Accessing Data on an Unpartitioned Drive?

May 19, 2012 at 12:44:11
Specs: Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate, 2.401 GHz / 2045 MB
Please take a look at my post here. I welcome any ideas about accessing the hard drive's contents. It acts like a new drive, but I can not believe (for 67%) that the contents are lost because the partition is gone. Yes, I can not access the drive except through the Recovery Console (so far).

http://www.cybertechhelp.com/forums...

Thanks for your thoughts.

Christian; warrior; GSPer; Borg; ninja; Time Lord... I am that hero! La resistenza è, ed è stato sempre, inutile.
I reply as fast as I can but could be hours or months.


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#1
May 19, 2012 at 13:27:07
One possibility that occurs to me is that the Dell and the USB drive might have used different LBA modes (or the Dell might even have used CHS mode) to address the disk. This might account for the partition table being destroyed.

There are programs available to recover lost partitions; a simple corrupt partition table shouldn't be too difficult to recover. I've never had the need for these, so can't recommend a particular one, but a quick Google should help. I'd be very wary of messing about in recovery console as you may cause more damage to the disk structure with the wrong commands. Ideally one clones a drive before attempting repair, but this is not always possible.


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#2
May 19, 2012 at 14:20:16
Testdisk works pretty good at restoring partitions. Especially if the entire drive was one partition. Get testdisk at the link below. Be sure to read all the tutorials BEFORE using testdisk.

http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/Test...


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#3
May 19, 2012 at 14:24:33
Did your friend at church attempt do anything to the hard drive when she found the computer wouldn't boot from a partition on it ?

E.g. Did she choose to attempt to run a Recovery procedure choice that's built into the laptop's bios version ?

If she DID do something like that , she may have wiped the drive's data and not been successful in restoring the original software installation.
.....

Assuming she did nothing that harmed the data on the drive....

The most common cause we're seen of a laptop's bios not finding a bootable partition (one that has had an operating system installed on it), when there's nothing wrong with the hard drive itself or with the data on the bootable partition on the hard drive, is the Boot Order or similar settings were set wrong in the bios.

That problem can be caused by....
- you don't have the network boot option in the correct place in the Boot Order or similar settings in the bios Setup

- you DO have that set correctly but
- the bios is not detecting your hard drive at all
- or - the bios is detecting the hard drive but it's not finding that it's bootable (has an operating system installed on it)

Also - reasons why your hard drive may not be detected as bootable by the bios.

See Response 1:
http://www.computing.net/answers/ha...
.....

Regarding you removing the hard drive and connecting it to the Sabrent USB to IDE hard drive adapter....

- when it's not an external drive enclosure, some bioses DO NOT recognize the USB to hard drive device

- the USB port the adapter (or an external hard drive enclosure) is plugged into MUST be able to ACTUALLY supply 500 ma of current to the device. The hard drive itself requires that. The circuitry of the adapter itself requires very little current.

- connecting to some USB ports, such as in an external multi-port hub, or on the front of a desktop case, will NOT result in a hard drive being detected correctly even when the USB port CAN supply 500 ma of current per USB port.

Troubleshooting USB device problems including for flash drives, external drives, external memory card readers.
See Response 1:
http://www.computing.net/answers/ha...

In addition to that info...

For some desktop mboards you can have problems when an external hard drive is plugged into one of a pair of USB ports on the back of the case that are connected to the same USB controller, if there is another device plugged into the other USB port for the pair, because the pair can't actually supply 500 ma per port - they can only supply 500 ma in total. Usually those pairs of ports are one above the other, not beside each other. If you have two devices plugged into such a pair of ports, try plugging one of them in elsewhere on the back of the computer.

For MANY laptop and netbook mboards similar applies. The built in USB ports often cannot actually supply 500ma per port - they supply 500 ma in total for two ports that are close to each other. In that case, the external drive should work fine if it's the ony thing plugged into the USB ports built into the laptop or netbook, or if you have more than two ports, the only thing plugged into two ports close to each other.

- when the hard drive IS detected correctly, or perhaps even when it is NOT detected correctly, unplugging the USB connection to the USB to hard drive adapter, or the external drive enclosure, while Windows, or whatever operating system is running, can result in data being DAMAGED on the hard drive, such that it APPEARS to an operating system that it has no data on it.
That problem can usually be fixed by using certain programs to repair the data damage. Usually it's the partition table data that has been damaged - when that has been fixed, usually you can then see all the data, or most of the data, that you know was on the drive previously.

See response 2 regarding how you use Safely Remove Hardware in Windows:
http://www.computing.net/answers/ha...

See response 2 regarding examples of which programs you could try to use to repair the data damage:
http://www.computing.net/answers/ha...

DO NOT use Windows' CHKDSK /F or /R on the hard drive BEFORE you try using such programs !

.....

Regarding you installing the hard drive in another laptop.

- the fact that you see no data on the hard drive when you boot that computer from an XP CD may be due to data damage caused by the hard drive and the Sabrent adapter being unplugged from a USB port while Windows was running, or possibly just from it being unplugged while the computer was running (the mboard's bios can attempt to access data on the external drive to determine whether it has a bootable partition) . See above.

- when a Windows (XP or 2000) installation has been installed on a hard drive when it was connected to a certain mboard, and you then remove that hard drive with it's Windows installation intact and connect to a different mboard and attempt to load Windows from that drive, if the hardware on the mboard you have it connected to is more than a little different from the one that was present originally, XP (or 2000) will NOT load all the way - that's NORMAL. The only way you can fix that without losing the data that was added to the same partition Windows is installed on is to run a Repair installation of Windows procedure, often called a Repair install procedure.


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Related Solutions

#4
May 20, 2012 at 21:23:41
Responses....

ijack...

The USB adapter I am using on my own laptop (XPS), to try and read their Dell's (Inspiron) hard drive, using a different mode? It is just an adapter to hook up their drive to my unit to try and read it, but all it does is power up the drive. I have yet been able to access the drive itself on my own unit. My computer does not even see a drive connected when I plug it into my ATA>USB converter.

OtheHill

Does not seem to have a boot CD ability. Will check again, and other programs. If my computer can not see it at all, even as unallocated space, not going to work on my unit. Will look into this method thought for something that can run from a boot and see if it can do some magic.

Tubesandwires

"Did your friend at church attempt do anything to the hard drive when she found the computer wouldn't boot from a partition on it?"
No, just stopped booting. They did not mess with it. Nothing in BIOS looks wrong, it sees the drive correctly. Windows CD sees it as unallocated space.

"when it's not an external drive enclosure, some bioses DO NOT recognize the USB to hard drive device"
This be then the first drive out of dozens I have never been able to connect properly in the two years using this device. I did not check up on the power settings as you mentioned. It does power the drive up, but maybe not enough. Will look into that.

Christian; GSPer; Borg; ninja; Time Lord... I am that hero! La resistenza è, ed è stato sempre, inutile.
I reply as fast as I can but could be hours or months.


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#5
May 21, 2012 at 13:27:17
""Did your friend at church attempt do anything to the hard drive when she found the computer wouldn't boot from a partition on it?""

"No, just stopped booting. They did not mess with it. Nothing in BIOS looks wrong, it sees the drive correctly. Windows CD sees it as unallocated space."

The computer's mboard is booting fine, otherwise you would not have video and be able to get into the computer's bios. The problem was Windows was not loading properly from the hard drive, for whatever reason.

Windows sees it has unallocated space AFTER you connected the Sabrent USB to hard drive adapter to it, and after you had booted the computer from an XP CD.

You may have damaged the data on the drive yourself such that Windows sees it as having unallocated space.

Some brand name systems have the Recovery Console available to be loaded from the hard drive, but the Recovery Console is loaded from the CD when you boot the computer from the XP CD.

When there's nothing wrong that makes the CD see the drive's space as un-al;located, If you boot the computer from a XP CD, choose Setup, then choose the Repair installation procedure rather than a regula Setup, if the XP CD you booteed the computer from is not for the same version of XP as on the hard drive - Pro, Home, Pro 64 bit, or MCE 200x, - or not for the same type of license - OEM, Retail, or Volume - the Repair installation procedure will NOT find an existing XP installation to run the procedure on.

""when it's not an external drive enclosure, some bioses DO NOT recognize the USB to hard drive device""

"This be then the first drive out of dozens I have never been able to connect properly in the two years using this device. I did not check up on the power settings as you mentioned. It does power the drive up, but maybe not enough. Will look into that."

If you go to a place that has customer reviews for a USB to hard drive adapter other than for an external drive enclosure, if you read the customer reviews there are often mentions of it not being detected at all by the bios. If that wasn't caused by the adapter not being able to actually get 500 ma from the USB port or being plugged into a USB port that it otherwise can't be dtected properly when pluigged into it, it's probably caused by the bios not being able to detect the device.
Also, some models have a fairly high failure rate.

E.g.

I have no idea which Sabrent adapter you have.
If it's this one, here are some unfavourable customer reviews for it:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...
....

Regardless of whether Windows sees it's drive space as bein un-allocated......

If the bios IS detecting the USB to hard drive adapter properly, if the USB to hard drive adapter is able to actually get 500 ma from the USB port it's plugged into, AND if it's plugged into a USB port that the adapter otherwise has no problem being detected in when plugged into it,

- the hard drive the adapter is connected to will show up in the computer's bios

- the adapter's circuitry will show up as being detected in Device Manager
- under Disk drives as a USB device
- under USB controllers as a mass storage device
- under one of the Root Hubs there under the Power tab as a device that's rated to draw 500 ma


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#6
May 21, 2012 at 19:58:45
Look at this:
http://www.computing.net/answers/wi...
It is ongoing, but some of it may help you.

You have to be a little bit crazy to keep you from going insane.


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#7
May 22, 2012 at 06:26:20
You could use a live version of Linux to access the hard drive and then run testdisk from Linux.

Linux puppy is small and can fit on a flash drive or CDR. You can get puppy at the link below.

http://puppylinux.org/main/Overview...


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#8
May 26, 2012 at 19:00:44
Many good answers, thank you. A Linux Puppy, never heard of that. Will gander.

Well, thank you for the answers. Many resources. I was able to repair it through the XP Safe Mode Command Prompt and rebuilt the MBR. Took a few times and eventually, my computer saw it correctly on the USB>ATA adapter. From there, I copied the files (after doing a massive drive permission change) and then performed a hard drive scan through my Vista. Bad sectors popped up. Reloaded XP so they could copy the rest of their stuff through their network (I did not have enough blank DVD-Rs). They be getting a new machine soon, just glad I was able to get their most important stuff (pictures, adoption documents, black belt testing documents, etc) and they can get their paid iTune app stuff into their network and donate the system for parts afterwards.

Christian; GSPer; Borg; ninja; Time Lord... I am that hero! La resistenza è, ed è stato sempre, inutile.
I reply as fast as I can but could be hours or months.


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#9
May 26, 2012 at 21:29:19
Thanks for the thank you.

"...a hard drive scan through my Vista. Bad sectors popped up."

The bad sectors are probably the cause of the computer not loading the operating system on it.

" They be getting a new machine soon,"

If the hard drive was replaced, the computer will probably work fine.

If you have an official Microsoft OEM XP CD (it has "For distribution with a new PC only" printed on it and the Microsoft holograms) that will work with the OEM Product Key and the same version - Home or Pro - that's on the official Microsoft label that's on that computer, you could install XP on the replacement hard drive, then the drivers for the model, etc.

If you don't, many Dell models that had XP on them came with Recovery disks when the computer was new. Does she have them ?

If she doesn't have Recovery disks for the model, she may be able to buy them

Try here:
http://www.digitalmedia-labs.com/
http://www.restoredisks.com/
http://www.myrecoverycds.com/


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