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ME machine died: Invalid cluster 15175

Posted on 2006-11-13
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Last Modified: 2013-12-11
A Windows ME computer which I am fixing up for charity, suddenly died. Or at least it is very sick. This happened right after I cleaned it all up too. It was working fine and I even did a RESTORE on it. Some time later suddenly the hard disk could not be accessed. The bootup the error message says "Invalid cluster 15175". In case it's relevant, I have an old set of Norton Utilities on floppies around the house somewhere.
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Question by:petemetzger
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Jonvee earned 200 total points
ID: 17934267
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by:petemetzger
ID: 17934626
OK Jonvee, but before I even start, I want to check with you about something. As you know, my HD can't be accessed, so how do I allow the right utility to see the HD? I assume that I load the utility onto a floppy disk using another computer and then let the HD be seen via the A drive. Is that right? Will that work for Scandisk and the Diagnostic too?
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by:LeeTutor
ID: 17934852
The HD diagnostic utility will normally be an executable file which you run on another computer to create a floppy disk that can be booted to on your problem ME computer in order to test the hard drive.  If you can find an old Win98 boot disk, or a WinME boot disk, it can be booted to and you will be able to run scandisk from it on your problem hard drive.
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by:LeeTutor
ID: 17934858
If you cannot find a Win98 or WinME boot disk (floppy), then you can download the makings for one from this site:  www.bootdisk.com
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Author Comment

by:petemetzger
ID: 17935268
Well, I have boot disks for WinME, Win98 and Win95 (and every DOS back to 2.0 for that matter). But for some strange reason, the only one that works is W-95 which gives me the A prompt normally. I tried the DOS "change directory" command, but the HD still goes unrecognized. That boot floppy has Scandisk, and some other programs on it, which I tried, but as you'd expect, it executes those functions OK but only to itself. By the way, this computer has two HDs, and they both display the same symptoms. Oh , I forgot to mention that BIOS does see the HD. Now that's a strange one! I do have a bunch of old diagnostic utilities around like some Nortons. Maybe they could access the HD, but I can't imagine it. I mean, if the HDs are invisible to DOS, then they are hidden pretty well. If I knew a good utility candidate for the experiment, I'd try it.
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by:blue_zee
ID: 17938026

Could it be possible for you to try and replace the IDE cables connecting the motherboard to HDD?

And if the 2 drives are using the same IDE connector, try moving them to the secondary one and test.

Even if the symptoms are sounding disastrous, it may be worth trying the above.

Zee
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Author Comment

by:petemetzger
ID: 17940400
Thanks blue_zee. I will try that but I hold out no hope, because BIOS always sees each drive.

Also, and this is something I didn't mention before, one of the drives does bring up a Windows ME desktop but it looks strange and is abnormal in other ways. It does not respond to mouse nor keyboard commands and the only way I can get out is by Ctrl-Alt-Del.

Also another thing. When I enter at the A prompt the DOS commands to change directory, and more importantly, to change disks, I get no response.

Just to check out my BIOS commands, I assume the following is right for Win95:  F2 = BIOS, F8 = Safe mode and DOS, and F12 = boot menu. Also pressing Ctrl during POST is supposed to bring up something but I forgot what.
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by:blue_zee
ID: 17940483

Can you make sure the other boot floppies (Win 98 or ME) are functional? You need another PC to test those.

Zee
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by:petemetzger
ID: 17941403
Well, I will do that later but for now, the Win95 does the job. The cables are seated OK and I no longer get that first error message, "Invalid cluster 15175". However, some very inconsistent things are happening:

Suddenly the C drive is recognized, sort of. By sort of, I mean that it is like it was before, with weird colors, no mouse, and with the letters, the arrows, the tabs and the function keys working, but again not consistent. For example, the first thing I tried to do was to step across the desktop to open Control Panel, so as to change resolution and color. No go. Couldn't get to Control Panel. Then I tried to get to My Computer for a look at the hard drives. I got there but the drives spin a lot. Many minutes. Sometimes they end up where they started and sometimes I get somewhere, mainly to the Help screen.

I realize that all this is totally inconsistent and no solution is possible unless I can generate some consistent date. So I am trying to do that now. Thanks
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by:blue_zee
ID: 17941709

That seems consistent with HDD failure.

Curious if moving the IDE cables triggered the bootup, even if not in perfect order.

Can you relate these, or not?

Zee
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Author Comment

by:petemetzger
ID: 17942109
Still trying. I got as far as control panel this time and actually was able to change the display settings, which it took normally. However, on reboot, it reverted to its old self. Now that the keyboard has some real effect I am going to try to raise Restore next time. If I can navigate there, it might just all clear up right away. The reason why all of this takes so long is that every boot up is terribly slow, as the drives chug along for about 15 minutes or so, before the kb gets activated again. Since I do this for charity, and I have a bunch of other PCs around patiently waiting in line to be rehabilitated, the temptation to shit-can this one computer is becoming more and more attractive by the hour.  
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Assisted Solution

by:blue_zee
blue_zee earned 300 total points
ID: 17942356

Try booting in Safe Mode.

Check Control Panel > System > Device Manager.

Start by deleting ALL entries under Display Adapter and rebooting to Normal Mode.

See if that solves the resolution problem.

System Restore is worth trying, no doubt.

Zee
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Expert Comment

by:johnb6767
ID: 17942364
Is there data that needs to be retrieved?

I would also look to the manufacturer's website to download a utility to make a boot disk and scan the drives, try and recover bad sectors. May be able to mark teh bad ones, and repair the damage. But, as stated above, failure is almost imminent probably...
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by:petemetzger
ID: 17942853
There is no data on the drive at all. I had just spent a whole day cleaning it all up. I did a restore too. What I want to preserve is the nice clean program loaded disk that I made for use by some poor person. Just as I was about to pack it all up to give to charity, I used DOS GHOST, a program I have been using for many years, to clone the C drive to the D drive, a second HD which was in the same case. Now that I think about it, that was what caused the problem in the first place. it was that operation somehow went sour. I have a collection of rescue disks around, Norton and such. I am going to try them now, even though they were not made for this particular computer. If worse comes to worst, it will be no big loss.  
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by:petemetzger
ID: 17943505
Well, not in safe mode (I forgot) I tried to find display in Device Manager, but I wasn't sure I had it so I thought I'd better check with you again. In DM, and under Compter, there is no Display heading. But going under the P&P entry, there is the name of the video card but no way to adjust it. However, under PCI Bus, there is the video card again, and it can be deleted there. Is that what I do, just delete the card and hope that P&P will reinstall it? I never did trust P&P cause it came about long after I used to set interrupts, which was such a pain, that P&P seemed too good to be true. So maybe it works, but I'll trust in Restore for now. And speaking of Restore, I managed to get to it (mouse didn't work at that time) and told it to do its thing, but there were no restore points logged. Since I definitely put one there, it must have become deleted when the troubles started.
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Author Comment

by:petemetzger
ID: 17961061
Thanks to all, the ME machine is out of my lab already, given to a girl who wants to learn about computers. Well, back to all the other dinosaurs now...
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by:blue_zee
ID: 17961127
Great!

And thanks.

Zee
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by:Jonvee
ID: 17961160
In fixing them up for charity you're doing a great job!   Glad to have been of assistance.
 
Good luck with the others ..

Jonvee
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by:Jonvee
ID: 17961173
.. and thank you.
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by:petemetzger
ID: 17961733
Yeah, there is a world of working computers out there that "no one wants". No one among the computer-literate that is. But there are a whole lot of people out there who know nothing at all about computers and have never even thought of getting one for themselves because of the cost. When I tell someone that they can actually have their own computer for free, they are amazed. So I give them one, and they are very easy to find of course. I can't think of another place where so many fully functional units are simply thrown away. So I just brushed up my skills from when I used to assemble my own computers, get them working again, and give them away. It's too bad that so little of this goes on in in our computer culture.
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by:blue_zee
ID: 17961744

Excellent!

Great work.

Zee
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