What exactly does the 'Initialize Disk' option in Disk Management do?

The reason I ask this is because I was trying to backup my Playstation 3 Hard Drive by connecting it to my SATA port on my PC, and I ended up going into Disk Management and clicking 'Initialize Disk' (Bad Idea) as the PS3 will no longer recognise the hard drive and asks to format it when I put it back in the PS3.

So, I made a sector-by-sector complete backup of the hard drive to my PC, and now I plan to let the PS3 format the disk so that it can re-install the partition table / Boot record. (Im guessing it was deleted or corrupted when I clicked Initialize disk?)

But now what I want to do is copy all of the data that I backed up back onto the PS3 hard drive, but not overwrite the partition table again, as the PS3 will not recognize it.

In other words - I want to leave the partition table where it is and only copy the sectors after this.

So what I need to know is, How do I find out what sectors were changed when the Initialize Disk button was pressed?

I have already tried copying all of the sectors excluding sector 1, but the PS3 still refused it, so im guessing the patition table / boot record is stored somewhere else, but I need to know how to find it.
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In short:
Initialize a new disk means to perform a low level format.

You may initialize the disk as static or dynamic disk which is also of much less importance as you should select dynamic disk.
Now the disk management will show that disk is initialized and is ready to be allocated.
Perform the following steps.
1.First right click the unallocated space and select new partition then select primary partition if you had not made any previously otherwise select extended partition.
2.Select size for partition may be 10,20,0r 30GB by writing 10000 MB etc.
3Select formatting options .I would recommend NTFS format with quick formatting and allow compression options selected.
4 Assign drive letter as your wish and then click OK.

noxchoProduct ManagerCommented:
I completely disagree with the posted above statement.
Each HDD must have its own unique signature that is different from zero. Initialization does not format HDD. Neither low level nor volume level. It simply writes 4 bytes signature into MBR. That's all.
This unique signature is used by Microsoft for mounting partitions on HDD.
When you look in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices you will see first 4 bytes - this is the signature of your HDD.

In your very case the the problem is in the fact that you connected non Windows HDD to Windows. In other words Windows understands Basic MBR type drives and your PS3 drive is not this type. Moreover your PS3 drive has no MBR and file system starts there from the first sector where normally in Basic MBR the disk signature is written. Thus - you initialize the drive - write disk signature to first sector where your file system starts and corrupt the file system. That is how it happens.

I doubt that your plan will work. Do not try anything on this drive. Contact Sony tech support and ask for help.  Possible the have a copy of first sector that can be restored to HDD and restore your drive to working state for PS3.

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noxcho is absolutely correct, "Initialize" merely writes a unique label on the disk.  Creating partitions and formatting them are entirely separate operations.

It may be possible to use a block-level utility like dd to restore the blocks on your PS3 disk that you overwrote with the windows (msdos really) label, but you would definitely want input from someone intimate with the PS3 filesystem.
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
"... Initialize a new disk means to perform a low level format ..."  ==>  As noxcho already noted, this is completely WRONG.     Initialize simply means to mark the drive and initialize the MBR.

In addition, the comment "... you should select dynamic disk ..." is also wrong.    While there are times when it makes sense to use dynamic disks, it's almost always better to use basic volumes -- so you do NOT want to convert the disk to dynamic.

However, for your specific situation that's all somewhat irrelevant.    You've already messed up your PS/3 disk, so whether or not you can recover depends on just how you "... made a sector-by-sector complete backup of the hard drive ...".     If you used a standard imaging utility, then you most likely do NOT have a "sector-by-sector" backup, as imaging utilities both compress the data and don't write anything for sectors that aren't allocated to files.     If you indeed used a forensic imaging utility (or any imager that has an option for a true sector-by-sector image) then you may in fact be able to recover the disk.      What size is the PS/3 disk?    And what size is the image file you created?     If they match, you're good -- if the image file is smaller, then it's not a true sector-by-sector image.

Assuming you indeed have a true sector-by-sector image of the drive, and software that can (a) make secotr-by-sector images (clearly the case if you have the image); (b) write on a byte-by-byte basis to physical secotrs on the drive; and (c) a good binary comparison utility (several free ones are available for download);  then you can tell exactly what you need to do on the drive to make it PS/3 compatible by following this simple-but-tedious process  [If possible, do it with a fairly small drive so the images won't be so large]:   (a) format a drive on the PS/3 so it works okay on that system;    (b)  make a sector-by-sector image of that drive;  (c)  initialize the drive on your Windows system;  (d)  make another sector-by-sector image of the drive;  and (e)  run a binary comparison utility on the two images.    This will show you exactly which bytes were modified by the initialization and, even more importantly, exactly what they need to be on the PS/3.
noxchoProduct ManagerCommented:
gary, don't you think that his HDD could be hardly accepted by PS3 if he changes the start sector and make it MBR drive? Better to consult Sony support for sure here. The fact that they did format the drive as flash drive means something I don't know yet. They could have some purpose for this.
alexsim2004Author Commented:
I used a piece of software called HDClone, which I believe does make a complete 1:1 sector backup (Both the drive size and image size are exactly the same)

I have already let the PS3 format the drive, and it boots into the system OK (but obviously its a fresh system, so no save data is there e.t.c.)

I then plan to reconnect the drive to my pc, and use HDclone again to copy the image back onto the Hard Drive, only this time, I want to exclude the data that Initialize Disk added or corrupted (I was thinking of maybe excluding the first 512 sectors) In the hope that this is where the corrupt boot data was stored. I could really do with knowing what sectors are written during a fresh PS3 install, is there any way of finding this out?

I hope to then have the correct PS3 boot data from the fresh install, but also the save data from my old corrupt install (but without the corrupt data)

(Back on topic) In terms of comparing the two drive images, do you recommend any particular software to do this?

Thank you for your help so far
noxchoProduct ManagerCommented:
I am curious to see if reconnected freshly formatted drive to PC now asks for initialization again. Did you try it?
alexsim2004Author Commented:
No, the PC never asked for initialization as it doesnt recognise the drive by default in the disk manager (its a special sony file system) I foolishly manually initialized it by using the disk management utility!
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Okay, you do seem to have an actual sector-by-sector image of the drive, so just do this [assuming you have sufficient disk space on your system to store these images -- if not you'll need more space :-) ] ...

(a)  Image the disk from the PS/3 exactly as it is -- this gives you an image of exactly what the PS/3 needs.

(b)  Initialize the disk in Disk Management -- this will "mess up" the disk, but will also let you determine exactly which sectors have been modified.     Then create an image of the disk again.      Now you have two images that will let you determine exactly which sectors were modified by the initialization of the disk.     You simply need to compare those images to isolate which sectors you do NOT want to change on the PS/3 disk when you restore all of the original data from your original image.      You can then (a) reinitialize the disk on the PS/3 (it will now be in the correct Sony format); and then (b) re-write all of the sectors EXCEPT those that the disk initialization changed from your original image.     That should then work fine in the PS/3.

As for disk sector editors, I use WinHex  [http://www.sf-soft.de/winhex/ ]

Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
"... I could really do with knowing what sectors are written during a fresh PS3 install, is there any way of finding this out? "    ==>  As for this question, yes, you could isolate this -- but as above it's tedious (but simple).     You could (a) write zeroes to the entire drive (using something like WD's Data Lifeguard tools, which has a Write Zeroes option -- as do most manufacturer's utilities);  (b)  install the drive in the PS/3 and initialize it for use there;  and then (c) simply "look" at the drive with a sector editor (like WinHex) and see which sectors were no longer all zeroes.

noxchoProduct ManagerCommented:
Are you able to mount the sector per sector image you took so to save its first sector?
We could try to get first sector of newly formatted drive then first sector from this image and compare them. That would let us manually edit the sector and probably restore the drive to the state it was before initialization.
alexsim2004Author Commented:
Ive just used Winhex and have compared the Freshinstall image to the other image, and I think ive found the area that windows has corrupted - its in a 1MB file and the first 20 lines or so are filled up with different code to the fresh install - it even says 'Invalid partition table' in the text on the right - So I have now deleted these lines of code so that the first lines match each other on the fresh install and my backup (I made a backup of the old file just in case) And am now in the process of copying the edited image over to the PS3 hard drive - I will let you know how it goes.
alexsim2004Author Commented:
Would you believe it - my graphics card failed today - i'll have to suspend the testing until I can get a replacement.

However, I did find some useful stuff whilst exploring with Winhex - I compared the zeroed fresh PS3 install against an identical one that has just been 'Initialized' and the result was that there was a 1MB file created with windows related partition messages, and also the first section of the PS3 install. It had sort of been cut and pasted into this strange 1MB file. I feel as though I am close to finding the solution, now that I know what windows has done with the PS3 boot data, I may be able to put the original boot data back into the correct order, and hopefully my PS3 will accept it, unfortunately there's nothing I can do whilst my PC is out of action (haven't got any other pc with SATA ports) So stay tuned for any further info - I feel as though I am so close, yet so far!
noxchoProduct ManagerCommented:
Could be Recycle Bin Volume Info files that are typical for MBR formatted drive.
noxchoProduct ManagerCommented:
Alexsim2004, any feedback?
alexsim2004Author Commented:
Yes, I have now got a new graphics card and so can continue testing with the hex editor - every try that I have done so far though has not been successful, with the PS3 still asking to reformat - So im just trying different methods each time and hopefully one of them will be accepted.
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