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Partition Problems...

Last response: in Storage
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June 2, 2010 11:19:25 PM

I have a 250gb LaCie external drive that I use to store music, photos, etc. I went out of town this past weekend and, when I got back, the drive was no longer functioning. It used to have two partitions (called "LaCie" and "EXCHANGE") but when I fired up my computer after getting home, there was only one partition (the size of the whole disk) called "Untitled" which didn't contain any of my files. I shut my computer down before leaving for the weekend, but I think that the external drive is kept spinning even when the computer is off. In addition, the person that I'm living with borrowed my mouse for the weekend; since these are both USB devices, it is possible that he nudged the drive's cable while removing the mouse. I have no other guesses as to how this could have occurred.

Anyways, to me it seemed that the partition table had probably been wiped. With that in mind, I searched for free ways to restore a drive that had been wrongly partitioned for free (I'm a college kid - the music can be... reobtained... and the pictures are at home. Losing the drive isn't the end of the world. While I would like to restore the files, I'm not really willing to use some of my meager funds to do so) and I can across two programmes - TestDisk and PhotoRec (which can be found here).

Photorec is supposed to get the files off of a broken hard drive, so I tried it first. The problem was, all of my files were coming out in little pieces - all of the mp3s were broken into 30 second clips, etc. No good.

So then I tried TestDisk. And I've gotten some interesting results.

On my drive, EXCHANGE was an 8gb FAT32 partition (so that I could move things from my mac to a windows machine and vice versa) and LaCie was the rest, but it was HFS+ for use with my mac machine (I got the drive when I only had a mac laptop, now my main computer is an ubuntu linux desktop which has never had trouble accessing either partition in the past). So when I ran testdisk, I did two searches - one for intel based formats and one for apple formats.

I got that there was one FAT32 partiton that essentially occupied the entire drive: it started at spot 64 and went until spot 488397168, the last spot on the drive. There was also one HFS partition that was located essentially in the middle of the FAT32 partition (from 912952 to 473231567), but was still listed as a primary partition.

QUESTION #1:
Does anybody have any idea as to what this could mean? If I wanted to create a drive with this type of partitioning, what would I have done? When I first partitioned the drive, I just used some software that was already installed on the drive; obviously, this software has been lost. I've looked on the LaCie site, but I can't seem to find this software anywhere else. Figuring out how to attain a partitioning system like this would probably be useful.

It is possible that the FAT32 partition just appeared because the entire disk was all one partition - untitled. But, assuming I wanted to recreate EXCHANGE as a separate primary partition, how would I make one partition be in two different spots on the disk?

QUESTION #2:
Theoretically, would using something like gparted to rewrite the partition table so that it matched (or was as similar as possible to) the original partition table restore the data? I know that all of the info is still on the disk - I just can't get to it.

SUBQUESTION 2a:
Can I rewrite the partition table as many times as I would like without doing anything/much to the data on the drive? As far as I understand things, the partition table is just like a map to the drive - changing it deletes the data on the drive in the sense that the data can no longer be found by the computer - but the data is still on the drive. Is this the correct way of looking at things?

QUESTION #3:
Does anybody know anything more about partitioning a drive/know of a place that I could go to ask the same questions where there might be people who know a lot about hard drive? Cause I know basically nothing haha. Also, has anyone ever seen a problem like this before? It wasn't as if the drive wasn't mounting, it was just mounting under a different name with no files appearing.

Whoever has read this far, thank you very much! In addition, any further help would be very much appreciated!!!

More about : partition problems

a b G Storage
June 3, 2010 11:40:32 AM

My impression is that the partition table is corrupt. Not a huge problem as long as we know the drive itself is not defective. Unfortunately I am not familiar with what Partition repair tools may or may not be available to you in Ubuntu.

However I would read this article first.
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/DataRecovery

Failing any success there....

Rather than get bogged down in what happened to the partition table, how, and trying to manually repair it (which is unlikely) I would focus on ensuring that the drive is still ok. Cut your losses, repartion the drive and format it then if you have not encountered any further problems, run whatever drive diagnostic utilities you have on the drive.
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