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Windows USB stick has been overtaken by gremlins!

Discussion in 'Tech Support' started by ModSquid, 18 Mar 2020.

  1. ModSquid

    ModSquid Active Member

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    I'm getting a little bit cross today, not just because of this whole isolation sitch, but because none of the things I'm trying to achieve are going my way WHILST I HAVE EVERY OPPORTUNITY!

    Just rebuilt the Windows (10) tablet convertible for the kids to use for schoolwork etc. and all going fine. Shoved a USB data stick in to finish installing the antivirus programs and was asked if I wanted to scan and fix it. Given this was probably showing up as I always just pull it from the system rather than dismount, plus I wanted to get on with the task at hand, I declined and got on with everything.

    Next thing was to reboot, so did that, but forgot to remove the stick, so Windows decided it would just go right the fk ahead and scan and fix it anyway. Sat on 2% for donkey's so went for lunch, came back and it had shut down. Started it back up and logged in, at which point the system hung with the stick flashing like mad, Win Explorer unresponsive and cursor not moving.

    Got VERY cross with Windows behaving like one of the kids and not listening, so forced a reset and logged back in (tried sending it to the naughty step but it just ignored that as well). Windows is now responding, but the stick is still flashing like mad, won't be recognised in Win Explorer, seems to be recognised in Disk Mgt but at an incorrect capacity and something is eating up my tiny hard drive (albeit at a very slow rate). It has been doing this for about three or four hours now, but I'm loath to pull it out again. Is it possible Windows is rebuilding the file system or something? Am I at risk of losing all the data on the stick?

    More importantly, am I going to go postal by the end of today or is there potentially a happy ending?
     
  2. ModSquid

    ModSquid Active Member

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    It's STILL flashing like Gary Glitter at a school gate and now I'm worried that I'm either going to lose data or corrupt something. It shouldn't take 7.5 hrs to scan or fix a 64GB USB stick. And why is it eating my system drive?
     
    ElThomsono likes this.
  3. adidan

    adidan Guesswork is still work

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    Sounds like it's gone and got its funk on in funky town.

    Windows quite often says something is wrong with my usbs do i want to fix it - I always say hell no and they work fine. Apparently that can from just from not unmounting it properly last time round.

    I think the scan and fix is a broad sword, no idea how long it should take. Seems a tad long for me to say the least.

    Don't suppose you checked if you could see it in explorer on another pc?
     
  4. ModSquid

    ModSquid Active Member

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    Yeah, that's what I understood too. I bit the bullet and left it on overnight but the damn thing is still going this morning. So now I'm even more concerned...

    Haven't checked it on another machine as I've been too nervous about corrupting it to pull it out. Can't be seen in Explorer so can't eject it. It does look like I've recovered some hard disk space, oddly, which is why I left it on to see if it resolved itself.

    What irks me about this is not only did Windows act on its own without confirming something I'd previously declined, but also that it's now not telling me what it's actually doing anywhere.

    Coming up on twenty hours of doing whatever it's up to when for reference I ran a chkdsk on a 750GB disk (ten times the size) the day before in an hour or so. Hoping with the greatest bit-tech minds all isolated in front of their machines, solutions to all our current issues will be forthcoming!
     
  5. ModSquid

    ModSquid Active Member

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    Now 25 hours of USB flashing and system drive going up and down within a range of about 1.5GBish. Either it's transferring and rebuilding that much at a time (with, what - an expected completion time of 64GB divided by that?) or it's doing something ultra-nefarious.

    Every now and then the D: icon for the USB does flash up for a split-second in Explorer but then disappears again.
     
  6. spolsh

    spolsh Active Member

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    Have you tried the stick in another PC ?
     
  7. Corky42

    Corky42 Where's walle?

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    Is there anything important on the stick, if not I'd just hose it and start again as it sounds like either the filesystem or partition table has corrupted, you could check the drive with diskpart to see if it's marked as healthy and that it's not reporting anything weird but probably easier to just wipe the drive and start again.
     
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  8. adidan

    adidan Guesswork is still work

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    :p

    By the sounds of it his USB is self isolating. Not sure i'd have the patience and would have removed it a long time ago.

    If its messing about like this i think if data is lost it may already be gone. It may be a matter of using software to recover anything deleted, it may be salvageable.

    Over a day can't be right.
     
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  9. ModSquid

    ModSquid Active Member

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    I don't believe so, plus that wouldn't explain the fact my system drive is going up and down in capacity (would it?). It's as if stuff is being copied to/from, but then that also doesn't explain why Explorer doesn't see it at all, which led me to believe it's some sort of background task. Can't see anything in resource manager that suggests so, other than MBAM and AdAware running, so it could be scans, or it could be that those are their background processes running independently of this issue. There is a LOT of stuff seemingly self-terminating in Res Mgr though...mscorsw, localbridge, runtimebroker, backgroundtaskhost, wudfhost but they seem to restart on their own. SearchUI, microsoft.photos, yourphone, lockapp and shellexperiencehost are all suspended. I know I uninstalled yourphone, but not sure about the others. Nothing else suspicious/obvious running that would explain anything.

    Ha! It can't join in, it's a key worker!

    I may wait for the system drive to go back up to ~8.5GB free space and then just shut the thing down and see what happens next time I plug the USB in.
     
    adidan likes this.
  10. ModSquid

    ModSquid Active Member

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    Powershell won't open. Window opens, but only with a white screen and title bar, not black with prompt.
     
  11. adidan

    adidan Guesswork is still work

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    :)

    You may want to disable the scan/fix before doing so so it doesn't force one on you again.

    Edit: You may want to double check but I think that's by running msconfig and disabling Shell Hardware Detection and stopping it on Startup.

    But you may want to double check that as I say.
     
  12. Corky42

    Corky42 Where's walle?

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    Try the normal command prompt, failing that there's always Settings > Updates & Security > Recovery > Advanced Startup (restart now) > Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Command Prompt.
     
  13. ModSquid

    ModSquid Active Member

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    Update: things started to look a bit hooky and get on my nerves even more, so I did the shutdown with the intention of following the above advice upon next startup, but check this - system wouldn't even power on unless the USB stick was inserted!

    So I've powered it up, then once the stick stopped flashing and the login screen appeared, pulled the stick and logged in as normal. Inserted the stick and obviously Windows said it had errors and need fixing, so I've kicked it off doing that. I've also started an sfc on the main system drive from command prompt.

    That's weird though, right? Does it mean somehow the stick has required system files now copied onto it, without which the system cannot boot? :wallbash:
     
  14. Corky42

    Corky42 Where's walle?

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    I've heard of USB sticks preventing a system from POST'ing but never a system that wouldn't POST without a USB stick, you really need to check out what, or how, the drive is being reported using DISKPART, if the partitions are being reported as healthy, if for some strange reason Windows has created an ESP partition on is and moved the boot file to it, etc, etc.
     
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  15. ModSquid

    ModSquid Active Member

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    I'm losing it big time with this one.

    Managed to repair Windows with an sfc, managed to scan and fix the USB stick (no errors reported. Really??), have now got C: (7.76GB free of 27.7 - this was 8.5+ before this whole debacle, so I'm missing some space somehow) and D: (2.80GB free of 31.9GB - only problem is, this is a 64GB stick) showing in Explorer, but DISKPART shows:

    DISK 0 size 29GB free 0B
    DISK 1 size 7203MB free 0B
    DISK 2 size 59GB free 27GB

    and disk management in the console shows:

    Disk 0 Basic 29.00GB - 100MB (EFI Sys Partition); 700MB (Recovery Partition); C: 27.77GB (Boot, Page File, Crash Dump, Primary); 449MB (Recovery Partition)
    Disk 1 Basic 7.04GB - 7.03GB (Recovery Partition)
    Disk 2 Removable 59.01GB - D: 32.00GB FAT32 (Active, Primary); 27.01GB Unallocated

    with the summary table showing:

    C: NTFS 27.77GB Cap 7.75GB Free
    Disk 0 Part 1 (no file sys shown) 100MB Cap 100MB Free
    Disk 0 Part 2 (no file sys shown) 700MB Cap 700MB Free
    Disk 0 Part 5 (no file sys shown) 449MB Cap 449MB Free
    Disk 1 Part 1 (no file sys shown) 7.03GB Cap 7.03GB Free
    D: FAT32 31.99GB Cap 2.80GB Free

    So it seems D: ties up with DISK 2 and DISKPART agrees with disk mgt in terms of overall USB size and where the "missing" space is (unal)located. I think the question of "what the bl00dy hell happened to my USB stick and why has it been partitioned?" is probably best answered by this:

    [​IMG]

    However, I have these questions about Disk 0/1:
    • Why is DISKPART showing weird/contradictory stuff to disk mgt for disks 0 and 1? Or does "free" in DISKPART mean unallocated, as opposed to unused on an existing partition?
    • Why have I got so many recovery partitions?
    • Why are those recovery etc. partitions showing as 100% free space?
    • Where are partitions 3 and 4 on Disk 0?
    • Where is my "missing" C: drive space and how do I find it to reclaim it? It doesn't show as hidden files in Explorer and the extra GB or so makes a massive difference on a machine this size
    :wallbash::duh:
     
  16. Corky42

    Corky42 Where's walle?

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    1. Yes, diskpart "list disk" free means how much of the disk is not being used by partitions on the drive.
    2. I can only guess but it maybe from repair installs or reinstalls without wiping previous partitions.
    3. With the summary table all the partitions listed as Disk X Part X are partitions without drive letters, typically those are ESP (EFI) partitions if they're 100Mb or recovery partitions if they're around the 400-700Mb range.
    4. Partition 3 will be the MSR (typically a 16Mb reserved partition that Microsoft makes) and partition 4 is listed as C:
    5. As for recovering space does Settings > System > Storage show that any temporary files or other stuff can be removed.
    E: If you wanted to delete the unused recovery partitions open a command prompt (or PS) and type "reagentc /info" the winre location will list "\\?\GLOBALROOT\device\harddisk(a number here)\partition(another number here)\Recovery\WindowsRE", that's the recovery partition your current windows install is using so any that are not that drive number and that partition can be deleted and your existing partitions can be expanded to fill the empty space.

    2nd E: Oh and your USB drive only has a 32GB partition on it because Windows limits FAT32 partitions to that size, if you want a FAT32 partition that uses the entire disk you'll need to use a third party partitioning tool.
     
    Last edited: 25 Mar 2020
  17. ModSquid

    ModSquid Active Member

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    Ah, cheers corky - nice one.

    I followed the above and very oddly, harddisk0\partition4 was returned when run from c:\windows\system32 - but this is not one of the ones listed in disk mgt and is the one you suggest is the C: drive...?? That 7GB supposed recovery partition is therefore also confusing the hell out of me.

    Also, to your second edit, the USB stick was a 64GB when I loaded my data onto it, but I didn't notice what format it was in. If it's shrunk itself and unallocated some of the space, that suggests it's also changed the file system, but without losing the data. Isn't this a bit weird?
     
  18. Corky42

    Corky42 Where's walle?

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    If it's listing the same partition that windows is installed on then it's using the Winre.wim (the Windows recovery environment (a virtual file system)) that's stored in C:\Windows\System32\Recovery

    Trying to restore that to it's own partition (the recovery partition) is a right faff and probably not worth it, it does mean you don't need any recovery partitions though. If you decide to remove them you'll want to check they're really empty first though, disk management should show their free space to be around 98%, if you want a more thorough check you can use diskpart to assign them a drive letter and have a look in file manager.

    When you say the 7GB partition, are you referring to the 7.03GB on disk 1? If so i had assumed that was a second drive that was attached for extra storage.

    As for the USB, yes that is weird. I couldn't even guess why it's happened, maybe when Windows was scanning and 'fixing' it temporarily copied the file off it, recreated the files system, and copied the file back to it. That's just speculation though as Windows tends to do some strange stuff when it's acting on users behalf.
     
  19. boiled_elephant

    boiled_elephant Merom Celeron 4 lyfe

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    My first thought from the title was fake ebay flash, and nothing in the thread so far has mentioned where it came from or how long it has previously worked for.

    It's certainly behaving a lot like a fake stick.
     

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