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XP Setup not reading the drive

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#1 Julia-the-PCGP


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Posted 06 August 2012 - 06:50 AM


I am helping a friend as her computer refuses to load Windows.

The first thing I did was check that her files were in tact - I used a Acronis Rescue disk and was delighted to see that the files are all there, so I helped her to back them up to an external hard drive (as she hadn't done that recently).

I then did a disk scan using Linux Mint and it said it found 3 bad sectors and then said the disk had "Failed" the read test, so I told her the hard drive was faulty and would need to be replaced as soon as possible and then Windows reinstalled.

Despite the disk error, which seemed minor as it only mentioned 3 bad sectors, I thought I could re-load Windows XP for the time being so she could use it for a little while, until she could afford the repair or to replace the computer.

However, for some reason Windows setup can see the hard drive with the correct size, but says it's "unknown" and says that all the space is free (ie there are no files on it !)

But this is clearly wrong as both Acronis recovery disk and Linux Mint could both see the entire contents of the drive.

How comes Windows XP Setup says the drive is unformatted and empty ... when the other 2 programs say the file structure is perfectly in tact ??

I do hope you can help me.


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#2 hamluis



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Posted 06 August 2012 - 08:00 AM

<<How comes Windows XP Setup says the drive is unformatted and empty ... when the other 2 programs say the file structure is perfectly in tact ??>>

IME, this normally occurs when the hard drive itself is functionally sound...but the partition structure is damaged. More on this at RAW Volume (Quietman) - http://www.theeldergeek.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=36698 .

Typically, I just delete the volume and create a new one and reinstall Windows...but there are tools (such as TestDisk) which others have used to successfully repair such volumes (although I've not had success myself with such).

Hang on and I will see if I can get someone more knowledgeable to take a look :).


#3 AustrAlien



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Posted 06 August 2012 - 05:32 PM

You wrote: "How comes Windows XP Setup says the drive is unformatted and empty ..."
That is the "normal" response of Windows XP when it is unable to read (or make sense of) the necessary disk file-system information on the hard drive. Granted, it is not overly helpful, but it is a good illustration of why we find Linux so useful and valuable when dealing with Windows system problems.

Before considering the further use of that failing hard drive, we should really have a closer look at what has been going on, and at its current condition.

... a disk scan using Linux Mint and it said it found 3 bad sectors and then said the disk had "Failed" the read test ...

Let's have a closer look at that failing hard drive, by getting a look at the S.M.A.R.T. data using GSmartControl. Either use Mint (you may need to install GSmartControl first ... I am not sure whether your Mint version comes with GSmartControl or not) or create a UBCD bootable CD or flashdrive (UBCD uses PartedMagic, which comes with GSmartControl). I will include below, instructions for creating a UBCD CD and then posting the results of GSmartControl to this topic.

FIRSTLY ... Create a bootable UBCD ... CD

Please do the following on a working computer:
  • You will need a new blank writable CD.
  • Download UBCD and burn to a CD:
    Note: If you have trouble finding a download link here:

    UBCD download page: Download UBCD
  • Look under the heading: Mirror Sites
  • Try any of those listed websites which are hosting/providing the UBCD .ISO file for downloading.
  • An example direct download link to try would be:
  • Michigan Tech Linux/UNIX Users Group
  • Which in turn leads you to: http://lug.mtu.edu/ubcd/
  • and eventually the download link itself: ubcd511.iso
    (Sorry about it not being exactly straight-forward, easy and obvious!)
[/list][*]If you do not already have a suitable burning program for writing .ISO images to disc ...
  • Download and install ImgBurn.
  • Ensure that you UN-check the box agreeing to install the Ask toolbar during the installation.
  • Place a new (blank) CD disc in the drive tray.
  • Choose Write image file to disc.
    • Under Source, click on the Browse button: Navigate to and select the .ISO file that you wish to burn.
    • Place a check-mark in the box beside Verify.
  • Click Posted Image
[*]When the CD has been burned and verified as successful, it will be bootable.

SECONDLY ... Get the S.M.A.R.T data using UBCD > Parted Magic

Boot the ailing computer with the UBCD CD.
  • (You may have to configure the Boot Menu or BIOS Setup Menu to boot first from the optical/CD/DVD drive.)
  • At the first menu screen, select Parted Magic and press <ENTER>.
    Use Default settings ...
    Be patient until UBCD loads and you are presented with the Desktop.
  • Click Start (bottom-left-corner button) > System Tools > Disk Health (GSmartControl)
  • In the GSmartControl window that appears, click on the device that represents the failing hard drive (any other device may be a flashdrive if you have one connected) to select it.
  • On the top menu, click Device > View Details.
    A Device Information window for the failing hard drive will open.
  • Click on the Attributes tab at the top (to display the S.M.A.R.T data).
Save the S.M.A.R.T data as a text output by smartctl.
  • At the bottom of the Attributes page, click Save As.
  • Look at the default file name and location that the file will be saved.
    Default location will be "root".
  • Click Save.

Now to get the text file uploaded to BleepingComputer.com.

Establish internet connection

At the UBCD Desktop, click the 'start' button (bottom-left corner button) > Internet > Start network.
  • The Start Network Options window will open.
  • Ensure the appropriate option is selected, and click Continue ...
    The Network Utility window will open.
  • Ensure the appropriate option is selected, and click OK.
    You should now have a working internet connection.
Open Firefox and go to BleepingComputer site

At the UBCD Desktop, click the 'start' button (bottom-left corner button) > Internet > Firefox.

Attach file &/or paste text to a post
  • In your topic at the bottom of the page, click on Add Reply.
  • Under the text box, under the heading Attachments, click on "Browse" to browse for the file that you wish to attach.
    A file upload window will appear.
  • On the left-side, click on "root" to display the contents of the root directory.
  • You should see the text file there that you saved earlier. Click on it, to select it, and then click Open at the bottom-right of the window.
  • Back at the BleepingComputer.com forums window, click on Attach this file.
  • Now type a few words in the text box "text file attached" and then at the bottom click on Add Reply.
  • Note: If you are feeling confident enough to try it, you can open the text file with a text editor and paste the contents in a reply so it can be seen easily by anyone browsing the topic, if you wish. If you do this, don't forget to enclose in CODE tags to preserve the format/spacing.
  • Please enclose the pasted report in CODE tags so that the spacing/formatting is preserved (to make it easier for all to read).
  • Firstly, click on the "Insert code snippet" button Posted Image
  • You will then see the "start" and "end" code tags (highlighted in dark blue/selected in the image) in the text box.
  • Click between the two tags to insert the cursor between the tags and then press <Ctrl+V> to paste the report there.
[/list]All done!
Google is my friend. Make Google your friend too.

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