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HDD reformated from NTFS to FAT12 after running Norton System Ghost 2003 under XP

Posted on 2004-10-24
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-08-27
Hi guys,

Normally I find my answers to my questions pretty easily by reading previous inquirer's posts but this time, I'm totally puzzled and need some help with this one. I must admit though to be pretty pessimistic about the outcome of this one. I've never seen or heard of anything like this before so please forgive me for such a long problem description.

Here we go.... About a week ago, after a series of bad luck with my computers, I tried backing up my data contained in my new system (runs a SATA 250 GB HDD) with Norton System Ghost 2003 which has always worked in the past for me in my other system (old system runs a standard 150 GB IDE drive).

However, this time I guess NSG2003 asked me whether or not I needed to install extra drivers since the HDD was an external one running on firewire or USB 2.0 so when NSGhost inquired about it I decided to install both (USB2.0 and firewire).
It prompted me to make an emergency rescue diskette but since this system didn't come with a FDD, I thought I'd pass on that.

Anyway, this thing reboots in PC DOS 7.0 (native to NSG2003) and totally stalls there!!!

At this point I'm given two options: Either run NSG or return back to Windows. None of them seemed to work so I started freaking out. I knew my stroke of bad luck wasn't over yet.

I couldn't even reboot in either safe mode, system recovery mode (this system came with a recovery partition for quick re-imaging) nor DOS (as I said B4, not having a FDD installed). The only place I could go really was the BIOS!!!

Now this new computer that crashed is an HP with a SATA 250 GB HDD and strangely, NSG2003 had always worked previously for me in my Compaq computer with the internal HDD (primary master as source & slave as target) drives. So I thought the difference might have been that it wasn't able to  load one of the drivers. In fact, the computer would freeze right after loading the firewire drivers while trying to load the USB 2.0 drivers for Iomega (go figure, I don't even have an Iomega drive).

So out of desperation and having lost a lot of time previously with other computer related problems in the last week and a half, trying to speed up the process, I ran the Compaq's Recovery console CD since obviously, I hadn't taken the time to create one on the new HP... before it crashed on me! duh!

Normally if I remember correctly, when booting up with a Recovery Console CD, I believe that one is prompted for the administrator's password. I remember never being prompted for one this fatal time (maybe because I hadn't assigned a password to the administrator account in safe mode yet either).

And I believe the second step in recovery console is to choose which partition the user wants to log under (either c:\windows or d:\hp_recovery or something like that... I also remember never seing that either. With HP XP systems, the c: drive where XP is installed is typically NTFS and the recovery partition which contains an image of the system recovery CD's (XP Home OEM edition) is normally under FAT32.

At this point, I'm not sure whether I did a DIR or not before or AFTER issuing the FIXBOOT command. I thought the payload of a FIXMBR was heavier to bear than the FIXBOOT (reading the associated /? switch of each) so I opted for a fixboot.

Now, I have to stress the fact that this command was issued from a recovery console CD that was made for the other computer, the compaq which has the IDE HDD, not a SATA HDD... ooops did I goof up there?

Anyway, I know that after that I did finally issue a DIR command to find out if I could see anything or not on it.
I was stunned to see that the HDD was now only reading +/- 10,000 bytes free (according to DIR command) and there was only one file listed on it (don't_fully_remember_but_something.log was the file). The HDD had less than 60 GB of info on it before crashing.

Today, I finally tried to plug it as a slave on this running XP system. Whereby it used to contain two NTFS partitions, it now only lists one.

Partition Magic says of the partition that it's BAD and i've tried numerous data recovery programs. One of those tells me the HDD is formated in FAT12!!! WHAT!!!??????

I understand the partition has gone corrupt somehow in the process but why? I'd love to know...
Besides, what should I do to avoid such problems in the future from happening other than back-up my data more regularly (I've learned that much in the process lol).

Was I victim of spy/ad/malware, virus/worm or what???

What if I reformated the HDD in NTFS and THEN tried to salvage the information using data recovery software?

If you have read this far all the way through, you should be getting points just for your patience!

All your feedback is greatly appreciated.

Whoever can help me retreive info from this HDD will get 500. I'll try to award a decent number of points to whoever can come up with the most logical explanation as to why this happened (125 points or so).

Thanks ahead of time guys.

Pete in San Diego.
ps: Have you backed up your *entire* system today?????
XP shall NOT be trusted with me ever again.
Question by:pmarchessault
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LVL 93

Expert Comment

ID: 12398100
Well, surely i will not pretend to have an answer for you, just like that, but did you try these?

http://www.ontrack.com/easyrecoveryprofessional/              partition recovery

LVL 15

Expert Comment

ID: 12398541
First thing is first; When you run GHost for the 'first' time; it is creating an additional 'Active' partition and writes some management data on it so that next time the PC will reboot, it will start of the propper settings. My guess is that ether the driver or wrting to the drive went wrong thus unabling you to properly start the computer.
Just for the hang of it; in such cases, youed have to use any of the partition recovery or fixing tools (such as Microsoft's 'diskpart' utility or as suggested by nobus; a thrid party software such as the 'easy recovery' utility) to remark the active partotion along with deleting the GHOST created partition.

As for the rest of your post; I think my first part of the post clears what went wrong...

Now, how to recover data? Well, you started right by putting the device as slave in a well working Windows XP OS. Maybe its your lucky day and XP will indeed save you from all your problems; as opposed to your statements... hehehe

Step by step recovery procedures:
For this guide we will use the Microsofts builtin disk utility called 'diskpart', which is a strong and powerful utility (and you will discover its powers later this section):
1. Enter command prompt (Start => Run... => type 'cmd' and press 'Enter).
2. Within command prompt type 'diskpart' and press 'Enter'.
3. Type 'list disk' to view the list of the drives (along with your alledged 'cloned' drive).
4. Type 'select disk <the problematic drive's number>'.
5. Type 'list volume' to view the complete list of volumes on your computer. You may notice the FS on one of the volumes on that drive... and I think you can relax by seeing that only the volume created by syamntec is a FAT32. Write down the number of the volume and the partition it is existing in.
6. Type 'select partition' on where you saw that volume.
7. Type 'delete volume <the volume number created by Symantec>' and press 'Enter'.
8. Type 'Exit' twice to leave to Windows XP...

Try to boot the drive normally.

Do remember that deleting partitions and volumes may cause data loss... be sure of what you are doing.

Diskpart utility usage:

Good luck


Author Comment

ID: 12401926
Hi there Cyberdude,

Thanks for your answer. This diskpart utility seems to be very powerful.
I ran it and found the following:

No partition found for NSG2003 and the following:

Volume 0 | D | HP_Recovery | FAT32 | 5943 MB
Volume 1 | C | HP_Pavilion   | NTFS   | 227 GB
Volume 2 | E | <no label>    | FAT    | 233 GB

What I don't understand is that this is normally a 250 GB HDD, so 227 GB + 233 GB don't total to 250 GB... Totally weird.
I can I tell the drive that it never had a FAT partition in the first place. Maybe it doesn't... it just think it has?

Thanks again dude,

Veeam Disaster Recovery in Microsoft Azure

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Author Comment

ID: 12401938

I've checked Ontrak but the prices for the acquisition of this software seem to be out of this world... Like 1000$.
I'm not a business. This is just personnal information on that drive.

LVL 15

Expert Comment

ID: 12403569
The volumes listed above may include the second current running drive (the one you currently operate the OS from).

Can you 'list partition'?


Author Comment

ID: 12404176
No Cyber, these are just the volumes contained in disk 0 because I did a list disk and then select disk command.
Is it possible the NTFS partition might still be on there sort of encapsulated in the FAT12 partition????

Totally odd...

When I pull a properties in explorer, I get a size for the drive of only 10 MB
There's no partition listed with the list volume command that shows a 10 MB partition.

Tnx again
LVL 15

Accepted Solution

Cyber-Dude earned 2000 total points
ID: 12404308

Author Comment

ID: 12404466
Looks great so far Cyber.

Let me read it today and I'll try it.

You are great.
I'll close the question within the next 2 days max if it works.

Thanks so much,

LVL 15

Expert Comment

ID: 12404494
Glad I could help


Author Comment

ID: 12476322
I haven't had the chance to try the recovery Cyber but your help has directed me in the right direction.
Thank you so much for you assistance.

>>> EXPERTS-EXCHANGE: Would you mind giving 250 points to this guy please.
I don't think my HDD may be salvaged but his help has been valuable finding out what happened.

Thank you very much.

Author Comment

ID: 12635913
Thank you very much Cyber Dude... Your help was unvaluable.
Happy thanksgiving.

LVL 15

Expert Comment

ID: 12636761
Thanks, you too...


Expert Comment

ID: 33540531
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