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Toasted hard drive? Can't boot at all...HeLp!

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April 22, 2006 7:20:42 PM

I have a problem with one of my systems that has Win XP Pro on it. The system has an Asus A7V8X-X mobo and had been working quite well for a long time. My son uses the system. He said occasionally when he boots up he gets an 'DISK BOOT FAILURE. INSERT SYSTEM DISK AND PRESS ENTER' error message. He then turns off the power and re-boots and eventually(!) gets it to boot to Win XP.

He gets this boot error all the time now.
I popped the case and re-seated all the drive and power cables. I went into the bios, changed boot sequence to CDROM and tried running NAV 2006 from the CDROM. NAV says that there is no C: drive(!). I tried running NTFSDOS and NTFSCHK from floppy also but it tells me that there are no NTFS drives (I formatted with NTFS drive system when I installed Win XP).
FDISK says there are no partitions!

I hate to re-install Win XP Pro unless I have to so are there any other things I can try? I thought I'd at least be able to get to "see" the C: drive and look at the files but I can't even do that.

Any help is greatly appreciated. Also if you think this post might generate more responses in a different forum please let me know.

Thanks!
forthill
April 22, 2006 8:01:38 PM

Sounds like there is a physical problem with the drive. Do you have any extras lying around? if so plug that one in and see if it might not be a bad cable or if it might no be a prob with the mobo. If you elimante those 2 id backup that drive right away as there is something wrong with one of a few things all are signs of a hd problem. If you cant get it up long enough to backup and really need the data it will get real expensive really fast. Oh i forgot does your bios show the drive?
April 22, 2006 8:22:24 PM

I'll try a spare hd. *Tried the spare hd and the bios does recognize it and it does boot into Windows (on that spare hd)*
I couldn't attempt to back it up anyway as it refuses to boot at all.
The bios does show the drive. I have my bios hd setting at "auto" which appaarently does recognize it and bring up the hd model and total size on the screen.

**Tried an MSDOS bootdisk and chkdsk /r doesn't work - it says that it doesn't even recognize C: as a drive. Perhaps I'll try and make the drive a slave in another computer and maybe I can "see" if the files are still accessible.
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April 24, 2006 7:31:52 PM

Who manufactures your hard drive? Most manufactures supply diagnostic tools that you can use to examine your hard drive. Go to your manufacturers web site. If those tools cant read the drive then it is unlkely anything will.
April 24, 2006 8:39:15 PM

Just an FYI, if you get the ultimate boot cd (google it), it usually has all the HDD manufacturers' utilities on it. Its pretty handy, and it boots from the CD-ROM, so you should be able to use it w/o having to load Windows.
April 24, 2006 8:47:38 PM

If there is some data you simply MUST have on that drive I have heard using an external USB enclosure with a nice long USB cable... stick the enclesure in a large ziploc bag seal it up. Stick it in the freezer overnight... leave it in the freezer run your USB cable and plug it into your computer. supposedly this will allow you to get data from the now unfrozen drive. Now the only thing I have done personaly is to freeze the drive in a bag and install it in the machine (mine worked for about 45 minutes wich was like 90% of what I needed) but with the enclosure thing I suspect it would work alot longer. Note that this is a final measure I would try everything else that everyone has said already FIRST ! good luck !
April 24, 2006 9:17:02 PM

Quote:
I'll try a spare hd. *Tried the spare hd and the bios does recognize it and it does boot into Windows (on that spare hd)*
I couldn't attempt to back it up anyway as it refuses to boot at all.
The bios does show the drive. I have my bios hd setting at "auto" which appaarently does recognize it and bring up the hd model and total size on the screen.

**Tried an MSDOS bootdisk and chkdsk /r doesn't work - it says that it doesn't even recognize C: as a drive. Perhaps I'll try and make the drive a slave in another computer and maybe I can "see" if the files are still accessible.


Maybe I'm missing someting but if you have a bootable drive and your BIOS is recognizing the faulty drive, why not install the bootable as Master and the unbootable one as Slave. Once you're in Windows, copy anything you want off the faulty drive to the bootable drive.
April 24, 2006 9:22:38 PM

Don't do what Jonathan says unless you want condensation to be the cause of your hard disk's death...
April 24, 2006 9:23:47 PM

Try tapping on the HD housing. Sometimes the bearing will seize up. I would do this after you replace and make it the slave. If you can get it to work you may be able to retrieve your files.

my 2 cents
April 24, 2006 9:44:27 PM

Quote:
Don't do what Jonathan says unless you want condensation to be the cause of your hard disk's death...


Yeah true but like I said "last resort" hehehe if its dead you cant kill it :) 
April 25, 2006 12:40:32 AM

Ok, here's what I did.....

1) Tried making the drive a slave in my other WinXP Pro system. The bios recognized the drive and Windows said it 'found a hard drive' but it listed it as un-initialzed.

2) As it is a Maxtor 7200 RPM 60G drive from 2001 it is out of warranty. I downloaded Maxtor's drive utility and ran it against the drive. All tests came back good.

3) I booted off of the Win XP Pro CD and tried the Repair option because I Wanted to do FIXBOOT. I never got a valid command prompt and it said that C: was not a valid drive for the FIXBOOT command.

4) Lastly, I booted off Win XP Pro CD again and went as far as the install because I thought I'd get another chance to do a repair once Win XP scanned for existing operating systems. It did not find any, presumably because it said I have 60GB of unformatted space and it then asked how I wanted it formatted. I chose NTFS and it started to format the drive so I quickly shut down the system. I then rebooted from the CD again and this time took the first Repair option which DID get me a valid command prompt. I then did FIXBOOT and it said the boot sector was corrupted so

I let it re-create the boot sector, which it did.
I then re-booted off of the hard drive and as luck would have it Win XP Pro came us as usual and all the data was still there!
I quickly burned a CD with all data I should have backed-up before.

It has been running ok since I did this yesterday afternoon!

Go figure. I think I got lucky. At format time it must have just started to initialize the part of the disk which tells the OS that it is a valid drive. This allowed me to run FIXBOOT.

Thanks for everyone's suggestions!
forthill
April 25, 2006 1:45:56 AM

Your hard drive is fine, its the rest of the system that is messed up. (Assuming you did the hard drive full tests).

----

If you wanted to rescue your data you should have mounted the drive in a working PC and used file recovery software like Get Data Back, or Final Data.

Every attempt to fix the drive drastically reduces the chances of ever recovering useful files.

If you don't need to recover files, use the manufacture's utility to "zero" the drive and partition and format to taste.


---

Your big problem is finding out what is wrong with the system the drive was in.

Disconnect all unnecessary devices. If you can run the tests with it disconnected then its unnecessary. A simply USB card reader or a bad PCI card can cause strange and unpredicatable problems that appear to be unreleated to the offending device.

Run Memtest 86 through a couple complete passes to make sure you don't have bad memory. No errors means you memory is 100% good. Errors means something is wrong, but not necessarily the memory.

Retesting the memory in a 100% stable system will confirm whether your memory has gone bad.

If its not the memory you should seek help in the motherboard forum.

(Also don't forget that cable's can be defective. An IDE or power cable with an intermittant fault can drive you nuts.)
April 25, 2006 1:53:25 AM

I have used Spinrite 6.0 from grc.com to repair disks long enough to retrieve the data. In one instance I was able to run a drive for about another year by using this utility.
April 25, 2006 3:58:46 AM

All corruption problems can be fixed by zero'ing the drive.

All other problems are either mechanical or electrical.

No software utility can restore a worn part or repair a damaged circuit.

Modern hard drives internally detect and reallocating bad sectors.

---

So how exactly does spin rite actually fix a broken drive, allowing it to limp along for an extra year?

Utitlites can predict impending mechanical failure, but I can't see how they could prevent or delay it.
April 26, 2006 5:33:14 PM

You are right - no software program can repair a mechanical or electonics problem with a drive. SpinRite is used primarily to remap data around faulty drive sectors, sectors that have become permanently damaged. SpinRite also can relocate a faulty boot sector. Most of the software that comes with modern hard drives will, through a "low level" reformat, re-map around faulty and permently damaged sectors; not all will re-assign faulty boot sectors. If a "chip" is blown on the drive or there is a lingering mechanical problem, time out...King's X...buy a new drive.

Oh, one more thing. SpinRite allows a non-destructive remapping. You can remap the drive without destroying the data!!!
April 26, 2006 8:51:27 PM

Got S.M.A.R.T Test? There is one that come with SpeedFan new version. If your HDD got S.M.A.R.T, you can check for errors.
April 27, 2006 3:12:35 AM

I am still unconvinced.

I did some research on spinrite and it seems as though it doesn't do anything that a modern hard drive doesn't automatically do for itself.

From what I read it used to be an essential tool, it was for hard drives what memtest86 is for memory.

But as hard drive became more sophisicated it has become unnecessary.

Plus the guy who programmed it tried moving on to security software and apparently humiliated himself by issuing press releases for vaporware, claiming to discover new exploits/counter exploits that have been well known for years, letting his server get hacked again and again by failing to fix well know vulnerabilities ....

http://www.radsoft.net/resources/rants/20010714,00.shtml

Aslo I couldn't find one mention of spinrite at storeage review or any of the hard drive manufacture's websites.

Anyway I haven't come across anything that would convince me to pay $90 to find out for myself how well it works.
!