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Several months ago, I decided to replace my network storage device with a standard external hard drive that hooked up to the USB connection on my Linksys EA3500 SMART WiFi Wireless Router. The external hard drive I started out with was the Seagate Expansion 3TB Desktop External Hard Drive USB 3.0 (STBV3000100). I used that for a couple months until it became corrupted. I was able to restore it by hooking it into my Windows Vista desktop and running a restore function; however, several of the files were missing. I thought it might just be a fluke because the hard drive ran fine after that; however, a couple weeks later it got corrupted again.

I proceeded to get another external hard drive. I reasoned that maybe I had an issue with the hard drive getting too hot or something, and I still trusted Seagate so I got their desktop model. The Seagate Backup Plus 3TB Desktop External Hard Drive USB 3.0 (STCA3000101) fared better than the first drive I got. It never got completely corrupted; however, from time to time I noticed that some of my files seemed to be missing. More obviously I noticed that a couple files now and again got converted into empty folders. For example a photo that had been named "552.JPG" retained it's name, but now it is an empty folder. Out of a folder with 331 files, this happened to 6 of the files. 5 of the files were .jpg and one was an .mp4. That frequency of corruption seems to generally hold true in other folders as well, though some pass unscathed.

Since I already replaced the hard drive, I'm thinking it's potentially an issue with the router. For your information the router's firmware version is 1.1.39.145204. It appears that someone else on your forum has already had a similar issue and it was also with a LinkSys router, which looks to possibly be a similar model to my own. Unfortunately, no one was able to really solve his issue, and thus I feel a need to post my issue. If you want to see the related post, you can look here: Files turned into folders on external hard drive

Update June 26, 2014: Okay. So I've run a file recovery program named Recuva on the hard drive. I had it search for "non-deleted files (for recovery from damaged or reformatted discs)" and then I had it copy everything it found onto a fresh hard drive. The end result was that it found 277,103 files which totaled 928GB of data. It seems the missing files were in some kind of limbo that Recuva was able to find. The files don't appear to be damaged they were just dislocated or something. Recuva even recovered the folder structure for most of them. The one folder structure it didn't recover was one I named 2013 (which contained all the photos and videos from 2013). My 2013 folder had mysteriously disappeared, but Recuva seemed to recover most of the files including the sub folders, but it wasn't able to figure out that they had been in a folder called "2013", it just had a question mark for the main folder.

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  • Out of curiosity how many file items total on the disk, and what was the file system? What was the total disk usage (inc everything even the hidden) These >2T segate backups I think try and use a trick to be >2T compatable with all systems.
    – Psycogeek
    Jun 21, 2014 at 8:39
  • I'm assuming you are using Windows file sharing to copy files to the drive. It's possible that the router's version of Samba is bugged, so I would make sure your router's firmware is up to date. If you want to make sure, there are a lot of other "plug a drive in, get a network share" type devices out there for pretty cheap.
    – MetaNova
    Jun 21, 2014 at 16:56
  • Thanks for your replies. In answer to Psycogeek, the total disk usage right now is 930GB, and there are 262,900 files. Interestingly when I queried the amount of data based on the contents, it came up with a total of 797GB. Jun 22, 2014 at 13:43
  • In answer to MetaNova, I'm using the most recent firmware available, but unfortunately the most recent is from November 2012. I know there are some options to plug a drive into a NAS box or something, but a lot of those looked kind of expensive. This is just a basic home network so we don't need anything with elaborate options or high performance. Also if we got an NAS box, it would probably use up one of our available Ethernet ports and we've already filled up the available ports. Jun 22, 2014 at 13:56
  • I forgot to answer the filesystem question from Psycogeek. Unfortunately, I'm not really sure what kind of filesystem the router uses. I know what we access it with, though. The computers that use the hard drive on the router are Windows Vista and Windows 7. Jun 22, 2014 at 14:11

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It's too soon to say with certainty, but I think I've resolved the issue. I replaced my Linksys EA-3500 with an ASUS RT-N66U and I haven't had any issues with losing files since. I will keep a close eye on it to see if I do lose files, and try to remember to update this post if that happens. My guess is that there is some issue with the firmware on the Linksys EA-3500.

One other possibility (which I found after further searching) is that I lost the files because of improper shut-downs of the router. I will try to be careful to ensure the router shuts-down via it's own interface and select the option to dismount the drive when possible. Supposedly if the drive doesn't get dismounted before shutdown, it can cause issues like losing files. Here's a link to the discussion about losing files if a network hard drive isn't dismounted correctly: http://forums.smallnetbuilder.com/showthread.php?t=7407

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  • Probably hit the nail right on the head there... much like unplugging a USB disk from Windows if write caching is enabled. Unsure whether your router uses write caching - if it does and you unplug your HDD you may get corruption... if it doesn't then I'm unsure as to why you'd need to do a proper shutdown as data will be written immediately to the disk (i.e. not cached)
    – Kinnectus
    Jul 24, 2014 at 16:09
  • I think the EA 3500 did have write caching. I found a forum discussion concerning the EA 3500 and a developer that had designed some of the firmware for the EA 3500 commented on that discussion. It was from his posts that I got the idea about needing to properly dismount the hard drive, and he said it was due to caching. One reason I'm not sure that is the complete answer, though, is that my router didn't get turned off much, to my knowledge. Also, I lost more than just the files I would have thought would have been in the cache. Jul 24, 2014 at 16:48
  • Don't forget, it's all write instructions... file data, MFT if NTFS, moving of blocks etc etc... It could potentially lose a hell of a lot
    – Kinnectus
    Jul 24, 2014 at 17:21
  • In at least one instance, the files I lost were a large collection that I moved to a new folder. So it makes sense that that could have been a result of a single cache loss. For the other instances, I'm not sure, though. There just seemed to be too many instances of files getting lost. It seemed that I lost a couple files in about a third of my folders and I had a lot of folders. I don't think I had enough improper shutdowns to justify that many different files getting lost unless the router kept a ton of stuff in cache. Jul 24, 2014 at 18:31
  • P.S. My memory failed me in the earlier comment I made. The discussion I found was about the new Asus RT-N66U router I got, not the old EA 3500 router. Jul 24, 2014 at 18:33

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