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Missing Hard Drive after failed XP Install

Posted on 2004-04-03
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-03
Pls pardon my ignorance/arrogance, I always think I know it all, but I am sure someone will help me here !

I attempted to install XP on a system which runs two hard drives (C: has ME and 6GB, D: is a 60 GB with the best part of 40 GB data on it).
Somehow the install failed (it told me that a dll was missing after a restart), but it gave me the option to restart under Windows ME, which I did.
The problem is now that Windows does not recognise D: anymore... Various utilities used show the second disk is present and that the data is still there, but I simply cannot access it. It looks like either my FAT or the partition got corrupted by the XP install.

My main question is : I know I can recover the data bit by bit, but having a 6GB primary disk is not going to help me much when I want to recover about 7 times the amount...Is there anyway I can either rebuild the partition or FAT (if this is the problem) and recover access to the hard drive ?

Pls help b4 I reformat my HD !!!
Thanks !
Question by:spirit123
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LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 10748704
Hi spirit123,

Your second drive is probably formatted NTFS by the winXP installation. Use a tool like partition magic to convert the disk to FAT32 and you should find all your information will still be there.


LVL 44

Expert Comment

ID: 10748712
Did you run chkdsk /r on that disk yet? If not then give it a try.
LVL 44

Expert Comment

ID: 10748722
Supposedly these help to rebuild partitions

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.

Hard Disk and Data Recovery Related Tools:
The DiskPatch tool supposedly can rebuild the File System structure depening on the damage to the structure.
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LVL 44

Expert Comment

ID: 10748821
I misread the EasyRecovery info. Apparently it doesnt do any parititon repairing. Sorry about that.

Author Comment

ID: 10748853
CrazyOne, how do I run chkdsk /r on this particular drive ?. If I run it from the windows command, it comes up with Parse Error 3

Author Comment

ID: 10748891
Right, somehow Partition Magic refuses to play with me, it comes up with an initialisation error.

There is some info which I could gather - here goes :

Disk Geometry Information for Disk 2:    4111 Cylinders,  255 Heads,  63 Sectors/Track
Info: Disk Manager is installed on this drive.
System              PartSect  # Boot BCyl Head Sect  FS    ECyl Head Sect    StartSect     NumSects
                           0  0  80     0    0   10  54    1022  254   63            9   16,434,486
Info: Partition didn't begin on head boundary.
  ucBeginSector expected to be 1, not 10.

Is there any other utils which can give me a beginning of an answer ?
LVL 31

Assisted Solution

rid earned 150 total points
ID: 10751337
Depending on the value of the data involved, it may be a good idea  to get another 60G hard drive and try to move the data to that drive, if you know of any utility that can read from the problem disk. Another method may be to move the problem disk to another system that can handle a 60G drive and has an O/S that understands NTFS.

Judging from the amount of posts with similar problems, it may be a good idea to avoid choosing NTFS as file system on a drive that coexists with an O/S that can't handle NTFS. There's noting really wrong with FAT32 for the normal user.

Also, this system perhaps uses a BIOS overlay to handle the larger (60G) drive, in which case installing XP on it may screw up terribly and you'll really need one of the recovery utilities and an empty drive to dump data to; make sure this drive is well and truly prepared and recognized by ME before doing anything.

Accepted Solution

arizona_9 earned 225 total points
ID: 10752876

It's appearant that you where accessing the 60Gb via your WinME installation prior to WinXP install. That said the 60Gb part should still be FAT32. Even if you chose to convert to NTFS, XP would not conduct the conversion untill after a successful install/boot (i believe: not sure exactly when the convert is done but it is definetly after system files are copied). However, the PARTINFO report shows that the FS (File System Type) is a 54, Ontrack Disk Manager 6.0. http://www.symantec.com/techsupp/primus/id4279.html. This supports rid's speculation of a 'BIOS overlay'.

The next best step may be to confirm that information: Did you have to run/install a utility when that 60Gb was installed in your system? I still say that the 'hidden' information is still FAT32. You may want to run the overlay utility again but only after you do as rid suggested to do a bit for bit copy of your drive to another 60Gb or greater HDD. I purchased a Maxtor 160 from www.newegg.com for $80 free shipping. The problem with this is that you'll still have to run a 'make compatible utility' if your BIOS does not support drives of this capacity.

For data recovery I've used Lost and Found and Restorer2000. Lost and Found is an older file recovery utility made by PowerQuest (PartitionMagic) long before they were bought by Symantec. It can read and restore FAT and FAT32 file systems. The product is no longer offically supported yet a patch and documentation are still available online. You can still purchase the product from Amazon, Ebay, and the like. You'll just have to search.

Restorer2000 is a modern recovery utility and hence costs more. The current version is 2.0 and comes in three flavors, Std FAT, Std NTFS, and Pro. Do not either Standard version, get the Professional, it does both. It can be purchased directly for it's makers at www.Restorer2000.com for $50. It can be downloaded immediately after purchase. They will send you the serial via e-mail. You'll have your slick-a** recovery utility (that works, I use it) as fast as your credit card and bandwidth will allow. Going this route will set you back at $130 (depending on HDD purchased but I doubt you'll find a better value) but in the end you'll have you data back and another 160Gb to play with.

After this the data will reside on the 160. Leave it there. Save-up and get a modern Mobo, Proc, and RAM ($300 should do it - NewEgg.com). Only then should you again attempt to install WinXP on the 60Gb (after totally wiping out including Boot Sector to do away with 'overlay utility'). Toatally ditch WinME. Keep the 6Gb for the next rainy day. If you need a 'classic' O/S use Win98SE and download all updates from Windows Update Catalog as it is out of support. (All WinME had going for it is that it was a XP teaser, i did like the interface enhancements, does not justify lack of stability).

Want to save some dough, ask your friends, neighbors, co-workers or even you company/boss to lend you a drive for recovery? (I'm assuming this is a home system).

What is recoverable depends on what has not be overwritten. WinME may try to write system information and Recycle Bin info the the drive. If the file system is totally inaccessible you should be safe from this senerio, but to be sure, down your system and remove the power AND data cable from this drive until you are ready to attempt a data recovery solution. You do NOT want further corruption or overwritting to occur.

Author Comment

ID: 10752950
I must say that both rid's and arizona got me going... I gave up on the data after having managed to salvage the most essential part of it. After reformatting the second drive, I almost managed to get XP going but it crashed after resetting the resolution on its first boot. Several formats & reinstalls later, I now face the NTLDR missing message...formatting the drive does not seem to correct the problem - I have several other questions, but my capital is gone.
If a kind soul would help me further, it would be appreciated, if not, I'll figure it out by myself...if no solutions, I'll come back and pay !

- How do I remove the several install options which are offered when I start Windows up ? I end up with 3 choices, 2 Win XP & one regular Windows,
- How do I wipe out the Boot Sector on the second HD ?

Cheers - Olivier
LVL 31

Expert Comment

ID: 10752993

Use the "ZAP" utility for wiping the drive (assuming you don't need anything that's on it:) ). Put the program on a bootable floppy, remove the hard drive you wish to keep intact, boot with the floppy and run the program as per the instructions.

Expert Comment

ID: 10789114
You can do two things here. One is to edit 'boot.ini'. It will be found on the root of C:. Open it with Notepad.exe (or any Windows text editor) or edit.com if in DOS mode. Remove the two unecessary boot options. Second, you want to 're-apply the system' to dispose of the NTLDR message. To do this you need to create a bootable floppy that contains 'SYS.COM'. Since you are using WinMe it is imperative that you make a WinMe boot diskette. Boot from this diskette and once at A:\ type "SYS C:". This will re-write the boot sector, COMMAND.COM, IO.SYS, and MSDOS.SYS.

Do a little research, first on how to create the boot disk. Doing this for Win95 - 98SE is as simple a formatting the diskette and checking the appropriate box at the bottom of format window and copying "SYS.COM" from "C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND". I think there is something different about creating a WinMe boot disk but cannot recall from memory at the moment. If you made a EBD (Emergency Boot Disk) when WinMe was installed you can use this as well. I used to keep a small HDD with each O/S installed just for research but don't at the moment (I loaned out the drive). I would suggest this to anyone that has a lower capacity drive that isn't in use and have access to 'legacy' O/S installation disks: employ a patition management utility (BootMagic, Partition Commander) and install every O/S you can. You never know when you'll have to reference it.

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