Corrupted photo file mystery

By Tiki_T · 6 replies
Apr 11, 2013
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  1. I was trying to find someone else out there with the same issue as me, and came across this old topic, which is closed. I'm hoping someone here can offer some advice, as I'm not looking so much for the file recovery advice in that thread (I have a great licensed recovery software), as what the frack is causing this and how to make it stop happening.

    Issue: I have about 8 years of photo, music, and video files that I've backed up onto two external drives. At some point last year, some of the photos in one vacation folder (which was new at the time) became corrupt both on my laptop and the external - likely laptop first, then copied to external already corrupted. All files copied to that drive from that point onward were corrupted. I tried the other drive, and all the same photos were also corrupted. The same photos show on my laptop without issue, and can all be opened. I tried to delete them and re-copy them, which I didn't notice because I didn't revisit them until months later. The recycle bins for the same drive became corrupt and deleting files (corrupt or undamaged) became impossible. I panicked and recently transferred all the files back to my laptop, where they now sit. I can't continue to house 40,000 photos, 500 documents, and 20,000 songs on a netbook! But everywhere else I copy them, they immediately corrupt. I can open every last one of them on the laptop without issue, except the ones corrupted during that odd period (about six months of photos in all, which I've deleted from my laptop).

    I bought a brand new WD external drive from Futureshop last week and copied all of the files over. When I opened them at home, no problem. When I brought it to work and connected to my laptop there, it said the entire drive was inaccessible. I took it home once again, and it connected no problem. I then noticed about 50% of the photos in every folder had no thumbnail and now would not open with any program. Yet the same files on my laptop open no problem. I uploaded every last photo to Flickr, and all my documents to Google Drive, but I'd still like to know WTF is up with my files.

    I re-formatted the new drive and took it to work, where it opened without a hitch. I copied five documents and took them home. No problem. There I copied a single folder of photos, and immediately they were all corrupted on the new drive. The same ones, once again, continue to be able to open on my laptop and uploaded to Flickr just fine.

    I know that corruption isn't "contagious", but I'm just baffled. I work in IT, and although I wouldn't claim to be an expert at file structure, I do have several CompTIA and Microsoft certifications (not saying that to sound arrogant, just go ahead and talk tech and I'll get it). These files are from two different cameras, all of them are jpg format. The music files are all downloads or ripped from my own CDs. The documents range from oldschool versions of Word to ODT files. This is between three different external drives and a laptop, the laptop was new before this started happening. I have different three anti-virus programs on my computer, but haven't ruled out a virus.

    Since that was hella long, here's a recap: My files are fine on my own computer. When I copy them anywhere else, they become corrupt and corrupt that drive to the point where it has to be reformatted. I don't need to recover the files, just want to know what's up and how to stop it so I can back up my files.
  2. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    I am offering this without any experience of the problem personally. I have read a fair few similar links, and to me, it says an incompatibility has arisen in Windows OS at some time, such that saving certain files that have to be processed as they are saved (lossy jpg for instance), can become victims of a change in the algorithms. For this, only MS can be to blame. Possible clue about a change to Windows affecting jpg images here

    Since they are (at present) OK on your own laptop, my strong advice would be to save the whole drive as a bit image (e.g. Acronis TrueImage or similar) to another HDD. At least then you can continually bring back the images in their current form for another try at ensuring their safety.

    Another thing you could or should do, however impractical, would be to mark the whole lot as read-only in an attempt to protect them from further harm, and then to re-save the most important ones in another, but loss-less, format, such as GIF, TIFF etc - whatever comes out smallest. If someone could suggest a way to automate that process, so much the better.

    I note that at least one previous post from 2007 refers to apparently corrupted jpg's still being viewable in old versions of graphic viewer programs. That comment reinforces my view that the culprit is an algorithmic change, which would be an absolutely catastrophic error by someone or some corporation and would be subject to crippling damages if they ever admitted it.
  3. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    For batch processing of files all to be converted to another format, you could do a lot worse than Thumbs Plus which I have used for years for all sorts of video manipulation, short of actual painting-type stuff.
  4. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,170   +989

    Hmm; My comment is strictly additional background information.

    I have a ton of vacation photos (all jpg) on my system(s), some dating back to 2006. Photo tools (other than MS viewers) include Paintshop Pro 7, (once upon a time Kodak Tools), Panasonic PhotoFun Studio 6.0 CorelDRAW 12. For safety, these have been copied to an external HD using Allway Sync, as well as an iMac and a boat anchor Win/98 Se I rarely use as a file server.

    Originally the system was XP/Pro SP2, but early 2012 that died and now using Win/7 Pro 64bit SP1.

    I have never installed (on any system) the Microsoft Photo Editor that is installed with Microsoft Office 97 Professional from the KB referenced by gbhall either.
    Back with XP/Pro, I did have a copy of Office 2000, but did not install the Microsoft Photo Editor.

    With the tools noted, some JPGs have been cropped or resized and to date, no corruption has been noted.

    I might also note that at least for the tools listed above, thumbnails are dynamically created and do not appear on the hd.

    I found a batch tool "Easy Graphic Converter 1.2" that can reformat a list of graphic files, but have never attempted to use it on a whole folder at one time.
  5. ComputerGuy55

    ComputerGuy55 TS Maniac Posts: 380   +8

    I quickly read through all the posts here.
    Never had this issue, sounds very strange but interested in why it happens.

    Have you yet tried to:
    Open the picture on the laptop (since it works) and Edit it. Re-save it as a new format, and copy that newly saved file?
    Follow the same steps, but instead of saving it to the laptop hard drive, save-as right to your external device.

    Another thing to test, when you transfer these files onto a USB stick or External Hard drive, disconnect it, and reconnect it, do these pictures still open fine on the laptop?

    Now I'm not sure if you have the tools available at home, but another weird suggestion that just came to mind. Have you removed the hard drive from the laptop, connected it as an external hard drive to another system, and tried both Opening directly from the hard drive (see if they open properly) and copying them from there and testing?

    You also mentioned that it is only a handful/selection of pictures that are not opening properly when transferred to a new system?

    One last suggestion would be, can you right click on the photos (on the laptop) that are not transferring properly, right click on it and go to Properties. In the properties, check the "Details" section. Now open another photo but one that is transferring and opening properly, and check against those "Details". Is there any noticeable difference? Check a few and see if the ones that Do Not transfer properly have something in the details that is different from the ones that due, possible cause?

    I am basing all of this all hypothetically, let me know if anything suggested has worked or lead you to some other reason.
  6. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    How about that !!! June 2013 MS update.

    KB2836502 - Certain JPEG images cannot be displayed (Windows 7 SP1 and Server 2008 R2 SP1). This update addresses a problem whereby you can’t view certain JPEGs after installing update 270838 when the JPEG is a non-progressive compressed JPEG and its components span multiple scans. A restart is required after installation.

    So the whole story seems to be something like : way back, for a package called Microsoft Photo Editor, installed with Office 97, they changed the algorithm used to save JPG's, but overlooked the fact that the new algorithm failed to work for non-progressive compressed JPEGs spanning multiple scans. The registry points to the new algorithm. Just to compound their error, uninstalling the package failed to revert the registry pointer, which still pointed to the faulty algorithm class (which sometimes might even have been uninstalled along with Office 97).

    Just now, they discovered the error, and issued an update which might be yet another algorithm, or might merely adjust the registry to point to an older algorithm class. It's probably different for every version of Windows as well.
  7. Victor W

    Victor W TS Rookie

    This same problem has plagued me for months. FINALLY I figured out what the cause was, at least in my situation. Having my printer plugged into one of the USB ports at the same time of transferring photos from camera (or SD card in card reader) is what corrupted my images. When I unplugged my printer, everything worked fine. I could use my camera with USB cable or SD card plugged directly into the reader. I knew it wasn't a problem with the SD card, my camera or my camera's USB cable because the photos transferred fine on another computer. Try systematically disconnecting other USB devices to see if that might be the issue for you --- but do it systematically, just disconnect one device, then try the camera import, until you've tried all devices. Doing it one at a time helps you know which other device is causing the conflict (if any). In your case, it might be some other problem. Good luck.

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