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 Post subject: Can't access Laptop HD from within Desktop
 Post Posted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 2:55 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jun 07, 2007 10:54 am
Posts: 196
Location: Minneapolis, MN
The inverter on my T42 finally failed, and I need access to the data on the laptop's hard drive. I've removed the drive from the laptop, placed a 44-pin to 40-pin PATA IDE adapter on it, and plugged the adapter into a PATA IDE cable and Molex power connector. I first tried running the laptop drive off of the primary channel as a slave, didn't work, the jumper block on the laptop drive is empty, so it might have balked at running in slave mode. I then tried running the laptop drive off of the primary channel as the master drive, with no slave. The POST hung after it declared it had found a boot record on the laptop drive. I then placed the laptop drive on the secondary channel, as the master drive, with no slave. The drive shows up in "My Computer," but when I click the drive, Windows says "The disk in drive D is not formatted. Do you want to format it now?" I then decided to look at the drive via VCOM Partition Commander 10, and it lists the File System as "Invalid," although it lists the partition ID as 0x07 NTFS. Here is the full readout it gives on the drive:


Logical Disk (*)
Logical Disk (*)


Volume letter:
(*)
Volume label:
[No label]
Type:
Primary
Boot status:
Active
File system:
Invalid
Partition ID:
0x07 NTFS
Hidden state:
Not hidden


Total size:
55.8 GB
Used space:
2047.9 GB
Free space:
0 Bytes
Serial number:
FC7C4000

There is something on the order of 35GB or so of data written to that drive. Why can't I access my drive's data, and how do I fix it? Thanks.


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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 6:48 am 
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Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2007 11:44 am
Posts: 6114
I've encountered similar situations to this many times, I even documented one on p. 473-474 of URWindows.

Basically this occurs when something has overwritten or corrupted the VBR (Volume Boot Record) of the partition. The fix is to restore the existing VBR from the backup automatically created by Windows (only applicable to FAT32 or NTFS volumes), or to simply rewrite a new VBR from scratch.

You could restore the backup (copy the sectors containing the backup to the sectors occupied by the corrupted original) using a sector editor like DSKPROBE (incl. with the Windows Support Tools), WinHex http://winhex.com or others:

Chkdsk Does Not Use Backup Boot Sector to Fix Corrupted FAT32 Boot Sector
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/247575

Recovering NTFS Boot Sector on NTFS Partitions
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/153973

A far easier method in most cases is to use the FixBoot command in the Recovery Console (NT though XP) or the BootRec /FixBoot command in the Recovery Environment (Vista) to rewrite the VBR from scratch:

Description of the Windows XP Recovery Console
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314058

How to use the Bootrec.exe tool in the Windows Recovery Environment to troubleshoot and repair startup issues in Windows Vista
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/927392

Note that data recovery operations can cause further damage if things go wrong, to help prevent that a professional would copy the disk first and only do the repair on the copy: viewtopic.php?p=841#841

Let me know which method you choose, and how it works out. Scott.


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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 9:48 am 
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Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2007 11:44 am
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Although it is too late to be helpful in this particular case, I wanted to point out for others and for the future that there are at least two ways this whole problem could have easily been avoided:

1.) Just plug in an external display! You could have used the laptop as-is with an external display attached.

2.) If the system is running a Pro/MCE/Business/Ultimate edition of Windows, you can access the system from any other system on your network via Remote Desktop Connection (RDC):

How to use the Remote Desktop feature of Windows XP Professional
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315328

For example, I have several systems I use all the time that literally have only a power cord and a network cable plugged in the back. There is no need for a keyboard, mouse, display, speakers, etc. when I can access those systems from another that has those items attached.

RDC is one of the best features of XP Pro/MCE and Vista Business/Ultimate editions. Unfortunately RDC is *not available* in XP or Vista Home editions, which has become one of the biggest reasons I avoid those.

Note that you can use a Windows Home edition based system to access other systems via RDC, but the systems being remotely accessed *must* have Pro/Business/Ultimate.

Bottom line: I only recommend installing the Pro/Business/Ultimate editions of Windows on new systems, and I recommend setting up RDC for future remote access for troubleshooting or other purposes. Scott.


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 Post Posted: Tue Oct 30, 2007 10:46 am 
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Joined: Thu Jun 07, 2007 10:54 am
Posts: 196
Location: Minneapolis, MN
I can't figure this out. Booted up the machine today, between the Windows XP splash and log-on screen, took a little longer than normal. Read what you had posted, decided to reboot PC with XP CD-ROM in drive, rebooted, didn't check to ensure a DVD-ROM drive was plugged in, booted to Windows, logged, in, the laptop drive is now accessible. However, what I *can't* do is access my primary user account folder, D:\Documents and Settings\Username, as it states "Access Denied." How do I get around that?

Edit: Obviously wasn't thinking, forgot I had to log into an admin account to access all files on another Windows install. Should have woken up earlier.

1) I did attempt to bring up the laptop on an external display, via the port replicator, DVI. For some reason, it never came up, and pressing "Fn+F7" didn't work.

2) Since 2001, I have only used WinXP Pro. I guess I should install RDC on all installs, just in case.


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