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Potential disaster with Mesh syncing & deleting my files - what should I do? RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi everyone.

    I've been using Mesh for a while now, and decided to move things up a gear: I made my desktop "my documents" folder a Mesh folder, p2p only, and made my laptop's "my documents" folder the paired folder.

    That way, both systems have a "my documents" folder, but with the content duplicated. Anything where I need individual folders - like my messenger logs, my iTunes library - I dealt with by creating separate sub-folders.

    It's been working brilliantly - exactly what I wanted. There are thousands of pics, docs etc. all duplicated across two computers. Sometimes it takes a while, but mostly it's instant.

    Except.... yesterday evening, without me having made any changes, the Mesh notifier reported that I had deleted several thousand pictures, had modified hundreds of other files and had deleted folders - it also reported that I had added several thousand files.

    I had done no such thing, so I ignored it - I didn't spot any problems. I just assumed that the "deleted" files would match up with the "added" files; Mesh sometimes seems to do these odd things.

    I forgot all about the messages, and updated to the new Mesh version on both my desktop and laptop this morning.

    The problem is, tons of files *have* gone missing. My recycle bin is full of pictures and documents from "my documents".

    On my laptop, loads of files are just missing - and whole folders are in my recycle bin. In addition, I've noticed that a particular log file from Messenger Plus! which I'd kept since buying the laptop 4 months ago has been zeroed out and started again, without appearing in the recycle bin, and an MSN chat log has been replaced with an older version, again without any sign of the original being in the recycle bin. There are 10 unresolved conflicts listed, but they are all simply image files where it is saying that the folder containing them has been deleted (it hasn't)

    On my desktop about an hour or two ago, it started saying the Mesh was downloading 1.29gb of data - except I couldn't see where it was coming from. My laptop wasn't uploading, and the data isn't sync'd on the live desktop.

    Now, both my desktop and my laptop Mesh "holding area" folders have about 3,500 files in them. The holding area folder has tons of duplicates (eg file.txt and file-001.txt).

    I'm not sure what to do - the easiest "personal" thing to do is to just restore everything from the recycle bin. But I'm not sure if Mesh will then delete stuff again - what if the stuff in the laptop recycle bin is now "different" from the stuff in the desktop recycle bin? With the seeming replacement of new files with old ones, is it safe to just restore the files? Should I just wait and see if Mesh corrects the problem? Like I said, chunks of stuff are missing from one computer, but that *plus* other stuff is missing from the laptop.

    In addition, I've noticed that the laptop has been showing the PC as "online" but with the exclamation mark in the yellow triangle (what does that mean?) and the PC has been showing the same for the laptop. After restarting both computers, that issue has gone, but both are still not sync'd properly and the holding area is still full of stuff.

    I'd appreciate any thoughts. This is the first time I've had a potential disaster - and I can't see what caused it. Apart from playing around with loads of files yesterday (different ones to the ones that Mesh deleted, and about 12 hours before this happened), the only thing I did was twice try to manually update Mesh from the notifier yesterday evening.

    Thanks!

    tony
    Friday, August 29, 2008 1:33 PM

Answers

  • I think the first thing I'd do is get a bug opened and logs collected and attached.
    The second thing I'd do is unhook at least one the two PCs from the Mesh and start working on recovering the files that can be recovered.
    The third thing I'd do is set up the sync for folders that I know I back up with multiple paths, meaning that I can restore via multiple routes, if the data cannot be spared. Trusting the sync for data that isn't available to me from an alternate backup source is, unfortunately, not a good idea.
    It isn't just P2P sync, I had files get deleted by the conflict resolution during a sync to the cloud, too. For no apparent reason, Live Mesh reported a whole slew of files as having been deleted and added, as you experienced and threw a ton of stuff into the Recycle Bin as a result.
    -steve
    Microsoft MVP Windows Live / Windows Live OneCare Forum Moderator
    Friday, August 29, 2008 4:10 PM
    Moderator

All replies

  • I guess this is why it's a Tech Preview at present - it has its unreliability sometimes. :(

    It sucks that you may have lost data - however, if you have Shadow Copies of files turned on (not sure which version of Vista it is in, I am using Ultimate on one of the machines), you may get something back.

    I had a similar situation the other day where a couple of folders got deleted. Unfortunately I didn't realise what was happening when I got the conflict warning, but Shadow Copies helped me get the stuff back (it hadn't changed in a while).

    Friday, August 29, 2008 1:53 PM
  • Yeah, sometimes it's easy to forget that it's a preview :)

    Can you point me to where I could find out more about shadow copies? One system is XP home SP3, the laptop is Vista Home Premium SP1. I'll try to find information myself, but if you have a quick reference point so I can find out more, I'd be grateful.

    One of the problems with restoring files from the recycle bin is, some of the folders have been deleted and copied again by Mesh several times - so I have something like 5 copies of some folders (and would need to go through them one by one to see what is new and what is old!)

    Thanks for your reply. I'm sort of sitting by the PC waiting for something to happen - the old thing when potentially losing data is "don't do anything to make it worse" - and while I've got some files in the holding area and others in the bin of both computers, I don't want to touch anything!

    tony
    Friday, August 29, 2008 1:57 PM
  • Worth giving an update in case anyone else is having similar problems:

    As an experiment, I went into the recycle bin and restored one folder full of documents (I've got a backup).

    The files all went back into their rightful place - and then within seconds just completely disappeared. I can't see them in the recycle bin anymore, but if I do a search, they are listed as being in one of those long-named recycle bin folders (I've never understood what it means, but it's like this: c:\recycler\s-1-51-5-xxxxxxx-xxxxxx etc. It's listed in a search but not in the bin itself, and if I attempt to restore it, I get a "cannot read from source" error.

    Mesh reported that I had "added" the files to the right folders. It hasn't reported that they're also deleted again.

    In addition, since updating Mesh this morning (and, at a few hours later, installing IE8 beta2), explorer.exe is crashing every time I do a search. I'm assuming the problem is connected somehow, but as with all things computers, without further evidence it's hard to say *how*.

    I've got backups, but with the fact that some files were overwritten with older versions (perhaps from an un-noticed previous sync that didn't work), I  can't just say "screw it, I'll restore the backups" - sadly, a full backup happened just before I discovered this problem - a straight copy-and replace program.

    Given that I may have problems even restoring stuff to the mesh folders, is there any advice anyone can give? I've collected logs so MS people can have a look if they think they can help. I don't want to do any more experiments (see my previous post about not wanting to make it worse) without some decent advice.

    tony
    Friday, August 29, 2008 2:56 PM
  • If I bring up the properties of a folder, I have an tab labelled 'Previous Versions', and this lists timestamped copies of the folder (it also is present for individual files).

    Here's information on the feature: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Previous_Versions

    Unfortunately it looks as thought it's only on the Business, Enterprise and Ultimate editions, not Premium, which is a shame.

    Glyn
    Friday, August 29, 2008 3:54 PM
  • I think the first thing I'd do is get a bug opened and logs collected and attached.
    The second thing I'd do is unhook at least one the two PCs from the Mesh and start working on recovering the files that can be recovered.
    The third thing I'd do is set up the sync for folders that I know I back up with multiple paths, meaning that I can restore via multiple routes, if the data cannot be spared. Trusting the sync for data that isn't available to me from an alternate backup source is, unfortunately, not a good idea.
    It isn't just P2P sync, I had files get deleted by the conflict resolution during a sync to the cloud, too. For no apparent reason, Live Mesh reported a whole slew of files as having been deleted and added, as you experienced and threw a ton of stuff into the Recycle Bin as a result.
    -steve
    Microsoft MVP Windows Live / Windows Live OneCare Forum Moderator
    Friday, August 29, 2008 4:10 PM
    Moderator
  • Thanks Glyn and Stephen.

    I'm uploading logs as I type, and am making copies of everything in the recycle bins of both computers prior to restoring the folders.

    I'm also running some disc recovery software to see if I can get back my MSN logs!
    Friday, August 29, 2008 5:21 PM
  • Good luck, Tony. And, you're welcome. I *hate* losing data. ;-)
    -steve
    Microsoft MVP Windows Live / Windows Live OneCare Forum Moderator
    Friday, August 29, 2008 5:56 PM
    Moderator
  • Tony Collins said:

    Thanks Glyn and Stephen.

    I'm uploading logs as I type, and am making copies of everything in the recycle bins of both computers prior to restoring the folders.

    I'm also running some disc recovery software to see if I can get back my MSN logs!



    Hi Tony,

    I'm really sorry to hear you've hit such a serious issue.  Collecting logs and submitting a bug is definitely the right step, so we can try to figure out what was going on.  If you'd like to post your Connect Feedback ID here, that will make it easier for me to track internally.  I'm also going to call this thread to the attention of some of our devs.

    Thanks,

    Ben.

    <Edit>  I see the bug internally, and I've asked a couple of our devs to take a look.  I will follow up here if I learn anything new.
    Friday, August 29, 2008 8:52 PM
  • Hi Ben.

    Cheers for taking it up. I think 364985 is the ID. I hope you guys can make sense of what happened - sadly, it's not the sort of thing I can give repro instructions on (thankfully!).

    I do think that this is one of those areas that shows how the notifier could be linked more organically with actual file transfer data - unfortunately, the notifier just said (for example) "tony deleted 1364 files from folder My Documents" and then "tony added 936 files to folder my documents" - it would be useful to be able to click somewhere and find out the full list so I know what it's talking about. Often, the way the notifier chooses to notify seems a bit random (I might go through deleting some pictures, and end up deleting 25, and Mesh will say I deleted 3, then 10, then it will name 3 of the pictures, then it will say I deleted 9, for example).

    Anyway, something for the wish list maybe (I haven't got round to reading it yet!)

    Thanks again for taking it up, and to Stephen and Glyn for your initial replies. I've recovered the stuff from my backups, but sadly I couldn't get anywhere with trying to recover the modified files - I seem to remember that even if a modified file is saved, Windows makes a new copy of the file, which means in the past I've been able to find dozens of versions of older files - but not in Vista Home Premium, it seems. The files which were overwritten with older versions haven't appeared anywhere in any of the recovery software I've tried, even the good trial versions.
    Friday, August 29, 2008 9:21 PM
  • Sorry, me again. I'll take a look for myself in the forums, but is there a quick way to get rid of the 3000+ files in the "holding area" folder?
    Friday, August 29, 2008 9:50 PM
  • This problem is more serious than even my initital description:

    I restored all the files - and Mesh has deleted them again. Every time I copy them over, within minutes the system deletes them.

    Should I open a new bug for that part, or does this seem to be part of the bug that deleted the data in the first place?

    Dunno if any of you guys are around on Saturdays, but I'd like some guidance as to how to try to resolve the problem. I've got a few options: 1) Leave it til I get answers (difficult, cos my recycle bin is getting full of thousands of re-deleted files), 2) experiment with deleting the sub-folder structure altogether, remaking it then re-copying the data over, 3) do that, or more, while logged into mesh or *not* logged into mesh.

    As I'm testing a beta, I'd rather follow specific testing instructions - unless the steps to fix the issue are entirely separate from the issue itself.

    Thanks, again!
    Saturday, August 30, 2008 8:14 AM
  • Thought I'd give a further update (I've updated the bug report as well).

    My system now officially thinks it has two "my documents" folders.

    I'm going through all the conflicts, and I saw it say "picture123.jpg - the folder containing this file has been deleted".

    Now, I knew that wasn't true, so I did a search. And what do I find in my search results?

    e:\documents and settings\tony\my documents\pictures\picture123.jpg
    e:\documents and settings\tony\my documents\pictures\picture123.jpg

    The file has been found twice, both times in the same place!

    In the search dialog, where you select which folders to search, "my documents" is listed twice (both of them pointing to the right place).

    And every time I do a search of any length, explorer.exe crashes.

    (this isn't one of those "LOOK WHAT YOU DID TO MY COMPUTER" complaints - it's beta, I've backed up, all's cool - except that I've got 4000 conflicted files to go through, a computer that thinks one folder is actually two folders, and an inability to recover things from the recycle bin :) )

    It's sort of interesting. I think that the key probably lies in the fact that somehow the system has two entries for one system folder. That may be what caused the big file deletion crisis, or it may have been caused by it. Either way, I'm gonna plough through all the file conflicts, cos maybe everything will be clearer after the holding area is empty...
    Saturday, August 30, 2008 11:29 AM
  • I've actually come across this today also. A couple of sub folders were deleted and then I had hundreds of conflicts to sort out.

    Eventually (after doing them in batches of 10), I decided to give up and use foldershare for the particular folders in question (as they are not synched to the online cloud). One wierd thing I saw was the folders I had previously synched became shortcuts on the desktop again (which was actually fortunate as one machine had everything untouched and I could use as a master copy).

    I've not done too much digging, but I think it could have been to do with having to reboot a computer just after setting up the mesh folder and synching all of the files.

    Still cleaning up, so not had a chance to really investigate.
    Saturday, August 30, 2008 1:25 PM
  • I can't add anything to help, but I wanted to say that I'm really impressed with the clarity, thoroughness, and calmness that comes through in your reports. I'm glad it's not me facing that issue - I don't think I'd be handling it nearly so well. Of course, I wouldn't have prepped for that case either, with backups and all...
    Tuesday, September 2, 2008 10:18 PM
  • Hi GuyWithDogs

    (sorry for such a long gap in replying - ISP hell, no connection, the usual)

    Thanks for your kind comments.

    I have to say, I spent a while a few years ago working out a backup strategy, and since then I've been *so* relaxed about computer problems. One external hard drive, "syncback" (freeware, allows you to perform different backups on different folders at different times) running, and even if I have to reinstall Windows I can get it back to how I want within minutes.

    I have "my documents" backing up every 5 minutes, my downloads every hour, etc. It took a while to work out what I wanted and why (eg I wanted my *cough* Firefox profile backed up every few hours, and my extensions every few weeks, my music every month cos it hardly ever changes, my MSN logs every 5 minutes cos I like the history, and I had to find out where all the important settings files were stored), but once I did it, I can cope with almost any computer failure.

    There's that, and there was also the realisation, once I understood what had happened, that I had potentially hours of work to do (turned out to be a LOT - 4,000 files with conflicts!) - and it sort of leaves you in a Zen-like state of calm :)

    And actually, there's a welcoming feel in this forum which meant I didn't feel like an idiot when it happened.

    All the best!

    tony
    Wednesday, September 10, 2008 7:02 PM