How to fix extremely corrupted MBR/boot record?

March 6, 2016 at 12:26:03
Specs: Windows 2000 + Windows 98SE
Back in the day when I was a PC neophyte & using W2K & W98, I tried to reformat an NTFS HDD back to FAT32 & W98 by reinstalling W98. To make a long story (and I mean a lo-o-ong story) short, it screwed up the MBR, boot sector, partition table, you name it, causing the HDD to slowly get more and more corrupted & finally unbootable. This problem spread to any drive I would hook up in the other bay, whether it had an OS or not, and from those to others (6, to be exact).
Basically, there is mix of NTFS & FAT32 elements that I cannot fix easily, if at all, so I just want to get my data files off the HDDs, then wipe any trace of any OS or format elements from the entire MBR/boot sector/partition table & drive, making the HDDs "factory fresh." Regular formatting, Fdisk, fixmbr, fixboot, etc. does not accomplish this. It seems like I may need to use WinHex Editor to write zeroes over every position in the boot sector. Or perhaps something like W2K Disk Probe or MBRWizard 3.08 or MiniTool Partition Manager might do the trick. Which of these methods, or other, would you recommend?
These HDDs have languished for over a decade, and I want them & my files back. Can I assume the problem doesn't affect the data files' integrity so I can move them to another HDD (either FAT32 or NTFS format) without screwing that one up too? I guess I could also buy an external card reader & copy to an SDHC card. Or I could wipe one of the corrupted HDDs which just had the OS on it, no data files, and copy to that one.
Thanks in advance for your knowledgeable replies.

message edited by Plisskin


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#1
March 6, 2016 at 13:20:11
Use Copy rather than Move just in case anything goes wrong. Copying files should not affect anything.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks


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#2
March 6, 2016 at 19:53:11
Boot off a Win98 boot floppy & at the command prompt, type FDISK /MBR & hit ENTER. If you don't have one, you can download a boot floppy creator here:

http://www.bootdisk.com/

If you have Win2000 installed, you will have to boot off the CD & use the Recovery Console:

https://kb.acronis.com/content/1507

message edited by riider


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#3
March 6, 2016 at 19:57:04
Try booting to a live version of Linux to access the files. If you have a hard drive that you don't need to recover files from, you can prep it by booting to a drive utility by the drive manufacturer.

You first must delete the partition/s then create new partition/s. Then you will be able to format the drive.


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#4
March 7, 2016 at 08:05:10
I'm sorry, but I have no experience with Linux, and would rather use the Windows methods. Maybe someday.
And yes, I do intend to use the 1st HDD repaired (which has only an OS, no data files) for the data, repairing it using W2K installed on another corrupted HDD. Although, maybe I should install W2K on the 1st repaired drive instead of the 2nd and repair the rest using that one.
I tried the manufacturer's drive utility to low level format, which didn't work.

message edited by Plisskin


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#5
March 7, 2016 at 08:09:54
There are elements of both NTFS & FAT32 present in the registry/MBR/boot sector, so I am not trying to fix the HDDs with the data on them, but copying the data and completely wiping the HDDs to let the configuration be repopulated fresh and uncorrupted.

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#6
March 7, 2016 at 08:11:19
Thanks for the responses. From what I gather, the data files aren't affected by the NTFS nor FAT32 formatting, and so wouldn't corrupt any drive to which they're copied. Is this correct?
I've never done this kind of repair before, so I guess I'd like to confirm which method/program would be recommended for copying the data files. Candidates I've found: Piriform Recuva, Glary Undelete, EaseUS Partition Manager, and AOMEI Partition Assistant.
And to completely wipe any trace of anything from the HDDs, which program would be recommended: W2K Disk Probe, MBRWizard 3.08, MiniTool Partition Manager, or WinHex Editor? Or something different? Thanks again, guys.

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#7
March 7, 2016 at 12:50:39
Did you try #2 above? I got the impression your main issue was recovery of the files. Live versions of Linux run of removable media and do not require installation to the computer. They are pretty straight forward to use. The advantage is Linux doesn't use the Windows MBR or FAT32 or NTFS. Files can be accessed even if you can't boot into Windows.

Repairing 2000 can be problematic. Win98 can simply be installed on top of itself to get it running again. Win98 can't access NTFS partitions though.

The recovery programs you mention above run in the Windows environment so that makes using them problematic. You would need a working version of Windows, which you don't currently have.

There are many live versions (run off removable media like CD or flash drive). I have used one called Puppy. The download is free. You create a bootable USB drive or CDR and then boot from it. You will see a GUI environment when booting to Puppy. Very simple to use.

message edited by OtheHill


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#8
March 7, 2016 at 12:59:39
To add to #7, the early versions of Puppy such as version 4.2 don't even need to store any settings on your HD. Everything saves back to the CD itself but you can of-course "access" the HD and thereby retrieve files onto a flash drive.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks


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#9
March 7, 2016 at 13:20:46
Or copy files using Puppy to one of the other working hard drives.

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#10
March 8, 2016 at 14:49:36
So, the data files aren't affected by the NTFS nor FAT32 formatting, and so wouldn't corrupt any drive to which they're copied. Is this correct?

I'm sorry, but I have no experience with Linux, and would rather use the Windows methods. Maybe someday.

I am not trying to repair any OS, I am trying to copy all my data files, then wipe every single shred of anything off each HDD, removing all traces of W98 & W2K, resulting in a "factory fresh" HDD, thereby eliminating this deeply embedded, weird-ass registry corruption, which, IMHO, the system sometimes thinks it's NTFS, sometimes FAT32, and most of the time is confused between the two. When I install W2K on a corrupted drive, it's usually OK enough to work with for a bit before it gradually corrupts and finally won't boot. Usually. Every time I try to install W2K, it asks for dx3j.dll, a Direct X file that is on the W98SE install disk, but not on the W2K disk.

And of course, way back then, I would install Windows without disconnecting the other HDD, knowing nothing about the stupid bootloader installing to the other drive if present (who's brilliant Microsoft programming gem was this?), which may have something to do with it propagating to other drives.

I don't know for sure what exactly is going on, and at this point, don't really care. Just trying to get recommendations on which free, non-Linux, Windows programs to use, hopefully from my suggestions in #6. But especially about whether copying said data files could corrupt the registry of the receiving HDD, since that would mean I would have to fix the HDDs with the data files on them. Can someone help me with these questions (in #6)?


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#11
March 8, 2016 at 16:17:54
The Windows methods only work if Windows is behaving. So you have to somehow fix the corruption then get Windows to run before you can get your files off.

It is because Puppy Linux doesn't use Windows at all that it is able to do this. You don't have to know anything about Linux (I steer clear of it myself) just which icon to click to get to the file system on the hard disk from the Linux desktop. You then Copy/Paste and so forth to whatever drive you have available.

I can see it being far more complicated trying to tackle it some other way.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks


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#12
April 23, 2016 at 22:25:52
OK, I thought about what you said & did some more research. As my head started spinning, I began to remember why I gave up on this back then. I determined I should run Wary PuppyLinux from an external card reader, but the August 2000 BIOS has no USB boot option.

After 2 or 3 days layoff, I tried to boot up my old PC again, but now it wouldn't even get to the POST beep & nothing on the monitor. So, I researched & troubleshooted (troubleshot?) that, and will be pulling a power supply at my dad's to continue.

Can I boot from Wary Puppy on CD ISO into RAM, check what files are on a HDD, save any wanted files, then blast the HDD clean? Is there something in it that does complete wipes, or do I have to use a 3rd party program like DBAN? I have 2 corrupted HDDs that don't have any data files to be saved that I want to fix first.

I found a fairly pertinent webpage for my situation - http://www.dewassoc.com/support/win...


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#13
April 24, 2016 at 04:14:00
"Can I boot from Wary Puppy on CD ISO into RAM, check what files are on a HDD"
Yes.

"Is there something in it that does complete wipes"
I don't know enough about Linux to be absolutely certain but I would be surprised if Puppy Linux from a CD would do that. A full Linux version would probably do it but watch out for a Linux person, or post that part of the question on the Linux forum.

Couldn't get your link to work.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks


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#14
April 24, 2016 at 13:06:55
Re-posting the link - http://www.dewassoc.com/support/win...
Section A seems very informative re removing the OS when W98 & W2K dual boot on the same drive, especially "Windows 2000 on a NTFS partition and Windows 95/98 on FAT Partition".

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