How to Fix File Folders Became Shortcuts
"All my files and folders became shortcuts in my 500GB external hard drive while connected to my computer when I attempted to access the data stored. This happened just all of a sudden. It’s really annoying to see that nearly 200GB data now became shortcuts with just about 1-2KB size. How could this happen? Please help me out. I am willing to destroy the drive as long as the data can be recovered." – Megha William
Have you ever suffered similar folders become shortcuts problems in your life of using an external drive? It seems that such kind of issue can frequently happen on a removable media such as USB flash drive, external HD, memory card etc. What could be the reasons behind? Yes, you might have guessed it – it's the virus, trojans or worm (notorious ones such as BUOUFO, QWERT, AUTORUN etc).
Is it still possible to get rid of the virus and make the folders become normal again? Possibly. However, first things first - never attempt to format the drive right away as it may make things worse, especially if you have a lot of valuable data contained in those files or folders that has turned into shortcuts.
Then follow the step by step fix guide below to get started...
Check if the file folders are hidden
- 1) If your PC is running Windows XP, click 'Start' -> 'Run' -> type 'cmd' and click 'OK'. If you are running Windows Vista/7/8, click "Home + R" combination and type 'cmd' and then click 'OK'. Note: the "Home" key is located right besides 'alt'.
- 2) Enter this command attrib -h -r -s /s /d f:\*.* (note: here I am assuming your external drive shows as F: under 'My Computer', do not forget to replace "f" if it is different).
- 3) Press 'Enter' button and now check if your files or folders in your removable disk.
Are they visible? If yes, congratulations! If no, do not worry, go to the next step.
Remove the virus
- 1) Feel free to try Spyware Clear (an anti-malware program that helps scan and remove viruses, spyware, rogue programs etc). Download and install on your PC. Then connect the infected device to your computer.
- 2) Open the program and scan the problematic drive. Do not have mercy on those virus or trojans if found.
- 3) After the virus are cleaned, now check the folders on your disk and see if the shortcuts disappear.
Yes? Great! Still the problem exists? It seems the virus or worms are too stubborn. Now go to the final step.
Recover data and format the infected drive
- 1) Keep your device connected to your computer, then download and install a data recovery software. Run the program for a free scan of your drive to see if you can recover some files. Note: the recovery program performs read-only operation, thus it won’t do any damage to your disk.
- 2) Then re-format the drive on your PC (use "quick format" or "complete format" option). This way should wipe everything including the virus on your drive, and the shortcut folder problem should also go away. However, the data are not erased permanently even if you format the drive.
- 3) Re-use the data recovery tool to re-scan your disk to see if more data can be found. Do not worry, it only recovers general files (such as documents, folders, photos, videos, music etc) instead of the virus.
Hope the above steps have helped you get rid of the file/folder becoming shortcuts problem, and have restored your precious documents and files.
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