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Old 30th December 2004   #1
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Hard drive disappeared from "My Computer"


I can't believe this happened. I'll try to make this explanation as short and to the point as possible.
I was getting prepared to format and reinstall XP Pro and came across an article on slipstreaming SP2 with XP Pro. I followed the directions and burned an XP Pro installation disc with SP2 included. Just to make sure the disc worked I restarted my comp and booted from this newly burned disc. It booted alright and went to the XP installation and then my phone rang. When I came back 2 minutes later my machine was at my normal windows desktop, so I assumed the XP disc did not work. I had thought I would see the XP installation option screen instead.

The next thing I realized was that one of my hard drives was not showing up in windows. I could not access it at all. This is a storage drive partitioned in two, drive "g" and drive "h". Drive "h" is where I had all the necessary files to slipstream the XP install with SP2. The drive shows in the bios, in device manager and it also shows in disc management, but as an unallocated disc "2" with no drive letters or partitions.

I unfortunately have "My Documents" on drive "g" that hasn't been backed up for a week. I need these files. How can I get this drive to function again so I can retrieve my files?

Any and all help or suggestions would be appreciated.
Thanking you in advance.

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Old 30th December 2004   #2
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How can I get this drive to function again so I can retrieve my files?
I've no idea what has happened here, but the worst case scenario is that in some way the drive has been formatted, but in 2 minutes it seems unlikely.

More likely the boot record has been messed up.

I hesitate to recommend a solution to fix this in that the situation could be made worse.

My best suggestion is to slave the drive to another PC and see if it is recognized and if so to copy your files off the drive.

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Old 30th December 2004   #3
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Thanks for your reply Pete. I agree with what you say about not having time to format and a possible boot record issue.
This drive is already a slave in my system. Do you think it would make any difference to try it in another comp? I guess I have nothing to lose but a little time. I can't believe I did something so stupid.
What would be your suggestions toward trying to fix the boot record? I won't hold it against you if it makes it worse because it's already pretty bad.

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Old 30th December 2004   #4
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The drive shows in the bios, in device manager and it also shows in disc management, but as an unallocated disc "2" with no drive letters or partitions.

This is not good. This is normally the part of the conversation i recommend you power off the machine and call ontrack or someone similar to discuss your options.

Based on your description of how you got into this state, it doesnt make sense. A partition just doesnt up and disappear.

What sized hard drive is this?
Did you have any wierd partition software running, or had done something with partition magic a long time ago?
When was the last time you ran a virus scanner? (possible boot sector virus)
In your System event log, are there any related errors? Is logical disk manager started?
What does diskmap.exe show? (support tools, or from the setup mps reports)
What do you see in diskpart "detail disk" "list partition"?
Were these volumes BASIC or DYNAMIC?
Sector Inspector is your friend. (note that i will not help you use this, and your kungfu must be strong. It helps to have a known good machine to compare)

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Old 30th December 2004   #5
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Thanks for your reply Ben. It makes no sense to me either.

What sized hard drive is this?
Maxtor 160GB ATA hard drive, 2 weeks old and was working just fine.

Did you have any weird partition software running, or had done something with partition magic a long time ago?
No and No.

When was the last time you ran a virus scanner? (possible boot sector virus)
I run my virus scanner every 2 days. No virus of any kind detected, ever.

In your System event log, are there any related errors?
No

Is logical disk manager started?
Not sure what this is. I will have to investigate further. Edit: yes it was started

What does diskmap.exe show? (support tools, or from the setup mps reports)
Same as above.

What do you see in diskpart "detail disk" "list partition"?
Same as above.

Were these volumes BASIC or DYNAMIC?
Same as above.

Sector Inspector is your friend. (note that i will not help you use this, and your kungfu must be strong. It helps to have a known good machine to compare)

I have had no experience with logical disk manager, diskmap.exe or sector inspector. I will try them out and let you know how I make out.


Last edited by glarkin; 30th December 2004 at 22:29.
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Old 31st December 2004   #6
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It appears from the reading and testing I did last night with dskprobe that my drive was set up to install XP. There is an error in the boot sector stating "error operating system not installed". I'm trying to recover the backup boot sector by using the program dskprobe, but might be a little over my head. Does anybody have any more ideas or suggestions?

Edit: The actual error is this.
Invalid partition table. Error loading operating system. Missing operating system.


Last edited by glarkin; 31st December 2004 at 13:19.
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Old 31st December 2004   #7
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SUCCESS!!! I was able to fix the disk and save all my files. What I did was disconnect my C and D drives and make the problem drive, G, the boot drive. I then booted from my Win XP install disk, started the recovery console and used the fixboot command. This restored my Master Boot Record. I then hooked up my other 2 drives, C & D, started windows and there they were, all my precious files. I guess what had happened originally was that when I tested my install disk, it started the XP installation procedure which changed the MBR. All this in the time it took me to get up and answer the phone. Just learned another valuable lesson, "never leave your comp during any critical procedure, even if it seems innocent". I just backed up the entire system, including the MBR, so that next time I ***** up it won't hurt as much. Thanks to everyone that helped me out.

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Old 31st December 2004   #8
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Great news - thanks for sharing it
FIXMBR was exactly what I had in mind!

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