I followed the instructions listed here:http://www.mydigitallife.info/2007/09/18/turn-off-and-disable-search-indexing-service-in-windows-xp/ to free up space on hard drive by deleting the windows.edb indexing file...
I also stopped windows search service as mentioned in the comments following the article. In addition to unchecking the "Allow Indexing Service to index this disk for fast file searching" check box on the properties dialog for the C:\ drive, I did the same for two usb connected hard drives (J:\ and I:\ ). I'm not sure why I did that, thought it might shrink the windows.edb file so I wouldn't have to delete it (which sounded a bit risky in my ears at the time). The file of course didn't shrink so I ended up deleting it and freeing up over 3 GB of space, yeehaw.
However, as soon as I had done this I could not access the usb connected hard drives anymore. The error I got was "I:\photos is not accessible" "The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable" when I tried to open the photos directory on I:\
Here is where I enter the twilight zone... I try disconnecting I:\ usb hard drive. But XP shows me that instead J:\ drive has disconnected and I:\ is still there. So I disconnect both drives and restart the computer. I then connect one drive, but it lists up the contents of the other drive on root level. I tried connecting the drives vice versa and the same thing happens. I try taking one of the hard drives to another computer and when I connect it there it lists up not its own contents but the contents of the other hard drive and gives the same error as above when I try and access any of the folders (even folders on the root that have the same name as folders on the other drive (e.g. J:\photos and I:\photos)???
And no, this is not a me mixing up my drive letters. Computer Manager -> Disk management shows the same result as explorer: The drive size is correct (one is 500GB, the other is 640GB) but the drive name is of the opposite drive, as long as the contents. Also, one drive was full of data and the other almost empty but they incorrectly show their free space status of the other drive.
Somehow the usb drives seem to have switched file tables, file records, boot records or something, extremely weird!
Even weirder, if I try and create a text file or folder on this drive, it works fine, accessing them, saving, whatever, all good, but accessing any other data on the drive gives me an error.
Does anyone have a clue what is going on and more importantly, how I can restore the correct folder listings to access my family photos ???