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Here's the background. I don't use Windows Media Player or Media Centre, in fact both components have been 'turned off' via the 'Programs and Features' option. My media player of choice is a nightly build of MPC-HC, which plays virtually everything. I do, however, have VLC portable available for those rare instances when MPC-HC can't or won't play something correctly.

This is the situation. I tend to download various media files via torrent, typically, game trailers or freely availably films, such as the recently released, torrent only, Pioneer One. Quite often these files are quite large, being 1GB+ so I quite often like to preview the file after it has downloaded a significant portion of the file. For the most part, this works quite well, and gives me an idea about the worth of continuing the download. Sometimes, however, the file doesn't play as expected and instead plays a completely unrelated file that has been previously played.

Here's the strange thing. if I try to preview the file in MPC-HC or VLC both players play the same, previously played file, regardless of whichever player was originally responsible for playback. Most times, it's not even a file that's been played recently.

I have searched the registry for some sort of MRU cache, but have found nothing. I have made sure each player has had it's respective history/cache deleted and can fine nothing on disk that seems to be storing this, apparently shared data.

So, the question is, where are these unrelated players getting the file information from?


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I had read about a similar problem to yours on a forum, and in that case too, it was happening with an incomplete download. From I gathered from that discussion, the media player was picking up deleted video files which were stored in that part of the hard disk sometime in the past. (Since files are not actually deleted from the hard disk until they are overwritten; only the pointer to the data is given up so that the files appear to the operating system as deleted. (this is how data recovery programs work))

I am sure someone more technically able will be able to answer this question more thoroughly.

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Thanks for the reply. I did wonder about that. The disk used for my torrents is relatively small (120GB), and I have a few spares, so I swapped the disk and it's still picking up random, previously played media and this disk has never been used for that purpose. – Pulse Jun 18 '10 at 16:18
Cool information, thanks Om Nom Nom! – Ruairi Fullam Jul 7 '11 at 0:42

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