How can I access data on an external drive after a virus turned folders turned into .lnk files?

Danish April 29, 2011
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Due to some virus on my computer, all folders on external memory connected to the computer used to turn into .lnk files, pointing to the actual folder location. It used the virus file to function. I ran a virus scan and deleted the virus after mapping it out.

However, now, due to unavailability of the malcode, the .lnk associations on the external hard drive aren’t working. The memory details of my external drive say that all data is still present on it, but it’s gone somewhat hidden, meaning I can’t access it because the original folder doesn’t show up, and the .lnk associations aren’t working because of non-availability of the virus code.

What do I do to recover my data? Kindly reply. Thanks

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  1. JVILLA1974
    May 7, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    please help, how do I do this on my mac, I have a external hard drive and all my folders are showing the .lnk extension, how do I get my files back PLEASE HELP!!!

    • Oron
      May 8, 2012 at 8:35 am

      Just follow ha14's instructions below!

  2. katie
    May 3, 2012 at 4:29 am

    I know you guys went through this but my usb turned all my FOLDERS into .lnk files, but my other single files are fine. But this virus came from my teachers comp at school and i use a macbook so i have no idea how to repair the files. I tried terminal and disk repair but nothing works. Help please???

  3. abhishek
    April 16, 2012 at 11:17 am

    "USB show" from internet
    it just recovered all my files within a minute

    • Anand Chavan
      May 7, 2012 at 5:18 pm

      Thanks dude ... it worked ... but how do i get rid of this virus for good ??

      • Bruce Epper
        May 8, 2012 at 1:03 am

        Run a full system scan with your AV software. Also run a full scan with something like Malwarebytes or Spybot S&D. They will generally find and remove the crap that keeps fudging up your system.

    • Anand Chavan
      May 7, 2012 at 5:19 pm

      thanks dude ... it worked !! But, how do I get rid of the virus for good ?? Plz help me out

  4. Rox My Volleyball Sox
    February 20, 2012 at 4:01 am

    OMG THANK YOUUUU!!!! :) :) :)

  5. amielDH
    February 12, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    GOD! you're a life saver! thank you so much! I'm copying all my files to my backup drive..thank you again!

  6. Marjorie
    January 24, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    I have just started the process but what i have seen far is just too good, thanks a lot

  7. iPhone App Development
    January 20, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    i had same problem and i searching about this on search engine and i got this information on this blogs, i read this and i fixed my errors. its really great stuffs.

  8. junyuan_2210
    December 16, 2011 at 1:13 am
  9. Gavaskarv
    December 7, 2011 at 11:16 am

    How to do it in MAC os

  10. Robert Dharmawan
    November 20, 2011 at 1:02 am

    the easy way is go to your flash disk drive then go to Tools --> Folder Options on View Tabs Remove check box on "Hide operating system files" then you will see all your hidden folders.

  11. Anish
    November 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    thank you very much Rodrigo .....
    I owe u a lot of respect .
    bcoz of u i have recovered my precious data.....

  12. Ivanchea
    October 25, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    This post is rwarsome!!!!

  13. Pmecca
    October 22, 2011 at 12:38 am

    I have the same problem as Pete. I was using an external 80gig portable drive. Originally was formatted for Mac, but my son used it to "clean up" his PC and when I went to use it everything was turned into shortcut and alias files with zero KB size files. I tried to run a scan on a pc and clean up the virus. I also checked "Show hidden files and folders". But now the drive says there is almost a full 74 gig of usable space, so I fear the drive has been wiped.
    All my school projects - gone. I'm sick. If you have ANY ideas or think I can still recover data, please let me know

  14. Pete
    September 27, 2011 at 7:00 am

    Hi guys! I have the same problem as the opening post. But the only difference is, I use a Mac. My external is FAT 32 formatted, it was working fine till yesterday. I used to plug into my tv to watch movies and pics. But suddenly yesterday all the files in my hd turned into .lnk files. I installed winShortcutter and Crossover but none of them worked. The HD shows used space of 250gb but all files are 4kb in size. 
    Please help me gurus as the data is precious to me. 


    • Marnitz
      September 27, 2011 at 10:12 am

      Hi Pete,

      Try and click on Tools -> Folder options -> View -> and untick " Hide protected operating system files"  and tick " Show hidden Files and Folders".
      I am sure you will be able to see your files. Unfortunatly, you will need to recreate the main folder and just copy and cut the data to the new folder.

      • Pete
        September 29, 2011 at 6:31 am

        Thanks Marnitz! It worked. I was just trying to do it from Mac but I had to use Windows Laptop to transfer it. Thanks a ton 

        • Marnitz
          September 29, 2011 at 7:22 am

          It's a pleasure Pete. Glad it worked.

        • Tina
          September 29, 2011 at 10:50 am

          Thanks for the feedback, Pete!

  15. nads
    August 31, 2011 at 9:45 am

    wow thanks a loooot... i had thought i ve lost all my files :)

  16. sohail
    May 13, 2011 at 12:50 pm

     Thank you Boss. It was very helpful. best regards

  17. Rodrigo
    May 9, 2011 at 1:20 am

    @Danishpatel1849:disqus : Well, i'm afraid you computer is actually the source of the virus wich is infecting your drive. As a first option, try starting windows in safe mode and do a full antivirus scan in all of your drives and maybe try running some anti-spyware as well (i've seen spywares do some crazy stuff, like opening and closing cd trays at random). If that doesn't work, you can either try reading the link i will post below, to see if it helps, or go ahead, backup your files, taking care to not include any virus in your backup (leaving out any file with weird names or .exe, .com and .bat files helps a lot here) and format your system, followed by a clean OS install.

    , and maybe
    too: you could try reading this :

    Maybe that helps

    Best Regards!

    • Tina
      May 12, 2011 at 11:16 am


      please contact me immediately for good news!
      tina at makeuseof dot com
      Thank you!

    • Tina
      May 14, 2011 at 2:42 pm

      You have 24 hours to get in touch with me or the good news will be forfeited. Sorry!

      • Rodrigo
        May 14, 2011 at 4:17 pm

         Hey, Tina, i've just sent you an e-mail, under the subject "News". Sorry for the late reply, the internet wasn't working. I hope i'm not too late!

  18. Danishpatel1849
    May 8, 2011 at 8:36 am

    @Rodrigo:twitter : Thanks alot. I tried it out and it did work well. Only now, the virus keeps coming back again and again. Every time i plug in my external drive, i have to manually delete RECYCLER folder in order to prevent the shortcut tragedy occuring. My Avast anti-virus detects the file as a virus and deletes it every time, but it still keeps coming up. From what i've found out, its called the Ramnit virus.

    @Lisam15: Thats wierd....i think it has something to do with administrator previlidges....not much idea on the subject really though.

  19. Lisam15
    May 3, 2011 at 10:20 am

    I tried the solution suggested. Went to the folder options and selected the "show hiden files and folders", unchecked the "Hide protected operating system files", and pressed apply. However the folders didnt show, and when i looked at the folder options the "Hide protected operating system files" option was checked again. I tried several times and the same thing happens. Any help on this?

  20. Osama
    May 1, 2011 at 8:13 am

    that kind of virus is very dangerous, which free antivirus can catch it? coz i've my data on an external drive too

    • Jenova
      March 13, 2012 at 9:46 am

      Try Avast antivirus pro

  21. Tina
    May 1, 2011 at 12:38 am


    did Rodrigo's explanation help you to solve the problem? Please let us know in case you need more help. Thank you!

  22. Rodrigo
    April 30, 2011 at 6:04 am

    Hi, friend.
    The virus you're talking acts by installing itself in your external drive, hiding your folders as system protected files and then creating false folders with the exact same icon and name which serve as shortcuts to the virus itself. As you say you already removed it, all you have to do is change your folders back to a normal state. Here's how you do it (assuming you're using Windows):

    1)Open up Folder Options (you can find it in the Control Panel or under the "Tool" menu on Windows Explorer);

    2)Click on the "View" tab;

    3)You will see a list with a lot of checkboxes, go ahead and check "Show hidden files and folders". Also make sure you uncheck "Hide protected system files";

    4)Now go to your external drive and you will see your folders back. Unfortunately, they cannot be changed back into regular folders manually (at least not in an easy way), so you will have a bit more work to do here. You have to create new folders somewhere else in your computer, (for example, inside a "usb backup" folder in My Documents) with the same names of the folders the virus affected. Ignore any folder with weird names (e.g folders you didn't have before catching the virus), as they may still contain undetected malware. You can also ignore the "RECYCLE" folder, as it is automatically created by the system if needed;

    5)Now you can copy the contents of each individual folder into its duplicates, as the files itself will probably be untouched by the virus;

    6)After you've finished copying the files, backup the files you still have in the drive's root folder (the one you first open when browsing your external drive), again ignoring any files with weird names, for the same reasons above.

    7)Now, as a last safety measure, format your drive, to make sure you get rid of any possible virus.

    8)Finally, copy your files back into the drive and you are good to go!

    Best Regards!

    • Keyaguha
      July 18, 2011 at 7:23 am

      Thanks a lot Mr. Rodrigo. I try your steps and my problem was solved.

    • rafi
      October 24, 2011 at 8:49 am

      hello there, rodrigo , ur soln is extended so here is bypass use
      attrib -s -h -r *.* /s /d
      this wll clean all up

    • Nayak055
      January 8, 2012 at 4:42 pm

      Thanks a lot Brother. It really helped me a lot. No other website is as user friendly with loads of easy steps as yours. 

      Love you.

    • Vivekok456
      March 6, 2012 at 7:02 am

       Thanks buddy............

    • Jenova
      March 13, 2012 at 9:40 am

      Thanks you very much Rodrigo your info. help me very much.. I got that trojan virus to my father's laptop because his laptop's antivirus is outdated lol xD Thanks again.. Two thumbs up for you there :) 

    • Avinash Billa
      April 15, 2012 at 6:24 am

      tanx a lot....really very useful

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