HDD Data Recovery - Windows disk check removed folder but space still occupied

Hello again TomsHardware.


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TLDR
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I lost my backups of some Windows files.
I tried opening the folders containing the backups and got the "The filename, directory name, or volume label syntax is incorrect." error.
I tried renaming the folders which weren't permitted.
I right-clicked the external backup drive the backups were on and went to Properties - Tools > Error checking > Check to try to check the drive for "system errors". This removed the 2 folders which had my stuff backed up.
The space on that external hard drive still indicates that the space for the backups hasn't been reallocated to to-be-overwritten space like a deleted file would be, instead remaining at the size it was at before the folders were removed.
I have tried chkdsk which reported no errors, TestDisk which I don't really no how to use to resolve this problem, and Scrounge NTFS which gave an error about something being invalid.
How would I go about getting these backups back?
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So I recently had some issues with my Fedora installation (Thread) so I decided to reformat and start anew, with a Fedora and Windows installation.

I installed Fedora with my custom partitioning (/boot/efi on a 128GB SSD, other stuff on a 1TB WD Blue), then installed Windows onto the remaining space on the SSD and reformatted another 1TB 2.5" drive to use for storage.

Prior to this, I made a backup of a lot of the files on my SSD and the WD Blue from the previous Windows install I had (that I screwed up while installing Fedora). I also backed up my previous /home directory and some things in the /share directory of my Fedora installation, to a folder on a USB3 Toshiba 1TB external hard drive. These were in (assuming the drive letter is E) E:\_ALL BACKUP\(respective folder names)

These backed up folders had the titles (from memory) /home, /var, /share, Mass Storage (1TB 3.5" HDD), Local Disk (120GB 2.5" SSD).

These folders were all made in Fedora 26, and all of the data from the hard drives was copied from the drives in Fedora 26 too.

Once I had Fedora installed, I restored the backups for my Fedora stuff, and then installed Windows.

Once I had installed Windows, I formatted the 1TB 2.5" drive I was going to use to store all of my programs etc, and tried opening the "Mass Storage [...]" folder on my external HDD. I got an error trying to open this folder, "The filename, directory name, or volume label syntax is incorrect." I tried the SSD backup folder ("Local Disk (120GB 2.5" SSD)") and got the same result.

Thinking of trying different solutions to the problem, as renaming the folder didn't work (and gave me an error about an invalid name, from memory), as well as trying to copy the folder to the hard drive not working at all, and showing no output, I was going to try Windows' own error checking.

I right clicked the external backup HDD, went to Properties, then the Tools tab, then clicked Check. This scanned my drive, and told me I had an error. I then clicked Exit, which automatically started "fixing" the problem. It finished quite quickly.

I went to the location of the backups (E:\_ALLBACKUP since I had renamed the folder at this point) and the "Local Disk (120GB 2.5" SSD) and "Mass Storage (1TB 3.5" HDD)" folders had disappeared, leaving only the Fedora backup folders.

If I go to File Explorer, then This PC in Windows, I can still see the remaining space of approximately 40GB left on the 1TB hard drive. This matches up with the size of my backups, as I can't see anything else on the hard drive taking up that much space.

I tried Scrounge NTFS on Windows which would only give an error about something being invalid, which I sadly can't recall, chkdsk which reported no problems, and unsuccessfully using TestDisk. I'm hesitant to try Windows tools as I do not want to mount the drive if possible, as this could lead to data loss.

How do I get my backups back?
Reply to CONVERSION
3 answers Last reply
More about hdd data recovery windows disk check removed folder space occupied
  1. If memory serves me, over in community.spiceworks.com's Data Recovery forum, somebody indicated a USB and/or DVD Linux boot containing some real good data recovery tools, I think. I read in other forums across The 'Net that MiniTools Power Data Recovery, R-Studio, Stellar, Ultimate Restorer, and so many more -- all can help, to some extent.
    Reply to RolandJS
  2. RolandJS said:
    If memory serves me, over in community.spiceworks.com's Data Recovery forum, somebody indicated a USB and/or DVD Linux boot containing some real good data recovery tools, I think. I read in other forums across The 'Net that MiniTools Power Data Recovery, R-Studio, Stellar, Ultimate Restorer, and so many more -- all can help, to some extent.


    Thanks for the tips! Would the tool you saw on Spiceworks sound familiar if you heard it?
    eg Knoppix, SystemRescueCD, Trinity Rescue Kit, Ultimate Boot CD, Lsoft Active Boot Disk, Lsoft Active Data Studo?

    I'm going to start by trying these after I make a DD image of my HDD, which I really should've already done.
    Reply to CONVERSION
  3. I don't remember which Linux was recommended, yet. I'll post if I remember or run across the answer.
    Reply to RolandJS
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