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After restarting my laptop, I have observed that some of the files in my hard drive disappeared on their own, and they seem to reappear after multiple restarts. This has happened mostly to files which have been downloaded from the internet (video/movie files and folders), but there is not a pattern as such to this incident, and it happens randomly.

After a bit of searching I tried to locate the files from the terminal, and found that the files are still there, but all of them have their permissions lost and shown as '?'.

If I changed the permissions manually, the missing files would probably show in the GUI file browser, but if I haven't done anything why should I revert to the old permissions?

I am running Ubuntu 12.10. Please help me to understand this problem.

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1st the simple to solve answer...

  • A directory that has read permission but not execute permissions will show "?" at the files in the directory. So please check the directory permissions that hold these files (change a harmless(!) directory with chmod 0600 or chmod 0400. Make the directory executable again and all is well again). If this is the case you will see the problem re-occur after a reboot. It will stop doing it after you change the directory.

And now for the bad one ...

  • This can happen when your disc is not unmounted correctly or is in bad shape where it resulted in filesystem corruption. If you are using ext you can force a check of the disc and see if it throws any errors. By the way also check /var/log/messages for i/o failure warnings. You can also check for badblocks.

    Forcing a disc check can be done with

    touch /forcecheck


    badblocks {device}
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