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The Mystery of the Missing Files: Windows 8 versus NTFS

I've been having problems with my computer recently. A few files would not be where I remembered them, or they would be missing entirely. Little problems that could have been my memory playing tricks on me. Then the little problems became a big problem when a collection of work files disappeared. Initially I suspected the hard drive; there were some bad sectors reported on the disk with the problems. Then it happened on other drives. 3 physical disks were affected by this, so it was not likely to be a hardware fault.

I dual boot Ubuntu and Windows 8. Windows gets used infrequently for gaming; day to day use is in Ubuntu. My files are on NTFS formatted disks, separate to the OS partitions. I finally spotted the correlation between OS and missing files after the virtual hard drive for a VM I had  set up vanished - directly following a reboot into Windows. The little missing files suddenly fell into a pattern of my Windows activity.

Eventually, I was able to track down the problem. Windows 8 has a new feature called Fast Startup. It merges power off with hibernate, to reduce cold boot times, and is enabled by default. Fast Startup saves the state of all mounted drives on shutdown, including which files are present. After rebooting into Linux, I alter some files, and create others. I then reboot into Windows. The drives are compared to their saved state, and the differences are "repaired" back to how Windows remembers the drive being. Result: all the files added in Linux are removed.

Chkdsk was able to recover most of the files. Fortunately, Fast Startup can be disabled in Windows' power options (Control Panel>Hardware and Sound>Power Options>Choose what the power buttons do). All seems to be working now so hopefully this will not happen again, and I can stop worrying that I'm losing my mind.

Moral of the story: If you dual boot with Windows 8 and have shared partitions, you may need to disable Fast Startup
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Tom Brander's profile photoMohammad Rafay Aleem's profile photoMichal Parusinski's profile photoChris Irwin's profile photo
17 comments
 
This is the same when you hibernate on any Microsoft OS (and then boot up Linux and afterwards go back to Windows), so watch yourself out there.
 
You can do a normal shutdown or reboot on windows 8 by holding down SHIFT when you click power off or shutdown.
 
+Tucker Monticelli He might have more than one HDD, and he's booting Linux off the HDD without Windows straight from GRUB.
 
+Tucker Monticelli I have both Windows and Ubuntu on the same HDD, and installed Ubuntu after Windows - grub picked Windows up automatically. I've never hibernated any versions of Windows, so this 'feature' was  totally new to me.
 
Nice reminder. I recall people discussing this when Windows 8 was in beta, but if I had started dual booting tomorrow, I would have totally forgotten about it. Someone needs to put this in the ArchWiki or some place that documents this stuff and is well indexed by Google.

Apparently the newer versions of NTFS-3G will only mount the NTFS partition as read-only if it can detect Windows is in hibernate.
 
One simple question, you mount a partition both on Linux and Windows?
 
Actually, Ubuntu detects hibernated disks, and warns user against accessing them, but apparently this hybrid feature of hibernation-booting is not detectable yet.
 
+Michal Parusinski If you're talking about a dual-boot system, then only one operating system will be running on your pc at any one time, so no.

However, if you want to share a folder between two running operating systems or computers, then there's a bunch of ways to do that, usually via networking (SAMBA, nfs, etc).
 
Just out of curiosity, would this also apply to a NTFS-formatted USB drives (or eSATA, if USB has an exception to filesystem metadata cache).

1. Win8 Machine #1 does it's hibernate/shutdown with NTFS USB device connected.
2. NTFS USB device moves to Windows Machine #2, which adds and modifies files.
3. NTFS USB device is re-connected to Win8 Machine #1 (in the same port, avoiding Windows usual USB shenanigans), which is then powered on.

I don't have a Windows 8 machine to test with, so I'll leave this as an exercise for somebody else.
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