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From: George Rosser


·         The first thing I would try would be to make a boot disk from another machine and boot up the machine and see if it can read the drive.


·         If that didn't work, check the settings for the drive and the size of the drive if the user has been playing around with the system. It is possible they changed the LDA or other settings.


·         If all else fails, look at the user and tell them that they just learned a lesson the hard way tell the user that they should invest in a tape backup or similar item when the new drive is purchased...


From: Milciades Marrocchi


One thing I did successfully was to replace the HD electronics. The complete board is sometimes standard in many models of the same brand. If the problem is there, then chances are that you will get it to work. Replacing the external electronics of a HD is simple.


Another one I had was a disk that would not start spinning. We fixed it (and don't ask me why) by giving it some hits with the tips of our fingers (while powered on). At one point, it started spinning and we could get out its data.


From: Marco Antonio


I like to use shiramitzu. It´s a powerful software provided (free) by ontrack (www.ontrack.com), I found it when I had some hd´s with their boot sector erased by Chernobyl virus and this software allowed safe backup of the files in it.


From: Lawrence Taylor-Duncan


1. Look up manufacturer, model number etc. on drive. At same time, check jumper settings on drive correctly set to MASTER. If there's a slave drive check its settings, too.


2. Search for model in the Microhouse Technical Library using your trusty laptop (call yourself a tech? OF COURSE you have a copy of this in your arsenal...).


3. Write down manual settings from Microhouse database (# cylinders, etc.). If you need jumper settings above, they're there too! If no Microhouse Library available, try manufacturer's Web site, (this all assuming this setup data is not stamped on drive).


4. Enter data in CMOS


5. Save and re-boot.


Time to completio–n—10-15 minutes.




6. Check CMOS to insure on-board controller not disabled. Disconnect slave. Check ribbon cable is not bad. Check ribbon cable is in correct IDE slot. Check that IRQ 14 has not been used for manually setting another peripheral (if so, reclaim IRQ for controller).




7. Controller may be bad. Install drive in alternate computer with good controller to test, or try 2nd controller slot using IRQ 15.




8. Boot sector or partition table possibly bad in drive. Could use Norton Utility to debug if you like living dangerously. Other alternatives include sending drive to OnTrack for data recovery (expensive), or re-FDISK and start all over (free, but data gone).


From: Curtis Coons


Run Norton's recovery disks. This is done from DOS.


From: Mike Metcalfe


The process of restoring a drive is fairly straightforward. It relies on just a few facts:

1. The drive data is in BIOS correctly.

2. The data cable is in good condition.

3. The IDE port on the main board is functioning.

4. The drive powers on, i.e. you can hear it spin up.


Having been a field engineer for a number of years, this is one of the worst situations we face. The customer is frantic about the possibility of losing some or all of his data. He never thought that this would (or could) happen to him. He has made no effort to back up his data but now wants you to perform some magic that will save the day (and his data).


Onsite retrieval of data is at best a risk that poses undesirable consequences for both the customer and the technician. Your first action is to be as honest with the customer as you can be. Tell him in no uncertain terms that you may not be able to save anything. This does two things: first it allows the customer to prepare himself for the worst outcome (no data), and secondly it allows you to proceed with more confidence in that you are not going to be held responsible for the data that was (or still may be) on the hard drive.


The technical stuff is basic. You should be carrying with you a working boot disk. I like to use my Windows 95/98 setup disk, the one that gives me several options on how to proceed after the initial boot process. I first look at the drive (physically) and get as much information off of the case as I can. Usually it will include how many cylinders, heads and sectors the drive has. I then go to Setup and input this information in the BIOS. Saving that information I boot to my trusty boot disk and hopefully get an

A: prompt.


Using Fdisk I look at the drive and see if it still has a DOS partition. If it does then I switch to the C: prompt (if it comes up, I then breath a sigh of relief) and look at the directory tree. This only means that I can see the FAT (File Allocation Table), I still may not be able to actually get data off of the drive. Remember that while you are working in DOS, your file names are in the 8.3 format and any information transferred in that environment will be rendered difficult if not impossible to use. So let’s say that we have been blessed with a good Directory Tree and we can see the desired information buried somewhere on the platters. Knowing I will most certainly replace the drive, I need to attempt to get the data off of it in its most usable form, which will be in a Windows long filename format.


At this point, I'm excited enough about becoming the local computer hero that I pull the drive out and hook it up as a secondary drive to a working system. I then boot the second system and see if it will recognize the drive. It does, and I happily transfer the data to a directory on a good drive where I can either burn a CD for the customer or restore it to the new drive when it becomes available.


If you have no second drive available to install the failing disk drive into you are now going to have to make a tough decision. This premise is far too vague for actual fieldwork but we will say that the customer has no idea where his data resides on the drive (the usual case). Being familiar with the 8.3 format you then ask him what the last 3 letters of the filename was. He states .doc or .wpd or some other format. You do a file search such as "dir *.wpd/s" which will then search the drive and its subdirectories for the data. You then can move the data off of the drive to a floppy and even though you may have to rename all of the files back to whatever they were originally named, you have the praise and honor of being the guru of the moment.


At best you can hope to get some data for the customer, at worst you now have a working knowledge of the system and its integrity (i.e. controllers, peripheral cards, etc.) You also have the opportunity to discuss valid backup options with the customer. But that is another story.


From: Joe Blackledge


Recently I had a machine that would lock up at various times. This was a critical PC attached to a piece of measuring equipment. There was a lot of time invested in writing the measurement programs stored on the hard drive. Of course, the programs were not backed up.


I discovered that if it was cold (had been off for some time), it would run for about 10 minutes. To make a long story short, it was a heat-related problem with the hard drive. The warmer the machine got, the shorter the period of time the hard drive would work.


I opened the case up, took the hard drive out, stretched the cables out and replugged them so the drive was outside the machine. I found two large zip-lock bags and filled them with ice. I laid the drive on one of them and placed the other on top. I waited about 30 minutes for it to get real cool. I connected a zip drive to the parallel port and booted the machine. I had plenty of time to make a complete backup to the zip disks. I actually let it run for a couple more hours just to see if it would keep working. When I shut it down, it was still working fine. I installed a new hard drive, restored the data from the zip disks and made a lot of people happy.


From: cpruszko


1. Try the "auto" settings in the BIOS again

2. If that does not work, use a DOS formatted boot disk, boot the system to the a: drive, type "C:" to see if you can access the hard drive. If this works, back up valuable files then re-install Windows.

3. If that does not work, you can take off the cover and reseat the cables and try again.

4. If that does not work, you will have to go to a third party utility or reformat the drive and re-install Windows.


From: Joe Dougherty


The quiz scenario didn't mention the operating system in use, so I'll assume the user has Windows 95/98 installed on the system.


One simple and valuable tool to have up front is some kind of boot disk, either a Windows startup boot disk from the original software package, or a recent DOS boot or setup disk. I keep a set of DOS 6.22 setup diskettes in my toolkit, since the first disk has an extremely important tool: fdisk. (We

run a completely NT shop at my company.)


My first inclination would be to open the system and peek at the cabling. PC ribbon cables are notorious for wiggling free from drive connectors, or, even worse, not being installed securely in the first place. Even the mild vibrations from a power supply fan or even moving a CPU case just a few feet could possibly work the cable off the connector enough to give errors. Eliminate that right off the bat.


The next thing to do would be to reboot the system, get into the CMOS or BIOS settings, and reset the BIOS for an automatic setup of the drive (this also assumes IDE drives). Many modern BIOS setups have a utility that scans and sets IDE drive settings. This would be helpful to get the hardware synched up properly. Make sure the system correctly detects the drive. This should be apparent on the information screens that appear when the system reboots.


If the hardware still can't detect the operating system, one of two things might be wrong. Either the Master Boot Record on the hard disk is corrupt or damaged, or the system is attempting to boot to a partition that isn't bootable. This is where fdisk helps (no matter what operating system you use).


At this point, I would reboot the system using the DOS boot diskette. The Microsoft DOS 6.X setup diskette allows you to boot to the first setup screen, then press F3 to exit to a prompt. Fdisk is located on that first setup diskette. From the A: prompt, start fdisk and have a look at what the current partition settings are.


The first thing to look for is to see if there are multiple partitions, and if so, which one is active. If the C: partition is not labeled active, use fdisk to set it to active and try rebooting.


If that fails, the Master Boot Record on the boot partition may be corrupted. Reboot to the DOS diskette, and at the A: prompt, invoke the fdisk command using the /MBR switch. This won't start fdisk, but it will rewrite the Master Boot Record and may allow you to boot the system back to the hard disk partition. I've done this a number of times on systems running Windows 95/98, Windows NT, Linux, and OS/2.


From: edward.fearon


So your hard drive has failed, eh?


And it’s got that all important invoice/CV/document that you cannot afford to lose...


"It was working last time I used it" and "I never touched it" drift into the conversation.


In the case when a HD has failed, it can be due to a number of factors (so many that I wont indulge you). However, one that I find that regularly is the fact that the drive will not spin up (listen for spin up and spin down sounds). This can be a common problem particularly after a cold spell, or after a weekend when the machine has been stuck in your spare room in the cold. I have it on good authority that often this is caused by the lubricants on the spindles getting thicker due to a temp drop... and the HD motor not having enough inertia to overcome the (now thicker) lube.


Well, you may just be able to recover most of the HD, or perhaps even just that one file if you...


1) Take out the hard disk of the System Unit... get your local Techie Guru to do it for you if you aren't happy…

2) And give it gentle twists along its horizontal axis.

3) Plug it in and try again... if it works, go to step 9 ASAP.

4) Switch on the monitor.

5) Rest the HD on the top back end of the monitor (forget it if you have a TFT!), where the HD will gently warm up over the next 4-8 hours.

6) Put that disk back into the machine while it’s hot/warm.

7) Cross your fingers.

8) Switch on the power.

9) If it works start ripping off the data as fast as you possibly can, if not put it on a radiator, and leave for a while (then go to step 3).

10) If under warranty send it off, or if not buy a new one!


And if that fails...




Or call a professional Hard Drive Recovery Service!!!


From: Dan Calloway


I would take the following approach when trying to revive a hard drive that doesn't boot up and where there is no startup disk that had previously been made: There are really three different tasks involved here. (1) To get your data off the hard disk; (2) you must make the disk hardware respond to the system; and (3) you may want to make the disk bootable again and perhaps keep it in service. Here are the steps involved:


(1) Boot from the floppy drive with whatever drivers and system files your system uses, then try to read drive C. The first and most important piece of data on the hard disk is the MBR and the partition table. There are a number of programs that will read an MBR. One such program is a DOS program called Fdisk. Norton Utilities is another.


(2) If you can read drive C, backup the contents of the disk and then either reformat the disk and reload the data. If you can't read see drive C, then start Fdisk or some other MBR reader to see if the system acknowledges the existence of the hard drive.


(3) If the drive isn't recognized, then check for loose connections and check the drive's configuration in CMOS. Is the drive too hot or cold? Is it spinning at all? Remove and reseat the controller. A controller swap might possibly make the drive respond where it wouldn't before.


(4) If drive C is recognized, then examine the partition table located in the MBR with Fdisk or Norton Utilities, to see if the partitions are well-defined (they should be for a drive that worked previously).


(5) If the partitions don't exist on the MBR, then the response is to rebuild or restore the data to the disk. You may have to rebuild the MBR from a previously backed up copy of it or, if you haven't backed up the MBR, steal an identical MBR from another PC by backing up the MBR from a working machine onto a floppy diskette and restore the MBR of the troubled PC.


(6) Reformat the first track of the disk with an autoconfigure controller. If you can low-level format the disk, then use HDTEST or some other selective low-level formatter to reformat the first track. If this doesn't work, then there is probably a physical problem with the drive at cylinder 0 head 0. Take another hard drive with identical characteristics and partition layout and boot from it. Then park the good drive, disconnect the power leads from it before disconnecting the data cables, connect the bad drive up to the system via power and data cables and unpark it.


(7) Next finish up by examining the DBR or DOS boot record. This is the first sector in the DOS partition. It contains a small program that loads the hidden files and boots the operating system. You can repair the DBR by further examining the data structure inside the DBR called the BIOS Parameter Block or DPB. It describes the disk, how many FATs are on the disk, how large the clusters are, what the total number of sectors on the disk are, and so on. You can reconstruct the DPB from a program called DISKLOOK or Norton Disk Doctor. You can write the good data from a working disk to the non-working disk using these utilities to revive the drive.


(8) Once the data has been extracted from the drive, throw the bad hard drive away.


From: Frank Luna


Upon reading the error, this appears not to be an issue with the drive but the controller or the logic in the auto drive setup. If so, this should work.


Place the drive in a different machine and check all jumpers. Boot from a floppy disk and pray that a drive overlay (disk manager, Ontrack, EZdrive) was not used to setup the drive.


From: C.K. Smith


This is not an easy one to answer. All of it can depend on the problem at hand (what type of hard drive) and the error messages received. Sometimes, certain brands of hard drives (such as Compaq and CTX) have no "raising the dead". If there is no internal clock, and the hard drive doesn't realize it is there ... well ... except for replacing the CMOS chip, say "ADIOS"!


From: Steven Troester


A lot of time a drive failure is not the physical drive, but the drive's circuit board. I've successfully revived dead drives by finding (sometimes purchasing) an identical drive and carefully swapping the circuit boards.


From: marian1


The situation you suggest best describes inability of BIOS to determine the type of your primary hard drive. Its parameters can be determined from the h/d manufacturer's sticker and entered manually in SETUP under USER or MANUAL entry, depending on your BIOS. The parameters can also be downloaded from Technical Support site of the manufacturer as pdf file and read using Acrobat.


From: Jim Augherton


I would go into setup and make sure that the hard drive is configured properly. Already had it happen.


From: Tim Payne


Sometimes you need to run a check on a disk but you can't get it to load NT to run it. For example, you get an inaccessible boot device. One way to run the check is as follows:


·         Take a set of Windows NT Setup Boot floppies and begin a new install.

·         If you don't have a set of boot floppies, you can make a set from the Windows NT CD. Run Winnt32/ox from the i386 directory.

·         Do not upgrade but choose 'N' for a new install. When prompted for a directory name, choose WINNT2 by simply adding a '2' to the suggested location, which is the current location of your crashed NT. Choose

·         "Leave the Current File System intact" when given the partition choices.


By installing to the same partition you will be given the chance to do a complete scan. Do the thorough scan and when it's complete, you will see a message that indicates that changes were made and to press 'F8' to restart your computer and begin the setup.


Remove your floppy and/or your CD-ROM. When your machine reboots you will see your familiar boot menu and the process continuing normally. What's left is to log in to your regular installation. There will be no WINNT2 directory or changes to your boot.ini but simply your repaired NT installation. If this does not work, or CHKDSK cannot be run the MFT may be corrupt. Here is the solution to that one.


1. If you have a second boot of NT on another partition you may be able to boot into this to do the repair. Otherwise mount the disk on separate system running Windows NT, assigning it a known drive letter.


2. Execute Dskprobe.exe from the NT4 resource kit.


3. From the Drives menu, select Logical Volume.


4. From within the 'Open Logical Volume' window, double click on the drive letter of the corrupted volume.


5. Remove the check from 'Read Only' check box and select the 'Set Active' button. This establishes a handle to this volume.


NTFS maintains an exact copy of the first records of the MFT in the MFT mirror. The next few steps copy the first four records from the MFT mirror to the MFT, fixing the MFT.


6. Select 'Read' from the 'Sectors' menu.


7. In the 'Read Sectors' window, if 'Starting Sectors' does not already read "0", type in the number "0" and select the 'Read' button.


8. Select 'NTFS BootSector' from the View menu.


9. From within the NTFS information window, select the 'Go' button next to 'Clusters to MFT' field. The Sector "X" for 1 that is displayed in the Title Bar is the cluster number that begins the MFT, WRITE THAT "X" NUMBER DOWN.


10. Once again repeat 6 and 7 to return to the BootSector 11. Next, from within the NTFS information window, select the 'Go' button next to 'Clusters to MFT Mirr' field.


You have just selected the spot where the copy of the first few records of the MFT exists, you will copy and paste from here:


11. Select 'Read' from the Sectors menu.


12. In the Read Sectors window, type "8" in the Number of Sectors field and select the 'Read' button. (We are gathering the sectors to write into the original MFT location.) What we're trying to get is 4 1024-byte MFT records, and that means 8 512-byte sectors.


13. Select 'Write' from the Sectors menu.


14. Type in the "X" number that you WROTE DOWN above into the starting sector to write data field and select the Write It button, reply to the message: Are you sure you want to permanently overwrite the data in... with the Yes button.


15. Quit Disk Probe.


16. Open Disk Administrator, select the partition you just fixed.


17. Right click and select 'Assign Drive Letter.’


18. Select Do Not Assign A Drive Letter radio button and select OK, selecting Yes in the Confirm window that appears. This dismounts the partition.


19. Do steps 17 and 18 again, but this time re-assigning the drive letter. This re-mounts the partition. You should no longer get a message box indicating the drive is broken at this point. If you do, then some part of this rescue process went wrong.


20. Run chkdsk X: /f from the Command Prompt. If you get errors fixed, run chkdsk X: /f again and again until no errors are found and reported fixed.


From: Thomas W Lawrence


·         First replace the IDE cable to your hard drive

·         If that don't work, second, you could make this drive a slave install a new hard drive and try copying the drive to the new drive or…

·         One could access the drive by using Western Digital E-Z Bios. This disk comes with most Western Digital hard drives and comes with a software program to copy the one hard drive to the other.

·         You could install a new drive and using the software from this disk, copy the entire drive to the new drive.

·         I have done this several times and it worked.


From: rob.hardman


I have used the following techniques very successfully for a number of years:


1. Put the hard drive in the fridge for about 1 hour. Sounds crazy, but this works if the drive suffering from a heat-related problem.


2. Get hold of an identical working drive, make, and model. Swap the PCB from the working drive to the faulty one. If the PCB was the problem, the faulty drive will now be accessible again.


3. If the PCB was not the problem, then the HDA is. Chances are if it is not accessible, then the boot sector/partition info has been trashed. You can use Norton Disk Doctor to directly edit and repair these areas. Having done this, you can use Disk Clone or Norton Ghost (with ignore errors switch) to then selectively copy the readable sectors off to another disk.


4. If all the above fails, the drive has probably suffered a head crash and the heads or the disk platters are physically damaged. In this case, you need to engage a specialist data recovery service. They will remanufacture the drive by replacing the damaged parts and recovering the readable sectors off the damaged platters.


From: David Forster


·         The first thing is to find out what was the last thing the client was doing before the crash.

·         Sometimes, the clue gives a starting point.

·         The next is to suspect a virus and boot with a clean disk from my arsenal. If no virus is found, then check the drive parameters to be sure they are correct in the CMOS.

·         Then boot to the A drive with fdisk on it, run "fdisk /mbr to reset the "master boot record" onto the drive. If the drive was set up with EZ or Ontrack, then possibly their utility could be used to bring back the drive.

·         Also, most manufacturers have good diagnostic programs available at their respective Web sites. I.E.; MUD from Maxtor; Wdiag from Western Digital, etc. Third party vendors also have various utilities to bring back a drive; Symantec (Norton), and Ontrack, to name a couple.


From: tal


1. I will enter into the machine BIOS and see whether it will identify the HD. If not, I will open the machine and look to see if the data cord is connected and the power supply is connected and give them a little push again (sometimes it misplaces)

2. Then I will try again to reboot it and check again within the BIOS (if it will not work or the user tried to install a new hard drive when it happened, I will look at the SCSI termination if this is a SCSI HD. If it is a EIDE, I will look at the jumpers settings of the EIDE drives because some HD will not work with the jumper sets as primary with other drives on the same channel [primary or secondary] so the jumper should go out). Then again I will reboot the machine and if it will not work or be recognized inside the BIOS, my last resort will be to take out the drive plant it in a different machine and see if the 2nd machine will work with it.


From: Sami.Hanninen


Hello, here's my suggestion:


1. Diagnose if the fault is in the drive or in the machine by plugging the drive to another computer (preferably identical). If you don't have one, go to a computer store and ask them to try it out.

2. If the fault is in the drive, try changing the controller to identical one (from an identical disk)–—that is sometimes possible, sometimes no–t—be careful in this step. With controller, I mean the controller in the bottom of the drive, not the computer's.

3. If that didn't help, plug the drive to a computer which recognizes the parameters of the drive correctly and try a disk reviving tool like Norton Disk doctor (if your partitions are format that it understands) or some other that understands your partition format.

4. If the partitions do not exist anymore, at least not visibly to the computer and nothing else helps, it's best to send your drive to a company that restores your data—if it's important enough. Because this kind of restoring costs a lot.


From: Anirudh Singhania


The data cable connected to your hard disk is not functioning properly, or your hard disk has crashed. The only circumstance when the computer cannot detect your hdd from the bios setup very directly means hdd failure or data cable failure.


From: Adil M. Niazy [adil_niazy


If the PC can't detect the hard disk type from the setup, then we definitely have a hardware problem. Any of the following may solve the problem.

1. Open the case and check that the power and controller cables are connected properly.

2. Try a working hard disk to test that the controller, cable, and power are okay.

3. If you have a similar working hard disk, try changing the PCB (IDE board) on the back of the hard disk with working one.


From: James Fylan


Whenever I've come across a drive that's got that funky dying tick-tick rhythm on power up, I call upon the ancient and mystical powers of gumbyism and smack it repeatedly about the upper housing with a blunt object. It may be dumb but if the drive is caught early enough, the 'gumby mallet of might' will often give you enough time to whip that data off....


From:Meng Ling Lee


I will try the following:


1. Disconnect disk drive and reconnect again.

2. Make sure the disk connection and the power are connected properly.

3. Check the jumper setting on the disk drive and the disk controller.

4. Access Setup and run 'Auto Detect' to detect the disk drive type.

5. Listen to the disk drive when it is booting.

6. Notice the disk drive LED when it is booting.

7. Boot from floppy disk and run 'FDISK' to display the disk drive capacity.

8. Make sure the disk drive is the primary and set "Active.”

9. If the file system is FAT32, try to display the content of the drive by type in “DIR C:”

10. Try to transfer system to the disk drive by type in ”SYS C:”

11. Move the disk drive other machine, and repeat steps 1-10.

12. Repeat steps 1-10 with other working disk drive to confirm the problem.


From: Walt Lonnborg


First, check to see if a nonboot floppy was left in drive A: The CMOS may be set to read the floppy drive first and will give an error trying to read a nonboot floppy.


Check controller cable connections and power cable connections. Check to see if the power cable is loose or the flat ribbon controller cable is loose at the drive or the controller/motherboard connection.


Check to make sure the cable red line side is plugged to pin 1 at the Hard Drive and the controller/motherboard.


Check the jumpers on all drives for master/slave settings.


Turn on the computer. Hit the Del or other key combination to get into the CMOS setup utility. Make note of the Standard settings for the drives. Verify them with the settings required for the drive. You may autodetect the drive if there are no settings for it. Older computers require you set these settings manually.


Reboot the machine and check the settings. If the BIOS has lost these settings you need to replace the motherboard battery.


If it autodetects the drive, try a reboot. If you can read the drive backup everything you can. You can backup files from a DOS prompt. You don't have to get Windows running to backup essential data.


If the reboot doesn't work: Set the CMOS to boot from an appropriate operating system diskette A: or CD and reboot.


If you can read the drive backup everything you can. Use fdisk /mbr to rebuild the boot record. Try to reboot. If reboot still doesn't work, reinstall the operating system.


From:Ian Steele


A common problem with incorrect CMOS settings is that the C: drive will not boot. Providing the CMOS settings are valid (that is that they do not specify a bigger drive then what the drive is), then the system should be able to see the drive if you are booting from a diskette.


If you can see the drive from a diskette, then you are very close to recovery. Adding another hard drive and xcopying the data will save the data. You can then set the old drive specs to AUTO in the CMOS and then run FDISK/Format and restore the drive. It is a good idea to reboot off the C: drive when you have formatted the drive to verify that the drive is okay—it should be if the original problem was a loss of CMOS settings.


If the C: drive was a NTFS partition then of course the booting off the diskette will not see the drive. In this case using a shareware program NTSF4DOS or something like that will allow you to read the drive and copy it to another drive.


From: Eric Springler


These are some of the things that I would do...


a) Check the cmos settings to be sure that they are correct for the drive.

b) Ask if the user wrote to the disk while the cmos settings were wrong. If they were, then try and use those settings to retrieve some of the data. Sometimes data can be written to the disk and retrieved even if the cmos settings are incorrect.

c) Boot off of a floppy disk with a recent virus scanner. It could be a simple virus.

d) If it's just a case of the disk not being bootable, do and FDISK /MBR to the drive, or do a SYS C: off of a different Win98/95 boot disk. If it's NT, do a repair of boot/system files. It asks for a repair disk, but you can use any old repair disc for that.

e) Stick the drive in another Win9X box (if it was a fat16/32 drive) and run norton disk doctor (tm) on it. Sometimes Norton will recover enough of the directory listings for you to retrieve some of the data

f) If none of these work, put 3 hard drives in a machine: 1) NT Workstation (or 95), 2) Bad Drive, 3) exact model and size drive as the bad drive. Format drive 3, and do a sector-by-sector copy of 2 onto 3 with something like Diskprobe.

g) Put the drive in a working Windows NT machine and drive RecoverNT.


That's about all that I can think of right now.


From: Gary Stevens


Welcome to the wonderful of crashed computers.


To revive or attempt to revive a failed hard drive I would recommend the following steps:


1. Ascertain what the user was doing before it stopped.

2. Ask what they did to try and fix it.

3. Check the CMOS settings. Battery may have failed thereby dropping the configuration.

4. Boot from a GOOD floppy at DOS level, if possible. If it boots, see what is available on the hard drive with   a NO CHANGE examination.

5. Check the files, if available, with a NO CHANGE integrity disk process, like Norton’s.

6. If data can be recovered then do so before taking any other steps.

I would then clone or copy the hard drive contents to another drive or location.

7. Remove the hard drive and test in another computer to confirm it is not a general I/O communication failure.

8. Rebuild the system based on diagnosis.


If all else fails, then take it to someone who really knows what they’re doing, sit down in the sun, and enjoy a Budwiser.


From: Jerry Pacheco


·         Check to see if the drive spins up; if not, replace drive.

·         If drive spins up, check cmos settings.

·         If cmos settings are okay, check fdisk to see if partition is still accessible.

·         If fdisk doesn’t show partition, create partition and format drive (importance of backing up data).

·         If fdisk shows partition, check to see if you can access drive from prompt.

·         If you can access drive, run sys.com to make drive bootable. Reboot from drive.

·         If you can't access drive, run scandisk or norton utilities from floppy.

·         If scandisk or norton fixes problem, reboot from drive.

·         If scandisk or norton doesn't find errors, re-partition and reformat drive.

·         If you encounter errors while formatting the drive, replace drive.























From: Doug Carpenter


1. Check the CMOS battery, your problem may be simple. It could also be an intermittent short on the system board or a failing battery. It holds the system info until you shut down, maybe for as long as five minutes, then fails. What's the clock say?

2. Make sure a disk manager isn't installed on the drive. If that's at least a possibility (greater than 2.1GB on old 486 computer?), try using the usual drive parameters for a disk manager: 1024, 16, 63

3. Maybe the master boot record was lost. Try fdisk/mbr. Make sure you’re using the correct operating system version.

4. Boot from a clean floppy and try to change to C: If you can see the drive, you may have a virus.

5. Can you hear the drive spinning up? Can you see a hard drive access LED visibly working? Maybe it's spinning up slowly, press pause or reset to allow time for the hard drive to get up to speed, see if the problem disappears.

6. Check for a bad cable connection or power connection. They should be seated firmly. Are they oriented correctly? Maybe someone else worked on the machine. Is the ribbon cable made for cable select? Is it set that way? Check the jumpers.

7. If all else fails, put another drive in and see if it works okay.

8. If you get it running, check for viruses just for fun.


From: Letehumy Rajavalu, GSSB


Reboot the PC, get to the CMOS setup and set the drive type to "auto" again to confirm if the hard disk is detected.


Else, get back to the CMOS setup again and try to set the correct drive type based on the capacity of the hard disk which can be found on the hard disk itself if you open up the CPU casing.


From: Brent Hunter


Very simple, I think?!


While the drive is running, you should be able to get all the information off the drive, unless it has "bad sectors, etc."


My usual task list involves using "GHOST" to get the data of the hard drive. But sometimes this doesn't work, because of bad sectors, or the drive timing out while trying to sort itself out. My next solution is to use XCOPY32 under a Windows 98 dos prompt. This enables you to use more and interesting switches. Ninety-nine percent of the time, this gets the data off a failing drive.


My syntax is a follows:


XCOPY32 x:\*.* y:\ /E /H /C


x: = source drive (i.e. failing drive)

y: = target drive


/E = copies all directories and subdirectories including empty ones.

/H = copies hidden and system files (i.e. SYSTEM.DAT & USER.DAT are Windows registry files with the Hidden and System attributes).

/C = this switch is the trick. Even if the drive times out and then starts up again, XCOPY32 will continue copying the data over.


From: Skip Berryhill


You didn't say, but often, when a hard drive won't boot, you can boot on a floppy disc with FDISK on it, log onto the hard drive, and execute some commands (DIR, COPY, and the like).


If they work okay, you can use the following from the floppy: FDISK /MBR and re-write the Master Boot Record of the physical drive.


Next, remove the floppy and reboot. It will usually be alright. If it operates properly, all it means is that the MBR was somehow corrupted. Nothing majo–r—it was re-written by the FDISK /MBR command.


The /MBR switch was undocumented for a long time.


From: Phil Adams


·         Get the new hard drive and setup as the master the old drive as the slave.

·         After running scandisk, you should be able to xcopy everything to the new drive.

·         Worse case, install the OS to the new drive then copy the user files over.

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