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PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2005 2:16 pm  Post subject: HDD reports as unpartitioned.
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The Ancient One
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A mate has come across a problem, his system was reporting a disk boot error, so I tried to boot from an XP disk but that just reports his HDD as unpartitioned.

He is insistent he wants to save data, but I do not think it is possible.

Any ideas as to causes? He has upto date AV and firewall, all drivers are cool too. It was running just fine then just stopped one day, the system is clean and the HDD is making no noises out of the ordinary.

Suggestions on how to proceed plz? Is it gonna be worth re-installing XP Pro or am I looking a hardware failure?

Sorry guys but never having come across this problem before I am a little stumped as to the best course of action.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2005 4:28 pm  Post subject:
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1) If you don't know what you are doing, stop messing with the drive immediatelly (it might be already too late - there's no way that I know of to mount a HDD as read-only in Windows, so simply adding a damaged drive to your computer and booting your working Windows means the corrupted drive was written to) and carry it to a company that specializes in data rescue.

2) Download Knoppix (a bootable Linux CD), it might be able to access the drive. I recommend an older version of Knoppix, such as 3.3, as the newer versions use a different NTFS driver (which allows write access, but does so by utilizing Windows drivers - which is something you don't want to do as you know full well that Windows drivers can't access that drive).

3) You could try other NTFS read utilities for various operating systems (e.g. DOS) and hope that they are able to read the data.

4) It could be something as simple as a damaged MBR/partition table/boot sector. Stuff like that can often be fixed quite easily, but it requires a disk editor and THAT means that unless you are an expert in this, you will most likely corrupt your drive. If you want to try, find some description of basic disk structures (I use the old but still handy TechHelp) and try your luck.

5) Overall, I would suggest a specialized company - from your question I assume you are not familiar with low level disk access, and without that knowledge it is too dangerous to mess about.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2005 4:59 pm  Post subject:
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This lack of knowledge is what spurred me to ask. Thanks for all your help, I do not think anything he wants to recover is vital, just a newbie that does not realise PC's can still fuck up.

It is an old 20gig drive and I have already advised him to prepare to buy a new one as the quickest solution.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2005 5:04 pm  Post subject:
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TaKYoNtheKoRRuPTeD wrote:
This lack of knowledge is what spurred me to ask. Thanks for all your help, I do not think anything he wants to recover is vital, just a newbie that does not realise PC's can still fuck up.

In that case, why don't you buy/find an old unused 20 GB drive (preferably one with the same geometry, although that's not strictly necessary)? Then you could copy the whole damaged drive to your new drive and then experiment on the copy all you wish!


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2005 6:29 pm  Post subject:
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I was starting to think along those lines. TBH I do not wanna expend too much time on this as the shit on his HDD is hardly life or death materials.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2005 6:34 pm  Post subject:
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getdataback for NTFS can get data back better than any other program I've used. If it can't your going to need some super computer to do it.

I had a maindrive crash yesterday (some files corrupted) and reported a disk boot error. I just took the drive out and put it in another PC and luckily it worked, it was my main drive.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2005 6:43 pm  Post subject:
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I hadn't thought of that Spud. So I would just chuck it in as a slave and run the app from the Master.

Might give that a try.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2005 6:50 pm  Post subject:
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That's the first thing you need to do.

I got a corrupted ntldr so it wouldn't boot, whacked it in another pc, took out my documents, reinstalled.

BTW, remember to take the whole profile not just documents... I lost my bookmarks :(

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2005 6:55 pm  Post subject:
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TaKYoNtheKoRRuPTeD wrote:
I hadn't thought of that Spud. So I would just chuck it in as a slave and run the app from the Master.

Might give that a try.

I strongly recommend against this. Try that Knoppix approach I outlined above - at least it will access the disk in read-only mode.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2005 6:57 pm  Post subject:
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spudthedestroyer wrote:
That's the first thing you need to do.

And if you are unlucky enough, the last thing as well :-(

Quote:
I got a corrupted ntldr so it wouldn't boot, whacked it in another pc, took out my documents, reinstalled.

1) Quite apparently, that's not what's wrong with the disk - if it was, it wouldn't boot but wouldn't report as "unformatted" either. "Unformatted" points to a damaged partition table or boot sector.

2) Replacing the corrupted NTLDR with a working one would probably solve the problem faster than a reinstall :-)


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2005 6:58 pm  Post subject:
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Why, whats wrong with that? It doesn't write any data, it just reads the header and then displays of list and sectors that can be confirmed. It doesn't write anything to the drive.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2005 7:15 pm  Post subject:
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I may have been too hasty. It seems GetDataBack creates a boot floppy and performs its tasks from DOS. If that is the case, it should be safe. I (probably mistakenly) assumed that GDB runs from Windows, in which case it _would_ be too dangerous to try it.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2005 7:45 pm  Post subject:
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can run in windows too, either way it doesn't touch the partition nor does any windows process touch a volume that is appearing as unpartioned.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2005 7:54 pm  Post subject:
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spudthedestroyer wrote:
nor does any windows process touch a volume that is appearing as unpartioned.

My 200 GB worth of lost data says differently :-(


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2005 9:52 pm  Post subject:
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I doubt windows was to blame then. As said, it doesn't touch an unpartioned block, so if its crashed and appears as unpartitioned, its fine booting up and trying to recover data.
I know people are fearful of windows and all that, but it doesn't start formating unless you tell it to. It doesn't activate partitions unless you select it, nor does it convert from basic unless you select it.
Windows fault it crashed probably, but once it appears as unpartitioned when you boot, it doesn't touch it.
If the disk drive crashed, and you boot up in windows after, it absolutely does not write to that drive because it can't. You have to set it to activate the partition.

Although if you don't want to risk it that's fine :)

Reason I know for a fact it doesn't do anything to it is because my main drive crashed yesterday. My RAID appeared as unpartitioned space, booted, saved the stuff, rebuilt a new raid, my main drive did the same, put that in a different xp machine, copied the files across and formatted. WindowsXP didn't attempt to touch the partition it couldn't see without me specifically highlighting the partition and selecting a process to perform on it.

As long as you dno't attempt to write to it, windows won't either. It won't even try and write system files to it because the partition isn't activated so by default it doesn't touch it.

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