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Windows Delayed Write Failed;chkdsk fail;recover lost data?

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January 17, 2007 3:02:14 AM

"Windows Delayed Write Failed
Windows was unable to save all the data for the file E:\$Mft"

started getting this error pop in in WinXP every 10 or 15 minutes for a couple days on my desktop..
i would click 'ok' and things seemed fine..
however i eventually googled it cuz it's not the most attractive (or comforting) mssg, and 2 potential solutions were:

a) right click the drive (in this case my E drive, where i have my documents and lots of my 'stuff'), and somewhere in advanced..properties..policies, turn off write caching (though this says it could decrease performance, yuck)
http://forumz.tomshardware.com/software/Windows-Delayed...

b) it could be running out of room, even though it says you have lots of room--empty your recycle bin.
http://www.hardwareanalysis.com/content/topic/22061/?o=...

so anyway, i did first a--and yet still got the error a bit later. figured i needed to reboot. but first i tried b)...

it took forever, but eventually i got control back of the computer. and rebooted..

and now it says my E drive is empty, and do i want to format it?

doh.

chkdsk finds a bunch of errors, checking file records, indexes, security descriptors.. then when "correcting errors in the volume Bitmap", it says:
"insufficient disk space to fix volume bitmap. chkdsk aborted".

great. a google of that error, and it sounds like chkdsk needs ~15% of a drive's capacity to be free to work.. in my case, it's a 250gb drive, with around 28gb free if i recall. doh.
and the beautiful thing--it sounds like i'm screwed. ie, no other fix that i could find. are you kidding me? or hopefully i'm missing something.

well, 2 options i want to explore that come to mind--
a) some (hopefully free/cheap?) file recovery software--if the data's mostly there intact (though i worry that my 'empty recycle bin(regular and norton protected bin)' may have ruined some stuff), maybe simple recovery software will work.
b) get a 300+gb drive.. somehow copy this whole drive to that one, and so i'll have 78gb free? and now chkdsk will work?

anyways... lemme know if you have any thoughts/suggestions, much appreciated!
January 17, 2007 4:20:39 AM

Don't make it overcomplicated.

Just clone your "E" drive to a much bigger drive - go for 500g. (I love True Image)

Unplug/retire the old "E" drive for now. Turn the Write Caching back on.

Run chkdsk on the "new" E drive. If it's still problematic, purchase SpinRite - an app that may fix the errors and recover the data. It'll be the best money you ever invested.
January 17, 2007 4:26:48 AM

great, i'll try that (and thanks for the drive recommendation, i'll try and get one of them).. many thanks. any tips how best to clone the bad drive to the new one? (i think i did it once, way back, with some utility i had, but don't recall the details)
Related resources
January 17, 2007 4:37:56 AM

oops, i thought TrueImage was a drive manufacturer at first.. gotcha, thanks for the link
January 17, 2007 4:43:09 AM

good luck
January 22, 2007 2:17:47 AM

ok finally got my new drive (WD 500gb SATA drive.. my 250gb one is EIDE).

found i have norton ghost 2003, which claims to clone disks/partitions.. now i'll try either that, or get True Image.. lemme know if anyone has good/bad recommedations re ghost 2003 (eg i wonder if something a few years old like that would have trouble w/ these large capacity drives?)
January 22, 2007 2:25:31 AM

well i guess Ghost 2003 won't work--I just tried it, and as soon as it went to PC Dos mode to start copying, it said there was an error reading a source cluster and it cancelled out.. next to try True Image
January 22, 2007 4:32:29 PM

when copying yoru drive make sure you make a resource cd from true image then put that cd in your cd drive and then boot from that cd.

not a good idea to make a copy while you are on your desktop ;) 
January 22, 2007 5:29:33 PM

thanks, hopefully i'll be able to try that tonight.

i actually tried Ghost 2003 again last night, after reading and finding that setting the command line options "-ir" would force it to clone the "raw image", ie ignore any errors etc (plus i had to make sure the entire disk was selected rather than just the partition/volume on it--it was easy to click the wrong one).. anyway, with those options set, it seemed like it was working, and i left it overnight.. but in the morning i found that it finished about half of the copying (4 hours worth), and then froze.

so time to try True Image i think...
January 22, 2007 11:14:45 PM

an update:
1st, i forgot to note, in case it helps anyone--I've had to reboot many times lately, and every reboot used to invoke a chkdsk on my bad drive, which took a good 10+minutes that I didn't know how to stop. solution: before rebooting, in the run window (or at a command prompt) i type "chkntfs /x e:", which tells it not to scan e: next reboot. a huge time saver at this point.

2nd - after Ghost 2003 crashed halfway through the clone process, i rebooted, and chkdsk naturally ran on the new drive--after 20 minutes or so it finished, and i was back in windows.. and it looks like about half my lost data was there (105GB worth or so). so it looks like this is working, if i can just get it to clone the whole drive correctly.

3rd - so I downloaded the TrueImage trial version, made a boot CD from it, booted from that and tried to start the clone process--but it says cloning only works from within windows if you're using the trial version. OK, i'll try from within windows. seems silly to me, cloning while within windows--but why would it offer that option if it didn't work somehow? so I initiated the windows TrueImage cloning process about 40 minutes ago.. and it says 0 progress so far, and 1 day 7 hours remaining. Not very encouraging...
January 23, 2007 9:16:43 PM

TrueImage update:

ugh!

well, i came home and TrueImage (within windows) said it had completed the cloning, and needed to reboot. ok, i said to reboot.

but it doesn't reboot.

i can press F2 to go to setup.. it shows the new SATA drive, plus my 2 IDE drives etc (fyi i cloned disk 2 to disk 3; disk 1 has my bootable C: drive with WinXP so shouldn't be affected I would think). but once i exit the bios, there's a blank screen and nothing happens. i tried hitting F8 (thot that was to be able to go to safemode.. tried every other Fkey as well), but nothing.

so i disconnected the SATA drive, tried again.. this time, Windows loads normally. (so strange--windows booted fine when only half of this cloning process worked via Ghost, and the new SATA drive became my G: drive, with the old bad drive still my E: drive. Now it doesn't boot with the new drive connected, after the clone process).

that's where i am now. any thoughts welcome!
January 24, 2007 1:30:26 AM

as I said to use true image correctly you need to do it via the cd and not from windows ;) 

now during cloning you did not tell it to wipe the source drive clean after cloning is done did you?
January 24, 2007 1:37:23 AM

no the source is still fine i presume (now that would be quite the mistake!). and i copied it 'as is' to try and duplicate it entirely.

if i boot from the TrueImage CD i made, it can see the files on the old and new drives (when i tell it to restore and you have it browse for backup files it made), so it seems like the cloning mostly worked.. if i could just boot..

guess next i'll have to try again w/ the full version, doing it from the CD...
January 24, 2007 1:40:51 AM

when I make clones from the CD its just ready to boot I'm not sure what you got going on over there, but I would disconnect the clone and then see if the original will boot.
January 24, 2007 1:55:06 AM

yeah when i disconnect the clone (and thus revert my system to how it was) it boots fine (but windows still thinks the bad drive is empty). (my boot disk is my IDE primary master drive fyi, the bad drive is the IDE primary slave)

when i add the clone now (my primary SATA drive), it no longer boots. (even though it did boot with the SATA drive when the SATA drive was half full, after my partial clone with Ghost).

not sure what that all means, but that's the current situation
January 24, 2007 2:15:06 AM

is it possible that w/ the SATA drive in, it thinks that should be the boot C drive.. tries to boot from it, and of course there's no boot info there? how does it determine which drive is the C (boot) drive anyhow? i don't see any boot options in setup other than 'use the C drive' (as opposed to the CD, floppy, etc).. nothing about 'make the SATA [or some other] drive the C drive'.

if this is indeed the problem why it's not booting now, of course, i have no idea why it would happen now, but not after the half-successful clone that Ghost did, when all three of my drives were recognized as i would like, ie:
disk 1 (boot 80gb, ide primary master) = C: drive,
disk 2 (bad 250gb, ide primary slave) = E,
disk 3 (new 500gb, sata primary) = G.
January 24, 2007 3:07:13 AM

Whatever drive you want to boot from - you have to set it THIRD in Boot Priority up in the BIOS; cd drive is first; floppy is second. If no floppy drive, then the boot hd should be second.
January 29, 2007 12:54:57 AM

ok, finished w/ the hard drive (finally!), yeah!

what i did (after cloning the bad 250gb drive to the new 500gb SATA drive, using TrueImage):
1) boot from the WinXP installation disk (since my machine wouldn't boot w/ both the SATA and old PATA drives in).. go to recovery mode.. then can run chkdsk from there on the new SATA drive.
2) even after that, though, it wouldn't boot, doh! but then i hit F12 on boot (instead of F2 to go to setup), which brings up boot options--I had always done "boot from C: drive", which is the only option you can make the default in setup--but another option at F12 is "boot from Master IDE" (or something like that.. as opposed to SATA), and then it booted.. done!

notes
a) probably 1) would not have been necessary if I had done 2) from the start (and then could've run chkdsk on the SATA from within windows), doh! [interesting though, when i booted from the winXP bood CD, the C: drive is indeed the master IDE--the SATA drive was my D: drive. so I still don't know why "boot from C drive" doesn't work, ie why it thinks the SATA is the C drive apparently once it tries to boot]
b) every reboot, I still need to hit F12 and "force" it to boot via "Master IDE" or whatever. I can't make it the default, as far as i can see (the only BIOS setup boot options are "boot from CD", "floppy", or "C: drive"). that's annoying. oh well.
c) annoying note that cost me a bunch of time digging etc.. i guess booting from my WinXP CD is flaky or something--when i first booted from the WinXP CD, it froze before showing any options.. next time, it only offered windows setup, not recovery mode (still don't know why). So I thought my CD didn't have the recovery mode (which some websites warned was possible, since it's a Dell CD, not Microsoft).. and I did lots of digging to find alternate ways to boot from a CD/floppies and then run chkdsk. Turns out, I just tried the WinXP CD again later, and it worked!

phew, that took longer than it should have, but at least it's done...
February 3, 2010 4:20:40 AM


I have a 500GB seagate external portable hard drive with similar problems. So far this is what I have done:

1)defragmented the external drive
2)ran chkdsk e:\r for 7 to 8 hours
3)reviewed the seagate log
4)tested my hard disk using seagate manager
5)contacted seagate and reported the varioius error messages found in the log. Seagate had me uninstall all of the seagate software on my laptop reboot and reinstall all of the seagate software.
6)switch USB cables

So far all of the above has not corrected the windows – delayed write failed. Windows was unable to save all the date for the file E: |Mft. The data has been lost. This error may be caused by failure of tyour computer hardware or network connection. Please try to save the file elsewhere.

When I have the delayed write failed I usually cannot go through remove hardware as the drive continues to spin. I have to pull out the usb cable. I also close any programs like itunes that I was using to save files onto my esternal drive. I run disk clean up and start all over again. I do not know how to correct the problem of the delayed write and would appreciate any information.

I read on another site about installing a filter which I did not understand and I read about altering the cache size which I also did not understand. I wonder what the likelihood that these would or would not correct the problem. Would prefer to diagnose the problem rather than the trial and error method as that takes so much time.

Also I have automatic backups of my laptop hard drive which is about 75 GB. I sometimes delete all the backup files and let it backup again. This too has not altered the problem as with a temporary increase of 75 GB in free space the problem occurs.

Again any insight in diagnosing and correctin the delayed write is appreciated

!