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Invalid System Disk (Many Lost Clusters)

Posted on 2006-04-11
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Last Modified: 2010-04-13
I am working on a client's PC in order to try and rescue data.  I'm getting the "Invalid System Disk..." message on bootup, with no CDs or Floppys present.  BIOS correctly recognizes the hard drive and partition utilities correctly recognize the single partition on the drive.  The system is bootable with a 98 startup disk and a dir of the C drive lists only 2 folders and 0 files, including "Windows," which has zero contents.  I scanned for viruses using McAfee viruscan in a BART PE environment and it came up clean.  ScanDisk shows 600,000+ Lost Clusters, which I assume is the bulk of the 11GB which partition utilities (Partition Magic) shows as being used (30GB drive).

I tried running a program called Hard Disk Mechanic, with no results (and I also used this program's Restore utility afterwards to reverse any changes).  The drive is not making any strange noises, BUT, the Western Digital drive tester program shows an error 0356, indicating a need to replace the drive.  However, I am not convinced that this means the drive is totally gone at the moment (data still retrievable?)

I am thinking that maybe a virus or something else may have messed up the FAT, although ScanDisk doesn't list a problem with the FAT, only the lost clusters.

Please help!  I need to save this client's data.

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Question by:code_wzrd
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by:Irwin Santos
Irwin Santos earned 400 total points
ID: 16424846
uh.....Windows 2000 is NTFS, and you booted with Win98 (fat32)...so if you ran scandisk with Win98..you "may" have trashed the file system.

install the drive on an XP or a 2k machine with NTFS.. can you view the contents then?

If so, good shape, copy 1 or 2 files that should be readable by the hosting computer...looks ok?  then copy the entire contents off the drive.  If the WD drive tester reports bad..it is...so get the data off right away.
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by:Irwin Santos
ID: 16424848
oh yeah.. replace the drive.. it's bad.
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by:code_wzrd
ID: 16424908
Sorry.  I believe I ran the ScanDisk in the BART PE (XP?), and only found the lost clusters which I exited before fixing, so we may still be ok (I hope)?

I will try your suggestions and report back--thanks for the quick response.
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by:rindi
ID: 16424944
You should be able to put the HD into another PC as a 2nd HD and get your data off with getdataback.

http://runtime.org

After that try the WD tool to zero -fill or lowlevel format the drive, then check it again for error messages. If they return, you need to replace the disk.
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by:Zaheer Iqbal
ID: 16425553
need to run chkdsk /r on the disk 1st..
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by:code_wzrd
ID: 16433777
Small update:

I put the HD into another PC that is running XP/NTFS.  It reads the drive, but with almost zero data in the same two folders.  However, XP built-in DiskManager shows 27GB total space and 16GB used on the disk in question, with a FAT32 file system.  This used space is what I'm trying to get at.  Footnote:  I found some checkdisk files (saved lost clusters, but only about 3GB).  Hopefully the data that I'm looking for is located in the remaining used space.  Is there a utility that will change these converted lost clusters back to usable files?

I'm going to try the "GetDataBack" utility after creating a backup Ghost image of the bad drive for safety.

We'll see how it goes, shortly.
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rindi earned 1600 total points
ID: 16433909
Since getdataback doesn't write to the disk you are trying to recover from (it allways copies the files it finds from there to another location, so you need another disk to copy to), it isn't necessary to ghost before using that tool. The downloaded utility will first scan the disk and then show you what is recoverable, you can only actually recover that data when you buy the software. It may even be able to recover the chkdsk files properly then.

The following tool might help, otherwise:

http://www.sharewareguide.net/Utilities/System-Utilities/flobo-chk-identifier.html

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by:code_wzrd
ID: 16451792
GetDataBack worked great.

Thanks to all for the suggestions.
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by:rindi
ID: 16451970
your welcome.
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by:Irwin Santos
ID: 16454062
Cool. thank you!
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