byte files


I don't know whether my issue relates to the posted issue(s), but I've made the following two observations that I think may be related:

1. An infrequent, but annoying zero byte file generation issue and 2. Impersistent hyperlinks created within EXCEL.

Both issues are observed only on one of our servers.

We read and write data from workstations that are linked or mounted to two or more servers. Our workstations are PCs running Windows XP.

Zero Byte Observation
We have no problem reading data from any of the servers. We do observe, sporadically, a file saving problem when writing a variety of files from Matlab to one, specific server! Again, we observe this for a variety of output files written by a variety of Matlab-based tools, so no one line of code is problematic.

Please note that a very high percentage of the time, the code used to create output files works very well. We have attempted to trap and debug this phenomenon and, seemingly, the "save" is implemented in two steps:

1. The output file is created with no content (0 Bytes) and
2. An attempt is made to save the content to the file.

In debug mode, we'll get an error indicating that the file already exists and is write protected!! We have checked permissions looking at the file from with Windows Explorer and from a UNIX workstation. Permissions are not an issue. BTW: If we delete the 0 Byte file in debug mode and re-evaluate the save command, the file will successfully save with content!! Very odd! NOTE: We can play games in debug mode as Matlab is an interpretive environment.

EXCEL Hyperlink Issue
I'm not sure that this issue is related, but the issue is observed only with respect to the server on which we observe the 0 byte problem!! While in EXCEL, I am able to create persistent hyperlinks to directories on other servers, but similar hyperlinks to directories on the server in question work, briefly, until I save the EXCEL document. Once the workbook is saved, the hyperlinked path, initially a full UNC path, is modified with the beginning of the path seemingly aliased, e.g.,

FROM \\FunkyServer\MyHomeArea\MyFavoriteFolder
TO /../../../../MyFavoriteFolder

NOTE: Persistent links to other servers are also UNC paths and these never are altered and always work!

So, are these observations related? I'm not sure, but this funky server seems to be the common denominator!! Our IT folks want a repeatable example for diagnostic purposes, however, again, this phenomenon is very sporadic, so hard to trap!! Any ideas?



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