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Bad FAT causing read errors

I have a maxtor 3 Gig Hard Drive on a Pentium 133 system that until the otherday never had a problem.  Now all of the sudden I'm getting bad sector read errors, Windows won't start, and while running Scandisk I get a message that the FAT is bad so Scandisk cant continue.  I've run a virrus check on it and Mcafee locks up.  If I try doing a Directory search ( DIR ), it takes about 15 minutes and then says I have over 7 Gig of free space.

I'm desperate!  All my Church and Business corespondence is on this drive.  And it won't even let me copy the document files off the drive, ( error reading sector ).

Someone help PLEASE!

11/19/98 :

Ok here is some more info:

I have 2 partitions on this drive, one at 2 Gig and one at 1 Gig.  Drive D: partition two, has no errors.  Drive C: will not boot, will not run Windows95 (safe or norm), and contnues to get ( DATA ERROR READING DRIVE C: ).
1 Solution
psalmsAuthor Commented:
Is there a way of repairing the FAT? If so How?
Did you try to use norton disk doctor
Try to load win95 in safe mode then do a scandisk in safe mode.
When you restart, the error may go away
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The solution dpends on what is causing the bad sectors. The problem could be many things.

1. Your hard drive could be starting to have bad sectors. Return it if it is still under warranty. Many companies have three year warranties on their hard drives.

2. A virus could have killed your FAT. You'll have to get an antivirus program emergency disk and try to nuke the virus. Most likely, you will have to reinstall everything after you try to save as much data as possible.

3. The BIOS's auto-detect on your motherboard might have changed the info for your hard drive, thus corrupting the FAT. Something as simple as LBA versus normal mode can disrupt the FAT. I strongly advice people to manually install their hard drives with the info from the manufacturer. This way, they will learn more about what they have on their computer and can fix things better. This also allows the computer to start up faster, since auto-detect requires the computer to take time to search the motherboard and set your devices. In your case, I'm more inclined to say that the BIOS has changed. Going from 3GB to 7GB of space is usually the result of false info for the hard drive in the BIOS. In the BIOS,change the setting to user defined and see what happens. If it doesn't work, you can always change it back to auto-detect.

4. You can have bad RAM memory. This can corrupt the data as things are being copied to and from the hard drive. Typically the result of bad RAM is a fatal exception OE error or your computer locking up or both. In this case, I would think your RAM is OK.

5. "Format /MBR"  and Norton Disk Doctor might help, but I doubt it. Once the FAT goes bad, you'll be lucky to get any useful files back unless you know all the names of every file. You might be forced to FDISK your hard drive and reinstall everything. Sorry for this bad news.

6. Once you get "bad sectors", you can not start your computer in safe mode to do a scandisk. Safe mode is good for simple things, which this isn't.
Windows 95 osr1 can't detect the 3gb of your hard drive so you may have Drive C: with 2.1 Gb and D: with 1.00 Gb,  try using the fdisk to see if the 2nd partition are ok, if you don't have relevant information on the D: drive remove the partition, and restart the computer in DOS, then run scandisk and see this can solvit.

Then you can build the partion for the D: drive.

Good Luck!!
Try taking the disk out of your system and put it into an another one, preferably running Windows 98.  Then use the active system to evaluate and repair what you can. Running scandisk from windows will fix errors that can't be fixed by the DOS version of scandisk.   It is possible that you will be able to get some of the stuff off the disk even if it can't be repaired.  If this is really serious, you can go to a disk data recovery service and pay to have data extracted from the damaged file system.  It depends on how valuable your data is and how much information you will lose.

Rose Fire
Are you using a disk overlay program such as DiskManager on the hard drive? (Use of such a program is sometimes required to permit an older BIOS to utilize the full capacity of the large drive.)
Good Luck!
if nothing works you could take a look at www.ontrack.com for data recovery
A bad 'External' or 'Level 2' cache can cause this.Try diabling it in CMOS.Unfortunately,any data that has been run through it on its way to the hard drive has been scrambled already,so even if this is the cause you'll still have some bad data on the drive.Also,depending on how it failed,you might have to physically remove the cache ram to stop the damage from increasing.Post your motherboard model and we'll see if this is possible.
Tim HolmanCommented:
  I'm curious as to how you've ended up with a 3 gig FAT partition ?
  The best advice I can give is to get hold of Partition Magic and see what's going on.
  A quick resize to <2 gig and an FDISK /MBR should solve your problem.


psalmsAuthor Commented:
Edited text of question
I'm sorry but if the suggestion above did not help you may not be able to recover the data.
but you can recover the hard drive maxtors "mud" can recover the sectors but not the information on them .
if you need help useing it let me know :~)
Please respond to my previous comment.
If using DM, it is possible that your hard drive FAT is corrupted when booting from a floppy.
psalmsAuthor Commented:
The bad sectors report may have been premature.  It showed up in one of the diagnostic programs I used, (not sure which now).  No further occurences of bad sector errors.  

I'm using win95 osr2, no disk overlay.   Two partitions, one 2GIG one 1GIG.

Only some of the files on C: dirve are reporting ( data read errors ), primarily the larger files.  

It takes between 15 and 17 minutes to do a DIR on drive C:, only  1 or 2 secs on drive D:.

I downloaded ONTRACKS AdvisorDiagnostic program and niether it or its AntiVirus module could read drive C:.  Yet I can transfer some fle from C: to D:.

Not sure of Motherboard make or model.

I'm in the process of obtaining Norton Disk Doctor and will update you on it's effectiveness.

And thank's to everyone who has responded or will respond, I wish I could give you all points.

Ralph is right, try Norton Disk Doctor. NDD can replace your damaged FAT with a backup copy. There are two duplicate FAT's on the drive. If you run Fdisk/MBR you may lose all of your info.

Sounds like you do have a virus. If you run an AntiVirus program from an infected drive the program will lock up to protect itself
from infection. You must run the AV from a bootable floppy to get rid of the virus. Do this BEFORE running NDD.

Have a friend download a copy of F-Prot from WWW.Datafellows.fi
it is an excellent AV program and it is free. The files on this program are two big to include on a bootable floppy. Boot with your Win95 startup disk and then run F-Prot from another floppy.
Make sure both are write protected..

If this works ask Ralph to post his comment as an answer and award him the points. He suggested NDD first.

I think you have me confused with JBURGHARDT.
I didn't suggest NDD.

** URGENT **

If you don't have a backup of this drive, DON'T send it back to the manufacturer yet.  They will not repair it but will send you a different drive!  You data will be forever lost.

That said, I'd stringly suggest that you STOP doing things to the drive right now.  Things like SCANDISK, Disk Doctor, and the like tend to make things even worse when you are fighting a disk hardware problem like you are.

I'd suggest the following:

1) Remove the failing drive from your system for now.
2) Get a new drive and install a fresh copy of Windows 95 so that you can boot your system.
3) Add the old drive to your system as a 2nd drive.
4) Now you should be able to copy some of all of your important data files off of the old drive and onto the new one.

If the data on the drive is really valuable, you might want to consider one of the data recovery services out there.  OnTrack is one of them but there are many.  It's expensive so you need to decde how much your data is worth.
You are right Ralph..I was pulling the thread from memory. At my
age that is not the thing to do.

Psalms, dis-regard my previous comment re: points to Ralph.

jhance is only partially right..NDD will do no damage if you don't let
it repair any errors it finds. It will tell you exactly what is wrong.
However, if you follow jhance's answer without running an AV program you
may end up with two infected drives. Both will have FAT problems
if there is a virus involved.

psalmsAuthor Commented:
jhance:  I tried your suggestion, but I ran NDD first.  Norton recovered some of the fat but locked up.  So I concluded the FAT is dead.  I transfered the drive to another system in order to save as much data as possible.  I hope by re-FDISKing the drive and starting over, that the drive will be alright.

Thank You All for Responding.
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