chkdsk deleted almost everything

By teamimpetuous ยท 24 replies
Aug 16, 2003
  1. Hi, please, if anyone can help with this -- I am very screwed here.

    I have XP Pro.

    So, I was trying to cleanup this drive, defragment it, and it complained about errors and said to run chkdsk. I am an *****, and did not make backups or do anything I should have done in this situation, believe me, I know this is my fault.

    So, I ran chkdsk /f on the drive in question, it printed a HUGE output, deleting orphan file all this crap, and when it had finally finished, bam, almost every file on the drive was wiped out. Much of it was absolutely irreplaceable recording projects that were nearing completion. Why weren't they backed up? I already told you, I am an *****.

    So, OK, does anyone have any special insight into what happend and where I can go from here. I've tried two commercial progs so far: EasyRecovery Pro and Restorer2000, they are unable to find *any* files. They also both miscalculate the drive size as 128.0 GB -- it is a 160 GB drive.

    Anything helpful and you are nearly saving my life. Programs to try, data recovery people who might have reasonable rates. I checked ontrack, they charge $100 to look at it and up to 2500 to fix, which is well out of my range. I'd also appreciate any insight into what the hell happened. Please.

    Thank you in advance to everyone.
  2. Buddha

    Buddha TS Rookie

    i just did that!

    5 minutes ago i did the exact sam thing im running a 160gig hard drive as well and stupid chkdsk did all the orphan nonsense and now theres nothign 100gb of files gone in 5 seconds.

    i have faith that this is fixable and will post it if i find the answer but if anyone ANYONE knows please post as im probably oging to cry if i cant get my files back :]
  3. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    Give this program a try (GetDataBack for NTFS) ...

    I had a lot of success with this, when other programs (e.g. EasyRecovery) failed to find my files.
  4. finnerss

    finnerss TS Rookie

    same problem

    Same problem over here. Windows XP Pro, 160gb hard drive with a partition right in the middle, so I get disks D and E, with a separate 20gb C drive, all have NTFS partition or whatever that is.

    Had to format C and it did the same thing to me on drives D and E (meaning the 160gb with CHKDSK, I cancelled the process after panicking and thinking the orphaned files "deletion" was simply wrong, so I had to shut down the pc directly from the power button. Some files were spared.

    A lot were gone, most of the remaining ones are "corrupt" and can't play them, some of them are mp3 and are not recognized by Media player, well, they are, but they can't play anymore says it doesn't recognize the format and the space they occupied is still there, 5mb files are still 5mb but not able to execute them.

    Any help please, I'm trying that getdataback thing (thanks for the post) but any further insight will be very much appreciated.

    I realize we all have the same three elements in common : NTFS, 160gb hdd, and XP pro, what's the problem there?

    Best wishes and thanks in advance

    Sergio (finnerss)
  5. HoopaJoop

    HoopaJoop TS Rookie Posts: 90

    This is an interesting problem. I would think that it has something to do with chkdsk not completely supporting 160 gb drives. If your HDDs came with diagnostics disks maybe try them. If you don't have them, they probably have them on their site.

    I think using chkdsk with the /f switch makes chkdsk run before windows loads. That may not be an entirely 32 bit environment. Thunking is the devil.
  6. finnerss

    finnerss TS Rookie

    Thanks for your reply,

    If you could please tell me how does that "/f" deal and the 32 environment works, I'm afraid I'm more of a software and website design guy than a hardware or OS one :blackeye: if you could help me out a bit by explaining what I would need to do, it would be great, or if the 160 gb drive is simply a big mistake and I should change it.

    My best wishes and thanks

    Sergio (finnerss)
  7. HoopaJoop

    HoopaJoop TS Rookie Posts: 90

    Chkdsk cannot check files that are resident in memory, such as the kernel. Nor can it check reserved files on the hard disk, such as a page file. Using the /f command sets it to run on next boot up in a limited environment. Essentially it loads just the necessary stuff into memory and leaves the hard drive free to be checked. While often necessary, there is an enherent danger here in that important system files normally protected by Windows' operation are not under that protection as Windows is not actually loaded.

    With operating systems, the 16-bit, 32-bit, and 64-bit designators are usually used to distinguish the number of bits used to represent a memory address.

    Old 16-bit operating systems only supported up to a 2gb physical volume I think. 32-bit should support at least 130gb. I think there is a way to make it support more.

    Thunking is the process of converting 16-bit to 32-bit, and reverse. I think it only applies to address ranges. Yeah here:

    "In PCs, to convert a 16-bit to a 32-bit address, and vice versa. Thunking is necessary because Intel's older 16-bit used an addressing scheme called segmented memory, whereas their 32-bit microprocessors use a flat."

    I don't think any of this really helps (aside from the bookwork perspective). However, I don't think your 160gb drive is a wash. There was another thread about something similar where someone more knowledgeable came up with a pretty good solution. I'll see if I can find it.
  8. Buddha

    Buddha TS Rookie

    Chkdsk is evil

    well, i have solved the problem. The problem is that windows XP without service pack 1 or service pack 2 is unable to recognize 160gb or larger drives. So if you format your hardrive with say partition magic or fdisk then that program can utilize the disks of that size but once in windows it really only sees the first 120gb or so and the last 40 are kind of a ghost drive, it says its there but cant be used, so when you run check disk it gets to that place and then all the file names and partition tables are messed up because its checking a disk thats a different size from what it thinks it is... you get what i mean.

    ANYWAY, the good news is after installing service pack 1 and service pack 2 from the windows site, these issues are fixed and you can reformnat the drives and they work properly.

    unfortunately none of the programs mentioned, and various other ones found via google were able to recover the data I lost, i tried approx. 10 diff programs with no luck and eventually gaver up and reformatted and began replacing my files the slow way.

    since i have dont the sp1 sp2 upgrades i have had no problems, also i dont run chkdsk anymore hahaha once bitten twice shy i guess.
  9. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

    Intel Application Accelerator works too if you don't have XP or if you don't want to use its service packs.
  10. JoshuaL

    JoshuaL TS Rookie

    Sweet lord. I wish I'd known this earlier. My experience is funny, but not in a 'ha-ha' way. I decided I wanted to expand my system partition from 20 to 30 GB (it was filling up). So, I used Windows Backup to create a backup of everything on C: and saved it on an external hard drive. Then, because I'm paranoid, I created another backup on an internal drive (K) on the secondary partition of a 250 GB drive. I also manually copied all the files on C: to that secondary partition on K:.

    Here's the fun part. I wiped C: and reinstalled Windows XP. While rebooting during the installation (while I wasn't watching) chkdsk started running. When I came back I saw tons of files flying by, and had no idea what was going on. I naively thought "Hey, maybe Windows auto-detected the backup and was restoring my stuff automatically!" Right. Of course, what happened was what was described in this thread - and unfortunately for me, the files that got corrupted were my Windows .bks backup file and all my manually backed-up files from C:, leaving restoration impossible from that partition!

    In an incredible stroke of forethought (or luck), since I also backed up to that external hard drive mentioned at the beginning, I was able to use that to run the restore, which is still in progress. Hopefully that process will work correctly ... anyway, that is a very nasty bug in Windows XP pre SP1 I'd say.

    GRISSOM TS Rookie

    chkdsk deleted 40 gig drive on XP SP2 home addition

    I know this is an old thread but just found out that this problem of chkdsk deleting almost everything is NOT limited to 130+ gig drives. It just deleted my entire 40 gig HDD.

    These are the details:

    My eMachine M2105 XP 40g 1g ram laptop worked perfectly for 2 years 2 months.

    It started auto rebooting XP and consistently failing as the desktop started populating.

    Power down 5 mins and on power up I got the expected 'chkdsk' recommendation and clicked 'yes'.

    On "stage 3 of 3" the screen streamed with deleting files. Several hundred deleted files flew past my eyes before the power button worked.

    Although the files streamed almost too fast to read, I saw names like Yahoo, Ebay, Aol, Windows being deleted - knew that can't be good.

    I tried to reinstall the op sys with a Windows XP upgrade disk (don't have an eMachine restore disk (DUH!)) and it couldn't find a previous op sys (probably deleted as well) so I formatted (no errors reported) with the XP upgrade disk and started reinstalling XP which failed at 78%.

    When I tried to REstart the XP installation I got:
    NTLDR missing
    Press CTL ALT DEL to restart.

    eMachine front line tech support says that only their $20 restore disk for that specific model will work and will boot without the missing NTLDR.

    This has got to be one of the stupidest oversights Microsoft has ever released. Do they even have a patch for this? GRRRRRRR!!! chkdsk should NEVER destroy critical OS files - it should REPLACE them! GRRRRRRR!

    That's it for me - I'm switching to a MAC!

    I'm new here so will have to read through the forums to see where is best to post this problem if not here.
  12. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,168   +986

    chkdsk /f:

    This utility verifies the sanity of the filesystem:

    A filesystem has
    physical space divided into:
    free space and
    allocated space
    So one thing CHKDSK does is make this equation true:
    sum(free spaces) + sum(allocated spaces) = total partition size

    The allocated space is given to programs in CLUMPs when each file is created for the first time.
    When a file grows, the existing chain of clumps has another one added to the end of the chain.

    this creates some structures like:
    freespace -->chain of free clumps
    list of files
          fname1 --->list of clumps --->clump1-for fname1
          fname2--->list of clumps --->clump1-for fname2
    Now what do you think if you're told, The same clumpX can be on more than
    one filelist at the same time, eg clumpX above?
    (you don't what to here me expound on this $&%*).

    Win/98 filesystems FAT and FAT32 where known to have this occur frequently.
    Win/XP and the NTFS filesystem is much better at avoiding this error --
    but it still occurs.

    CHKDSK /F also finds these cross-linked clumps and takes all the allocated
    disk space for the two or more files that share a common clump,
    and puts all of them into a special file chkdsknn.nnn

    Why? Because both/all files with this condition are now contaminated and
    to continue to allow r/w to those files would only make things worse.

    Full details are located in this MS Article

    GRISSOM TS Rookie

    Thanks for the response Jobeard -- this made the chkdsk problem understandable. I'll read the MS Article next.

    This tells me that the 2 yr old HDD may not be the origin of this entire problem as I had previously thought. Given this new information, I'm thinking that I'll do a low level format, then restore with the eMachine restore disk, and then stress test the hell out of the HDD before reloading the programs.

    Besides getting the eMachine into small enough pieces to flush down the toilet, what would you do? ..remember, the XP update disk formatted it (slow way) before failing the install.

    Right now my #1 problem is "NTLDR missing" and I'm trying to find a way to make a boot disk using the Windows XP in Virtual PC on my MAC G4.
  14. zipperman

    zipperman TS Rookie Posts: 1,179   +7

    Did you try Windows Restore ? Please drop in again,you have replys.
    Or/or add a reply.
    I do not use /f.
    GRISSOM.i havn't had this happen following Windows directions.
    I right click C drive,select Propertys/chkdsk then check both options and
    restart your computer.
    I don't know where this /f idea came from.
    Use the normal C drive option.

    GRISSOM TS Rookie

    Jobeard, I just read your "MS Article" link and from what I understand, chkdsk will NOT correct disk errors if you do NOT specify a parameter such as "/r". Is this correct or did I misread something?

    I have never specified any parameter when chkdsk emerged after an abnormal shutdown so, how did it delete my 40 gig HDD?

    Hello zipperman; I've never had a problem until XP started continuously rebooting itself so never used chkdsk intentionally - only used it after an abnormal shutdown. This was my first abnormal shutdown on this laptop (because of the rebooting) and I did not specify any parameters. Hell, I didn't even know that there were any available parameters. LOL!

    So how did chkdsk go into stage 3 of 3 and start deleting thousands of files?

    zipperman.. chkdsk deleted everything and wouldn't even try to go into safe mode or anything else. Clicking on the DOS "safe mode" option would only recycle back to the DOS (or BIOS) screen offering the "safe mode" option.

    Another strange thing is that I have had many many abnormal shutdowns on other XP systems (after power failures) and always clicked "yes" when chkdsk automatically preceeded the Windows XP startup. But, this time when I clicked "yes" at the chkdsk prompt started going through "stages" and taking much much longer to run. Stage 3 of 3 started deleting EVERYTHING on the HDD.

    I don't remember ever seeing chkdsk do "stages" before or maybe before these stages passed so fast that they were not readable?
  16. zipperman

    zipperman TS Rookie Posts: 1,179   +7

    Chkdsk stages

    There are 5 stages and it takes time.I do it about once a month and never lose any files.
    This is just 1 line of Help and Support.
    Creates and displays a status report for the disk. The chkdsk command also lists and corrects errors on the disk.
    Open Help and Support and type in chkdsk.
    All the answers are there.
    Why are users ignoreing this helpfull part of Windows.
    Is it not on YOUR Start Menu ? :rolleyes:
    Where do you read the report though,i cant locate one ?
    This is how i use chkdsk.:wave:

    Attached Files:


    GRISSOM TS Rookie

    I did not use chkdsk from the properties menu like you do AND I did not use any parameters with chkdsk like you do. Therefore knowing what the parameters do doesn't help me with this problem.

    Problem: HOW can chkdsk WITHOUT PARAMETERS delete everything on my HDD?

    chkdsk came up automatically after an abnormal shut down of XP as usual and I simply clicked "Yes" (as usual) to allow chkdsk to CHECK my HDD -- NOT repair it (no parameters given).
  18. zipperman

    zipperman TS Rookie Posts: 1,179   +7

    I do not use /'s

    I use the "normal" XP chkdsk with the "OPTIONS" checked.
    Did you use Help and Support on this issue ?
    It explains the / options and how to use them "The right way"
    Did you view my snapshot ? Thats all i ever use.
    Do you want help with this ?
    Then try my way,i don't get your results.
    There is no YES to click,theres just press any key to say NO.
  19. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,244   +234

    Your hard drive is probably getting ready to crash, writing in areas it shouldn't... You might be able to repair the FAT. If you selected "attempt to repair", the computer wouldn't have done this until the next restart
  20. IceNZ

    IceNZ TS Rookie

    hey guys, I know this is an old thread but for future references, I thought I'd add my ideas..

    I recently ran into the same problem with chkdsk clearing alot of files from my 160gb drive..I found a way through though,..

    In folder go to tools > folder options > and untick hide system folders

    My Computer > c: > there should now be a folder named "", inside is a list of the files that had been deleted and restored too this location (am not sure if it is the same on every computer but incase it is, thought I'd let you all know), havn't yet found a way too restore every file too its previous location, but atleast I can now find my main files I wanted

    All the best,
  21. sortof

    sortof TS Rookie

    Possible Solution

    i just has what seems to be the same problem.

    possible NON INVASIVE solution (ie you can try it, and it won't make things WORSE):

    run chkdsk from windows with the parameter "/v", that is goto "start"(button) then "run" and in the window that appears, type "chkdsk /v" and enter, or to only do it to the "seemingly" deleted drive type "chkdsk [drive] /v". my drive "i:" went "missing" so i typed in "chkdsk i: /v". a "DOS" application starts running and LISTS all readable files on the desired drive. (found this out here:
    if the files are still there and the drive is/was large this may take a while, but YOU'RE happy to know that they're still there AT ALL!

    i did this just to SEE if my files were still on the drive, but AFTERWARDS, THE DRIVE WAS FULL AGAIN and THE FILES WERE ALL THERE!!!
    black box. must admit i don't know WHY that actually worked. i didn't expect just looking for files would restore them.
    anyways, hope that helps. like i said, try this BEFORE trying (not to mention buying) any expensive data recovery progs.

    in any case, i'm going to be very careful in the future about using those extra parameters in CHKDSK, or about using CHKDSK at all unless it's absolutely necessary.
    BTW i came across an article in microsofts own support site warning NOT to use chkdsk from windows as this could lead to data loss. unfortunately i closed the window and cannot quote the link to it here. scary.

    for comparison, details on what my problem was below:

    -windoes xp (WITH all recent updates + service packs)
    -160GB HD, partitioned (some NTFS-format, some FAT-format),
    -got a message at startup suggesting using chkdsk
    -attempted "chkdsk /f" from windows (don't know why i WANTED to use the parameter "/f" 'cos at the time, i didn't fully understand what it does!)
    -windows said it can only do this at restart
    -chkdsk started doing its thing, took a good 45 min
    -windows then started normally
    -by chance, i noticed in a window showing all available drives that a drive (a "virtual" drive, really only a partition of my 160GB physical drive, the only one still in FAT32 format) that should have 30GB, was EMPTY, ie showed "0 kB"
    -that meant "chkdsk /f" was supposed to just FIX errors, but instead it apparently WIPED OUT one of my drives!
    -on trying to open this drive i got a message something like "this drive is not formatted, whould you like to format this drive?"
    -since there should have been almost 30GB on that drive, of cours, i did NOT format it
    -on seeing if i could restore to an earlier restore point, but windows said that doing this would NOT restore changes to said drive.

    some other info on the pitfalls of chkdsk:
  22. zipperman

    zipperman TS Rookie Posts: 1,179   +7


    How do you know you lost files ? Where they from your games and applications.?
    Where is this report,whats it called ?
    Does anything stop worling after a chkdsk ? Never bothers me.
    I did one normal chkdsk with both options as described earlier this a.m.
    Really helped my performance.:D
    Go to Help,type chkdsk.
    It's designed to keep your hardrive in good condition.
    Not delete files.
  23. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,168   +986

    The whole point of chkdsk /f is to verify and FIX files that mistakenly
    use the same HD sector or clump! Win/95,98 had this problem is spades
    using the FAT/FAT32 filesystem. Win/NT and subsequent windows systems
    using NTFS are far less prone but still expose for this condition.

    Consider; You have a large accounting file and a graphic, both of which open.
    Now you modify the graphic and perform a save. Regardless of how/why it
    might occur, *IF* the graphic and the accounting file point to the same place
    on the disk -- oh my! Bad enough that your edit on the graphic lost on the
    time and effort, BUT YOUR ACCOUNTING system is toasted! Say good by to
    the invoices that you were going to mail tonight at the close of business.

    CHKDSK find these errors, exports the segments owned by both files, and
    purifies your filesystem (by deleting files that were cross allocated).

    Such files are typically name file.nnn in the root directory. SOMETIMES
    you can recover ONE of the two files cross-allocated.
  24. Vormulac

    Vormulac TS Rookie

    Hi folks,

    I think I might have a similar problem here, I haven't tried the /v thing mentioned above, but I certainly will.
    Last week I tried to access the storage drive on my pc only to be told completely out of the blue that it was corrupt or unreadable - this is seriously bad news, that's hundreds of Gbs of data, most importantly all my photos, some are coursework, but most are all the pictures I have of my two kids. I know I should have had back-ups, the irony is that this weekend I was going to build a fileserver to back up to.
    Anyway, naturally I am frantically trying to find a way to rescue that data, the drive (two partitions) still shows up in My Computer, but is inaccessible. So I tried a Knoppix disk (I've got around a Windows fubar by using Knoppix in the past) and that couldn't access the disk either, but it did flag up a message saying I should run 'chkdsk /f' on the bad disk and reboot twice.
    So I went back into Windows and in a fit of paranoia googled 'chkdsk /f'. Some of the hits were forum entries (unfortunately not this one!) saying not to do it in the 'Run' dos box, but to go to the disk in My Computer/Properties/Tools and select Error Checking with the automatically fix errors box ticked as aparently that is the same as the '/f' option. I was given a message saying it couldn't do that as something was in use, but it would schedule chkdsk to run on the next reboot. I set it going but was called away to deal with my screaming kids.
    When I returned some time later I was confronted by a totally blank desktop, just a blue desktop with a recycle bin in the corner and a start menu almost completely devoid of content. So now not only have I lost irreplaceable photos, my pc is basically an expensive paperweight too! I have since observed Windows starting up and it says something about being unable to load the default user profile. I am guessing from this thread that chkdsk /f has deleted the profile and so it's loading this pseudo blank profile instead.
    There is still a file structure on my C and D drives (the corrupt drive is E and H) but whether the files are there or not I don't know. There are no system tools in the start menu, so I can't even attempt a system restore to a week or so ago.

    Has anyone else had this?

    Fingers crossed!


    ETA: Sorry for resurrecting such an old thread, but this is the closest I've found online to my problem.
  25. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,244   +234

    There are so many better disk checking programs out there... names like EMSA, RS and NTFS. Check these out when you have time
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