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XP System Suddenly not bootable ... Unknown partition ... but partitally boots

Posted on 2006-10-30
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
Ok,  I need some ideas on how to fix this, and some idea on what miight have caused this.

My wife was burning a DVD when the system blue-screened.
It rebooted and then comes up with an un-mountable boot partition ... but this is part way through the loading of the OS.
So despite its claim to be an unknwn partition, the system sees it and starts the boot process, I can press F5 and watch it load the drivers until it gets to the AGP driver and then up comes the error.

I tried running the install disk.
I booted into console mode and did a fixmbr.  It tells me it is an unknown partition, I tell it to go ahead and fix it and it claims to fix it.  I reboot and it has the same problem.  Oh, it does not list any files on the C drive when I boot this way, despite their being accessible during the partial boot.

I booted into the install to try a repair and it shows me an unknown partition so the only option is to format ... NOT an option ... I NEED what is on the disk.

From the partial boot up I get the feeling the contents of the disk are there (otherise it wouldn't be able to boot this far and be trying to load the OS) but there is some issue with the partition type or something so that the OS isn't reading the files correctly.

So, again ... any ideas on how to fix this and what might have caused this to happen?
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Question by:cj_1969
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by:Bartender_1
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Have you tried running the chkdsk.exe command from the console?

I'd recommend trying "chkdsk /f" on the drive.

Hope this helps!

:o)

Bartender_1
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by:cj_1969
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FYI ... machine is at home ... I will only get short chances to work on it during the evenings (tomorrow being halloween, probably no time tomorrow) ... but please help me out here ... I need to get this fixed.  
I would normally try a bunch of stuff first but as I said, I don't have a lot of time to work on this so I need good ideas right away ... especially if you have had this problem or seen this problem and fixed it before.

Thanks again!
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by:cj_1969
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As the install CD views the partition on the drive as unknown I don't think running a chkdsk with a fix is going to help ... this appears to be at a lower level than the contents of the disk ... the partition itself seems to have issues and I don't think chkdsk does and work against the MBR and partition itself.
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by:Bartender_1
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I assumed that you would be able to run chkdsk seeing as you were able to run fixmbr.

If you are unable to run a chkdsk, you could try this software for recovering partitions:
http://www.ptdd.com/rpt.htm

Hope this helps!

:o)

Bartender_1
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by:netsmithcentral
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The install CD viewing the partition as unknown seems to suggest a corruption in your MFT.  chkdsk /r (as bartender_1 reccommended) will attempt to rewrite the corrupt portions of your MFT.
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by:cj_1969
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Cool ... I'll give it a try!
This is why I love this place  :)
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by:FriarTuk
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after doing chkdsk /r
do:
fixboot
fixmbr
bootcfg /rebuild
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/291980/        "xp bootcfg"
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by:cj_1969
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Ran the chkdsk last night ... haven't had time to test anything ... was still running when I went to bed.
FriarTuk, will try the those commands also ... ran them before the chkdsk but it makes sense to run them afterwards.  Didn't know about the bootcfg ... cool little app, based onthe link.

Thanks all!  I hope this will get it going.

Any one know what causes these problems?  Should I be ordering a new HD or is this just normal random corruption?  Boy that last statement is a scary thing to say!
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Calmar46 earned 200 total points
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Sounds as if you have one partition on your HDD and no partitioning software with which to examine the drive. If the REPAIR function on the Windows CDR doesn't see your partition there must be serious partition table issues. I am about to recommend a piece of software that I have not had the occasion to use, so study the website carefully. I know of others who have had success in recovering unbootable partitions.

In your case you may need to obtain or create a DOS boot disk so that the software can run. It is called Test Disk and can be found at http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk. It is open source software.

Please note that I cannot guarantee results. If you can find a way to preserve the files in the partition you would be ahead of the game.
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by:cj_1969
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Ok, latest update ...
chkdsk is telling me there is an unrecoverable error and stops scanning at 75%.
Any ideas what is happening and what my next steps are to fix it or am I on to a new hard drive and data recovery?
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by:Bartender_1
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If chkdsk finds an unrecoverable error, I would recommend data recovery and a new disk.

For data recovery, I've had great success with GetDataBack by http://www.runtime.org

Hope this helps!

:o)

Bartender_1
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by:FriarTuk
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by:Calmar46
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Perhaps the cleanest solution would be just recovering the data and tossing the HDD (unless you have some warranty protection <grin>). Toward that end I suggest plugging in a new slave drive and using a DVD bootable O/S to read and transfer the data from the failing drive to the new. Direct your attention to the following website for a potential rescue solution:

http://www.nu2.nu/pebuilder/
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by:Calmar46
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Since my last comment, I had a disaster. While trying to change the size of the pagefile, I lost XP (still boots but with a blank monitor). Using Bart PE, I was able to bring up a file manager and view all partitions, thereby preserving all of the latest data, necessary because my image backup was three months old. I can now heartily recommend this software.
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by:Bartender_1
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BartPE is great. You can get the GetDataBack plugins for BartPE from here:
http://runtime.org/peb.htm

:o)

Bartender_1
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by:cj_1969
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Calmar46 ... downloaded the latest TestDisk ... this is working amazingly and fast.
I'll split the point for all that helped but Calmar46 is getting the majority ... its free and working !

Thanks all!
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by:cj_1969
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Just an FYI ... after installing a new HD and OS and recovering my data ... the old drive started working again, I have no idea why!  
Just thought you should know ... apparently SOMETHING fixed the problem.  It will now boot and all the data is there.
I'm still running off the new drive, I just don't trust the old one now.

based on this I'm going to assign points more evenly across the responses since the data recovery was important BUT something also fixed the old drive.

Thanks everyone for your help!  

Still ... anyone know what causes this?  Just random corruption tht is unpreventable or bad drivers or virus?
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