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 Post subject: MBR erased
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:03 pm 

Joined: Sat Jun 02, 2012 2:45 pm
Posts: 2
Vista Home Premium on a Dell 1720 laptop got corrupted. While the PC seemed to remain fully operational, an attempt to do a backup, prior to reinstalling Vista, failed. The backup routine could not detect the internal (source) hard drive with the corrupt OS installed. Attempting to do an "update" with the Dell supplied Vista CD also failed; needed an additional 1.9 GB of space on a drive that had over 30 GB free. A Catch 22 head scratcher. The only recourse that I could think of was a full install which would wipe out all data on the drive. I did a manual backup to an external HDD to preserve all I thought important. I then tried the full installation which failed at the very end offering up a black screen with an active cursor but nothing else. In desperation mode I decided to erase the hard drive OS partition and start from scratch and, yes, in doing so, I erased the MBR; a lesson learned the hard way.

Powering up with the UBCD in place results in a black screen with "invalid partition table". Powering up with the Vista CD gets me a little further until it asks to load the device driver but cannot find the HDD device needing it.

All the hardware tests performed using the UBCD; HDD, Memory and CPU passed. To avoid tossing a perfectly good hard drive (Fujitsu MHW2160BH PL) is there any way to write this record to the disk while it's in the PC, assuming the MBR is available within, or more likely, elsewhere, and where might that be? Fujitsu transferred support to Toshiba awhile ago and, looking for a source of drive initiation software, I could not find any support there.

All advice I've seen online does not address the problem of a blank, fully erased HDD.

Maybe a simpler alternative would be to buy a new hard drive. This wouldn't be too painful since the now useless one on hand is only 160 GB and runs at 5400 rpm. An upgrade is overdue. My only concern here is whether or not the Dell supplied Vista OS Installation CD is up to the task of a full install. Right now a questionable unknown.

I'd appreciate any helpful advice relevant to this problem.

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 Post subject: Re: MBR erased
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:44 pm 
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Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2007 11:44 am
Posts: 6180
Maybe I'm misunderstanding but if you have backed up all the data from the drive then the current status of the MBR is immaterial. Merely boot from an OS install disc (supplying the chipset drivers if necessary), then create a new partition on the drive and install the OS into it. The act of creating a new partition will also (re)create the MBR.

Note that you should be able to boot from the UBCD or the UBCD4Win regardless of the status of the internal HDD. Seeing an "Invalid Partition Table" message immediately after the POST (Power On Self Test) indicates that your boot sequence was improperly set in the BIOS Setup such that you were trying to boot from the HDD (and not the CD) and that the MBR code is fully functional (that message is *generated* by the code in the MBR), however the partition table (16 bytes of data) within the MBR is invalid or corrupt. That would be automatically repaired during the OS installation process when you repartition the drive.

During the OS installation you may need to supply chipset drivers for Windows to detect the drive. If for some reason you cannot find or supply the correct drivers (you would get them from the chipset or motherboard mfr.) then you could change the SATA host adapter setting in the BIOS Setup to "IDE" mode instead of AHCI, which will make the drivers unnecessary. If you can't install the OS successfully via supplying the correct drivers or by changing the host adapter mode then perhaps the drive is defective. In that case the solution would be to install a new (properly functioning) drive. The Dell supplied install disc should be able to perform a clean install unless the disc itself is somehow defective (another possibility). Scott.

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