Can't see 2nd drive after Win2k reinstallation

Posted on 2004-11-20
Last Modified: 2010-04-14

I have been asked to access data that is currently on a second hard drive within the computer.  The hard part is that this data is not accessable using the normal means that Windows provides since the operating system was reinstalled.  I was told that since this data is precious, that he was scrupulously meticulous in not disturbing the data on the second drive.

The computer is a Dell Dimension XPS T800r.  It has two IDE drives, both are attached to a separate controller card.  There is also the obligatory CD and Floppy drives using IDE cables connected to the mobo.  Operating System is Windows 2000.

Here's the sequence of events as I have been told:
About 6 months or so ago, my customer got a virus on his computer.  To fix the problem, he did a complete and clean reinstall of the OS onto the first hard drive, and did nothing with the second hard drive because it has precious data on it.  The reinstallation completed successfully, but since then all data on the second hard drive cannot be accessed.  

From the Bios:
Primary IDE Master + Slave = None. (interesting, where are the hard drives?  this machine *does* boot up)
Secondary IDE Master = CRD-8482B-(SM)  (translation: LG 48X CD Rom)
Secondary IDE Slave = Yamaha CRW3200E-(SS) (translation: Yamaha 20x-24X CD Burner)

Outside the case:
On the back of the case, toward the bottom and below the parallel port, there are 4 lights lit.  The bottom 3 are green, the top one (4) is orange.  From past experience with Dell mobo's, this indicates a HW problem.

Inside the case:
There is a PCI controller card with 2 connectors, and 2 grey ribbon cables are going to a disk.  
The 2nd hard drive, mounted just below the floppy drive, is making a buzzing/ whining sound.  (never a good sign...)

I've removed the 2nd hard drive, the one with the precious data on it, and installed it in an exterior disk caddy, so I can connect it to my known-good computer and work with this disk as a peripheral thing.  When I connect this disk, my known good computer does see the new device connected (good), and there is an entry added to the hardware device manager under hard disks (good), however there is no drive letter associated with this disk device in the Windows Explorer (not so good).  

However, when I connect the "other" disk in through the caddy, the disk is (also) seen but a drive letter *is* assigned to this disk, and I can navigate around using the Windows Explorer just fine.  

Does anyone know of a way to directly access this disk, perhaps through some tool?  Is there some sort of *nix equivalent to fsck, that can re-SANE-itize a disk?

Note that the data is the thing that is precious, and the disk is making not-so-good sounds, so a reasonable alternative is to burn a CD using a read-only disk as source.

Comments, suggestions, thoughts?

Question by:ChrisEddy
    LVL 9

    Assisted Solution


    you can use utilities on a download of koppix, google for it and the instructions to make a bootable cd will tell you how.

    hope that this helps
    LVL 3

    Author Comment

    Thank you for the tip!  I will!

    Since the posting, I've located something called StellarPhoenix from, and have started the analyze process using the demo version.  

    A unique is that the documentation says I can save the result of the scan of 234 million sectors to a file, for use later after buying the product, and not have to rescan all over again.  This, me thinks, is cool because it allows for a trial to see if their recovery can work, and to pay for it if it can return meaningful data.  Or at least meaningful directory information..

    I've looked into Knoppix, and it's a Debian Linux distro that can boot up off of the CD, which is a nice touch.  The documentation makes reference to "that other filesystem", a veiled, "he who must not be named" reference to NTFS.  But the support is via SMB.  Problem is,  I think I'm dealing with a damaged thing that I think used to be an NTFS disk, but I'm not sure.  And I don't think that SMB will be able to access the disk data better than an MSFT OS, and I suspect that the NTFS related disk surgery tools on Linux will not be as good as an MSFT OS based tool because of a smaller market.

    I've been running the scan for about .5H, and I'm up to 2.6 million.  It's a 111G drive, so it's (sob!) expected to take a while.  I'll report status when finished.

    LVL 30

    Assisted Solution

    by:Wayne Barron
    The hard drive that is "Whining/Whistling" is about to go bad, or is already bad.
    Thus the reason why you cannot see the drive in Explorer, or that a drive letter is not assigned
    To it.
    We had a drive in our Web Server that for about 8 months had been making the same noises
    But then started to 'Click' as well.
    The drive got to the point to where when opening [My Computer]
    The drive would take for ever to load.

    Since this drive was the one that held:
    All Web Site
    E-Mail Server Profiles for 5 domain 1,000 Users.

    We had to back it up and restore onto another drive.
    We was able to do so, but took 5 times the given time to move Data from that drive to the
    Other drive that we installed strictly for the backup and to run the servers again.

    Once we completed the Backup, which was a total of 1.5Gigs
    Taken over 9-1/2hrs to backup, due to the drive was so badly damaged, But not
    Corrupted. (Luckily) We then ran the Utilities Diagnostics check on the drive.
    It was in fact bad, and was unrecoverable.

    Most utility programs by the manufacture. Will allow you to run a Scan on the drive.
    Without loosing any data. The only time that you will loose the data during the process.
    Of the Utility, is if you choose to "Format" the drive.

    Check on the Manufactures web site, and download the "Disk Utility" program.
    that will install onto a Bootable Floppy.
    Run the program, and diagnose the drive, to see if it can be repaired.

    LVL 3

    Author Comment

    Ack on the indication that the disk is about to bad!  Note that over time, the sound emanating from the disk is safely back into the normal range.  However, I do continue to maintain a high level of suspicion that this disk is physically bad until proven otherwise.  Plus the data is off ...

    I've been scanning the disk using Stellar Phonenix.  Bad news: the scan rate is something less than stellar, and at about the 50% done and running for about 1.5 days straight, the program became unresponsive.  I allowed it to stay in that state for about 20 minutes, on the outside possibility that the program would regain it's sanity and continue where it left off without losing 1.5 days worth of disk scanning data.  But did it?  Noooo!   Well, we all have hopes.  I eventually terminated the program, electrically and gracefully shutdown and restarted the computer for good measure, and restarted the program.  Note that there is an interesting coincidence that my cat jumped up on my desk right next to the open and exposed hard drive on it at the approximate time that the disk stopped being scanned by the unresponsive program.  Cute little furry that she is, let's just say the cat has been banished from my office until further notice.

    The scanner has been running since about 10:45P last night, and has completed 82.05 million sectors out of 234.444 million sectors, about 35% done.  Barring another unresponsive episode, the estimated time of completion is: Thursday morning at about 11AM.

    LVL 30

    Accepted Solution

    Sounds like when I ran the "Maxtor Disk Utility" on my Drive from my Server.
    It took about 9hrs for it to check it, Only to get at the very end of it,
    And flash a message that it could not continue. The disk had become unreadable.
    So, on the shelf it went. (Do I throw away my old drives? Heck No, Never know when
    And what they will come in handy for ;-) )

      The program-utility that you are using, with the estimated time of completion.
    Should only be about 10hrs top.
    If it is estimated at around Thursday.
    And you let it run that long, you will take the chance of the following accuring.

    Processor Over Heating <--  Open the case and put a "House Fan" blowing into the Case.
    This will keep everything cool during the Massive Over-Load.

    Unresponsive --> Which you have already experienced.
    Win2k is the most reliable OP out their, but Hardware faults, are just that,
    And Win2k cannot operate when Hardware faults come into play,
    This could cause you to have to do another Reinstall after this is completed.
    If you let it run the entire process.
    As your Disk0 will become heavily corrupted from this process.
    Make sure you run "Disk Defrag" after you are completed.

    Power Supply Over Heating <-- Make sure that there is no dirt, lint around the power supply
    Fan (Outside of case) so that it can continue to breath properly.

    Memory Usage going sky high --> Memory usage will go out the roof. during this long
    drawn out process, Make sure you keep an eye on it, and do not let it max out.
    And also keep an eye on the "Not enough Virtual Memory" popups.
    As they may occur during the final sessions of this process.
    And if this happens, you take a chance of a "Memory Dump..i.e. Blue Screen of Death"
    So if you wake up and the system is ready for you to "Login" Then check the "Event Viewer"
    For "Memory.dmp" information.

    Good luck, and be cautious and gentle with your system over the next few days.
    you are attempting to do something that the system is not going to like.

    LVL 3

    Author Comment

    Ack on the fears of waiting until the end of a long and drawn out process only to be told: nope!

    The machine is a Dell Inspiron 8600 notebook, one of the best friggen notebooks I've ever put my hands on, and I own it!
    It's a Centrino box, so it tends to run pretty cool.
    The processor fan is off, which is a good sign any way you slice it.
    The subject disk is out of the caddy and resting on top.  It's definitely more exposed to the elements and other furries, but that exposure allows heat to escape, which is a really good thing.
    The OS doing the scanning is XP Pro with all updates applied.

    My experience with the robustness of the OS is that it's pretty good, although I have definitely experienced times of data loss from NTFS.  Gimme ext3 with journaling anyday!

    I have zero concern that a disk drive being scanned and becoming unresponsive will cause adverse reactions to my C drive.

    When the scanning process became unresponsive, both memory and processor consumption were within normal parameters.  Memory was at about 20%, and cpu consumption at about 0.

    The notebook has .5G of memory.  If I run out of memory, I'm working too hard.

    On defragging using the built in defragger, my general position is that it's a placebo.  I've yet to find or hear about an NTFS tool that will reorganize the disk such that all of the directories are at the front of the disk, and the data areas come after.

    Ack on driving things harder than they usually are!  My biggest concern has been the temperature of the hard drive rising as it's being scanned continually, and is much less of a concern since I removed the disk from the caddy and exposed it to unencumbered room air.  

    This is not a server disk, but a homeowner grade disk.  Granted the MTBF is measured in 6 digits, but Murphy's law is alive and well and visits me from time to time.  I try to keep plenty of snacks around the office, because I ever know when Mr. Murphy is going to get the crunchies.

    Ack on the reminder to check the event log after a strange thing thing occurs, like spontaneous rebooting!

    Btw: the scan is at now sector 91.12 million of 234.44 million.

    LVL 30

    Assisted Solution

    by:Wayne Barron

      Like the post.
    I wish you best of luck, in hopes that the software will let you know something.
    But have you tried going over to the Manufactor web site and reading up on their
    Diagnostic Utilities?
      They are much more robost then the one that you are currently using,
    And it is free.

      Anyway, keep us informed on the progress.
    And make sure you blow on the drive every once in a while for better breathing ;-)

    Take Care
    LVL 3

    Author Comment


    170 out of 234 million sectors scanned, about 73% done.
    ... but at least the scanner hasn't gone unresponsive.

    LVL 30

    Assisted Solution

    by:Wayne Barron
    Good deal.,
    Getting their. Just hope that the output of the Data is good news.
    LVL 3

    Author Comment


    I apologize for not reporting status sooner, but there was a family emergency that needed to take precedence.

    After about 3 days of scanning the disk continuously, the process completed.  Some data was found, and some of it is just plain strange.  

    Much of the data consists of separate files, which usually have a descriptive name that relates to the intended, but also usually is in a folder with a mechanically generated name.  Also, some of the timestamps are truly wild, eg: a 5 digit year, but it's good to know that XP won't be obsoleted in the future.  ;-)  ... ehem.

    Next step is to purchase the data recovery tool, recover the data, burn CD's containing the data, and return the lot of it back to my customer, who is currently in a mode of becoming impatient to get the data (I don't blame him) but not quite understanding that there are limitations to data recovery (I've been working on this).

    I'll report status after purchasing the tool and recovering the data.

    LVL 3

    Author Comment


    Here are my results so far.

    I purchased the data recovery tool and referenced the file I saved the scan results to.  Unfortunately, the application reported that this file was not a valid scan data file.  Apparently, there was a version change over time, and the old format is not compatible with the new format they are using.

    However, running a fresh scan took about 6 hours rather than the 2.5 days before, a huge relief.  Directory/ folder names were recovered as normal names, rather than unfriendly and uninformative numerically generated folder names.  I checked the content of some of the files and all the ones I checked were fine.  

    Some of the recovered files were larger than a CD.  So what I did was to find a modestly sized hard drive that I already had, reformat it, copied the recovered data to that disk, and called my customer to advise him of apparently positive recovery status and to arrange for a datetime of delivery.  I reminded him that perfect data recovery should not be expected, since the disk was hurt by some unknown something, and some sections of files may be corrupt or missing.  However, the recovery of the files he considered precious looked good.  I left the disk with him to browse and review the data, and decide whether this is good data or not, which he agreed to do.  Currently, his smile factor is pretty good.

    I will call him later today to ask him what his findings were, and report status here.


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