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Mis-Formatted Drive

Posted on 2003-12-03
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-03
Hi All,

Newbie here - so be gentle... I already did a search through this forum for a solution, but nothing as specific as I need came up. so here goes....

In an apparent Norton Ghosting mishap - I lost most of my 20GB hard drive. Now the only thing visable, even to the bios, is about 2GB of NTFS formatted drive.

No formatting software can see the other 18GB on the disk.

I was able to see the "unavailable" space using a pre-recovery utility called DataAdvisor, which is a prep tool for OnTrack's recovery utilities.

I don't need to recover any data - I just need to get my disk back!!

Please help!
Question by:ShuttleDIK
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LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 9867884
Hi ShuttleDIK,

If BIOS still detects the hdd, then you are lucky. there's stilla  chance for your data.
Here's a list of tools for analysing your drive, then comes a list for retrieving lost data. List credits go to CrazyOne.

Hard Drive Diagnostics

*****Vendor Specific Support/Diagnostics*****

Maxtor/Quantum (Fireball) http://www.maxtor.com/en/support/products/index.htm
Western Digital http://support.wdc.com/download/
Samsung http://www.samsungelectronics.com/hdd/support/utilities/utilities_index.html
Seagate http://www.seagate.com/support/seatools/index.html
IBM/Hitachi http://www.hgst.com/hdd/support/download.htm#DFT
fujitsu/Seimens http://www.fcpa.fujitsu.com/download/hard-drives/#diagnostic

If you do not know the drive manifacturer try some generic drive testers


ZDU http://www.webattack.com/get/zdu.shtml
Zdu is a diagnostic utility for disks & directories. It comes as a GUI version as well as a commandline only version (both included).

AIDA http://www.webattack.com/get/aida32.shtml
An easy to use report wizard allows you to create detailed reports in the format of your choice


DiskChecker http://www.webattack.com/get/diskchecker.shtml
Disk Checker is a disk diagnostics, repair and disk image tool for FAT and NTFS.

Drive Health http://www.webattack.com/get/drivehealth.gif.shtml
Drive Health helps you to estimate your hard disks life resource. It allows you to predict possible hard drive failure

You could try one of these:


File Recovery is a data recovery program that supports the FAT 12/16/32 and NTFS file systems. The current version 3.x replaces the previous version 2.x, which is now over 6 years old.

For 9x/NT/2K/XP. Restore deleted files that are no longer in the Recycle Bin!

Tool to check and undelete partition
Works with the following partitions:
- FAT12 FAT16 FAT32
- Linux
- Linux SWAP (version 1 and 2)
- NTFS (Windows NT)
- BeFS (BeOS)
- Netware
- RaiserFS


EasyRecovery DataRecovery is a simple, yet powerful tool that recovers data that is lost, inaccessible or deleted. It's the ultimate do-it-yourself solution for nearly all causes of data loss (except physical hardware or system problems) where your hard drive and system are fully functional.

File Rescue 2.5

GetDataBack for FAT
GetDataBack will help you retrieve your files if the hard drive's partition table, boot record, FAT, or root directory have been damaged by a virus, formatting, fdisk or power failure. GetDataBack can even recover your data when the drive is no longer recognized by Windows.

GetDataBack for NTFS
Recover your files when the data is no longer accessible due to formatting, fdisk, virus attack, power or software failure. Get everything back even when the drive's partition table, boot record, Master File Table or root directory is lost or corrupt.
Hard Drives
Floppy Drives
Drive Images
Zip/Jaz Drives

Norton Utilities/SystemWorks
The Norton Protected Recycle Bin helps you recover deleted and overwritten files.
The UnErase wizard helps you retrieve files you've accidentally deleted.


Data Recovery
Fast File Undelete


File Recover 2000


File Restore
If you've deleted your data and you want to get it back, you need FileRestore.
FileRestore is a simple, easy-to-use tool for recovering files that have been lost or deleted from your Windows system. Designed for Windows XP, 2000, NT, Me, and 9x

Disk Commander
In virtually any situation where you need to recover lost data from a Windows system, Disk Commander is the solution. Disk Commander performs a wide range of data recovery operations.

As a tool to 'UNDELETE' files that have been accidentaly deleted.
This feature is implemented for HPFS and NTFS only.


Emergency Undelete
I believe this is free
For Win2000 and NT may work on XP


Hard Drive Mechanic
It's true. Even if you just re-formatted your entire hard drive, you can still get all of your data back because, unlike what most people believe, formatting does NOT erase your files! With Hard Drive Mechanic's Unformat Feature, you can restore all of your valuable data in about 10 minutes!
demo version:

Filerecovery for Windows
Filerecovery for Windows® is a safe and affordable do-it-yourself data recovery solution that is designed to recover deleted files from all types of media such as Hard Drives, Floppy Drives, SmartMedia, CompactFlash, Memory Sticks, and other types of removable media.

You know how upsetting it is to accidentally delete a file that you need—it takes just a moment to lose hours of work. Undelete file-recovery utility captures ALL deleted files including those that typically bypass the Recycle Bin. You can even recover files you purged from our Recovery Bin. With our Emergency Undelete feature, you can recover files deleted prior to Undelete being installed on your system (provided they have not been written over). Buy Undelete and you'll never again be at the mercy of lost data.

Fast File Recovery
A definite must for the PC guru! It will allow the user to perform all data recovery tasks associated with disks which are not physically damaged.

File Scavenge
File Scavenge is the most comprehensive, award-winning file undelete and data recovery for NTFS volumes on Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows XP.

Active UNERASER is a compact and powerful undelete utility that can recover deleted files and folders on FAT12, FAT16, FAT32 and NTFS systems. It can even restore files from deleted and re-formatted partitions.

Undelete 3.0
Undelete 3.0 restores accidentally deleted files within seconds from anywhere on your system. Version 3.0 includes new SecureDelete, full Windows XP support and expanded search options.

FinalData Data Recovery
FinalData Data Recovery Solution will recover files that have been lost by   quick formatting, FDISK, FAT damage, MBR damage or directory   destruction. It recovers data from FAT12/16/32, NTFS, and EXT2, EXT3.

BadCopy Pro
BadCopy Pro is a leading data recovery tool for floppy disk, CD-ROM, CD-R/W and other storage media. It can effectively recover and rescue corrupted or lost data from damaged, unreadable or defective disks. Various damage situations and all file types are supported.

Directory Snoop
Directory Snoop is a low-level forensic utility that can recover erased files in an emergency, wipe sensitive data, and search for hidden data at the cluster level. Step through your File Allocation Table (FAT) and map individual clusters back to the file that owns them. Purge orphaned (and possibly sensitive) file names right out of the directory structure. $29 shareware for Windows 95 through XP (NTFS drives not supported).

Or Data Recovery Services

Ontrack offers a full range of data recovery solutions to address your data loss needs. Unlike other data recovery companies, Ontrack provides exclusive and patented solutions that do not require you to send in your media for recovery. In situations where the hardware is functioning normally, our patented Remote Data Recovery service and EasyRecovery software solutions can solve your data loss needs safely and effectively in a matter of hours. If another company claims that there is no alternative to shipping your drive, it's because they don't offer an alternative. For situations in which the hardware is physically failing, our In-Lab services will utilize our Class 100 clean-rooms to retrieve your mission critical data.




Total Recall
Our recovery and forensic technology is used by support and call centers as well as data recovery providers world-wide.

ESS Data Recovery
ESS Data Recovery, Inc. has been removing barriers in the data recovery and computer forensics market ever since its inception


LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 9867892
I also suggest you get into the bios and let it recheck your drives.
LVL 18

Expert Comment

ID: 9868011
If you're not concerned with the data on the drive, run KILLDISK or WDCLEAR to remove all boot records and partitioning info. At that point just boot from the CD and reinstall the OS.
NFR key for Veeam Agent for Linux

Veeam is happy to provide a free NFR license for one year.  It allows for the non‑production use and valid for five workstations and two servers. Veeam Agent for Linux is a simple backup tool for your Linux installations, both on‑premises and in the public cloud.

LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 9868029
chicagoan, I think your right and the asker doesn't want his data back "I don't need to recover any data - I just need to get my disk back!!"

killdisk can be found at http://www.killdisk.com

Author Comment

ID: 9868038

Thanks for the plethora of info.  I've been digging through some of these links from previous posts (even of yours) - great stuff!!  Most of what I've found is for data recovery, which I don't need.  I'm just trying to recover the space.

It's an IBM drive - I was just searching for utilities there.. you may have just saved me some more time ;-]

The Bios on AUTO unfortunately only reports the 2GBs NTFS.

I'll keep ya apprised of my progress.  Thanks again!!  

Author Comment

ID: 9868069
And just saw the killdisk listings - thanks folks - I'll try it out and post back.   I should be able to just re-ghost (to client) to disk after killdisk-ing it, right?
LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 9868096
>>The Bios on AUTO unfortunately only reports the 2GBs NTFS
What do you mean with this, the bios doesn't know what file system is on the drive..... Do you mean storage manager?

If you do mean that the bios only sees 2GB, you should use the IBM tools to do a low level format on your drive.
LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 9868104
>I should be able to just re-ghost (to client) to disk after killdisk-ing it, right?
Should be possible yes. Just make sure the settings are right, so this don't happens again. (resize the partition)

Author Comment

ID: 9870356
latest update...

The KillDisk and IBM Utilities were unsuccessful at solving the problem.  Both programs ran successfully.  And the IBM Utility even recognizes the true size of the disk.

Now, upon running fdisk, I see no partitions of any kind defined... but there are still only two gigs out of a possible 20GB available for anything.  The Bios still only sees 2GB or so..    

So THEN I ran the workstation manufacturer's Bios upgrade and Diagnostics program...  NO CHANGE...

All this leads me to one conclusion - I must be the biggest idiot... thank you for concurring quietly ;-]

more mañana...

LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 9870412
Have you tried to let the bios re-identify the harddrive?

Author Comment

ID: 9876018
using the AUTO setting of the bios?  yes

I also removed the drive from the bios, then rebooted... and it still returned to that size.

I'm starting to think about pulling the drive and then formatting it from another machine.  But i'd like to try a few move things before I go pullin' hardware... just hate doin' that if I don't have to... yknow?

I'm still listening, if anyone has any ideas!!

You've all been so helpful!  Thank you!
LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 9876060
>>using the AUTO setting of the bios?  yes
this is not what I meant, you should be able to scan the IDE controller for connected devices.
LVL 32

Accepted Solution

LucF earned 800 total points
ID: 9876075
the IBM Utilities should be able to do a low level format, have you tried that?

Author Comment

ID: 9876339
I did the low level format last night - no change in the way the drive registers to the BIOS.  The IDE scans show the drive correctly - EXCEPT for the size.  When I scan from IBM utilites everything shows up fine - INCLUDING the drive size.

I'm going to check the controller settings, too.

The BIOS will let me define my own drive - but I need to get the info on Cylinders, etc. which arent' readily available in the Drive manufacturer utilities, unfortunately...  :-(


Author Comment

ID: 9876440
So - last night I walked outta here in disgust because I did everything I could and the problem was still there.

Today I checked back on my posts for any new ideas - I was drawing a blank.

I turn on the tower and KA-BAM! my BIos is now recognizing the proper size!!! Yaaaay... now I can start working again ;-]

Thanks for all your help.

While the actual solution is still shrouded in mystery, here's my guess:

After installing the new BIOS yesterday, I only quick booted the tower (ctrl+alt+del, or the lil button on the face)... maybe this didn't allow a full refresh of the bios like an extended power down like overnight would!

That's all I got... thanks again for all your assistance!
LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 9876489

Author Comment

ID: 9876506
Thanks to all for helping me out!  it's great to have guidance when your drive fraggs out... Lol...  or ya screw it up!!

LucF was there the whole way so ya git tha points!  Yaay

Chicagoan, thanks for the posts.  And of course, thanks to CrazyOne for the list.... definitely a bookmark now!!!

;-)  thanks for being so helpful... and listening to my silly rants! ;-]
LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 9876520

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