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Help! My computer won't boot Where'd the C: drive GO?

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September 25, 2009 1:47:05 AM

I have a custom made computer that was made for me by a reliable, local computer dealer. That's almost all they do. That was over three years ago.

The mother board is an ASUS K8V SE with a socket 754 AMD 64 processor, 2GB memory, Sound Blaster audio board, G-Force video board and 4 160GMB Seagate hard drives. The C: drive is in a RAID(1) mirroring configuration taking up two drives (Via). The two other drives WERE in a Raid(0)data sharing config with a Promise controller until I lost the connection between them. I have two DVD drives. I then just used the D: drive all by itself, the other drive isn't working. I think I screwed that last drive up by making it a Dynamic drive.
I also have a 120GM Seagate USB drive just for storage and a USB Sandisk mini-flash card reader.. and a Logitech cordless mouse.

Here's my situation: I was smart enough to make a CD emergency
boot disk and can get into the recovery counsel and into a very basic DOS. I also have the Win XP Pro installation disk with all the goodies on it. There are so many "auxiliary" programs on that disk that I don't know which, if any, might help me. Besides that, they all have the .ex_ on the end so I guess they need to be expanded.

I've tried the DOS "fixmbr" and the "fixboot". The error message is that the C:\ disk isn't recognized.

I ask DOS for a "dir" of C:\ and get "there is no floppy disk or CD in the drive."

A C:\>CHKDSK says "The volume appears to contain one or more unrecoverable problems."

A C:\>MAP shows A: \Device\Floppy0
G: \Device\CdRom0
H: \\Device\CdRom1

So where do I go from here?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Robb

More about : computer boot drive

a c 362 G Storage
September 25, 2009 1:54:13 PM

Your C: drive (as Windows sees it) is not really just one drive called C:. It actually is two physical drives managed by a Via controller in a RAID1 array, made to appear to Windows as one drive. So if Windows can't see it, get out your RAID system manual and read how to enter the RAID management screens during boot-up and diagnose / solve any problems with the RAID array.

You MAY have a problem with only one of the two disks in the array. In such cases most RAID1 systems I've seen will alert you to the problem and keep on working, using only the remaining good disk, until you fix it. Apparently this is not happening for you. So see what the RAID system tells you.
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September 25, 2009 3:55:37 PM

Well, truth be told, I had a computer tech come out to the house and configure the four hard drives. So I realy don't have any "raid system manual" to turn to.

I seem to remember that there was some kind of "readme" information that was stored with both the Via & Promise controllers. Unfortunately, they files are stored on the C:\ drive which I can't get to. I'll still do some online research at Via and find out what they have to say.

Do you think that I should seperate the mirrored drives and work on them one at a time?

I'm afraid that if I really bolix one of them up so the data is UN-recoverable, at least I'll have one "good" drive to send to the "digital recovery" folks, whoever and wherever they are. :sarcastic: 

Robb :sol: 

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a c 362 G Storage
September 25, 2009 6:25:23 PM

You would be wise to read all you can about how your RAID system works until you understand it well. Go to websites for both your mobo and the VIA chipset you have and look for RAID details and manuals. The nice thing about RAID1 is that it maintains two exact and complete copies WHEN it is working normally. But if one of the drives has a problem it usually can continue functioning with only the remaining good drive for a while.

The starting point for you probably, AFTER reading up on the system and its built-in tools, will be to go into the RAID management system (there's usually a prompt offering this choice on the screen during boot-up for 5 to 10 seconds) and see what it says. It normally will show you the status of the whole RAID1 array and, if there is a problem, which drive is faulty. USUALLY only one drive has trouble and the other is OK.

Now, IF that is your situation, one good option will be to Break the Array, which puts you back into two completely separate drives. Of them, one will be perfectly OK and you will boot and run from it. The other will have trouble to fix. The plan is to fix that problem, then go back into the RAID management system and ADD the fixed second drive so that the RAID1 array can be re-constructed.

BEFORE doing anything else, if you've got to the point where you can use the system with a good drive full of data, BACK IT UP! Then VERIFY that your backup is good. If you can, make a second backup. That puts you in a safe place to work on the drives without losing it all.

Now, what sort of trouble could one drive have? You should certainly download from your drive maker's website some good diagnostic utilities to test the drive thoroughly. Those tests can tell you a lot. In fact, if you end up believing that it is faulty and should be replaced under warranty, the first thing the maker's Tech Support guys will do is tell you to run those tests and report the results to them so they can diagnose properly.

The tests may disclose that your drive is just fine, and the trouble must simply be in bad data on it somewhere. In that case you probably will have in the RAID management tools a way to put this disk back into the RAID1 array and replace all its data, good and bad, with a fresh copy of the good data from the other disk. Problem resolved.

The test may disclose a real hardware error that either can be fixed by you with help from Tech Support, or is justification for an RMA and replacement under warranty. When you get the new drive, again you use the RAID management tools to add it back into the RAID1 array and restore it.

Worst case you decide you have to replace the faulty drive yourself. If so, try to get a replacement as similar to the original as possible. Most importantly, get one the SAME SIZE, or just a little larger. If you have mismatched drive sizes, the RAID system will create an array based on the SMALLER of the two drives available. Then use the RAID management software again to rebuild the array.

OK, absolutely worst case is: both drives are faulty. In that case, after breaking the array, you try working on each drive, at least until you can restore the data and get a good backup off the system. From then what you do to repair or replace both drives depends entirely on what it wrong with each.
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September 25, 2009 8:41:23 PM

I don't know what your first name is "Doc" but thanks so much for the time it took you to detail out your thoughts and instructions. I'm in a pile of "deep doo-doo" here because I'm out of my element and I'm hesitant to do anything lest I REALLY do something stupid N LOSE ALL MY DATA.

By the way . . .when this happened (meaning when I got the deadly "blue screen", rebooting and finding my C:\ drive gone), I had set the standard MS defrag program up, got the analysis information, told the program to defrag the C:\ drive, shut off the monitor and went to bed.

The next morning I got up, turned the monitor on and there was the bad news in blue with white letters. So, I did a cold boot and, like Houdini, the hard drive had vanished.

Does that give you any clue what had happened? I don't get it. It's the same program, same proceedure I had used many, many times before with no trouble.

If you would rather talk than type, you may call me at (616) 516-2998. I'm in Grand Rapids, Michigan and we are on EST. I'm available form 8AM to 1 AM any day. I'll be glad to call you back if it's a toll call for you.

Again, I am grateful that you've taken the time and effort to help a total stranger. That's very, very kind of you. Thank you.

Robb
(616) 516-2998

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a c 362 G Storage
October 8, 2009 4:29:00 PM

Here it is almost two weeks later and I just re-discovered this thread I had lost. Sorry for the delay.

Have you had a chance to search out and read up on how your VIA chipset on the ASUS mobo manages the RAID1 array? If not, maybe I can help. Let me know that part.

So the problem started because the hard disk (array) was being defragged overnight, and that somehow created an error such that Windows cannot boot from it. I'm not too surprised that the DOS apps could not use the RAID1 array. I suspect to do that they would need RAID drivers installed in the DOS environment, and those are missing.

My best hypothetical route would be to use the RAID management tools that are built into your mobo's VIA chipset and BIOS to break the array back into two separate disks. Before doing that, you should really make note of exactly what that software says about the RAID array - it may have specific notes about whether one disk is OK and the other has trouble. If that works, as I indicated earlier, my first step would be to make a backup of the good disk, and verify that the backup is good. Then you set the machine's BIOS so that it boots from the good disk, and the other unit is just a second HDD in the machine.

From there, the path depends on what can be identified as the trouble on the malfunctioning disk. If hardware testing tells you there is no fundamental hardware problem, it may simply be that some data is corrupted on that one disk. In that case is should be possible, using the RAID management software tools, to restore the array, using the known-good disk as the template and copying it to the faulty disk. That would be the relatively easy fix if it is available.

Again, sorry I have not kept contact with this thread. Let me know whether you feel you can work within the RAID management utilities to examine the array's condition and plan what to do next. If not, I'll see if I can find the info and coach you through.
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