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System disk lost drive letter

Hi,
I have a computer running winXP with an 80Gb SATA hard drive. Windows no longer boots, I get the screen that lets you choose 'last known good configuration' , 'safe mode' etc, but none of them boot into windows. It shows the splash screen but only goes so far before rebooting.

I have looked at the hard drive with another computer, and it seems that all the data is still OK.

I have run the setup disk and tried doing a repair installation (I think microsoft call it an in place upgrade), but when I get to the screen that lets me select the installation to repair, it shows the partition OK, but has no drive letter associated with it. It won't let me select this partition for a repair so it seems the only way out is a brand new installation.

Can anyone suggest a way to recover things without loosing my current installation?

Thanks,
Aidan.
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aidanjamesholmes
Asked:
aidanjamesholmes
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1 Solution
 
roadhog_NZCommented:
have you tried recovery console to fix the mbr, boot.ini etc?

if you can put the drive into another machine and read the data then i would do that first, check that boot.ini is correct, should read something like...

[boot loader]
timeout=30
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect /NoExecute=OptIn

using logical disk manager in compmgmt.msc check that the correct partition is set active
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aidanjamesholmesAuthor Commented:
roadhog,
Thanks for your reply, can you give me a few pointers on how to do this? Do I boot from CD into the recovery console to check boot.ini? if so, can you tell me what commands I need to use?

do any of these steps need to be performed using the second machine to view the disk?
Aidan.

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roadhog_NZCommented:
is the second machine handy? it would be handy to have the gui
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aidanjamesholmesAuthor Commented:
physically but not practically. I'm using it right now. I dual boot linux and windows on it. The windows installation needs the same 'repair' installation to get it going again, I don't think it'll be a problem on this computer except for loosing time.

So unless you can talk me through using the Linux gui (KDE) recovery console seems to be the way to go if it's possible.

I'm happy to do some reading myself (eg microsoft knowledge base) if you can help point me in the right direction. So I shouldn't need my hand held all the way (I hope!)
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roadhog_NZCommented:
http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/windows/xp/all/proddocs/en-us/bootcons_fixboot.mspx

i am assuming that this problem is cause by the windows partition not being active
i would start with checking the boot from recovery console, follow above link.
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aidanjamesholmesAuthor Commented:
When I ran Fixboot with c: , and again with no drive parameters I got the following error message:

Fixboot cannot find the system drive, or the drive specified is not valid

the command prompte was c:\> so I asked it to 'dir',  it responded with:

An error occured during directory enumeration.

Any more ideas?
-Aidan.
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roadhog_NZCommented:
so you can access recovery console....
have you tried fixmbr?
do you have a win98 boot floppy? fdisk is an easy way of viewing partition information,
i believe you can also do this with diskpart in recovery console.
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aidanjamesholmesAuthor Commented:
hmmmmm, damn thing is giving me problems loading the recovery console. It worked fine before. I'll keep trying and keep you posted.
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aidanjamesholmesAuthor Commented:
It was problems with my sata driver floppy :(

anyway, i got back into recovery console OK, fixmbr ran OK and said that the disk did not have a valid mbr and would I like to write a new one. I said yes and rebooted. It still restarted itself after a few seconds of the xp boot splashscreen.

When I run diskpart (from recovery console) it now shows the only partition on the drive as c:, which is an improvement. It still doesn't boot though. Perhaps now that it's showing a 'C' drive I can do a repair installation?

what do you recomment?
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roadhog_NZCommented:
sounds good, are you loading the sata floppy at the start of install?
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aidanjamesholmesAuthor Commented:
I just tried doing the 'repair' installation - the good news is that it recognised the C: partition as I'd hoped, but now it says that it can't recognise the filesystem ie - not NTFS and wants to format the disk.
This does not look good.
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roadhog_NZCommented:
how did this problem originate?
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aidanjamesholmesAuthor Commented:
Sorry missed one of your posts! Yes I'm hitting F6 while setup loads with the sata floppy in the drive. I downloaded the drivers from VIA and re-created the floppy, all is loading fine now (with regards to the  sata drivers anyway)

"how did this problem originate?"
just stopped booting one day, restarted halfway through the bootsplash and brought up the startup menu on subsequent boots (the one with safe mode etc).
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roadhog_NZCommented:
well if it doesnt recognise the filesystem, but you havent writen over it you should still be able to save the info with a recovery tool, perhaps now would be a good time to put in back in the other machine and try to save the info if you can?
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aidanjamesholmesAuthor Commented:
Roadhog,
Thanks for all your help, When all this started I backed things up with the second machine before doing anything else. I've decided to bite the bullet and do a brand new installation. I'll copy all the files back as soon as that's done. I wouldn't mind knowing what caused it though.
Thanks once again,
Aidan.
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roadhog_NZCommented:
guess we wont know now, be sure to check your hdd once its back up and running, perhaps a thorogh scandisk?
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