Corrupted windows 7 machine

gdinunzio
gdinunzio used Ask the Experts™
on
My machine does not boot.  It has Windows 7 Home SP1 x64 on a ASUS P5N-E SLI motherboard running a RAID 1 mirror from the BIOS.  The RAID is nvidia (I think)
When you boot the machine it hangs in the "detecting array" part of the POST forever.

I removed the drives from the machine and attached them as USB drives to another machine to remove files.  The drive is recognized but says its not initialized.  When i try to initialize it, it gives me an "incorrect function" error for 1 of the drives and a "the drive is not ready" error for the other.

How can i read this drive to remove the files, or better yet fix them so i don't have to reinstall windows?

Thanks
GL
Comment
Watch Question

Do more with

Expert Office
EXPERT OFFICE® is a registered trademark of EXPERTS EXCHANGE®
Top Expert 2012

Commented:
Since this is a RAID array you need to be careful, don't think you can just split the drives and try to access data from either, you need something to rebuild the array

http://www.freeraidrecovery.com/Library/raid-reconstructor.aspx

Check the above, you need something like it to get to your data again I think

Commented:
On an nVidia RAID 1 array, you should be able to remove one drive, and boot from the remaining drive. Change RAID settings in BIOS after removing drive. I have had to run chkdsk /r on the drive to remove errors before drive would boot.

I would try to clone the drive to ensure there is a backup copy.
WakeupSpecialist 1

Commented:
Also due to the system being a RAID 1, it is possible if something was corrupt in the first place that the MIRROR would/could also rebuild the bad or corrupt partition to the second drive.

That being said it is also possible that your first drive is possibly failing.  YOU DO NOT want to initialize the drive.  Initializing the drive will in essence wipe the data from the drive.  Changing or altering the configuration of the drive itself can and potentially will render the original partition unreadable without data recovery tools.

Running CHKDSK on the drive fixboot fixmbr are some ways to recover potentially recoverable media.

My suggestion is to first check and make sure the first drive in question is indeed failing/bad.  

Second is to recover data form either drive.

Before trying to make it bootable again.  Otherwise again, any mods/changes can cause more damage than good.
But do remember that any modification or change to the drive can also render recovery harder and harder at each change/mod.
11/26 Forrester Webinar: Savings for Enterprise

How can your organization benefit from savings just by replacing your legacy backup solutions with Acronis' #CyberProtection? Join Forrester's Joe Branca and Ryan Davis from Acronis live as they explain how you can too.

Author

Commented:
Booting up with either drive (2 WDC 320GB SATAII) attached in RAID config just sits in "Detecting Array" in POST indefinitely.

Booting up with either drive with RAID disabled goes to a flickering cursor in POST.

I did notice that 1 drive is constantly detected in the BIOS with no information (0 Bytes) while the other is only detected sometimes (also with 0 bytes)

This make chkdsk and Bootrec unusable.  I find it highly improbable that BOTH drives failed...I am going to try them in another PC to see if they are recognized.
Top Expert 2012

Commented:
Try connecting them directly to the motherboard in another machine - USB enclosures add their own electronics which can mess up signal translations.  GetDataBack (www.runtime.org) or Recuva (http://www.piriform.com/recuva) can be used to read the data.
Commented:
"Booting up with either drive (2 WDC 320GB SATAII) attached in RAID config just sits in "Detecting Array" in POST indefinitely."  ---- that is expected behavior

"Booting up with either drive with RAID disabled goes to a flickering cursor in POST." --- that is not expected. Should at least start loading Windows. When drives are connected singly, is SATA controller set to ATA mode?

Author

Commented:
I tried it on a DELL PC at work...set the BIOS to both SATA/ACHI and SATA/ATA and both times it sees a drive but gives me no information about it.  No size in GB, sectors, etc...

What are my options?
Specialist 1
Commented:
If you've tried the drive on a totally different PC, and it gives you no information, are you talking about Windows?  Or are you talking about the bios?
If you are talking about Windows,  have you tried to go to disk management?  If so...does it detect the drive and showing no size/gb/sectors etc?

And same with the bios?  is it showing the drive just saying it's 0 in size or WHAT EXACTLY is it telling you?

Does it sound like the drives are spinning up?  any heat/vibration from the drives?

It is still possible both drives are having some issues.  We need more information to make a judgement call on them.  Again I suggest NOT messing with the drives structure.  IE: software modification.  As that will make retrieving data harder and harder at every step you take.  We need to get to the bottom of why the drive is not being detected??? or why the partition seems to be corrupt/gone/missing.

I suggest NOT trying to boot from it at this moment.  ESPECIALLY if the data is important to you.

Work on getting the drive detected and you may need special software to retrieve the data.

Author

Commented:
in the BIOS...it just says SATA drive...but not the size and sectors etc
1 of the 2 sounds like it spins up...the other makes not sound

Author

Commented:
The drives are physically broken so i was not able to get data off of them.  I'm sending them one of Western Digital preferred data recovery specialists.  Lets hope this pricey solution is worth it.

Since both drives are broken the specialist explained that it was probably something like an internal power surge.  This is right in line, as i noticed that the PS was working but its fan was not spinning.  I promptly replaced it, but unfortunately not quickly enough.

Thanks to all
GL
WakeupSpecialist 1

Commented:
Gdinunzio,

sorry to hear of the drives failure.  I wish you luck in the data recovery.  Most likely the drives will probably have "recoverable" information.  As it seems that the drive is probably not grinding or making any mechanical noise failure.  It may still be expensive, but chances of recovery sound good.

Commented:
Best guess is that voltage spike took out the drive electronics and that platters are still intact and recoverable. In the future, I recommend that you backup to an external drive and/or an online service. I use a RAID 1 array to accommodate single hard disk failure but also copy an image to an external drive and backup important files to Dropbox. I also recommend that everyone use a UPS for spike protection and to buffer voltage fluctuations.

Do more with

Expert Office
Submit tech questions to Ask the Experts™ at any time to receive solutions, advice, and new ideas from leading industry professionals.

Start 7-Day Free Trial