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Win XP install disk killed harddrive! I didn't even install it...

Posted on 2004-09-05
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Last Modified: 2010-04-03
I have two drives installed on my system.  One is the boot drive (WD800) and the other is my files (WD2000)
Both drives are formated, or actually were formated, as NTFS.

This is where it gets interesting.

The Boot drive is actually the second drive on the system but it is configured as the boot drive in BIOS (IDE1), So inside windows it's listed as C:
I decided it was about time for a fresh install of XP so I booted the XP install CD and tried to do a fresh install on the drive (WD800)
At this point the boot drive (WD800) was named [Josh] and that displayed here in the install program. The other (WD2000) drive had a long name [Sean M Dugan] and inside the instal program it now said [Unrecognized]  So I Selected the boot disk (WD800) :) and proceded to try to reinstall XP on it. The install program said the drive wasn't formated properly to run XP (even though it was since it was already running XP) and i would have to reformat.  At this point feeling like Microsoft is so inane it can't even use it's own file system from an install cd, I quit the installation.

Booted back up into XP and Suprise! my WD2000 with 100 gig of files including photo abulms from the last 2 years says it's no longer formatted!
Obviously the files are still there but the Disk is no longer recognized as formatted.  Apparently XP saw fit to destroy the file index even though Ii had undergone no changes inside the instaltion program.

I have attempted to restore the files using Ontrack EasyRecovery only to find that it looses all filenames and Directory structure.  Is there any way I can recover my Partition to it's origianal state?
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Question by:Neuroelectronic
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Expert Comment

by:tosh9iii
ID: 11985457
Do you have Partition Magic, if so, you could try to convert it back to NTFS.

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by:icedrop-dcse
ID: 11986103
fixmbr... there are 2 copies of mbr on every disk. hopefully you might still be able to recover it. try running fixmbr from the recovery console in the xp install cd. that is if you still wanna trust MS with your data. =)
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by:Neuroelectronic
ID: 11986542
Yes, I've tried FixMBR with no avail..  I even have looked around the harddrive with a hex editor for the other MBR.  I did a search threw the middle 10000 sectors and the last 10000 sectors for the string NTFS and the string B T L D R and found no matches. I'd do a search of the hole hard drive but im sure that would take hours upon hours and probably come up with many red harings.  AKA matches that arn't boot sectors.  Maybe there is a program that can run threw the harddrive and rebuilt the MBR?  im sure a single sector doesn't contain all my filenames and directory structures...

I'm guessing that either This isn't a good way to find the MBR or that only Boot disks get the second MBR

more information:

in DR DOS i did a DIR on the drive before FixMBR there was one 500meg file called B[ t *l or something weird and after FixMBR, DIR gave an error msg that said Failure to get directory structure, or something similar
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Author Comment

by:Neuroelectronic
ID: 11986543
BTW im working on getting more points to offer for the answer on this question, i just got 690 expert points but they don't seem to count toward my "Available points"  
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by:Blue_Rishi
ID: 11986610
Try testdisk: http://www.cgsecurity.org/?testdisk.html

this freeware program has saved me in a similar situations on several occasions....

One last tip: when doing another fresh install of Windoze XP, format the drives as FAT-32; as fast as ntfs, more reliable and easier to recover...when creating partitions lager then 32Gb u'll need to use a 3rd party util like PM8, because F-32 supports 4 terrabyte, but windows only supports formatting 32Gb (will read it, though).

Blue Rishi
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Expert Comment

by:jgilbertson17
ID: 11991108
I just went through almost the same exact problem.  Check out my thread here.  I actually ended up fixing it by using a Windows 98 SE boot disk (can be found at bootdisk.com), loading fdisk, and making the partition active.

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Operating_Systems/WinXP/Q_21118275.html

Hope this helps, good luck.
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Author Comment

by:Neuroelectronic
ID: 11998580
Jgilbertson, are you sure that will work with an NTFS partion though? it doesn't seem likely since 98se doesn't suport NTFS as far as i know...

Blue Rishi: i've been trying testdisk, I'm not quite sure if I'm using it right, but I tried the [analize] function and I guess it's not detecting the partition.
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Expert Comment

by:Blue_Rishi
ID: 11999602
Neuroelectronic, have you let it run till end and tried deep (sector by sector) analysing? Testdisk detects partition boundries to reconstruct the partitions. Don't remember the exact options...will load it in virtual machine to check and post back here

Blue Rishi

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Expert Comment

by:jgilbertson17
ID: 11999612
Yeah, it doesn't correctly see the size of the partition, however, that was what I used to make the partition active again.  If you don't see any partitions in there, then we may have to look at disk corruption.  Have you also tried "chkdsk /r"?  Probably won't work, but it's always good to make sure.
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by:Blue_Rishi
ID: 11999623
Btw, if the drives were dynamic volumes, you're f*cked: most recovery software can't handle or restore them...

Blue Rishi
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Blue_Rishi earned 155 total points
ID: 12001349
Ok, took a look @ the program and I guess deep scan isn't an option (any more?). You could also try Zero Assumption recovery ( www.z-a-recovery.com ).

Good Luck,

Blue Rishi
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Author Comment

by:Neuroelectronic
ID: 12007437
Blue Rishi,

I believe I started a deep scan in testdisk by canceling the "shallow scan" anywho...
ZAR32 has found everything although the price is a bit steap ($99) It is resonable when compaired to some of the unresonable prices some other recovery software is asking.  I'm willing to pay it to recover so much data.  

I ordered a new WD2000 hard drive and Im planning on copying the data over too it.. After that I plan on Setting up a Mirror RAID with the two WD2000's to keep this from happening in the future.  I will Award you the points when i get the data transfered :)

Thanks ALOT!
Neuroelectronic
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Author Comment

by:Neuroelectronic
ID: 12007461
This isn't really a technical question more of an opinion but does anyone have any recomendations of a hardware or software controller for such a RAID setup? the harddrives are IDE, I plan to upgrade to RAID 5 eventually
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Expert Comment

by:Blue_Rishi
ID: 12028755
Hi, Neuroelectronic, I'm glad ZAR could help. I don't have much experience with raid controllers, but found an article (in dutch) that might be of interest. Windows can give software raid 5 after a patch that is described in the article. It also compares software vs hardware raid (you could just look at the charts...). Raid 5 is much safer than normal striped mode, but has an overhead of 33% when using 3 disks...

Have fun!

Blue_Rishi

Software RAID 5:
Complete article: http://www.tweakers.net/reviews/373
Windows patch: http://www.tweakers.net/reviews/373/3
Performance software raid vs hardware: http://www.tweakers.net/reviews/373/5
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