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Files missing after chkdsk in Windows 7

Posted on Dec 14, 2011 by Paul White

If you are reading, then its likely that you recently ran chkdsk ( check disk ) and after it was done you found that many of your files were missing.  Recently my computer told me to run chkdsk because there were problems with my 2TB SATA hard drive.  Afterwards many of my files were missing. However don't worry, most of your files are still there, and I am going to help you find them.

First a little background on chkdsk

What does chkdsk do?

Your hard drive is broken into 2 sections MFT ( Master File Table ) and your data.  The Master File Table tells your operating system what files are on the disk, and what sectors on the hard drive they are located.  When for one reason or another, your data becomes corrupt, you may have trouble reading files, or the hard drive becomes slow as it keeps hitting bad sectors.  chkdsk attempts to correct these problems.  For Hard Drives that are very large in size with many corruption errors, it may take hours or even days for chkdsk to finish. 

After running chkdsk my files are missing

In my experience corruption errors are when the MFT looses track of what directories a file is supposed to be placed under.  Think of it like a relational database ( SQL or MySQL ).  You might have multiple tables which are tied together with keys.  If you loose track of what parent key an element is supposed to be part of, then you can no longer parse this data from the parent category.  Most likely you are browsing your Hard Drive and finding that directories that once had your files, are now empty. 

How to find your recovered files after chkdsk

This is what happend to me when I ran chkdsk on my 2 TB SATA drive that stored all my family photos, vidoes plus system backups.  I ran a recovery tool, and still no data.  Turns out chkdsk take all the files it could not figure out where they were supposed to go and places them in a found.000 folder that is located on the root of your hard drive.  However this is a hidden folder.

To view hidden folders you need to navigate to
MainMenu > Tools > View > Hidden files and folders
fill in the bubble for "Show hidden files, folders, and drives".
you also need to uncheck the box next to "Hide protected operating system files"

After this you will see a folder called found.000, open it
Inside you will find many folders called dir0000.chk, where the 0000 is a accending number.
Each of these folders contain groups of files that were recovered.

found.000 folder windows 7 after chkdsk
Not 100% of your data might be there.  But most of it should be there.
Now you have to drag and drop all these files into their correct destinations.
In my case I had 702 directories I was going to have to sort through.

After this I am considering setting up a SAN on my home network.  After all storing all your precious memories on a single 2TB disk is not the smartest thing to do.

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What a shame I have Win7 | Jan 3, 2012 11:13 AM
What to do if I can't open the found.000? It just says "Access denied" -I am logged in as admin -the hard drive has permission "Full access" set to everyone -I can't change the folder's attributes or ownership or even do that "Auditing" thing(results "Access denied" again) I never had problems like this with WinXP...
Paul | Jan 3, 2012 1:32 PM
Sorry to here you are having so many problems with Windows 7
I can't remember how, but you have to take ownership of the folder and all children. 
Here is a snippet from Technet

Take Ownership of a File or Folder

Applies To: Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2

The owner of the object controls how permissions are set on the object and to whom permissions are granted.

The Take Ownership permission on an object or the Restore files and directories user right are the minimum requirements to complete this procedure. Review the details in "Additional considerations" in this topic.

To take ownership of a file or folder
  1. Open Windows Explorer, and then locate the file or folder you want to take ownership of.

  2. Right-click the file or folder, click Properties, and then click the Security tab.

  3. Click Advanced, and then click the Owner tab.

  4. Click Edit, and then do one of the following:

    • To change the owner to a user or group that is not listed, click Other users and groups and, in Enter the object name to select (examples), type the name of the user or group, and then click OK.

    • To change the owner to a user or group that is listed, in the Change owner to box, click the new owner.

  5. (Optional) To change the owner of all subcontainers and objects within the tree, select the Replace owner on subcontainers and objects check box.

Additional considerations

  • An administrator can take ownership of any file on the computer.

  • Assigning ownership of a file or a folder might require you to elevate your permissions by using User Access Control.

  • To open Windows Explorer, click Start, point to All Programs, click Accessories, and then click Windows Explorer.

  • You can transfer ownership in two ways:

    • The current owner can grant the Take Ownership permission to others, allowing those users to take ownership at any time. A user granted the Take Ownership permission can take ownership of the object or assign ownership to any group that the user is a member of.

    • A user who has the Restore files and directories privilege can double-click Other users and groups and choose any user or group to assign ownership to.

  • The Everyone group no longer includes the Anonymous Logon group.

Vasili | Nov 23, 2012 5:21 PM
Thanks for this info. Like Pual I cant exes the folder. when I go in to the properies it shows I have 0 bites in the folder. Is this normal? When I do finaly exes it will my files be there?

windows live | Dec 2, 2012 3:10 PM

The owner of the object controls how permissions are set on the object and to whom permissions are granted.

The Take Ownership permission on an object or the Restore files and directories user right are the minimum requirements to complete this procedure
laura | Apr 22, 2013 8:25 AM
I followed your instructions and did find them. Got to the point where you said click and drag to directories, but do not kmow whatnyou mean. Files will not open and look like gibberish. They were power point files. I went to PP and when I opened it looked like gibberish. These are major research files and any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Laura
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