Files Disappear

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by jwmvermont, Jun 7, 2008.

  1. jwmvermont macrumors newbie

    Jun 7, 2008
    I have no idea if this is the proper forum for this, there are so many.

    Anyway, I'm not the most tech savy person in the world, and less so mac savy, but something just happened to me about 3 hours ago that has completely blown my mind. All the files in my Documents folder...are gone. Or more precisely they seem to have magically become invisible, to both myself, and the computer.

    I can find a specific file by using the search box in the finder window. Like say "plot notes v3v2" sure enough search finds it, and when I tell it to open the folder the file is in, it magically appears in Documents. If I type in say a Folder that I know is in Documents but seems to be gone, like say "scripts rough d1" search finds the folder. When I tell search to open the folder that the folder is in, sure enough "scripts rough d1" pops up in Documents. Except there are NO files in "scripts rough d1". All of the Folders I've manage to reclaim from nowheresville all have below 1mb file size, because none of them seem to have FILES in them?!

    I'm completely lost and perplexed. In many, many, MANY years of using windows badly, I have NEVER seen a computer just decide to... ignore files before.

    Any help would be appreciated. Please remember I have practically no idea how macs work.

    Just to start you off, yes I have looked up the Documents folder the easy way, through the sidebar(which is what I always use to look at my stuff) and through the long way via home/user/Documents. In both cases the Documents folder is essentially empty. I have no idea what's up. I read on another forum I found through google something about using the terminal, but then I opened terminal and realized it was the Mac version of bloody DOS and my head exploded.
  2. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    3 hours ago did you rename your user folder or attempt to change your username?
  3. jwmvermont thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 7, 2008
    I wouldn't even begin to know how to do that. I was just using my computer normally. I watched a movie on it. When the movie was done, all the stuff in my Documents folder seemed to have... well gone away.

    I also didn't name anything with a period either, which, my searching for answers has told me causes OS X to make them invisible.

    I really have no idea what I could have done wrong.

    I was chatting on MSN messenger whilst watching the movie, I think I may have looked at a few news websites whilst watching the movie as well, but otherwise, I didn't do anything that I'm aware of.
  4. ert3 macrumors 6502a


    Dec 10, 2007
    3 hours ago did some one who knows how to flag files as invisible have access to your computer.
  5. ert3 macrumors 6502a


    Dec 10, 2007
    Open up a terminal and type the following (the terminal should be in the utilities folder in your applications folder)
    defaults write AppleShowAllFiles TRUE
    killall Finder

    when your done finding your files use get info to make it so they are not hidden.

    then replace the line TRUE with false and you should be done.
  6. jwmvermont thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 7, 2008
    ert3, nope nobody has touched my computer other then me in ages.

    I tried the Terminal thing did nothing, as far as I could tell. :/

    My Document folder remains as empty as it was before, although some new ghosty looking random files have popped up in other folders. Don't worry, I didn't touch them.

    I guess, I wouldn't mind going around typing in each file and folder name and forcing them to reappear that way, its just I had hundreds and hundreds of stuff in my Documents Folder and I don't remember a tenth of their names.
  7. G-Com macrumors regular

    May 21, 2008
    North of The 'Nati
  8. micmex macrumors newbie

    Jun 1, 2007
    I have the same problem and was glad to see your advice - typing this comand in terminal I´m receiving "defaults[1811:10b] Unexpected argument killall; leaving defaults unchanged.". Any hint what I did wrong....?
    Thanks for your help!
  9. merl1n macrumors 65816


    Mar 30, 2008
    New Jersey, USA
    Did you hit a return after each line?

    Launch /Applications/Utilities/Grab and use that to capture your terminal window. Repeat the commands in Terminal, capture the window and post it here.
  10. micmex macrumors newbie

    Jun 1, 2007
    Yes, I did a return, thanks for your help. Feeling totally stupid :( there´s no "grab" or something similar. Forget about my question... I´m confused and perplexed. Maybe mac is not made for me. Anyway, thanks for your help.
  11. serobins macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2008
    I just had the same problem. Plus, I've found another forum with another person who experienced the same thing running 10.4 - Nobody could solve the problem for them either. There are also a couple of unanswered questions on this topic in the official Apple Support forums.

    I was doing normal, boring things on my MacBook, shut it down, and restarted it about a half-hour later. Suddenly, my documents folder was empty. There was a lot of stuff in it, and my computer still shows the same amount of available space, but I can't see or access the files. The sidebar shortcuts to folders inside the documents folder are still there, but they have lost their custom icons and lead nowhere. File names still show up in the "recent files" menus inside applications - but the files are not found. Spotlight can't find any of the things that used to be in the documents folder. Repairing the disk and disk permissions has not worked.

    Does anyone have any idea why the documents folder would suddenly decide that it is empty? More importantly, and ideas how to fix it?
  12. plinden macrumors 68040


    Apr 8, 2004
    I have no idea why this would happen (hasn't for me on three Macs) but a bit of Terminal work might help you out.

    Open Terminal (Applications/Utilities/Terminal) and type:
    cd ~/Documents
    ls -la
    You should see a list of your documents there. If you do, create a new folder and copy everything into it e.g.:
    mkdir ~/Documents.bak
    cp -R * ~/Documents.bak/.
    Then check Documents.bak in Finder.

    If everything's there, rename Documents to something else, then rename Documents.bak to Documents.

    If at any stage you no longer see the files, let us know.
  13. richard.mac macrumors 603


    Feb 2, 2007
    51.50024, -0.12662

    double click Macintosh HD on your desktop and then open the users folder. how many folders are there except for the Shared folder? if you are the only user on your Mac there should only be one folder which has a house icon. if there is another folder without a house icon with your username it means that you have renamed your home folder and a new fresh one has been created. for info on how to get your other account back look here.
  14. serobins macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2008
    Thank you for the help.

    I just double checked, and I did not make a new user folder.

    As for the contents of the documents folder, here's what terminal shows. (Things look grim for our hero):

    sarah-robinsons-computer:~ sarahrobinson$ cd ~/Documents
    sarah-robinsons-computer:~/Documents sarahrobinson$ ls -la
    total 0
    drwxr-xr-x 4 sarahrob sarahrob 136 Sep 16 13:00 .
    drwxr-xr-x 30 sarahrob sarahrob 1020 Sep 16 12:58 ..
    -rw-r--r-- 1 sarahrob sarahrob 0 Sep 16 11:13 .localized
    drwxr-xr-x 5 sarahrob sarahrob 170 Sep 16 22:43 Microsoft User Data

    Microsoft User Data did not exist when this problem first started. As far as I can tell, that folder was born when I opened up Word to see if I could access anything using the recent documents menu. (11:13 was the last time my computer was behaving normally - after I shut down and rebooted, the documents had disappeared.)
  15. richard.mac macrumors 603


    Feb 2, 2007
    51.50024, -0.12662
    ^ well it looks like your Documents folder is completely empty except for the Microsoft folder which is automatically create when you open Office.

    try this in Terminal

    cd ~; ls -al
    this will tell us if you have any invisible folders in your home folder that are created to hold recent information for applications such as Terminal, Xcode, Abode CS etc. and also the folders in your home folder where last modified. if it looks relatively empty and your home folders all been modified recently then your home folder has been newly created or if there are extensive invisible folders holding recent information and your folders have not been all been recently modified at the same time then it will tell us that your data has been misplaced and not erased… sorry very CONFUSING :eek:.

    heres mine for a comparison.

    MacBook-Pro:/ rich$ cd ~;ls -al
    total 152
    drwxr-xr-x   36 rich  staff   1224 16 Sep 23:37 .
    drwxr-xr-x    5 root  admin    170 12 Sep 22:24 ..
    -rw-------    1 rich  staff      4  9 Mar  2008 .CFUserTextEncoding
    -rw-r--r--@   1 rich  staff  21508 16 Sep 23:18 .DS_Store
    drwxr-xr-x    3 rich  staff    102 27 Feb  2008 .MacOSX
    drwx------    2 rich  staff     68 17 Sep 14:04 .Trash
    -rw-------    1 rich  staff    172  5 Apr 21:00 .Xauthority
    drwxr-xr-x    2 rich  staff     68  2 Nov  2007 .Xcode
    drwxr-x--x    4 rich  staff    136 14 Aug  2007 .adobe
    -rw-r--r--    1 rich  staff     28 16 Sep 20:10 .ano
    -rw-------    1 root  staff    926 16 Sep 15:29 .bash_history
    drwxr-xr-x    5 rich  staff    170 18 Jul 21:44 .citrix
    drwx------    3 rich  staff    102 31 Oct  2007 .cups
    drwxr-xr-x    6 rich  staff    204 30 Jun 13:02 .dropbox
    drwxr-xr-x    3 rich  staff    102 16 Sep 20:21 .fontconfig
    -rw-r--r--    1 rich  staff      0 28 Mar 19:41 .gnuplot_history
    drwxr-xr-x@   6 rich  staff    204 29 Jul 17:12 .jchatirc
    -rw-------    1 rich  staff     35 16 Sep 20:20 .lesshst
    -rw-r--r--    1 rich  staff   3679  4 Feb  2008 .mailcap
    drwxr-xr-x    3 rich  staff    102  4 Apr 17:31 .matlab
    -rw-r--r--    1 rich  staff  16091  4 Feb  2008 .mime.types
    -rw-------    1 rich  staff     62  5 Apr 21:00 .serverauth.528
    -rw-------    1 rich  staff    484 28 Dec  2007 .sh_history
    drwx------    3 rich  staff    102  3 Sep 18:21 .ssh
    -rw-------    1 rich  staff    669 17 Aug 12:55 .viminfo
    drwx---r-x    6 rich  staff    204 17 Sep 14:13 Desktop
    drwxr--r--+  62 rich  staff   2108 17 Sep 10:07 Documents
    drwxr-xr-x   31 rich  staff   1054 16 Sep 23:04 Downloads
    drwx------   63 rich  staff   2142 16 Sep 20:26 Library
    drwx------   27 rich  staff    918 23 Aug 16:45 Movies
    drwxrwxrwx  393 rich  staff  13362 16 Sep 23:17 Music
    drwxr-xrwx@ 167 rich  staff   5678 19 Aug 23:49 Pictures
    drwxr-xrwx    6 rich  staff    204 12 Jun 22:16 Public
    drwxr-xr-x    7 rich  staff    238 29 Jul 17:43 Sites
    drwxrwxr-x@  17 rich  staff    578  9 Sep 19:14 Stuff
  16. serobins macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2008

    sarah-robinsons-computer:~ sarahrobinson$ cd ~; ls -al
    total 104
    drwxr-xr-x 30 sarahrob sarahrob 1020 Sep 16 12:58 .
    drwxrwxr-t 6 root admin 204 Oct 12 2006 ..
    -rw-r--r-- 1 sarahrob sarahrob 3 Dec 18 2006 .CFUserTextEncoding
    -rw-r--r-- 1 sarahrob sarahrob 15364 Sep 16 13:01 .DS_Store
    drwx------ 5 sarahrob sarahrob 170 Sep 16 22:50 .Trash
    drwx------ 16 sarahrob sarahrob 544 Jan 21 2007 .Tribler
    drwxr-x--x 3 sarahrob sarahrob 102 Oct 17 2007 .adobe
    -rw------- 1 sarahrob sarahrob 4324 Sep 17 00:07 .bash_history
    -rw-r--r-- 1 sarahrob sarahrob 174 Dec 1 2006 .bash_profile
    drwxr-xr-x 13 sarahrob sarahrob 442 Aug 18 01:46 .dvdcss
    -rw-r--r-- 1 sarahrob sarahrob 28 Apr 29 2007 .eno
    drwxr-xr-x 3 sarahrob sarahrob 102 Dec 1 2006 .idlerc
    drwx------ 3 sarahrob sarahrob 102 Aug 6 21:51 .lightscribe
    -rw-r--r-- 1 sarahrob sarahrob 23 Apr 25 14:03 .lpoptions
    -rw------- 1 sarahrob sarahrob 1024 Sep 11 2006 .rnd
    drwx------ 3 sarahrob sarahrob 102 Apr 1 13:35 .ssh
    lrwxr-xr-x 1 sarahrob sarahrob 60 Aug 14 12:24 .xchat2 -> /Users/sarahrobinson/Library/Application Support/X-Chat Aqua
    drwxrwxrwx 53 sarahrob sarahrob 1802 Sep 16 22:47 Desktop
    drwxr-xr-x 4 sarahrob sarahrob 136 Sep 16 13:00 Documents
    drwx------ 48 sarahrob sarahrob 1632 Sep 16 23:56 Library
    drwxr-xr-x 4 sarahrob sarahrob 136 Sep 13 2006 Mail
    drwx------ 6 sarahrob sarahrob 204 Aug 9 13:18 Movies
    drwx------ 508 sarahrob sarahrob 17272 May 11 20:57 Music
    drwxr-xr-x 2 sarahrob sarahrob 68 Sep 13 2006 Network Trash Folder
    drwx------ 136 sarahrob sarahrob 4624 Aug 27 11:12 Pictures
    drwxr-xr-x 4 sarahrob sarahrob 136 Sep 12 2006 Public
    drwxr-xr-x 6 sarahrob sarahrob 204 Oct 8 2007 Sites
    drwxr-xr-x 3 sarahrob sarahrob 102 Jun 13 20:22 StuffIt
    drwxr-xr-x 2 sarahrob sarahrob 68 Sep 13 2006 TheVolumeSettingsFolder
    -rw-r--r-- 1 sarahrob sarahrob 17 Aug 28 18:23 package.lst
  17. richard.mac macrumors 603


    Feb 2, 2007
    51.50024, -0.12662
    ^ ok so youve got an extenisve list of invisible folders dating back to 2006 so your home folder isnt brand new GOOD NEWS! also your Documents folder was last modified on Sep 16th, is that when problem started to occur?

    we should also check when your Documents folder was created. i dont know how to do this in Terminal so just go to your home folder, click on Documents and press command+I. what does it say besides "Date Created"?.
  18. serobins macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2008
    First good news in a while!

    Exactly when.

    Created: Yesterday at 11:13 AM (This was right about when I shut down my previously working computer)

    Modified: Yesterday at 1:00 PM (not sure how we got there...)

    Last Opened: Yesterday at 11:13 AM

    Size 18.2 MB on disk (that's not right)

    --On another note, the amount of available disk space on my hard drive hasn't changed much since this adventure began. I hope, hope, hope that this means that my files have not yet been re-purposed as empty space.
  19. richard.mac macrumors 603


    Feb 2, 2007
    51.50024, -0.12662
    my Documents folder with just the Microsoft User Data folder inside is about the same size. so we can confidently say that your Documents folder is empty (atm).

    my last idea would be to search for "Documents" in a Finder search with "Filename" selected and both "Kind - Folders" and "System files - include" added (the later has the added from "Other…"). you may have misplaced your documents folder and Finder simply added a new one after your Mac noticed a lack of a Documents folder in your home directory after a reboot.

    but if the whereabouts of the missing Documents is still a mystery i would say your it has been erased and allocated to an empty space so stop using your Mac NOW! file recovery software such as Data Rescue or FileSalvage may be able to rescue your documents.
  20. sallywon macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2008
    Files Disappear

    I think the main problem is the hard drive.
  21. serobins macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2008
    Here's another update. I thought I would post it in case someone else with the same problem winds up here looking for help. Thank you very much everybody who posted here. This was a pretty stressful little problem, and I was glad to have help.

    Here's everything I've tried. (None of it worked):

    • I've run two salvage programs on the disk (SubRosa Soft's File Salvage and Data Recover II). They have recovered smaller documents, but larger documents, databases, and the things I had archived are too corrupted/scattered around. Nothing much larger than 10MB could be recovered.

    • Disk Warrior could not find any problems with the directory structure and could not recover the damaged directory. (Also, the tech support guy I talked with from Disk Warrior was a real wiener. It sounds like most people have good experiences with that company, so maybe I just got the one pissy guy.)

    • Diagnostics run on the hard drive say it is running fine and has a valid partition map. The hard drive has not been acting like it is going bad, but I'm no longer sure I trust it.

    • The amount of free space on the disk has not changed. The university tech support people who looked at my computer last week suggested that running the "erase free space" function off the system disk might solve that problem. It did not. Apparently my old documents folder is not being counted as free space.

    So to sum up, it looks like the directory for my documents folder was suddenly and completely destroyed. The data is still there, but without a valid directory, I can neither access it or erase it. No idea what caused this. I never do anything particularly crazy with this computer. Mostly, I just write my dissertation. The university tech support people suspect LimeWire. Though I have not run it in over a year, they think it may still be the culprit. It was not in my startup items, as far as I can make out. We may never know....

    Off to reformat the damned drive......
  22. Foltorack macrumors newbie

    Feb 8, 2010
    CanadaRAM, I DID change a user's name. Do you know of any way to fix this problem? PLZ help! and thank you in advance.

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