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External HDD Recognized but Inaccessable

Posted on 2004-08-13
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Last Modified: 2010-04-03
I purchased a new LaCie 250GB external hard drive a couple months ago.  I have approximately 75GB of music on there as well as a few more gigs of other files.  A couple days ago, after connecting the drive to my pc, it was recognized as a USB mass storage device as usual and even was still recognized as a Maxtor drive.  However, rather than seeing the MOBILE label I gave to the drive I get Local Disk.  When I try to access the drives data by any usual means I receive an error saying the drive needs to be formatted.  I formatted the drive as NTFS when I first got it.
When I go to Disk Management the drive is listed as Disk2, but rather than seeing "NTFS" immediately next to the size I see nothing.
>>>>>>
 (E:)
233.76GB
Healthy (Active)
<<<<<<
It should be:
>>>>>>
MOBILE (E:)
233.76GB NTFS
Healthy (Active)
<<<<<<
I have a total 82GB of free space on my two internal drives, so recovery of all my data with EasyRecovery Pro would have to be done in a few stages and I would be burning many DVDs; that option is far from appealing.  I searched through other topics and ran the Repair Console off of my XP Home disc.  The only command that I thought would be appropriate was fixmbr, so that is what I executed.  Unfortunately that did not fix my problem.  LaCie tech support told my I had two options when I called them before trying fixmbr: Attempt to fix the master boot record, or format the drive.
I am running XP Home SP1.  I live in Chicago and am moving to California in two days for school.  Since this is so urgent I am making this a 500 point question.
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Question by:Intrepide1
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30 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:StGoY
ID: 11796522
Try using BOOT-IT and see if it recognizes your drive / partitions at first
    http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/bootitng.html

This looks like your boot partition got scrambled :S

Steph
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Expert Comment

by:PC-Expert2007
ID: 11796543
Have you tried uploading a CD that should have came with your laptop that trouble shoots your drivers. (i cant even come close to remotley spelling it.) dignotistcs? GRR >:|
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LVL 69

Expert Comment

by:Callandor
ID: 11796738
Sometimes, this happens if you remove a drive before all writes are finished.  Using the taskbar "safe to eject" method can help avoid this.  I suggest GetDataBack (www.runtime.org) to attempt retrieval of files.  Once that's done, you should be able to reformat it and use it again normally.
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Expert Comment

by:Blue_Rishi
ID: 11797278
Sometimes, this stuff just happens when using NTFS on removable drives...use FAT-32 instead (windows will only format upto 32Gb partitions, so you'll need to use partition magic 8 to create fat-32 partitions larger than 32Gb).

Now, for the recovery of your filesystem; just download testdisk, let it scan the disk (if it supports USB? think so, if used in windows) and recover the partitions, stating that the filesys is NTFS.

Really, trust me on this one: you don't want to use NTFS on removable drives...

Blue Rishi

download testdisk here: http://www.cgsecurity.org/?testdisk.html
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Author Comment

by:Intrepide1
ID: 11797410
It definitely isn't drivers that's causing this, and I am trying to avoid the 20 hours process that it would be to recover and back-up all of that data.  Thanks for the suggestions though.
I tried BootIt a short time ago.  I'm not sure what you desired for me to try exactly.  I messed with it but no change.
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Author Comment

by:Intrepide1
ID: 11797455
BR, I saw your post only after making mine.  Will test disk restore my filesystem without destroying any data so that I can access it normally?  Also, is there some way to convert my drive without losing the data?  Even a roundabout way?
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Author Comment

by:Intrepide1
ID: 11797807
I decided to open up PartitionMagic and take a look at what it said about my external drive; even though it has only the primary partition.  This is what it showed:
Partition       Type               Size MB       Used MB         Unused MB         Status        Pri/Log
(*)               Unallocated          4.8               0.0                    0.0           None          Primary

Graphically, a huge majority of the drive is outlined in yellow(Other) and rather than being labeled as NTFS is marked BAD.  Right clicking on the drive brings up the context menu which only allows Format, Properties, and Set Active...
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Author Comment

by:Intrepide1
ID: 11798366
Alright, the drive is back.  I did what I thought was unlikely to work: fixboot.  From what I read I didn't think it would work, but I tried anyhow.

BR, testdisk recognized the drive before but never found any partitions.  Probably unimportant but maybe notable to you.  So, now, how do I convert my drive from NTFS to FAT32?  I've heard that this wasn't possible without destroying data in the process, and right now I don't have time or space to perform that backup and restore.  I really don't want this trouble anymore and trust that you are right about the format.
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Author Comment

by:Intrepide1
ID: 11798407
I just noticed that PartitionMagic is seeing the drive the same as I noted two posts earlier.  This is not right.  Fix?

Is this possible: Create FAT32 partition on this external drive with PM, move data from Primary NTFS partition to FAT32 partition, change NTFS partition to FAT32, merge the two FAT32 partitions?
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Expert Comment

by:Callandor
ID: 11798451
Partition Magic can create a FAT32 partition, change NTFS to FAT32, and merge partitions.  You won't be able to create a partition if there's no unallocated room, and you have to copy data between partitions outside of Partition Magic.
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Author Comment

by:Intrepide1
ID: 11798670
Alright, that is just as I thought then.  Now I still have the issue of PartitionMagic showing that disk as BAD.  If that is fixed, my problem is answered.
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Author Comment

by:Intrepide1
ID: 11798679
I ran PartitionInfo, a 'part' of PartitionMagic, and it reported these errors:

Error #109: Partition ends after end of disk.
  ucEndCylinder (30515) must be less than 30515.
Error #108: Partition didn't end on cylinder boundary.
  ucEndHead expected to be 254, not 157.
Error #108: Partition didn't end on cylinder boundary.
  ucEndSector expected to be 63, not 34.

How do I fix those?  I'm really lost on that.
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Author Comment

by:Intrepide1
ID: 11798839
That didn't change anything.  The symantec KB article I note above speaks not of fixmbr but of fdisk /mbr, but I have been led to believe that fdisk should not be used with Windows XP.  Then again, I do not have an operating system on the external drive I'm working on here.  Any help?
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Accepted Solution

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Blue_Rishi earned 1500 total points
ID: 11798971
Intrepide1, wasn't sure whether testdisk would run on External USB, so now I know, thnx. As for your questions: You can use PM to convert NTFS to Fat-32 (resize first to create unallocated space, create primairy FAT-32, copy files, delete ntfs patition and resize fat-32 to cover the entire disk...) Would recommend trying this with the state the filesys is in now (will confuse PM and possibly destroy your data or at the very least hinder recovery). I would really recommend to backup the (most important) data to another drive before converting...(or when backing up all data; begin with a fresh partitiontable and format)
 
Now, as for;
Error #109: Partition ends after end of disk.
  ucEndCylinder (30515) must be less than 30515.
Error #108: Partition didn't end on cylinder boundary.
  ucEndHead expected to be 254, not 157.
Error #108: Partition didn't end on cylinder boundary.
  ucEndSector expected to be 63, not 34.

This means the partitiontable is still corrupted...(either that or something wrong with hdd parameters; 254 heads is the standard LBA access method, however this info is stored in partitiontable as well). If you can still access the disk I would STRONGLY recommend to backup all data you don't want to loose....

You have a few option to try to recover this error:
1) Manually enter the partition parameters in testdisk (including Filesystem), using the expected values: first cylinder: 63; last= 30515; first head=1; last=254; filesystem=NTFS (XP highest version). Next write this partition table to disk...(when entering the wrong info this CAN interfere with datarecovery).
2) try writing a standard partition table to disk
3) rescan the drive (all the way to the end) and write partition table to disk...

think option 1 is your best bet...(be carefull though)

Blue Rishi
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Author Comment

by:Intrepide1
ID: 11800448
How do I accomplish number one?  Do I select Analyze, wait until the scan is finished and select Write?  Or do I choose MBR Code?  I don't remember seeing anything about that in the documentation.

Hold on!  I just went to Geometry; should have clicked earlier.  This is what it says:

Disk   /dev/sdc  -  CHS   30515   255   63   239366MB

That didn't look off at first glance but I'm going to first change it to:

Disk   /dev/sdc  -  CHS   30515   254   63   239366MB
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Author Comment

by:Intrepide1
ID: 11800622
After changing that I got a Bad Sectors error when trying to Analyze it with tesdisk.

Give this a look and tell me what you think:
http://64.233.167.104/search?q=cache:1CNsR15ynJoJ:lists.freebsd.org/pipermail/freebsd-stable/2003-October/004356.html+7y250p0+cylinder+heads&hl=en

Also, PDF this manual from Maxtor has some interesting information at the start of chapter 4:
http://www.maxtor.com/_files/maxtor/en_us/documentation/manuals/maxline_plus_ii_manual.pdf

Even after changing the geometry with testdisk, the partition on the drive is seen just the same as PM sees it.  
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Author Comment

by:Intrepide1
ID: 11800686
Here's what I just figured out: Changing the Geometry with testdisk only affects the drive geometry and nothing changes with the partition.  The partition is still being read wrong, apparently due to an incorrect partition table.  So, what I need is a way to edit the partition table the way testdisk allows me to edit geometry.  I'm about to run PowerMax from Maxtor.
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Author Comment

by:Intrepide1
ID: 11800751
PowerMax cannot be run for the drive because it is external.
I Safely Disconnected my drive from my pc, turned off drive power, rebooted pc, turned on drive and plugged it in.  Recognized and Accessible but the partition info is still wrong.
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Author Comment

by:Intrepide1
ID: 11801085
HAHA!  I did it!  This is great.  In my searching I found out about DiskProbe, but that wouldn't work for my system.  So I looked for an alternative and found PTEdit32.exe; part of PartitionMagic.  I edited the partition values and restarted.  I ran PartitionInfo again, but I still got those #108 and #109 errors.  So, I decided to run PM and see what it said.  Before PM fully loaded an error message popped up about LBA value and such and labeled it as error #110.  PM asked me if it should fix the error.  I said yes and it popped up saying it fixed the error.  When PM finished fully loading the drive was labeled and read properly.  FINITO!  Thanks for the advice and direction, BR.
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Expert Comment

by:Blue_Rishi
ID: 11801394
You're welcome, found the final solution yourself though. I can say this question has been informative for me too.

Best of luck with your computer, and school as well of course...

Blue Rishi

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Author Comment

by:Intrepide1
ID: 11805074
I've got a problem still.  I want to continue the discussion here though because it has all the history.

I tried creating a new FAT32 partition on the drive; at the end of the drive.  PM progressed a little but than came up with an error and I could no longer access the drive.  Also, the drive label would show up as two ? and something else.  I chose to run fixboot and fixmbr again.  But when I ran fixboot it wrote the boot record as a FAT32 boot record.  Now I'm totally lost again.  PTEdit32.exe won't let me see the boot record anymore, and I don't know of any switch that let's me define the drive as NTFS for fixboot.
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Author Comment

by:Intrepide1
ID: 11806058
testdisk reports that my boot sector and backup boot sector are both bad.
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Expert Comment

by:Blue_Rishi
ID: 11806101
Seems like the end of your hdd (last cyllinders) are unreliable/bad...if the disk is still under warranty, I would suggest you return it. Else, try completely removing all partitons (primary/extended) and start over, only set pthe fisrt partition (primary) to xx% (about - 5% where you encountered difficulties). if this succeeds, try creating another partition in the unreliable space... (wouldn't put any crusial dat on it though)...

B_R
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Expert Comment

by:Blue_Rishi
ID: 11806106
btw, what error did PM gave at the end of the hdd?
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Author Comment

by:Intrepide1
ID: 11806295
PM isn't giving me an error at the end of the hdd.  It came up with an error when I tried creating a partition bu that, I believe had something to do with the already corrupt mbr.

Presently, PM shows a very small FAT partition at the start of the drive and the rest as unallocated.  If I deleted all partition with PM and then created one NTFS partition, would I be able to read my files for a backup?
Thanks for the continued support.
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Expert Comment

by:Blue_Rishi
ID: 11808411
I gather you didn't backup your files? If you create new partitions or convert existing ones while there's still some kind of corruption of the partition table, you're at serious risk of losing all your data. To restore the partitiontable try ZAR: http://www.z-a-recovery.com

B_R
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Author Comment

by:Intrepide1
ID: 11862462
Is there a recovery program that can tell me where on my disk(beginning or end) my lost files are?  Sort of in the way PerfectDisk will graphically display the location of your files on your volume but for 'lost files.'  They are all visible with EasyRecovery Pro.
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Expert Comment

by:Blue_Rishi
ID: 11875217
< Is there a recovery program that can tell me where on my disk(beginning or end) my lost files are? > If there is, I don't know about it...

< They are all visible with EasyRecovery Pro. > So why not recover them first?

Blue Rishi
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Author Comment

by:Intrepide1
ID: 11876111
Because I didn't have enough room anywhere.  My intention was a round-about method, but because this has been taking so long I decided to go ahead and purchase a HDD that I will put in my roommates pc and recover the files there.  Peace out.
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