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Corruption on Dell Dimension Hard Drive (Seagate) - PC now unbootable


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#1 Rhydgaled

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 06:16 AM

I am currently terrified that I may have lost the computer I use for my video editing hobby. I have come here in the hope that somebody will be able to help me get it back up and running. The computer is as follows:

 

PC Model: Dell Dimension 8400

OS: Windows XP Home Edition (service pack 2 or 3)

CPU: Pentium 4 HT 3GHz

RAM: 3GB (1GB from new, plus 2GB added since)

Primary Hard Drive (C:): Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 160GB (I think the model number is ST3160023AS) – OS is on this drive

Secondary Hard Drive: 500GB (or thereabouts) – added when I ran out of space on (C:)

Tertiary Hard Drive: external USB drive (somewhere between 2TB and 4TB if I recall correctly) – added when I ran out of space on the second internal drive

 

I was busy capturing and watching some of my videos one evening when Windows Media Player reported that it's media library was corrupt (or something like that) and that I needed to restart the application to rebuild the media library. I restarted the application several times, receiving the same error each time. I thought nothing of it and shut the PC down, assuming it would work fine when I turned the machine on the next day. When I tried to turn it back on, it bluescreened: Unmountable Boot Volume. Oh dear. I probably tried turning it on a few more times, just in case the BSOD was a one-off; but no such luck.

 

Windows didn't blue-screen while I was using it; only Windows Media Player complained; so maybe, just maybe, my application software and data files are uncorrupted. Google has however warned me that, depending on what is wrong, any attempt to read from the drive could cause further damage. Eek!

 

I had an old Ubuntu CD given to me years ago so I disconnected all three hard drives to see if it was a 'Live CD' that wouldn't reformat the drive. The CD did boot, but selecting the 'try without reformatting' option only gave me a logo (a loading screen, I assume) for ages and didn't reach the Linux desktop. I also tried booting Windows (XP and 7) off an old laptop hard drive in a USB hard drive enclosure, but neither OS would boot off that disk even when I put it back in the laptop afterwards. So, what to try next?

 

  • I could try the repair steps (system file checker, chkdsk, etc.) listed for BSODs using a Windows XP service pack 1 CD/DVD from an older Dimension (or would that disk only be any use if I wanted to reformat the drive and install a fresh copy of Windows?)
  • I could try the Live CD (or a new one) with the C: drive connected and see if Linux will mount the drive and allow me to recover data, after which I can do the above to try and save the OS
  • I could do something with the Seagate Seatools (what I don't know)
  • I could try and figure out how to use ddrescue/parted-magic to make an image of the drive, then burn that image to a new drive and try some of the above options
  • I could take the PC to somebody else and pay them to do the above for me (but would be worried whether the person I have taken the drive to has the necessary experience)
  • or should I do something else?

 

What would you recommend? As well as saving my data, I also want to avoid the hassle of trying to reactivate some of the software I had installed like the Adobe CS3 collection.

 

I know, I know; I should have backed up. My excuse is that I was a student with no income for many years and balked at the cost of the backup media needed (and possibly another PC, or a Synology NAS, in which to mount that backup media). My data-preservation tactics have been to always unplug the PC when not in use (power surge avoidance) and never connect the PC to the internet (so viruses and hackers can't get in). What I should do to resolve my current lack of a backup facility now that I have a job is probably a question I should put on the backup sub-forum...


Edited by hamluis, 17 June 2018 - 12:21 PM.
Moved from Internal Hardware to Disk Mgmt - Hamluis.


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#2 SleepyDude

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 06:45 AM

Hi,

 

Because you need to recover the data you should focus on this first:

 

I could try the Live CD (or a new one) with the C: drive connected and see if Linux will mount the drive and allow me to recover data, after which I can do the above to try and save the OS

 

Sorry I have to say this, there is no excuse to not have backups because there is free software you can use to create the backups to the external HDD you already have.


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#3 RecursiveNerd

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 08:30 AM

I would try booting into a Linux Live CD to see if Linux can mount the drive. If so, back up all your data on there as best you can. I'm sorry to say, but you're going to have a hassle reactivating your software unless you have the activation codes on you. I don't think you're going to be able to repair your drive in order for it to be bootable for Windows.

 

Another option is to remove it from your current machine and connect it to another computer using this or this. If it's readable by windows, you can try getting your media off there.

 

Other options include using software to try and recover the data: https://www.piriform.com/recuva.

 

These are all on the premise that your hard drive still spins when it receives power.

 

Your last option, if it is absolutely necessary, is professional services: https://www.securedatarecovery.com/services/desktop-data-recovery (IT WILL NOT BE CHEAP).



#4 Rhydgaled

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 12:35 PM

Thanks for the two replies received so far.

 

Sorry I have to say this, there is no excuse to not have backups because there is free software you can use to create the backups to the external HDD you already have.

For some reason (probably because I bought that external drive with expanding capacity in mind, because both internal drives were full) I never thought of that. Kicking myself now...

 

Anyway, now that you have put the idea in my head (and having now learnt the 'thou should back up' lesson the hard way) I tried to use that external drive to back up the Windows 7 PC I use for accessing the internet. For the Windows 7 PC, I want to use the built-in Windows 7 system image backup tool. However, Windows 7 fails to back up, so I still have no backups and need to buy some new drives. When I looked up the error message that appears I found that others who have had this error cannot backup because the drive they are trying to use is an 'Advanced Format' one (4KB sectors). I'm guessing therefore that my external drive is also an 'Advanced Format' and therefore cannot be used with Windows backup. Does anyone know how I can find a new USB hard drive (2TB in size I'm thinking) with the old 512 byte sector size so that I can actually back up my Windows 7 PC? I'll also be needing a new internal hard disk to replace the failed one inside the Windows XP desktop; since Windows XP predates 'Advanced Format' I'm guessing I need a drive with 512 byte sectors for that as well.

 

So, what I think I need to do now is:

  1. buy a new 2TB external drive and an internal (1TB or 1.5TB), both with 512 byte sectors
  2. backup my Windows 7 PC (500GB HDD if I recall correctly) to the new external drive
  3. connect the new internal drive and the failled one to the desktop PC
  4. format the new drive with two partions, one for the OS (250GB or thereabouts) and one for other data (I'm assuming the BIOS can format a new HDD, if not could I do this by booting from a Dell Windows XP CD/DVD?)
  5. boot into Linux from CD/DVD or USB and try to copy data files from the failed drive onto the data partion of the new internal one
  6. use Linux to try and image the failed drive, storing the image in the data partition of the new disk then buring the image to the OS partition
  7. try to use the Dell Windows XP CD/DVD to repair the OS on the new drive (can I do this given that it is probably the wrong service pack version of Windows XP on the CD/DVD?)
  8. if 7 is successful, use some freeware to create an image backup of the new OS partition and store this on the new external 2TB drive
  9. remove the failed hard drive from the desktop, put at put the second HDD back in
  10. back that second HDD (which is mostly video files) up to the 'Advanced Format' USB using Windows Explorer copy+paste, and make a copy of what is on that external drive on the data partition of the new internal disk

My main doubts at the moment are:

  1. whether I can obtain new drives with 512 byte sectors (if not, am I snookered?) and
  2. whether to swap steps 5 and 6 round (is imaging the drive more or less likely to cause further corruption than digging arround looking for individual files to save?)


#5 hamluis

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 12:55 PM

REF:  https://www.dell.com/support/article/us/en/04/sln146650/system-image-support-for-advanced-format-hard-drives-on-dell-business-client-notebooks-and-desktops?lang=en

 

Louis



#6 SleepyDude

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 02:44 PM

Hi,

 

My suggestion is to use Macrium Reflect Free for the backups because its more robust that Windows 7 backup feature.


Edited by SleepyDude, 20 December 2017 - 02:45 PM.

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#7 Rhydgaled

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Posted 04 February 2018 - 05:52 AM

Thanks again for the replies, and my appolgies for the delay in responding. My management of the little free time I have is pretty terrible at the moment and I only just got around to trying anything.

 

What I have done is download Ubuntu 10.10 from http://old-releases.ubuntu.com/releases/maverick/ and 'burnt' the ISO to a USB stick. Unlike the Ubuntu LiveCD I tried before (which is badly scratched), I was able to use this to boot into the Ubuntu desktop. I then shut down, reconnected the failed HDD, and booted back into Ubuntu. Unfortunately it was unable to mount the hard drive; Google suggested that I also look at the drive using GParted which showed that I had some hidden (recovery?) partitions on the drive but there was an exclamation mark icon next to the main NTFS partition. There was also a message saying something about having failed to calculate number of free clusters (input/output error) and that ntfs is inconsistent. This message also suggested that I run chkdsk /f on Windows then reboot twice, but since that is not a read-only operation I have not done so yet (I want to preserve the current state of the disk in case I ever decide I need to send it to a professional data recovery service).

 

To that end I have downloaded the ISO from this website: http://www.system-rescue-cd.org/ since I believe it includes ddrescue (I am assuming I need to use this, rather than something like Macrium Reflect, to clone a corrupted disk byte-for-byte). Thus, if anyone happens to have a link (to save me some Google time) to a good tutorial on how to use ddrescue to image the drive to another drive then 'burn' the image to a partition on a new drive that would be helpful. I would then run chkdsk on the new drive, leaving the original drive alone.

 

Also, can any Windows CD/DVD (Dell Windows XP, Toshiba Windows XP, or MSDN-AA Windows 7) be used to run chkdsk on any Windows system or do I have to somehow work out which service pack of XP is installed on the broken machine and find an appropriate CD/DVD?

 

I have looked on the manufacture's websites and it appears they do still produce '512 native' hard drives, so that will avoid the advanced format issues. Now I just need to get on and order a new HDD...

 

Hi,

 

My suggestion is to use Macrium Reflect Free for the backups because its more robust that Windows 7 backup feature.

 

Thanks for that recomendation, Macrium was one of my options for backing up the Windows XP machine assuming I manage to get it going (since I think I read online that the built-in system image tool in XP will only save the backup to floppy disks) so following your advice I have now choosen to use Macrium and also used it to backup my Windows 7 machine.



#8 SleepyDude

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Posted 04 February 2018 - 07:14 AM

Hi,

 

This link shared by someone on this forum may be of interest https://html5.litten.com/make-full-image-of-broken-raw-infected-or-encrypted-hard-drive-with-free-tools/

 

Yes a Windows 7 DVD can be used to run a chkdsk on a XP disk, boot from the DVD like if you are installing until you see the option Repair my Computer from there you can access the Command Prompt to run chkdsk.


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#9 Rhydgaled

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Posted 17 June 2018 - 12:05 PM

Thanks again for your help people. Time for an update of how I've been getting on since the above posts.

 

Months ago I started trying to rescue this PC using ddrescue. On the first attempt I used the following command:

 

ddrescue /dev/sda sg160.ddrimg sg160rl.ddrmap

 

It took 4h 42m 57s and I was left with 126 errors, errsize 370 kB and 99.99% rescued. Since then I have been running it most weekends with various arguments to try and recover more data. The first time I used the -d (direct disk access flag) it cut the errsize from 195 kB to 24576 bytes (the error count both before and after that run was 47). The command used was:

 

ddrescue -r3 -d /dev/sda sg160.ddrimg sg160rl.ddrmap

 

As time went on I grew impatient and kept increasing the number of retries. Eventually the errsize was reduced to 12288 B and the number of error to 23. Given that my computer is old, the sector size will presumably be 512 bytes meaning I have 24 bad sectors on the drive. After running ddrescue with a high retry count three times (see commands below) and recovering nothing more I decided that those sectors were probably unrecoverable.

 

ddrescue -r384 -d -R /dev/sda sg160.ddrimg sg160rl.ddrmap

ddrescue -r256 -d -R /dev/sda sg160.ddrimg sg160rl.ddrmap

ddrescue -r384 -R -d /dev/sda sg160.ddrimg sg160rl.ddrmap

 

I took the old hard drive out and put in a new one. Today, I instructed ddrescue to copy to the new drive and Windows XP managed to boot after running chkdsk on boot. I am however a little concerned about the 24 bad sectors on the old disk. Since there was only 5GB of free space on the 160GB drive I guess I would be very lucky if all those bad sectors are in empty areas. The on-boot chkdsk didn't wait for me to read its output when Windows started so I've run chkdsk /V from the command prompt in Windows. The output was as follows (line spacing is mine to make it easier to read, and I am 'eyeball copying' not copy+paste):

CHKDSK is verifying files (stage 1 of 3)...

File verification completed.

 

CHKDSK is verifying indexes (stage 2 of 3)...

Index verification completed.

Detected minor inconsistencies on the drive. This is not a corruption.

 

CHKDSK is verifying security descriptors (stage 3 of 3)...

Cleaning up 2 unused index entries from index $SII of file 9.

Cleaning up 2 unused index entries from index $SDH of file 9.

Cleaning up 2 unused security descriptors.

Security descriptor verification completed.

 

CHKDSK is verifying Usn Journal...

Usn Journal verification completed.

 

Correcting errors in the Volume Bitmap.

Windows found problems with the file system.

Run CHKDSK with the /F (fix) option to correct these.

 

It goes on to list total disk space, number of files and indexes etc. It says there are 0 KB in bad sectors.

Alarmingly, it also states that there are 4096 bytes in each allocation unit. Does that mean the new drive I have purchased (a Barracuda Pro ST2000dm009) is not a '512 native' hard drive? I even asked on this forum (this topic) to confirm that it was a '512 native' drive before ordering one.

 

Is it possible to tell from the above whether any of the 24 sectors ddrescue was unable to recover are part of my files (or part of operating system files)? And what are the 'minor inconsistencies' that are not 'corruption'?


Edited by Rhydgaled, 17 June 2018 - 12:08 PM.


#10 JohnC_21

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Posted 17 June 2018 - 08:50 PM

Alarmingly, it also states that there are 4096 bytes in each allocation unit. Does that mean the new drive I have purchased (a Barracuda Pro ST2000dm009) is not a '512 native' hard drive? I even asked on this forum (this topic) to confirm that it was a '512 native' drive before ordering one.

 

4096 refers to the NTFS file system and has nothing to do with the drive itself. It's the cluster size so NTFS would use 8 sectors of the HDD for one allocation unit.

 

https://www.howtogeek.com/136078/what-should-i-set-the-allocation-unit-size-to-when-formatting/

 

https://superuser.com/questions/1031069/hdd-ssd-physical-sector-size-if-metadata-is-included

 

Is it possible to tell from the above whether any of the 24 sectors ddrescue was unable to recover are part of my files (or part of operating system files)? And what are the 'minor inconsistencies' that are not 'corruption'?

 

You need to know where the bad sectors are located.

 

https://superuser.com/questions/97823/how-do-i-determine-what-file-occupies-a-given-sector



#11 RolandJS

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Posted 18 June 2018 - 12:52 AM

"...As time went on I grew impatient and kept increasing the number of retries..."

Retries?  Meaning the utility keeps trying over and over to read an encountered problematic or bad sector?

If yes, then, those retries possibly if not probably decreased the chances of data recovery from such sectors.

Data recovery will continue to be a very geeky operation.


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#12 Rhydgaled

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Posted 22 June 2018 - 04:24 PM

 

Alarmingly, it also states that there are 4096 bytes in each allocation unit. Does that mean the new drive I have purchased (a Barracuda Pro ST2000dm009) is not a '512 native' hard drive? I even asked on this forum (this topic) to confirm that it was a '512 native' drive before ordering one.

 

4096 refers to the NTFS file system and has nothing to do with the drive itself. It's the cluster size so NTFS would use 8 sectors of the HDD for one allocation unit.

 

https://www.howtogeek.com/136078/what-should-i-set-the-allocation-unit-size-to-when-formatting/

 

https://superuser.com/questions/1031069/hdd-ssd-physical-sector-size-if-metadata-is-included

 

Is it possible to tell from the above whether any of the 24 sectors ddrescue was unable to recover are part of my files (or part of operating system files)? And what are the 'minor inconsistencies' that are not 'corruption'?

 

You need to know where the bad sectors are located.

 

https://superuser.com/questions/97823/how-do-i-determine-what-file-occupies-a-given-sector

 

 

Thanks. I have the mapfile that ddrescue produces which lists the byte offsets of each of the errors it found. Using the WinHex instructions in your link, I have come up with some rather unexpected results. Most of the bad sectors appear to have had data written to them (ie. are not just all zeros); my guess is that these have been written to after 'burning' the ddrescue image to my new hard drive but wouldn't they still be flagged as bad sectors so that the system doesn't write to them anymore, even though they are not bad on the new disk? I understood that I would need to run chkdsk /b at some point to make the sectors that were bad on the old disk available for use on the new one.

 

As for files, there were none that I recognise. WinHex reported that:

  • the first 15 bad sectors all contained the file "C:\$LogFile"
  • 2 bad sectors contained "C:\System Volume Information\_restore{hexstring-with-hyphens}\RP984\A0335914.INI"
  • 1 bad sector contained "C:\Documents and Settings\My Name\Local Settings\Temp\382b_appcompat.txt"
  • 3 bad sectors contained "C:\$Bitmap"
  • 1 bad sector contained Free Space

Should I be concerned about any of those files or are they things that the operating system will rebuild automatically as needed?

 

The other two bad sectors were reported as containing files in the Program Files folder (one .mdf and one .ldf) that appear to be something to do with one of the video editing applications I have on that PC which, judging by the file path, is making use of MS SQL Server for something (I don't know what; I wasn't previously aware that video editing software used a database).

 

"...As time went on I grew impatient and kept increasing the number of retries..."

Retries?  Meaning the utility keeps trying over and over to read an encountered problematic or bad sector?

If yes, then, those retries possibly if not probably decreased the chances of data recovery from such sectors.

Data recovery will continue to be a very geeky operation.

 

Meaning I ran ddrescue repeatedly while increasing the value after the r parameter (eg. -r3 to start with and -r384 just before I finally gave up). So yeah, I guess it was trying over and over to read the sectors, but I don't know in detail exactly what ddrescue does on each read attempt (eg. does it save individual bits from each read and, if some of them match up on all 384 attempts, it stitches them together to recover the data???)
 



#13 RolandJS

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Posted 22 June 2018 - 05:06 PM

I better wait for others to reply, I do not have ddrescue experience.

 


Edited by hamluis, 02 July 2018 - 10:28 AM.
Unnecessary quotebox removed - Hamluis.

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#14 Rhydgaled

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 04:26 AM

Would it help if the topic was renamed, now that I appear to have recovered most of the disk using ddrescue, to something like "Putting the pecies back together from a ddrescue image of a bad disk"?

 

Having done some Googling, it appears that "C:\$LogFile" and "C:\$Bitmap" are system files related to NTFS and "382b_appcompat.txt" might be related to the 'run application in compatibility mode for previous Windows version' feature. However, I didn't find out enough about those files to establish whether they are 'self-healing' or whether I need to do something to repair/replace them before using the computer to continue the video editing projects that have been on hitatus since the computer failled.

 

Also, I still don't know why my 'bad sectors' (bad on the old disk, that is) appear to contain data; I thought the ddrescue image was empty where it found bad sectors (meaning nothing would have been written to the new disk, leaving all zeros, where the bad sectors used to be). I can think of a few possible explanations, but which is it?:

  • I didn't translate the error offsets in the ddresuce mapfile correctly, so I was looking at the wrong sectors (I don't think I did it wrong, but I've never done anything like this before so it's certainly possible)
  • NTFS never marked the sectors as bad and, by some amazing stroke of luck, most or all of them were empty so when I started the machine up with the new disk NTFS/Windows started writing in those spaces
  • a critical part of NTFS (possibly the file table itself) was in one of the bad sectors, leading to the system to think the bad sectors were free space (as opposed to marking them as bad or as containing (part of) a file) allowing NTFS/Windows to write in them once I started the machine up with the new disk
  • NTFS never marked the sectors as bad and "C:\$LogFile" and "C:\$Bitmap" were located in them but were automaticlly repaired when I first started the system with the new disk; that doesn't explain "382b_appcompat.txt", "A0335914.INI" or the SQL server files though (maybe some of those sectors were all zeros actually; I think I came accross some that were but cannot remember now which were on my bad sector list; if you think that's important I can check again)

My Google search for "A0335914.INI" returned no results, so I still don't know whether that is an important file that I should try to repair/replace before using the system.

 

I think what I need help with at this point really is finding out:

a.) whether critical files are damaged due to the bad sectors on the old disk and my system will be unstable if I try to use it,

b.) whether any of my user-created files are lost/damaged (looking like I'm probably ok here if the list of files above is the correct list of what was in the bad sectors) and

c.) whether I need to try and get my PC to boot from a Windows 7 DVD so that I can run chkdsk /b (I don't think chkdsk in Windows XP has that argument).


Edited by Rhydgaled, 04 July 2018 - 04:28 AM.


#15 JohnC_21

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 10:41 AM

I don't think you need to worry about those bad sectors in the $Logfile. The others are in a temp file, free space, System Volume Information which holds Restore Points and $Bitmap. I think the only way to find out if your system is stable is to run it. You can also do a chkdsk /r on the new drive to attempt recovery of any bad sectors. I would also run defrag on the new drive.

 

Bad sectors on a NTFS disk can contain data. If the drive cannot access the sector it allocates it as a Current Pending Sector waiting to be Reallocatted. It will keep it's Pending Sector attribute if the sector cannot be read so it's entirely possible you can have bad sectors that still contain data.

 

You can run GsmartControl and look under the Attribute tab for Current Pending Sectors and Reallocated Sectors. 

 

https://gsmartcontrol.sourceforge.io/home/index.php/Downloads

 

I think you were fortunate in getting as many sectors recovered as you did. 






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