Hard Disk Data Recovery – NTFS MBR Failure

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Hello everyone, I have a Western Digital 800JB ATA 80GB 7200rpm drive that was used for a time as a boot drive for WXPP. It was replaced recently as a boot drive by a smaller 40GB drive, and the 80GB drive relegated to backup duties (slaved to a CD drive on a 40-wire cable). Before full transfer of all info from backup to boot drive could be completed, drive stopped responding. The WXP disk utility indicated a formatted drive of unknown format. Partition Magic indicated a NTFS partition, but greyed out most options. WXP CD boot in recovery mode also unable to read the partition, but the fixMBR utility indicated a faulty MBR. Mobo BIOS recognises the drive only when the jumper is set to slave. Booting the drive (as a slave) briefly displays the WXP boot screen, then spontaneously reboots. After running the WXP fixmbr utility, it will no longer even display the WXP boot screen, displaying an invalid partition error message, and Partition Magic indicates a HPFS partition, which it cannot convert back to NTFS. Can anyone suggest a way to recover the data and/or the drive? It is still under warranty, but the data is more important than the drive warranty! Thanks in advance.

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Hi,

Try R-Studio NTFS. It is a recovery software and it will scan your HDD for all info regarding possible NTFS structures. I used it successfully to recover files from damaged HDDs. You can download a demo version, which will show you the files found. It will not allow you to recover big files (I think 32 k is the maximum size in the demo version) but at least you will know the files are there and you are able to recover them.

Also, attach the HDD to the second IDE without having CD drives or other HDD on the same IDE.

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If your drive has stopped before it gets completed, there might be a problem with some sectors of the hard disk drive. Make sure the hard disk drive has no sector error for you to store data on it.

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  • Liviuobreja
    Hi, Try R-Studio NTFS. It is a recovery software and it will scan your HDD for all info regarding possible NTFS structures. I used it successfully to recover files from damaged HDDs. You can download a demo version, which will show you the files found. It will not allow you to recover big files (I think 32 k is the maximum size in the demo version) but at least you will know the files are there and you are able to recover them. Also, attach the HDD to the second IDE without having CD drives or other HDD on the same IDE.
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  • Poppaman
    Noted all your attempts to recover/ressurect the dead drive. Have you tried the "fixboot" option from the XP recovery console? To be honest, I think the drive is probably too far gone, but it's free and sometimes works. Have you attempted to use any of the Western Digital utilities to see exactly what might be wrong? If the HDD CONTROLLER (the onboard controller, not the mobo IDE controller) is bad, you may wish to try swapping controllers with an IDENTICAL drive (assuming you care nothing about the warranty on either drive). Have you tried attaching the subject drive to a working XP system, either as a primary slave or secondary master and accessing the data that way? Also, try looking at trhe freeware "NTRecover" program from www.sysinternals.com. The maintainer of the (freeware) sysinternals site, Marc Russinovich is one of the principals of the winternals (commercial) site - his tools are top notch. If you have the $$, the Winternals Administrators Toolkit has saved my sorry a-- a few times... Of course, you can always try sending the drive to s recovery service (there are quite a few of them; OnTrack comes to mind), but that will cost at least $1200.00 (the price to recover a 10GB drive...). They ain't cheap, but they do excellent work... Good luck
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  • Itspec
    All good suggestions...but the first thing I would do is try to first determine if this is an actual hardware failure of the drive or just a corruption on the drive. Western Digital should have a diagnostics tool available for download. I believe it makes a bootable floppy with the tools on it. Run this and check to see if you get any error codes. Data corrupion is much easier to handle... you can boot of a bootable CD, as I mentioned in another thread, BARTPE (Portable Boot Environment) is a great tool. There is also a product called Easy Recovery Pro..I have used it several times all with success...on both HDD's and FDD's.
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  • Microsolve
    Thanks to all who have posted. I am puzzled by the apparent divergence of this thread into two sub-threads, so I will answer the same to both. I have tried the WD tools. The Windows diagnostics tool crashed Windows, and the DOS disk panicked as soon as it was run, instructing me to contact technical support, which I have now done. I will keep you posted on further developments. Thanks again to all who have posted. Mike
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  • Musicmikem
    If this is for a business, then I would suggest Action Front Data Recovery Labs. I had a problem with a laptop drive. Sometimes I could see a NTFS partition, and sometimes the laptop would not even see the drive. It turns out that I had an electrical problem in the drive. Cost was $800, but they recovered the ENTIRE drive!
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  • Joelsplace
    A tip for anyone using Easy Recovery Pro - it will not work on any system that has any controller in it besides a standard IDE controller. No SATA no add in card controllers especially RAID controllers. I haven't tried it with SCSI controllers but I have tried it with numerous HiPoint, Promise and Sil controllers and it didn't work. I called their support and they confirmed my findings.
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  • Poppaman
    Microsolve - any updates to the situation? It would be interesting to get a progress report (positive or negative...). As previously noted both by myself and others, your best bet might be to boot to a known good WinXP Pro drive/partition, with the "failed" drive set as slave, and see if anything can be accessed that way. Again, I suggest sysinternals.com: they have at least two tools which allow you to view a "dead" drive (one as a direct attached system drive, one accessing via serial port, and possibly one via network - don't quote me on the last one, though)... Keep us informed, this is an interesting one.... (PS - I check with some other techs here where I work, and they covered the same issues and solutions which have already been suggested...)
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  • Microsolve
    Hi everyone, Firstly, apologies to all and particularly to poppaman for my delay in responding, but I have been heavily sidetracked with other work, and fortunately have an understanding customer on this project! The progress since my last report is as follows: Western Digital Tech Support answered quicky, but slightly cryptically: I copied my posting here, adding a number of suggestions for a way to solve the problem, seeking their advice and they said "it might work, depending on how the drive failed", leaving me little the wiser! However they did suggest data recovery tools, mentioning only Easy Recovery from Ontrack by name, but not specifically endorsing it. I have purchased an identical drive, with a view to transferring a good MBR to the failed drive, but the WD tool including a MBR backup function does not recognise a valid MBR has been backed up (and therefore does not make it available to restore) when the failed drive is exchanged for the new drive (as sole drives). I took MBR backups of the new drive at three points: After conditioning by the WD Data Lifeguard tool (I had heard that this is essential for reliable operation of WD drives). After formatting by the WD tool with FAT32 (no NTFS option provided). After installing a copy of Win XPP to a NTFS formatted drive. Bizarrely, I was on the point of returning the drive as a DOA, as each step above made it more difficult for the machine I was using to work on the drive (Intel chipset PIII-800) to recognise it (and the conditioning took an entire day), until I reset the jumpers to cable select. All went well after that. Next step WD tech support, but I will ask clear and simple questions this time, hoping for equivalent replies! To those of you suggesting that I attach the failed drive to a working master drive with Windows XP on it, I am sorry if I failed to make clear in my original post that this was the exact configuration of the drive when it failed. The copy of Windows XP that reported the failed drive as having an unknown format was on this master drive, and the Disk utility was the only part of that copy of Windows XP that acknowledged the existence of the failed drive. I suspect that following my attempt to fix the MBR with the Windows XP Recovery Console, even this level of recognition would be missing. All is not completely lost however, as I downloaded a copy of the Easy Recovery software (fortunately it can be used as a trial for free) to see if might work. After many hours it did recognise some files, but then slowed to an even slower crawl. I interrupted it to see if had produced any results, and was pleased to see that some files were seen (although no useful ones yet). The trial software cannot recover any data, but I was gratified to see some results, even if a fair proportion of the files were zero length. I was hoping that a working MBR might help any software recovery tools produce more helpful results, hence the identical drive purchase. I might try the trial version of the Winternals software (if there is one!) to see if that works any better. Thanks again for all your suggestions. Please keep them coming if I have missed anything or am barking up the wrong tree! Thanks again Mike
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  • LinearBob
    Consider getting a CD copy of Knoppix. There happens to be a copy packed in the back of an excellent book I just bought, titled "Knoppix Hacks" by Kyle Rankin, published by O'Reilly. There is one whole chapter in the book on repairing Windows machines. Go to a good technical or computer book store and look over Chapter 7: "Rescue Windows" before you buy it, though. I think Knoppix and the tools on the Knoppix CD may be just what you need. FYI, Knoppix boots from the CD and runs entirely in RAM, so don't load anything with a nice pretty (and large) GUI unless you have LOTS of RAM. Knoppix will not install anything on your your hard drive(s) unless you want it to. The Knoppix CD comes with several tools already on the disk, and once yuo have Knoppix running, there other tools you can download and save either to a floppy (if the tools you want are small enough) or to a USB flash disk, and you can run them from there, using just the Knoppix CD and NOT using your hard disk(s) at all. You should be able to read, edit, re-write, or copy files to/from a good disk to/from from your failing disk with Knoppix. But read "Knoppix Hacks" chapter 7 (Rescuing Windows) in the store before you do anything, to see if it looks right for you. You don't want to spend $29.95 (cover price) on a book and CD that you don't think will do the job, or you are not comfortable using. IMHO, Knoppix is about as close to a software Swiss Army Knife as I have ever seen. After you use it a few times, you might decide (as I have) that keeping a CD copy of Knoppix around in my tool kit is well worth the price (almost nothing if you download it or free if someone wants to give you a copy.) But the Knoppix Hacks book makes the Knoppix CD packed with it many times more useful.
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  • Nerdking
    Noticed 'LinearBob' mentioning Knoppix Live CD. This is a great tool, as it has saved my butt a number of times, but for those with little or no knowledge of Linux i have found it a little daunting in these types of situations. If you're more comfortable with the Windows environment then try "The Ultimate Boot CD for Windows" at http://ubcd4win.com/. To give you an idea of what it is here's the opening paragraph on the site's home page; "UBCD4Win is a bootable CD which contains software that allows you to repair/restore/diagnostic almost any computer problem. All software included in UBCD4Win are freeware utilities for Windows?. UBCD4Win uses Bart's PE? which is how the CD boots into a Windows? environment. With network support, the ability to modify NTFS volumes, scan a hard drive for viruses, recover deleted files, etc. There are many other types of utilities included to allow you to recover and/or repair a damaged system. Additional applications included are CD Burning, Backup/cloning, Defragmenters, Password recovery, the list goes on!!" Give it a shot. Works very well.
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  • Rakei
    -Icare DATA Recovery, guarantee to recover DATA from corrupt/deleted/formatted Drives. -Acronis True Imaged to restore/recover Master Boot Record from a created back-up image of the same O.S to revive your system...
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