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Need help 1 of 2 hard drives seems to have gone bad and cant boot.

Last response: in Storage
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September 12, 2012 12:25:33 AM

So here is the ordeal:

I have 2 segate hard drives, one is a 1.5tb and another is a 500gb. The first has windows 7 installed and the second has vista installed. When I boot I get a screen that allows me to choose what OS to use. It all worked just fine with my windows 7 allowing me to reach in to the vista hard drive to pull out old files (it became my storage bin for heavy files and stuff).

The problem is that yesterday when I tried to run a program off the 500gb hard drive wtih vista whilst running windows 7 it didnt let me and then I saw the hard drive was no longer accessible and said it needed to be reformatted. So I restarted my computer and checked the bios to see if the BIOS could still see the hard drive and it did. It booted once more in to windows 7 where I checked the hard drive and it still seemed to be connected but not accessible. I tried to see if there was any way to access it but couldn't so I turend the machine off because I didn't want to start screwing things up.

Today after doing some reading on Hard Drive failure symptoms I cautiously proceeded to try and boot it up again to run a few tests to see if it can be salvaged but now it wont even boot. The 500gb hard drive doesnt show up in the BIOS anymore but seems to still be spinning smoothly and it doesn't sound like something is broken or it isn't stuck on repeat sort of noise. When I try to boot it says "Disk Information: no hard disk is detected" and asks me to reboot and select proper boot device or insert boot media. So now I am stuck and dont know what to do. I tried changing the boot devices but still get the same result.

Sorry for the long post but I wanted to get all of it in there.

System:
Intel Core i7 920
Mobo is an Asus P6t Deluxe V2
12gb DDR3 ram
GTX 295 Nvidia GPU
One CD/DVD drive and one Blue ray drive.

More about : hard drives bad boot

a b $ Windows 7
a c 104 G Storage
September 12, 2012 7:17:46 PM

Hi Jason, & Welcome to Tom's Hardware!

Your 500 GB HDD may well have failed.
I'm assuming these are both Internal SATA drives? First thing is to replace the data SATA cable with a new one in case it's the cable, instead of the drive.

Then go to Disk Management, and in the graphical lower section, if you could upload and show a screenshot of your drives, that would be very helpful.
Second best would be to read exactly what is below the Disk column (left) and the color of the band above the Volume column, and exactly what it says there (right).

That info will determine if there is a next step in Data Recovery.
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September 12, 2012 7:45:55 PM

See the problem is that ever since my last restart I cant get the 1.5tb hard drive with windows 7 to boot. I tried swapping the SATA cables for the apparently failed 500gb hard drive and the windows 7 one but to no avail. I tried also switching the boot sequence in the BIOS, and disconnecting the failed hard drive all together, but I still can't get it to boot windows 7. :o 
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a b $ Windows 7
a b G Storage
September 12, 2012 8:28:10 PM

your only option now is to put in the Windows DVD (boot from it) and hope a restore file system works

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it won't even boot into safe mode?
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a b $ Windows 7
a c 104 G Storage
September 12, 2012 8:30:33 PM

Hi Jason,

I would guess your initial setup was the Vista 500GB HDD which booted normally. Then later you added the Win-7 on the larger HDD in dual boot?

If so, the MBR and boot manager was on the 500GB drive, which has now failed. Ugh. Let us know if that is correct.

Do you have the Win-7 Installation DVD there? If so, possibly you can access the Windows Recovery Environment, and choose StartUp Repair. That may recognize the absence of the MBR, boot code, and boot manager, and rebuild them on the Win-7 HDD.
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September 13, 2012 1:11:06 AM

Okay so somehow I was able to get windows 7 to boot after running and fooling around with the Startup Repair. I am not able to see that the vista hard drive still shows up "(:F)" but cant access it. Here is a screenshot of my Disk Management window:

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Best solution

a b $ Windows 7
a c 104 G Storage
September 13, 2012 2:22:13 AM

Hi Jason,

Congats, you were able to run the startup recovery and have the recovery environment rebuild the MBR, partition table, & bootmanager. Disk 0 has those components included in the single partition, rather than a system reserved 100MB separate partition, but that's fine.
So Disk 0 will boot normally and you have win-7 and any data on that disk. The only thing I would do is, in Disk Management, to right click on that large partition, and shrink it down to say 500 GB. That would give you Unallocated space of 700 GB to save, to Partition as a separate Volume and Drive letter, for data or other programs etc. Don't have to, just a suggestion. How much you can shrink an NTFS volume depends where on the disk files were stored. Running Defrag could move some closer to the front giving you more space to work with

Now the other disk 1 is listed as a healthy single partition (where Vista was?) but there is no File System (RAW data). It has lost it's file system.
This is the disk that was temporarily not recognized by the OS?

EaseUS has a data recovery wizard, that possibly can recover the data from that drive.
Here is the URL that actually talks about converting RAW data back to a file system without losing data.

http://www.easeus.com/resource/raw-file-system-to-ntfs....

It's worth reading and downloading the free EaseUS program, and seeing what you can get back.

Remember you now have the boot blocks on the Disk 0 Win-7 disk, and that will be your bootable drive.
You may not be able to get a functioning Vista on Disk 1, but any data should be recoverable.
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September 13, 2012 10:42:45 PM

Okay so I was able to rebuild the file system and the drive seems to be up and running with no issues. I did some checks with that software and it said the drive was healthy. Just be sure I backed up my important files on a second drive and checked the connection. I also made a 550GB partition for my programs and such as suggested and de-gfraged both drives over night and earlier this morning.

As for a cause, apparently one of the plastic brackets that holds the SATA cable in the 500GB drive had broken off so maybe the cable came lose and the drive went haywire because of it? Fixed that with some silicone and everything fits snug.

All in all I think I am back in business. Thanks for all the help John_VanKirk, you saved me a real head ache there.

One last thing. Would it be better if I kept a small solid state drive to hold my operating system and just used the 500GB 5400rpm drive to store big files while using the partitioned 1.5tb for files and programs?

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a b $ Windows 7
a c 104 G Storage
September 13, 2012 11:07:05 PM

Hi Jason.

Yes, that sounds like a good plan for data, programs, and older stuff.

You have a very nice high end fast system, so having a 256GB SSD for your OS and everyday programs would really make it fly! It makes a hugh speed difference.

The difficult part would be shrinking down the OS partition as much as possible and temporarily moving data, images, videos, music off the 1.5TB drive.
You will need to have the OS partition equal to or slightly smaller than the SSD drive, to be able to clone the partition over to it. Subsequently you could arrange your data and programs on just the large partitioned drive, or both.

One thing to consider, is using a partition on one of the drives for the Win-7 BackUp and Restore feature, where you could Image and Incrimentally backup your Operating System partition on a weekly or so schedule. Once set up, it takes about 7 minutes to run. That way if anything does "go wrong", you could Restore the image back over to your main drive and be back in business.

Or you might think about doing a clean Win-7 Install on a new high speed SSD sometime down the road, and having a clean really spiffy system.
With Win-7 and all its features (or even Win-8), I can't see why you would want to hang on to the older Vista software.
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September 24, 2012 6:18:10 AM

Best answer selected by Jason87.
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