I have a 300 GB Seagate external hard drive, formatted in FAT32, which has served as a sort of backup/miscellaneous junk storage area for the whole family's computers...
VERY BASIC DESCRIPTION OF THE PROBLEM:
I recently noticed that some files, which used to be many megabytes or even a gigabyte or two in size, have inexplicably gone down to just several kilobytes, or none at all.
In addition, some completed Azureus downloads that I had been seeding for a long time (so long, in fact, that I'd stopped them because their share ratios had gone over 1.0) turned out to be only partially complete when I performed "Force Re-Check" on them. (I know they were 100% complete; trust me.)
I don't think it's just a problem with Azureus downloads, because I've done "Get Info" on some folders that have just been sitting there, untouched by any program, and they seem to have gotten much smaller.
And when I "Get Info" for the drive, there seems to be a whole lot more free space than there ever was before.
I used Disk Utility to "Verify" and then "Repair" the drive; it gave me a long, rapidly scrolling list of files and words that apparently meant there was something not quite right... I remember seeing something about "Truncate? Yes" after every one... but in the end it said the drive was not modified. (I would share the output with you if I had it. Just a few minutes ago I tried to re-create it, but that was not possible! And I'll address that in just a bit)
After that, I booted into Windows XP (I'm on an Intel mac dual-booting Mac OS and Windows, and the drive is connected using FireWire) and tried using Windows's disk-checking utility to check and fix the drive... you know, the one where you have to reboot and watch the white, pixilated text scroll over that blue Windows XP background image....... it found "Unrecoverable errors" in two places, and attempted to convert the files into folders, but I shut down the computer in the middle of the process (bad idea, I know, but I was getting impatient, it was taking a long time, and I didn't think it was helping).
I then grabbed a Windows laptop that had Acronis Disk Director Suite installed, and disconnected the drive from my Mac and connected the drive to the PC using USB 2.0 (don't worry, I shut the drive down beforehand and I never use USB and FireWire at the same time)...... it turned out that Acronis just uses Windows' built-in disk-checking utility (chkdisk? chkdsk?), the same one I'd just cancelled. But this time I let it finish, and.... again, I don't have the output to share with you. But it looked all right; it finished converting the "unrecoverable error" folders into files, and didn't report any errors or anything of that sort.
But all the problems I've mentioned had not gone away...
...plus, when I got back on my Mac and tried to use Disk Utility's "Repair" again, I got no huge rapidly scrolling list of files; all I got was
Verify and Repair disk “NO NAME”
** Phase 1 - Read FAT
** Phase 2 - Check Cluster Chains
** Phase 3 - Checking Directories
** Phase 4 - Checking for Lost Files
Next free cluster in FSInfo block (12) not free
43674 files, 3888224 free (4053667 clusters)
1 non HFS volume checked
No repairs were necessary
I'm sorry for the long post, and the complicated problem, and the lack of more detailed information, but I really hope someone here can help me... if not, at least I might be able to finally get to sleep just knowing that the problem has been posted here.... if anyone could help me somehow, maybe recommend some sort of data-recovery software, or something, I would be grateful beyond....... beyond......... I don't know. Just very, very grateful. Anyone? Please?