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Hard drive suddenly wont boot

Posted on 2006-05-02
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Last Modified: 2010-04-25
I am having an extremely frustrating problem. I recieved a desktop from a customer yesterday to work on. I booted it up and it came up fine. This morning i took the drive out to back it up on one of my other machines and even though it recognized the drive, it didnt show it as having any file format. When i tried to explore the drive it asked me to format it. I know the drive works cause i just booted it yesterday. Could this be a jumper issue? I suspected the drive to have a virus yesterday but i didnt think that it would suddenly render the drive unusable. Please help if u can, i am very frustrated with this problem.
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Question by:bostonstaus
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by:
triceice earned 400 total points
ID: 16588464
There are a lot of problems that could cause this. First make sure the drive is cool enough. When you try booting it up do you hear any noise? If so then it might have head problems. The other problem is that is could have a corrupted partition or MFT which would make it unreadable to the BIOS. Have you tried a partition diagnosis program like Spinrite to check the disk? http://www.grc.com/sr/spinrite.htm
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by:ganongj
ganongj earned 400 total points
ID: 16588472
Just wondering why you chose to back it up on another machine?  Most virus removal utilities will work on the existing computer and you should be able to remove the virus (if there is one) on the original computer.  You didn't mention what o.s., assuming it's xp, are you using ntfs on both computers?  Please let us know more details, thanks,

Jim
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by:bostonstaus
ID: 16588641
We always back up our customers hard drives on a seperate machine incase something happens or incase we need to reload windows on the drive, we will have the data to put back on their drive. Its using xp pro. its a maxtor drive. its using ntfs on both.
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by:Callandor
Callandor earned 400 total points
ID: 16588696
You should be able to verify whether it's a jumper issue by looking at the jumper positions, but I don't think an improperly jumpered drive would cause what you are seeing.  Do you know if the customer was using a special overlay program for his hard drive, which would render it unreadable except by a system booted with it?
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by:bostonstaus
ID: 16589780
No, its just a  basic hard drive used by a camp ground. Nothing special being used on it. Thats why its so frustrating.
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by:Craig_200X
Craig_200X earned 400 total points
ID: 16591345
why was the machine brought in ? sounds like the hd crapped out and you got your hand on it last.
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by:bostonstaus
ID: 16591577
i went out to look at it. it had alot of spyware on it and possibly a virus. i didnt have time to mess with it there so i just brought it back to the shop. that was yesterday afternoon. this morn i went to back up the drive and blah. nothing.
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by:Mark
Mark earned 400 total points
ID: 16592924
Will it startup if put back in the original machine, or is it non-responsive  there too. If you can get it up on the original machine try the backup with a portable drive or over a network connection.
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by:bostonstaus
ID: 16596481
It wont start on the original machine either. Along with needing to get the data off the drive, i am very frustrated as to how this could have happend. My boss is now going to blame me for this problem when all i did was take it out of one computer and install it in another. I definetly need to find an answer to how this happened regardless of whether i get the data back or not. I am probably going to purchase that spinrite for my own personal use incase this ever happens again.
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by:bostonstaus
ID: 16596532
I am looking into tips such as frezzing the drive or other things to try to get the data off of it. Since its not showing any file system when i install it in another computer, im not sure that will work.
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by:triceice
ID: 16596549
I asked earlier do you hear any noise from the drive when it powers on? Do you hear the disks spin up? Any racket? When you try booting it up do you hear any noise, like a clicking? If so then it might have head problems. The other problem is that is could have a corrupted partition or MFT which would make it unreadable to the BIOS. Have you tried a partition diagnosis program like Spinrite to check the disk? http://www.grc.com/sr/spinrite.htm
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by:triceice
ID: 16596552
That program will help you recover the data off of the drive
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by:bostonstaus
ID: 16596572
It doesnt make any noise when it boots up. Very quiet. Just doesnt seem to be able to find any data. Its acting like a brand new drive right out of the box with no file system. I am going to purchase spinrite in the hopes that it can help. Not sure i will be reimbursed for it from my work but if it keeps me out of fire on this one it will be worth it.
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by:triceice
ID: 16596576
Just saw your added comment. First you need to find out if it actually spins up. If it does you will want to make sure to keep it really cool and you can use Spinrite to fix the partitions. But if it does not spin up then you can't get data off of it. So plug it in to a computer so that you can listen to it. Tell me what you hear. That is the first place to start.
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by:bostonstaus
ID: 16596593
I am for sure that it spins up, I can feel it when its running.
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by:triceice
ID: 16596677
Did you hear any other noises from it except a smooth hum? Then download Spinrite from http://www.grc.com/sr/spinrite.htm. It does cost but you buy it once and you will use a hundred times. If any information is readable on the drive it will find it. It can do a great job of repairing any issues found too. I have used to repair a lot of drives with the smae symptons as you are having. But remember to keep the drive cool.
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by:bostonstaus
ID: 16596836
My boss is tryin all he knows at the moment to get the data off. Im sure he will not try spinrite until he knows all his other methods fail. Personally i would like to just use the spinrite now and get it over with cause i am confident that it will recover the data. I ran a maxtor test on the drive and it passed fine. So i know that physically the drive is ok. I cant figure out what could of caused this to happen.
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by:triceice
ID: 16596877
Well tell your boss to stop just in case. Spinrite will repair the drive very well without the chance of damage.
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by:bostonstaus
ID: 16596909
I will "tell" him to stop and he will "tell" me to go away, lol. He is a retired navy vet and is very stubborn, i guess ill just have to wait it out till he decides to take my advice. In the mean time i am going to do lots of research to find out how a drive can lose its file system after putting it into another computer.
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by:Craig_200X
ID: 16596988
I have had this problem and running Stellar fat/ntfs recovery sw I was able to restore almost all of it. reformat the drive and recopy back onto it.. the drive is still running 8 years now. love western digital.

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by:bostonstaus
ID: 16597038
What is Stellar fat/ntfs recovery? I assume its a recovery program? This drive is a maxtor. Where can i get this program and is it similar to spinrite?
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by:bostonstaus
ID: 16597243
my boss thinks that it had a virus on it and the virus started a format on the drive. He thinks the trigger was it being plugged into another machine. I am going to send him the link to spinrite and see what he thinks about it. I am hopeful that even if a virus started a format, the data thats left can still be recoverd.
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by:bostonstaus
ID: 16598022
I am going to use spinrite for it now. Any idea if it will recover data from a drive with no file system?
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by:triceice
ID: 16598362
And I doubt you have a virus that would format the drive, more than likely it just has a corrupted MFT or partition. It should recover the file system.
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by:triceice
ID: 16598434
Here is another set a programs you maybe able to try. http://bootmaster.filerecovery.biz/ 
But the comment about your boss needing to stop is because all recovery programs work by reading the partition info from the drive and then figuring out what is missing from it to make it work, then they sort of fill in the blanks to fix it. But if too many pieces are missing because someone has been trying to recover the drive with some program that writes to the drive in an unsafe way they won't work.
Your comment about it seeming to be a brand new drive is often a symptom of the MFT or partition table being corrupted.
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by:bostonstaus
ID: 16598549
I ran spinrite on it twice and it couldnt get any data. I guess somehow the drive got formatted. Thats the only thing i can figure out. If so it must of done it itself.
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by:triceice
ID: 16598607
Did you get any error or bad sectors?
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by:bostonstaus
ID: 16598641
no errors or bad sectors i have to pick drive 0, its also listing the c drive but says it cant read it. ask me to make sure its online or ready. when it tries to read it i just get clicks for a few sec then it tells me it cant read it. it scans drive 0 which it lists as 40g correctly. scans 1-64 but cant read sector 0. shows no data but also no errors or bad sectors.
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by:triceice
ID: 16598671
If you are hearing clicks from the bad drive then you may have a problem with the heads in the drive. A head crash basically means that the read/write heads no longer float above the drive but ride on it. Sometimes you can still get data from it by making the drive cold, put it in a freeze for 20-30 minutes then try to read from it with Spinrite, all the while keeping it as cold as possible. That has worked for me once in the past.
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by:Callandor
ID: 16598672
Try GetDataBack from www.runtime.org - it won't write to the drive and possibly make it worse.  If you are able to see files, you will have to pay a small fee to save them, but this is one of the best data recovery programs out there.
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by:bostonstaus
ID: 16598677
i am new to spinrite so i may be reading the results wrong. there are several screens to look at.
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by:triceice
ID: 16598689
Good one Callandor! I forgot about them.
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by:centrepc
ID: 16601359
When you plug a drive into another system that system will want to run chkdsk on the drive and if you don't esc out before doing so the chkdsk can see all files and folders as being corrupt and start deleting everything on that drive.  This could be one explanation for the all of sudden missing files.  Did you watch the system boot up after the drive was installed or was that time for a break.  If you just walked away as it booted up it could of been deleting all the files without you knowing it was going on.  

Ontrack data recovery software is expensive but it has worked many times for me when other utilities have failed.  I think there is a free version that will tell you if any files can be recovered and then you have to pay.  

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by:bostonstaus
ID: 16601395
Well, after a long day if trying to recover data, its too late. Nothing worked so we just reinstalled an o/s on the drive since it seems to be ok except for the missing file system. thanks for all the help. i may have not saved that data but i learned alot.
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