Flash Drive Trashed?

So I was asked by someone with absolutely no computer skills to copy the contents of a flash drive onto her computer. After I created a new folder and dropped and dragged she claimed that much of what was originally in the flash drive disappeared, and that the copied material is all mixed up. I checked in the recycle bin, and nothing is there. I did nothing but drop and drag. My theory is that this person knows so little about what she had before that she cannot tell that it is not changed. Is there anyway to prove this, any record either on the flash drive or the computer that may help prove me either right or wrong.

Did you “drop and drag,” or “drag and drop”?

More importantly, did you Move or Copy?

It would also help to know what operating system the computer uses.

There’s a truly excellent chance that she has a fake flash drive.
These are incredibly widespread - they appear to be rated capacity, but are actually only 128M or so, so the files that were supposed to be on the drive are actually nowhere.


This should keep you busy for a while.

I did drag and drop. It was Windows 7.

Here’s an article about a fake solid state drive, at The Register - on a larger scale than a thumb drive, but the principle is the same. It was sold as a 500GB SSD, which would be dead handy if it was real, but inside there were a pair of bolts and a 128mb flash chip, configured in such a way that the computer thought it had the full 500GB. I assume fake flash drives would be even easier to make.

This is assuming that there isn’t another explanation for this.

I guess my question is: By only dropping and dragging could I have deleted anything from the flash drive, and if I had, would it have shown up in the trash can? I don’t think that a fake hard drive is the explaination, because the individual claims that the contents look different now than just 30 minutes before I had attempted to copy files

Deleting something on an external drive will not send it to the Recycle Bin. It’s gone instantly to computer heaven.

Of course you can run Recuva on the flash drive and see if any files are recoverable

I don’t know about U.S.A., but this was certainly a problem in rural Thailand. I became aware of it after exchanging e-mail with Kingston to learn that fake flashdrives lacked the serial number on the socket that genuine ones have. Low-quality blank CD-Roms were also a big problem. Especially annoying is that vendors knew they were selling fakes and would even be likely to so inform you, at least if you asked but had nothing else for sale. I had to drive more than an hour one-way to the nearest store with genuine flash-drives or quality CD’s.

I’ve used past tense because Thailand has been developing quickly in some ways. I’m not sure where I’d buy a fake flashdrive now if I wanted to. :wink:

Deleting flash media does not really “erase” the file completely. It just flips bits to make the file invisible and allow the data space to be written over. The data is still there is the flash drive has not been used (or formatted) since the drag and drop

Card Recovery works well for me in retrieving flash media data. There may be freeware options as well.

This will let you see if there is deleted data on the flash drive

If it’s not a fake flash drive it’s possible the flash drive is simply defective or your lady has done something or is simply confused.

Again, did you Move or Copy?

In Windows, if you hold down the CTRL key while dropping, you’ll be copying, whereas if you hold down the SHIFT key, you’ll be moving the files, which means they no longer exist in the original location (you’re copying them and then deleting the originals). And (at least in Windows Vista, and IIRC in 7 as well), in the former case you should see a + symbol while you’re dragging and the words “Copy to [newlocation]” when you’re ready to drop, while in the latter you’ll see an arrow and the words “Move to [newlocation].”