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TestDisk finds external USB HD partitions correctly, yet Windows XP reports "The parameter is incorrect." when trying to browse.

Posted on 2004-10-31
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Last Modified: 2008-01-09
I have a Dell 5150 that I partitioned into 3 user partitions.  There *MAY* be that special Dell utility partition, i honestly can not remember. I ran into some problems when installing Symantec Systemworks and GoBack that resulted in the partition tables getting wiped (i ended up with one large partition that spanned the entire drive).

I have removed the harddrive from the Dell and I am attempting partition recovery and data backup onto
a clean machine via a USB HD enclosure.  TestDisk (as mentioned in a few of the articles here) has been able to
relocate 3 partitions (and has the correct partition names), and upon browsing the file system through TestDisk
seems to be correct.  I have updated the partion table with Testdisk.

A few more data points:
1. The SIZE listed in TestDisk does not appear to be correct. Example, the C drive is being shown as 30Gig, but it is really 14 Gig.  Testdisk seems to be showing each volume at about 2x the size expected.
2. The volume labels are all correct (3 volume labels) - System, Application, Data
3. Windows XP Pro Disk Management shows 3 partitions of CORRECT size (14G, 9G, 32G).
4. The MIDDLE Partition (APPLICATION) is 100% readable by Windows.
6. I do not believe the disk to by physically damaged.
7. I am able to perform data extraction via R-Studio.
8. My goal is to rebuild the partition table so that all 3 partitions are correctly identifiable by my other computer.
5. I have also used R-Studio (A Data recover program) to scan for partitions. Four partitions were found that R-Studio considers to be "good" .... It matches the 14G, 9G, 32G break down for the first two partitions, but shows the last partition as slighly smaller (hard to tell since its rounded to the nearest 10th of a gig), but shows 14G, 9G, 1.5MB, 32G.  It is able to enumerate the file system for all partitions based on this brakedown.

Any suggestions how to restore my harddrive to a working state?
 
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Question by:sbrown2k
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16 Comments
 
LVL 15

Expert Comment

by:Cyber-Dude
ID: 12461198
Did you try to run 'chkdsk' on that drive?

Cyber
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LVL 12

Assisted Solution

by:zvitam
zvitam earned 100 total points
ID: 12461517
"Parameter is incorrect" error it means you have lost the filing system.

You might be able to retrieve your data using utilities like GetDataBack from http://www.runtime.org

After you retreive your data RMA your HDD.

Good luck,
Zvitam.
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LVL 1

Author Comment

by:sbrown2k
ID: 12461582
Cyber - I did not want to run chkdsk on the drive as I am concerned that it will be a brute force destructive process.  I believe my partition table is NOT setup correctly, as TestDisk *IS* able to read the drive correctly and peruse the file system.  I am trying to debug the discrepency between TestDisk and Window's XPs version of reality.  The middle partition being 100% operational is the indication of that (at least to me).  I dont want to modify file system indices/allocation tables until the Partition Table is 100% repaired or damage will occur for sure.
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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:Physicistm
ID: 12461585
I agree with zvitam, best suggestion is to save all the data you can, then just format the hard drive (Low level) and after that recreate partitions that you need with clean XP instalation disc. sounds like the bast solution to me.

Anything else might be just a waste of time

Hope this helps you out

Good luck ...
0
 
LVL 1

Author Comment

by:sbrown2k
ID: 12461599
Zvitam -

I am interested in solutions that allow my to succesfully rebuild the partition tables.  I do not believe the file system is damaged, just the partition table.  See above comments about TestDisk. I am also able to read the file system and do data extraction via R-Studio. (see 7 above).  The hard drive does not need to be returned, as it is not physically damaged.  The computer crashed while updating the partition table and thus wiped the partition table.  All file extraction programs I have
tried have been able to read and write the file systems on all 3 partitions with no problems.  If I am able to repair the p.t. I will most likely run SpinRite (from GRC) on it to be safe.
0
 
LVL 1

Author Comment

by:sbrown2k
ID: 12461615
I agree this is a solution, but not a realistic one for me.  It is a last resort.  I am an american software engineer currently working overseas on short term contract. Having to restore my ENTIRE tool set would be a major pain in the rear.  As I am currently waiting for Dell to repair the laptop (which was the source of this problem initially), I have about a week in which to exhaust all possibilities.  If I have not repaired the drive in that time then I will wipe it, but it means having to reload about 30 programs from backups, have CDs sent out from the US, etc etc.
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LVL 15

Expert Comment

by:Cyber-Dude
ID: 12461648
Im all for zvitam methodology but consider the following:

chkdsk may damage your hard drive if you run it to automaticlly fix drives errors:
chkdsk /R /I /C

Also, I found a great partition manager for you to be able editing:
http://www.snapfiles.com/get/ranish.html

Cyber
0
 
LVL 1

Author Comment

by:sbrown2k
ID: 12464672
I am going to try some more partition recovery tools, unless someone has any better ideas.
0
 
LVL 15

Assisted Solution

by:Cyber-Dude
Cyber-Dude earned 800 total points
ID: 12465105
Actually, there is an idea;

1. Download Knoppix, the latest version and Burn it to a CD (It is an ISO file).
2. Boot your computer using that Knoppix CD (It will recognize all drives and devices).
3. Commit the following steps:
http://www.shockfamily.net/cedric/knoppix/

This is a great article on how to recover systems (hard drives and forth) in a safe way and an easy manner.

Cyber
0
 
LVL 4

Accepted Solution

by:
tmireles earned 100 total points
ID: 12465282
You could try partion magic and try and recreate your partitions with that.  My guess is that the GoBack software messed up your partition table.  I have had very bad luck with that program.  I think it is a piece of junk.  I would recommend not using that after you get your problem fixed.

Good Luck.

0
 
LVL 15

Assisted Solution

by:Cyber-Dude
Cyber-Dude earned 800 total points
ID: 12465558
Could be;
Theres a nice utility I am personaly experienced with is the Active Partition Recovery;
http://www.partition-recovery.com/

But Im all for more creative solutions:
:)

Cyber
0
 
LVL 1

Author Comment

by:sbrown2k
ID: 12470482
Rather than try recovery from the USB eclosure, I am going to install the messed up hd in another computer and boot using the boot cd from www.ultimatebootcd.com, and try the partition tools there.

It has testdisk, ranish, Active Partition Recovery, etc.
hopefully one of them will work.  I couldnt use this CD before since it doesnt recognize (or I didnt tell it how to recognize) the USB drive.  I was limited to programs that would run under windows, but no more .... Lets see how that works.
0
 
LVL 15

Expert Comment

by:Cyber-Dude
ID: 12470572
Good luck
:)

Cyber
0
 
LVL 1

Author Comment

by:sbrown2k
ID: 12495144
All right as far as I can tell the partition info is correct. It may be the NTFS headers that are corrupt.  The Windows Recovery Console cant read it and doesnt even recognize it as ntfs, but all the ntfs reader utilities can parse the directory and read it just fine .... <sigh>
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LVL 1

Author Comment

by:sbrown2k
ID: 12503232
A few things learned.
Testdisk reports size in sectors, not mb, which accounts for the discrepancy between partition table sizes reported.
Second, afterrunning SpinRite i was able to get my C Drive back.  
E drive had its boot sector destroyed, which I was unable to recover.
0
 
LVL 1

Author Comment

by:sbrown2k
ID: 12611475
Answer: "The Parameter is Incorrect" refers to the fact that the BOOT SECTOR on the file system was trashed. Fixing this (by copying the backup boot sector) fixes the drive. My backup copy was trashed too so there was nothing I could do.
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