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150,000 file/folder names changed

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I want to know what it was that hit my PC, in spite of ZoneAlarm Pro and Avast Antivirus, which I update faithfully. I'm REALLY angry about it. I use Mailwasher to check my mail before downloading it, and I NEVER open any e-mail out of curiosity. Nor do I browse questionable sites.


I booted up one day last week, and Scandisk started itself. I knew of no reason for it to do that. I always use a utility, DiskFixer, when I boot up for the first time and just before I shut down for the day. All was well the night before.


Scandisk kept finding what appeared to be folders that didn't exist. I'd have noticed things that had names like "C:\WINDOWS\FIREFOX\Ae" They were always two-characters long, often incorporating a wingding. There could be no question that these did not belong there.


After it found the first one, it said it had to make changes to the hard drive. I allowed that. But I got tired of having Scandisk fix each one. After about half an hour, I rebooted and this time allowed Scandisk to fix them automatically. When it was finished, it had found 95,000 of such items. When I had it fix things on my D:\ hard drive, it found another 45,000. Rather astonishing.


The real bad news came, though, when I booted up again. All my desktop icons got mooshed tightly together in the upper left. Almost every file and every folder on my system now had a truncated MSDOS 8-letter name, complete with tildes.


I've been fixing my system ever since. I had to do an overlay reinstall of W98SE, to fix my system files, at least. But I had thousands of documents, and will never be able to remember the original names of most of them. I had thought I was removing "invisible" but nonexistent file folders, but it was a whole LOT more than that. This problem has also forced me to reinstall many of my programs, which wouldn't work with those truncated file names. I couldn't go online till I fixed my protection programs first.


I am now putting all the data I can on my D:\ drive, so I can format C:\ and reinstall everything from scratch, then move my data back. But I'll never fix my documents. Many of them were saved to CDs, but it'll be hard to know which ones I have on CDs, without knowing the full name of the file they will be replacing. So I'm kinda breathing fire here.


So what hit me? I want to know, or it'll happen again.

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