Fix: Files & Folders in USB turn into Shortcuts

We all use the USB as the detachable drive to transfer data, since its convenient to carry and can be easily operated plus it provides great speed in data transferring. Today, I came around a weird issue on my USB drive, which I think I should share with you all. I plugged my USB into my colleague’s laptop in order to transfer some files. When I plugged the USB back to my laptop, the files & folders in USB turn into shortcuts

FIX Files Folders In USB Turned Out Into Weird Shortcuts Fix: Files & Folders in USB turn into Shortcuts

This was crazy and I couldn’t delete these folder shortcuts, because the target file location was Command Prompt itself. Also you can’t move or delete the files stored in the front. In addition to this, there was a .Trashes folder inside the USB. It led me to suspect that some sort of virus may have got admitted into my USB. I didn’t waste any time and scanned the USB using my native security suite, i.e. Windows Defender. Windows Defender, on its part found something malicious. It performed some cleaning action and asked me to reboot. I did it, but there was still no change in the situation, as far as USB drive was concerned.

I searched on the Internet & came to know that there were many others like me facing this weird issue. I found a working solution and consider it worth sharing it here.

Files & folders in USB turn into shortcuts

1. Make sure that you have Hidden Files checked on in the ribbon inside Windows 8 File Explorer. Now open the Command Prompt with administrative privileges and  type this command and hit Enter. Here, substitute h: with your USB drive letter.

attrib -h -r -s /s h:\*.*

FIX Files Folders In USB Turned Out Into Weird Shortcuts 2 Fix: Files & Folders in USB turn into Shortcuts

2. After doing this, come back to the USB drive, you’ll find that command has been executed, but the shortcuts are still there. Since the files got executed, you can move them easily to your desired target location.

FIX Files Folders In USB Turned Out Into Weird Shortcuts 1 Fix: Files & Folders in USB turn into Shortcuts

3. Move all the necessary files to desired location, and let the shortcuts remain as it is. After this, format the USB drive. Next, run the System File Checker scan to the Windows. Also run a complete scan using Windows Defender, or any anti-virus you’re running.

4. Copy your data files back.

This should resolve the issue.

A little off the subject, but you definitely want to have a look at this comprehensive list, if you are looking for some free software for Windows.

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
An Electrical Engineer by profession, Kapil is a Microsoft MVP in Windows - Consumer and a Microsoft Content Creator. He recommends that you create a system restore point first before tweaking the registry.
  • Meena Bassem

    or save the following in a .bat file to make it easier to use

    title Fix files and folders turned to Shortcuts in USB Drive
    @echo off
    echo “Enter Drive letter”
    set /p driveletter=
    attrib -s -h -r /s /d %driveletter%:*.*

  • Kapil Arya

    ^^ Why making it messy? It will also do the same job.

    Wouldn’t be it’s just easy to execute a simple command as mentioned in the article :)

  • Meena Bassem

    quite the same, yea, i agree.
    but just to make it an easy reminder if you forget that command, just know the drive letter and you’re done
    besides it can be helpful if somebody had that problem, just send the file and it’ll do the work for them instead of explaining what the drive letter is, and bla bla bla, :D

  • Kapil Arya

    ^^ In that case, OK. Provided, computer must recognise the USB drive letter, otherwise user has to again modify the .bat file.

  • Ramki Chowdary

    Is there any permanent solution? I scanned those shortcuts with popular antiviruses like bit defender, Kaspersky, e set smart security, avg internet security & windows defender also. But the scan results are showing the files are clean.

  • Kapil Arya

    ^^ Correct. These shortcuts are not viruses so no security suite will be find them malicious. In my case, System File Checker did the job and my USB works fine now. Reinstallation of Windows will be a definite fix AFAIK :)

  • fOOnOOn

    This recovered files but not folders! Is there any way to recover folders?

  • Endezeichen Grimm

    It doesn’t work

  • Helga

    Thank you so much! This fixed my problem.

  • chandrahas

    thank you your suggestion has worked

  • Lashan

    This solution is written for a computer technician….i couldn’t do the 1st step…which is run command prompt…

  • Anand Khanse
  • Bheks

    Hi my challenge is that the folders on my Nokia E7 turned to short cuts, however my computer does not assign a drive letter to the phone it recognises it as a portable device with no assigned drive letter.

  • Kapil Arya

    ^^ This could be the virus issue pertaining to phone.

  • Roha Bhatti

    I connected my mobile via usb port to my pc and directly tried to download some songs. My cell phone memory and sd card both have got infected by this virus. I have recovered my files, formatted device many times, typed this command in C.prompt but all in vain. Whenever I copy a photo or song in it, it again turns into a shortcut. In short, I just cannot remove the virus completely. Worried :( Please help!
    P.S. I just connected my another usb to my pc and Holy Crap! All the files in it also have got infected. @kapilarya:disqus

  • Dev

    i did the 1st step bt when i came back to the USB drive, i won’t find that command has been executed.

  • Dev

    plz help me sir

  • Grafik Krime
  • harmon aguilar

    Try this Powerful Antivirus Software, Small but Download here..

  • Noralene

    Did all the above steps and everything worked, except for when I copied my files back to USB drive, it switches to shortcuts againg. Any advice?

  • F44

    Yes; I tried this way and it worked in some cases…..sometimes it doesn’t work…any other helps?!

  • ferodox

    when I try this command, I see “path not found – F:” … what can i do?

  • Kapil Arya

    ^^ Recheck the command variables :)


    USB Shortcut Recover is a
    free tool to recover data from corrupt USB sticks or hard disks infected
    by a Shortcut virus. The program will restore the files and folders to
    their original locations prior to being infected with viruses. USB
    Shortcut Recover works with USB sticks, pendrives, SD Cards, and Hard

  • shary

    its working but its the same issue when i plug the usb again

  • Kapil Arya

    ^^ What happen when you plug the USB to a different computer then?

  • mary

    i dont understand what u meant by drive letter

  • Gafurii

    my usb works perfectly in another computer …….
    when i come home the same problem with .Trashes shows i cannot delet files or format my USB

  • Meena Bassem

    ok, a little update here

    title Fix files and folders turned to Shortcuts in USB Drive
    @echo off
    echo Enter Drive letter to scan
    set /p driveletter=

    echo Don’t forget to remove startup items and check they are deleted from disk using Everything
    REM Check scheduled tasks as well

    echo Killing wscipt.exe Process
    taskkill /f /im wscript.exe

    echo Showing Hidden Files
    attrib -s -h -r /s /d %driveletter%:*.*

    echo Deleting shortcuts and infected files from disk
    del %driveletter%:*.lnk
    del %driveletter%:*..vbs
    del %driveletter%:*.vbs

    echo Deleting Infected Files from the computer
    del %temp%*.vbs
    del %temp%*..vbs
    del %appdata%*.vbs
    del %appdata%*..vbs

    REM Delete the startup item with extension .vbs (you do it manually for now)

    i saw that virus with a lot of friends. save the above to a .bat file and it should remove it from the computer as well, the .bat file must be run as an administrator, and after it’s done. you should delete the startup entery created by the file. i couldn’t figure out how to do it from the batch file yet, so i do it manually for now till i find a way. if you got any, please let me know

  • Kapil Arya

    ^^ Please try this command in administrative Windows PowerShell after trying the command mentioned in article:

    Repair-WindowsImage -Online -RestoreHealth

  • Bingo Pitjama

    I did everything above and still no permanent fix. But when I updated windows, the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool found that virus and removed it by itself permanently. This is what you should do too.

  • rajat Harmalkar

    Kapil arya

    Just tell me does it works for external hard disk ….
    If yes does it takes long time ?depending upon data…

  • Jspn

    super! thanks a lot for posting this! I have been through other posts claiming that it fixed the problem and I have to install so many programs which is really a hassle. I’m glad to stumble upon this one.

  • Kapil Arya

    ^^ It should work, although I haven’t tried it on external hard disk :)

  • Kapil Arya


  • saikumar

    hey pls send some information about…

    my pendrive storage shows full…
    but it didn’t shows any files or folders or shortcuts…

    how to make original folders…… pls give me suggessions….

    ur’s saikumar

  • Kapil Arya

    ^^ Make sure the files and folders are not set to Hidden. You can also try plugging USB to different computer and see if you see any differences.

  • Alei-Eldeen Mahammad

    Gee, I get Access denied -_-

  • Kapil Arya

    ^^ Make sure you’re running Command Prompt as administrator.

  • Portia Quijano

    In my case I already have the original folder and the shortcut files of the original folders. I wanted to delete those shortcuts, what should I do?

  • Pontificating Pensadora

    Hi, so I was able to get rid of the virus, but now the folders are not even showing up as shortcuts. What’s interesting is the other files such as pictures and songs are showing up (they were not in folders). I have tried changing the folder options -> show hidden folders, but I don’t think that’s the problem. I have scoured the internet and not found any solution. Thank you.

  • Chaitanyamayee

    Why it is showing Not resetting hidden file?

  • Kapil Arya

    ^^ Can’t get you? You want to know why the command prompt not showing processed files?

  • Nazriya

    Thank you so much!!This worked :D

  • Vishal

    hey please write some easy language for this, because I can not understand what is written in the first step :/

  • Moses

    I have found a very easy and fast way out. In Window 7 right click the USB or Folder, Click property, then Hardware, then click Volume. Below the box CLICK POPULATE. Bingo

  • Ankit

    hi bheks ! had you find some solution ? I also got stucked with this problem.

  • Kapil Arya

    ^^ Try connecting your phone to a different computer, see if that helps :)

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