Windows Vista forum

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External USB HDD Bizarre "Ghost" Files Phenomenon

by multiplexusa / February 6, 2010 5:59 AM PST

On External USB Hard Disk Drives connected to Windows Vista Business (SP2) public computers (Dell Studio E4500) new files being written to the drives disappear even after controlled drive-removal. Explorer falsely displays the files/directories being written, but when the drive is taken to another computer, NONE of the new files exist! When reconnected to the original computer the new files are shown, however if that PC is rebooted, the files are absolutely gone forever!

Its almost as if the files exist only as entries in RAM, but dont actually get written to the Ext. HDD. Or theyre being written to the drive, but the boot-record isnt updated with the filenames.

Whats more bizarre is that this only happens on Ext. HDD's that require a USB cable. It doesnt happen on Jump-Drives or SD Cards.

Is there some security setting on these public computers that is causing this ghost-phenomenon to occur, or is this a legitimate bug?

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by Kees Bakker / February 6, 2010 6:09 AM PST

Now tell:
1. What's a public computer and where does it differ (hardware, OS, settings) from a non-public computer?
2. Is some third-party software involved to make the PC public, or is this a standard Microsoft feature they didn't tell <i>me</i> about?
2. Only one or all?
3. Also non-Dell public computers?

From your post it seems hardware and OS are fairly standard. So I assume it's a (security) setting. Time to start experimenting, together with the system manager. Start with the OS out of the box (restore to factory settings). Then one by one apply all changes to change this from a private to a public computer, according to the organization's handbook and standards. One the changes should do the trick. Then you know it.

If everything is done and it's a fully certified public computer and everything is fine, the issue is solved. Then repeat on all other machines involved. But I suspect the feature will turn up somewhere during the experiment.

Best of luck and please let us know.


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Ext.HDD Disappearing Files Phenomenon
by multiplexusa / February 6, 2010 6:36 AM PST
In reply to: Strange.

I dont know any technical difference between public and non-public. I only provided that additional info because it might be helpful to the reader analyzing the phenomenon. The PC's are for public use, thats all I know.

Yes, it occurs with all the same make-model public PC's. Ive already tried to write new files from another workstation and it does the same thing. Displays new files on IT but NOT any other. Therefore I can only make one assumption, that RAM on that very PC is falsely telling File Explorer that the files are there, but not in reality. Either that, or the writing is un-done on reboot. Another possibility is that the "Cable" External HDD uses outdated drivers not compatible with Vista Business. After all, I've had no problems on XP public PC's. But I dont want to assume too much here. I've taken an Ext.HDD with adapter compatible with XP, and also tried a brand new Seagate 160mb Ext. HDD formatted with NTFS, with the exact same result.

Whether theres Third-Party Security Software running is one of my unanswered questions I was hoping someone might know. I would like to eliminate this possibility if someone familiar with the latest software could shed some light on.

Therefore, I believe its one of three things:
1. Vista Business or 3rd Party Security Software is running a security setting against large disk devices, or;
2. Cable-Ext.-HDD device drivers are incompatible with Vista Business;
3. A Virus has infected all these systems.

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Why not ask the system manager ...
by Kees Bakker / February 6, 2010 7:24 PM PST

of that public machines. He knows how he set them up. We don't.

- If the issue is new to him, he might be interested to research it. Afer all, it's a rather bad service to the users of the public computers he supplies access to.
- If it's an intended feature, he can tell you.
We can do neither of the 2 here.


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What are you looking at?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 6, 2010 6:16 AM PST

All fun intended. EXPLORER can have many "views" and can hide files so as you move from machine to machine, files may show and go away from machine to machine.

This is where your skills at the command line come in handy. The basic DIR command is what I use. Try this one -> DIR /a/p

Hope this helps,

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What are you looking at?
by multiplexusa / February 6, 2010 6:58 AM PST

Thank you for the suggestion. Yes, MSDOS is supposedly the truth teller, but not in this instance. The new file shows up on the DIR /a/p but not on other computers using DIR /a/p. So very probably, RAM is supplying the system with bogus info. or the other possibilities Ive mentioned. I havent found anything on Internet searches for this issue. I wouldnt know the exact search-words to use however.

I have to sign off for today. But I will check further replies by Monday. Thanks all.

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If you could supply the names of the files.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 6, 2010 7:26 AM PST

It could reveal what's up.

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File names, types irrelevant
by multiplexusa / February 15, 2010 10:45 AM PST

Its any files. Ive copied entire directories containing numerous common file types. Ive tried saving simple web pages in .mht . ITS GOT NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT. Its not some complex cause. Its a simple and generalized cause.

The bottom line you dont know any COMMON security settings, third party software, viruses, etc.

I will no longer entertain these types of analysise. If no one has answers within the scope of the previous paragraph, please dont bother replying. Thank you.

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Good luck.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 15, 2010 10:49 AM PST

Hope you find your answers. My questions are to help sift through all the usual and find a good answer. To help you along I've unsubscribed.

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External USB HDD Bizarre "Ghost" Files Phenomenon (nt)
by multiplexusa / February 22, 2010 8:39 AM PST

(just renewing original post)

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External USB HDD Bizarre "Ghost" Files Phenomenon - (rp)
by multiplexusa / April 14, 2010 1:58 AM PDT

(just renewing original post)

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