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Messed up HD partition table

Posted on 2000-03-30
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My HD's partition table was screwed up. It only can see 2/3 of the original partitioning (10GB out of 10GB, single-primary partition). Then I downloaded a shareware called BootWizard Pro and tried to fix the screwed up partition table. I was able to get it back to all 10GB in one single-primary partition but then when I looked into the drive, it said 10GB free but no files existed. I never formatted my HD since the table screwed up. Is there any way that I can fix the partition table with all my files intact in the HD. Or the drive is totally screwed up without formatting. Pls help!
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Question by:ppmb
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by:dbrunton
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It is probably stuffed as for getting the files back.

Unless you saved or know what the original partition table settings were your data could well be gone.  It - your data - is quite probably all sitting there on the drive but unless you can get the settings right it may well be as on the moon.

Unless you are totally desperate I would just consider formatting (fdisk may have to be used first) and resetting the system up again.  And remember the second rule of computing BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP (and I shouldn't preach either).

Wait for other experts to comment before suiciding.

If the amount of data is small to recover you could use a disk editor such as Nortons but this is really for experts only.
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by:red117
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i would try getting partition magic from powerquest and see if you can change the partition and find some of your data, but alas it is probably all gone, sometimes this happens.  
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by:SysExpert
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Norton Disk doctor has a chance of restoring your files.
Boot from the CD and tell it to run the unformat or unerase program. One or the other has a good chance of restoring your files.
Symantec and MCAfee have other programs that do this. Maybe there is a demo you can download.
I hope this helps.
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Otta earned 200 total points
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> It is probably stuffed as for getting the files back.

I disagree.

Purchase a copy of "Lost & Found", not "Partition Magic", from PowerQuest (http://WWW.PowerQuest.com), or from any computer-store.

Purchase/borrow another hard-drive, about the same size as your current drive.

As long as the disk "spins" correctly, L&F can read the hard-drive, sector-by-sector, and will "recover" files onto the other hard-drive, even though your partition-table is messed-up.

There's a "demo" version of L&F available for download -- it will "analyze" your hard-drive, and tell you what can be recovered.
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by:SunBow
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You are "toast", you can pretty much count on it.
But I haven't tried  Lost & found yet, if you can afford that - time, give it a shot.  Main thing is know, REALLY KNOW, that this is NOT to be taken lightly. Mess up on format and especially partitioning, and your system is as good as toasted. So always manage backups of what you care about.

Oh there are things that look like happy toys like Partition Magic.  But trust them not more than a toy when it comes to data you care for.

There are restore programs for sure --- iff you did not inadvertently wipe filesys info, which it seems was done. But especially, the 'undo delete' programs cannot be effective without knowing your prior partitioning, sectoring, filesystem, fat allocation, etc.  They can guess at some, but that's what it usually comes down to is guesswork.

Do not toy with multiple partitioning mechanisms, they will bring you down. When you find one you like, stick with it. IMHO, if you are not Expert, try trusting Microsoft partitioning methods more, and don't jump too fast to 3rd party toys. (btw, the 3/2rds thing you referenced has completely escaped me as to what you mean)
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by:RoadWarrior
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Norton disk doctor usually finds all files if only the partition table was written. I have partitioned the "wrong drive" before, then gone back and partitioned it how it was, then used NDD to restore the files.

regards,

Road  Warrior
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by:SunBow
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My runs with Norton and the like are that they are too dependent on there being a good M$.file.structure beginning with the first sector. Ex: a good steady fDisk table. A rework on this sector usually leaves c: unrecoverable to these. Is the FAT any good? Or, was it wiped? What does fDisk tell you about sizes?

However, I also recall situations where the front of disk was wiped (virus?), and use of fDisk to lay down the part.table actually did recover the other partitions (d:, e:,...) on same drive. c: programs were toast, but data on d: was not lost.  Of course, the sizing of the partitions made in recovery had to be exactly precisely identical to what it had been before.

> It only can see 2/3 of the original partitioning (10GB out of 10GB

I don't understand, 10/10 = 2/3?  What told you this? Could it be disk was ok to begin with? If not, what was it that killed off 1/3 disk? (If that is not known, it may be repeated).

> BootWizard Pro and tried to fix the screwed up partition table. I was able to get it back to all 10GB in one single-primary partition

This reads like you had a c: with data on a partition of 6-7 GB, then did 'something' to make it bigger, 10 GB, upon which the data 'disappeared'. Perhaps you can only boot a diskette, not HD, and it is the diskette software that tells you it cannot find files.

Problem is, most 'doctor' programs require prior use. For example, first use it to make a diskette copy of the front of your hard drive, then when you lose those files, the doctor will let you put them back.  So most doctor program options are no help if you have not used them before. They also cannot help if you have moved files around since you made your diskette copy they use.

What happens in rePartitioning, going from 10 GB to 7, then back to 10, is that this only handles size, it does not directly handle files and their pointers (FAT, dir, ...). So to go from 10 to 7, it would leave many files with bad links, pointers to non-existant disk area for the partition. If the amount of data used by files could fit in new area, then a software package that includes a defragger, to move all files off of the 1/3rd of disk getting unPartitioned to the part that remains, then there would be not loss. Perhaps this happened to your system at one time.  I have heard people use products like Partition Magic to do this. But a partitioner on its own will not.

Your problem seeing files seems to have been when you went from 7 GB to 10.  Now, this 'should be' workable with a partitioner, as the space used by files will still be there, at the front of the now expanded drive. My experience is that it does not work that way. Most unenhanced partitioning programs wipe out the pointers to your files whether you increase or decrease size.  I understand need to do this when shrinking a fragmented space, but not when expanding.

I suggest that during the process of expanding your file space, the file pointers (FAT) was cleared. Effectively trashing the file system.

What then would be possible, is if you can restore the partitioning to the 2/3 you once had with good files (I mean exactly the same space), then 'important' files may be recoverable using undo programs similar to Norton Utilities.  What they can do is 'guess' at what files have what content if they can find the subDirectory area of links, even if Fat is gone.  This is very tedious work, but if the data is very critical, it is worth a shot.

I see nothing in your question about critical data or having a lot of time on your hands to learn how to use doctor tools successfully. If you have $$$ there are companies that can help restore critical files.

Hence I suggest that you just start over clean, write of your loss to learning experience on making backups. What you could do, is decrease size of c: and increase d: size. Perhaps only 2 GB for c:. My reasoning is that if you lose O/S partition through some upgrade or other, or an install gone awry, that your may still have the data partition availably without a restore from tape. Some programs, even in O/S, will not work > 2 GB.  Only problem is, most software seems to work better if you have only one drive, and only one partition. And some programs are so big you always seem to need bigger partitions.

Still, if it were my system, and data non-critical, I'd scratch it, make a 2 GB c: and an 8 Gb D: out of it, or get another hard drive for the data. Try to keep the programs you can run separate from the data areas you create and want kept safe.
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by:SunBow
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> There's a "demo" version of L&F available for download

Did you try this yet? To see if it thinks files are recoverable?
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by:ppmb
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Sorry to reply this late!

For Otta and SunBow:
I have just downloaded the trial version of Lost and Found and havent started trying it yet.

I will try it to see if it helps ASAP!
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by:jvsteen
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You can mail me and I'll see what can be done.

Joep

http://how.to/use_Partition_Doctor
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by:jvsteen
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You can mail me and I'll see what can be done.

Joep

http://how.to/use_Partition_Doctor
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by:SunBow
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OnTrack's been getting some good PR lately too.  But it does not take much for one incomplete repair effort to really mess up the effort from another.
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by:bigredthelogger
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Boot to your primary partitoin and type

FDISK /MBR that should fix all your problems
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by:Otta
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> FDISK /MBR that should fix all your problems

No.  It rewrites the "boot" record, but it does not update the "partition-information" record.

BigRedTheLogger: welcome to Experts-Exchange (first login: 5/20/00).

Within E-E, it is customary to point "comments", and let the author of the question try your suggestion.  Then, if your suggestion is correct, the author can use "accept-comment-as-answer" to "upgrade" your "comment" to an "accepted-answer".
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by:jvsteen
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FDISK/MBR does not alter one bit of the partition tables.

Thank you for blocking this question!

Kind request; withdraw your answer.

Joep
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by:SunBow
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> FDISK/MBR does not alter one bit of the partition tables.

well, true it is not whole solution, but it may be a valid step.

Supposing ppmb had good data, then ran a repartitioner and went downhill from there.  the mbr run off a known good diskette can kill off the initial access of the bad_partitioner.

The next step would be, before using system, to make partitions with fDisk that are EXACTLY like they were when system broke down. Unlikely it seems that this is remembered, but allocating all to c: might give a 50/50 shot in the dark on the former layout.

Next is you are then in one of three states: all up, all down, or half/half.

It depends on what these other programs did to the box in meantime.  I've seen someome change bios for 500 mb drive to look like their 40 MB in their portable (ok, a while back it was). Then ran scandisk, 'recovered' and auto-truncated the files that pointed outside of the 40mb.  Then wondered why excel.exe was only half as big as it should be, and wondering why it did not work any more.

Beware of scandisk as a solution.

Still, could odds of fdisk to recover be 10% or more?  At this point I'd try it on my system.  You?
=+=+=

bigredthelogger ,
ALthough the ones asking you to recall the 'answer', have made a valid point, plz do not feel 'spanked', it is not that big a deal to this
SunBow
Just something to bear in mind for future visits. It is easy enough for ppmb to reject it if desired. This is an old question, so won't get many new visitors.

The problem referred to is that when you give an 'answer', the title is moved to another section of EE, and it has been noticed that would make the question less visible, less frequented by newbies.
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by:jvsteen
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Hello,

Sorry if I was 'rude'.

Using FDISK is the worst thing you can do, will dramatically reduce the chances of recovery. NEVER try to rebuild using fdisk.

First step should be to run a DOS program from diskette that can scan the drive for possible partitions.

Second step is virtually rebuild the tables, I used to use pen and paper, more comfortable is, using Partition Doctor on a running Windows machine. With this program you can rebuild partition tables and check them for a given geometry. Once you are pretty sure that you have got it, the program can write a bacth file, that can be executed on the 'damaged' machine and rewrites the partition tables.

Joep

how.to/use_partition_doctor

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by:SunBow
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> Using FDISK is the worst thing you can do, will dramatically reduce the chances of recovery. NEVER try to rebuild using fdisk.

fDisk/mbr has never hurt from known good boot, to get goal of returning system to known OS state.

Running any partitioner, fDisk included, WILL wipe data, be careful. It will on rare occasion help one experience do a recover. Example is partitioning drive half & half. C: & d:.

I 'virus' (or upgrade) wipes the front of disk and its pointers. If you knew the geometry and restored it, you can actually recover the stuff not on c: partition.  On occasion, it is better suited for this than A/V, which, if you got hit with two different boot sector viruses, will attempt to wipe first one by restoring the sector it migrated, which happens to be the other virus, getting you another whammo.

But in general, I do agree with

> NEVER try to rebuild using fdisk.

especially for the less experienced or for those who think they require 3rd party partition management tools.

These things should ONLY be run when you FIRST configure a machine.  Not in the middle of a major project.  They do require your alert attention.  Else, put it all in one partition.

Programs are getting so-o- big, many now >1GB to install.  You really don't want to run out of roiom on a partition.

But I favor a minimim of two partions, even using any partitioner you want, for the reason of separating program from data, operating system from game of documents or homework.

Then if O/S upgrade blows up, you need only redo it, the data still there.  If you wipe your data, (bad game?) you still have o/s, and have hopefully backed up the few save files you really cared for.

Depending on OS, it is at times inadviseable to have c: larger than 2 GB, so that's my choice.  OS fits there well enough, put all else on the remainder.

Not that I practice what I preach yet, all the time, call it a personal goal.
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by:jvsteen
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Get findpart from
http://inet.uni2.dk/~svolaf/utilities.htm

Run it from a DOS diskette findpart x fp.txt where x is the drive number (1 based).

Post fp.txt here and/or email it to me.

regards,

Joep

http://how.to/use_partition_doctor
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by:ppmb
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Sorry all! I have to apologize to all of you guys first since I havent returned any comment. I followed the lead that Otta gave me and tried a demo version of Powerquest's Lost & Found. And it worked. It scanned thru the messed up drive and showed me the whole list. Of course there are some disastrous area in the drive but most of the important data is intact. So I decided to buy the complete version. Unfortunately, I have been busy with my work and havent had the time to really recover the drive. It is going to take hours to recover the stuff I wanted to get back and it is really a lengthy project for me especially I dont have much time left after work.

This is what I am going to do. Since Otta was the first one to tell me to try "Lost & Found" and I am really satisfied with the result. I am going to give credit to Otta. But I have to reject the proposed answer first and then credit Otta.

Also I thank you all for keeping me posted on this question and thank you all for all the comments you guys suggested.
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by:ppmb
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Comment accepted as answer
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by:SunBow
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award sounds good as-is, but what happened w/

> "It only can see 2/3"

and... as you say, this will take lotsa time, lots is lost, so the comments on it being a loss to write-off a rather appropriate.  The data needs to be very important to $pend all that wime over the weeks to get it back.

(think 'backup' - think spare drive, if you can afford)

Thank you two for the thumbs up on "Lost & Found", I'll move it up another notch on my wish list.
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