Data recovery question; think i made a mistake i can't recover from

Hi all,

I think i made a mistake that I can not recover from.

Here’s a brief sequence of events I hope will answer potential questions.

I have two WDC WD5000KS-00MNB0 drives.

Worked perfectly in my gaming rig that died (mobo problems);

Purchased replacement computer; installed them; jumpered slower rate; they worked fine.

The replacement computer started locking up; faulty video card.  

Used a Dell “loaner” computer; used then worked perfectly.

Got my computer back; installed drives; didn’t work.

The BIOS on my ESC PT800CE-A mobo did not see the drive(s) on POST.

For some reason, I don’t know why,  I got it in my head that it needed to have RAID set up so the mobo would see them again.

I downloaded the VIA raid utility; went through several menus; selected  / unselected the drives in some of the menus; in every case it came down to the message that said “all data will be lost” so I never comitted to anything. There were several occassions that I went poking around. I’d look; read the manual; look again and in one instance I had a power failure. That could be a factor.

This confused me.  I used these hard drives in this machine; I abandoned the RAID setup.

A few days later; it dawned on me to check BIOS setting again; A setting that I missed; changed the setting from RAID to IDE;

Now the BIOS could see the drives during POST.

That was great news, but it was short lived.

Both OS’s have disk management utilities that can see the physical drives.
Both OS’s see the drives as unallocated space; Instead of an NTFS file system they show up as FAT.
Linux can’t mount the drive.
Windows Expolorer doesn’t see it either.

Anyone who is reading this can see that this is not good news.

I think that somehow the VIA utility clobbered somthing.

Any suggestions?

Are there any utilities out there that can do anything with drives that can’t be mounted or seen in XP’s file system?

Thanks for your help.

I can’t offer a reason for your problems, but could we see the partition table and boot sector with Microsoft’s Sector Inspector?

Extract the above archive to the one folder and execute the SIrun.bat file. The procedure will generate a report file named SIout.txt which you can then upload to a file sharing service so that we can examine it.

Thanks very much.

Here you go.

The MBR code is still present on PHYSICALDRIVE1, but the partition table has been zeroed out. That’s why it is being seen as unallocated. BTW, the string, “2C 44 63-DD 2B DE 2B” is a disc signature.


0x01B0 00 00 00 00 00 2C 44 63-CF 4C AC 88 00 00 80 01
0x01C0 01 00 07 FE FF FF 3F 00-00 00 06 ED C8 04 00 00


0x01B0 00 00 00 00 00 2C 44 63-DD 2B DE 2B 00 00 00 00
0x01C0 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00-00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00

You could try restoring the partition table using TestDisk:

Alternatively, you could use a disc editor to view the boot sector and recreate the partition table by hand.

You can see the boot sector (LBN 63) of PHYSICALDRIVE1 using a hex editor such as HxD.

HxD - Freeware Hex Editor and Disk Editor:

To copy the boot sector to a text file, go to Edit -> Select Block. Set Start Offset to 7E00, Length 200, select the Hex radio button, and OK.

Then select Edit -> Copy As -> Editor View.

Open your text editor, eg Notepad or Wordpad, and select Edit -> Paste (in your editor). Save the data to a text file and upload it.

Thanks so much for the reply.

Whew, that’s a lot to digest.

It’s been, what almost seems like, several lifetimes since I messed with partitioning by hand.

It feels like it was as  long ago as when we used to make, interim breadboard cable connections to get modems and printers to work on PDP 11’s.

Before I tread on these dangerous waters, because I probably will have only one chance to wreck it,  is there a remote possibilty that XP’s fixmbr and fixboot would solve the situation? Or is it too far gone for something as simple as that.

PDP11s? You must be an old timer like me. :slight_smile: I cut my teeth on Data General minis.

AFAIK, FIXMBR will only replace the MBR boot code (which appears intact). It cannot reconstruct the partition table. In any case, the boot code is only required for bootable drives.

FIXBOOT will attempt to replace the boot code in the boot sector. It won’t touch the MBR. In any case, I strongly suggest you don’t try it.

You can read about my personal disaster with FIXBOOT here:

Quirks in Scandisk, Chkdsk, Fixmbr, Fixboot:

To give yourself more chances to “wreck it”, I suggest that you clone your drive and work on the clone. :slight_smile:

Otherwise, working on the partition table by hand is really only dangerous if you choose the wrong drive. Any unsuccessful changes to the problem drive can always be undone.

Ok, I’ll give it a go…

Actually my first experience with a computer was in 1962 at my Dad’s office. He worked for NJ Bell Telephone. They had this behemoth computer w/punched cards that would spit out information when an alarm went off. I used to go there every Saturday with him. After a few years I was just another hand swaping out relays and handling alarms. After that, my next big set of experiences, in 1970 with Computers was the IBM 360 and much to my chagrin, one day, I spilled a complete rack of unmarked cards (a Fortan program) on the floor. I wasn’t a programmer at the time.

The actual programmer was, shall we say, not too pleased? To put it mildly.

Back to the disks:

Both of these disks were bootable. I make it a habit to install an OS on anything greater than 40GB. This usually saves me, but in this case, both drives being identical and on the same cabling and connected when I did the RAID fiasco, both were affected.

Also, I can’t clone the drive. It’s a 500GB drive and the only other drive I have is another one just like it that I may have to do the same thing with. It has different data that I want to keep. So I’m out of luck there.

As far as choosing the wrong drive, I am assuming that the software that I am about to use can correctly identify the drive so I don’t confuse a 500GB Western Digital with  41GB Maxtor and a 250 Maxtor.

I’m sure I’ll have some more questions.

Thanks again,


I have to admit that I am glad the world is filled with people that are much, much smarter than me. The example I like to use that puts this in perspective: There are individuals that have designed Air Craft Carriers, Airplanes, and Skyscrapers.

Me? I can tie a few logs together to get a raft that will float for awhile; fold some paper and watch it hit the floor and I built an outside shower (only three sides though it was attached to the house)

The folks that wrote the TestDisk program have to be commended for a brilliant piece of work. The disk is up and my files are there.

And, as I read the information; it may be possible to get at the bad sectors on the other hard drive.

Now for one final question regarding your disaster with chkdsk. (may i digress for a moment … isn’t it pitiful that in 2010 we are still slaves to a program (chkdsk) that was front in center in the early 80’s? I’ve not done my research, but I think possibly that it was used in the CP/M system Microsoft scavanged to make DOS.  Scandisk is a later entry in the 80’s / with all of the hoopla surrounding Vista and now 7, much of their stuff is a pretty wrapper on old outdated technology.)

That being said, is it not recommeded to use Microsofts Disk Utility to check for errors in normal use?

I remember CP/M, DOS, Fortran, and punched cards. In fact I used cards for my Uni assignments. (I wonder how many trees would have had to die to produce 1TB of data in card format?)

As for Microsoft’s disc tools, I wouldn’t use FIXBOOT ever again. I’d use CHKDSK in readonly mode to report file system damage, but I’d be afraid to use it to repair anything. However, my opinion may not count for much, as I’m still using Win98SE on an 11-year old PC, and my experience with later MS OSes is almost nil. :slight_smile:

In any case, my approach, as an engineer, is to survey the damage and obtain an understanding of the problem before trying to solve it. My FIXBOOT debacle was a consequence of my inexperience with XP, and a lack of disc tools at my friend’s house.

Congratulations on your success, BTW.

2,303.6994995005434 Trees for 1 TB

Actually, it can be calculated (you must  include the punchouts too) but I’m too tired to try.

I, too try to survey the damage first.

Hmm. I don’t blame you one bit for not upgrading.

I’ve been in the Microsoft world (reluctantly) from the beginning. I will not go beyond XP in the Microchese world.

Just now getting back into the *nix world with Linux, Ubuntu. I loved Unix back in the day, but many jobs dried up; it was easier to find work in looney toons land.

I thought you knew something I didn’t regarding your disdain for chkdsk. I have used that program many times and it has “fixed” many things on my systems over the years. For some reason, I thought you had a new wrinkle on it.

I’m going to throw a curve ball. If you ask me? About all of the computer woes we’ve experienced since Bill Gates arrived?  The incompatibilities, mysterious behaviors this is a result of MS’s Chief Software Architect  Bill Gates’ lack of design skills …

Everything is Xerox’s fault!

XEROX! The most monumentally stupid company on the face of the earth if you ask me. It boggles my mind; the sheer stupidity the complete and utter moronic decisions that company made in the early 70’s.

There is no comparison. They are the Bernie Madoff of the computer industry. It’s the absolute worst case of  The Peter Principle: “In a Hierarchy Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence.” I have ever witnessed.

The year is: 1973! …  I’ll say that again  1   9   7   3!

The Operating system (if you can believe this is: Smalltalk - that by  itself was so wickedly far ahead of its time that it defies description)

Xerox could have been the:

INTEL - (I think they were tinkering with chip design)

Microsoft / Apple / Unix / Linux - Operating System / Applications Software provider

Apple / Compaq / Dell - Hardware Mfg.

Cisco Data Systems - Networking

Corsair / Kingston - Memory Mfg

Western Digital/ Samsung/Hitachi - Hard Drive Mfg.

All rolled into one.

What a world it would have been had we started down THAT road in the 70’s instead of Bill’s worthless ■■■■!

I knew that Xerox was responsible for the mouse, but I never knew much about the Alto. As you say, it seems to have had everything.

BTW, I have never understood why monitors didn’t standardise on a vertical A4 aspect ratio, as did Wang word processors. Multimedia, which initially required 4:3, didn’t properly arrive until a decade later.

As for my preference for Win98SE and my old PC, I do have much faster machines, but they are running Win98SE as well. My reluctance to upgrade is partly due to the inertia of old age, and partly due to the customised nature of my existing installation. My next OS, if any at all, will be Linux.

LOL, after proof reading, this is a little long. I hope you’ll hang in there to read it and I hope it is interesting and informative.

First section: my take on why different monitors were not adopted until decades later? Second section Linux.

Douglas Engelbart at the Stanford Research Institute invented the first mouse prototype in 1963 with the assistance of his colleague Bill English, the builder of Engelbart’s original mouse. English later invented the ball mouse in 1972 while working for Xerox PARC.

But first, yet another XEROX blunder, this time it was the Zeus-like dealers of lighting that were at XPARC during the Alto days that are at fault. Surprisingly, this time, it was not the doofus’ in XEROX’s Stamford, CT Corporate Headquarters.

Even the demigods suffered from the Peter Principle at their level. One scientist there was infatuated with color; drawing things on the computer in color.

Up the road a piece, there were professors and art students and comp. sci. students from Stanford that were flocking to XPARK late at night to play on this gadget. Our scientist received lost of “it’s time to stop playing and get serious” static from the XPARC mgmt. that were myopic at the time and stuck in the black and white bit map arena.

Eventually the technology wound up George Lucas’ lap and then later, it wound up with Steve Jobs who  later sold it to Disney for billions of dollars. It’s called PIXAR.

Virtually everything we buy; Monitors, Cameras, TV’s, Clothes and the choices we have is driven by the almighty $$.

Here are a just two examples:

Example 1)

If you know anything about photography then you know that color film (irrespective of the granularity) has layers, like a cake, that absorb and separate the different frequencies of light. At any given location on the frame of film, the light and the color saturation is vertical.

Enter the digital world with pixels. The lemmings of society; the world at large, are subject to careful, methodical conditioning and are led by the nose to purchase the latest and greatest “mega-pixel” cameras that machinery want you to buy. This, of course, accomplished by the corporate sponsored media outlets (New Magazine shows, Print Mags, Radio, etc.) that are funded by the giant corporations with either partial ownership or mega advertisement dollars.

Ask any one of the lemmings and they will tell you with their “expert” knowledge, gained from years of media hype, about how many there are, auto focus, swivel screens and blah, blah, blah, because they, most of them only know about one mainstream popular type of technology; They think bigger; more is better.

Enter the brilliant corporation; Foveon.

They don’t have the megabucks to sway the masses to their buy their technology. As a matter of fact, the people WITH the megabucks spend much of those dollars so that the lemmings never find out about Foveon’s technology.

Why? Because anyone with brains would immediately realize that Foveon’s technology is what ALL or MOST cameras SHOULD have installed in them. When you see their camera list you don’t see any Pentax, Sony, Samsung, Cannon, etc.

So the question: why are the lemmings never exposed to this?


Find out who spent the most amounts of R&D dollars on developing, promoting via advertising blitzes, maintaining public awareness to keep buying their stuff, etc., a substandard way of capturing light using silicon and you will have who is responsible for keeping the (lemmings) masses in inferior technology.

They don’t want to see those dollars go down the drain. It’s easier to make a new camera look prettier and add a few more bells and whistles to entice the lemmings to buy the NEW version than it is to scrap the entire technology and adopt a better way.

Many of the new bells and whistles were already built in and available. They were planned for future enhancements for the product life cycle; they just needed to be “activated” or “turned on”

Microsoft is NOTORIOUS for not being able to “cut bait and run” to simply scrap the bloated piece of ■■■■ they have and start completely, from the ground up. Fresh! Microsoft is probably the worst offender of keeping the masses in inferior software.

In the end, it just didn’t make sense for the monitor mfgs. to spend the money.

Example 2)

We are, just now, starting to hear about optical LED’s.

I can remember the time period; Spring of 2001 almost 10 years ago. I saw an article (almost a White Paper) on OLED’s. Long story short, I lost the link, I’ve never been able to find it again. So I have no recollection of where the source was from. I think, very fuzzily, from a U. in Colorado? Not sure.

I do remember the statistics.

  • could be created on sheets 100’ wide x 1000’s of feet long.

  • flexible (could be woven in fabric)

  • 30%/60% brighter than current CRT/LED technology

  • Like the Foveon chip, ALL OLED’s have the full spectrum color range.

  • Resolutions of 10,000 x 10,000 pixels per viewing screen or any combination to configure (16x9) formats would be possible.

This technology  will eventually come, but only when the Giant’s have exhausted the product life cycles for the products that are already on the market that they have spent billions of dollars to promote.

OLED’s:  why would anyone NOT want to move forward with this as quickly as humanly possible with this?

If I had a company that was making standard LED technology I would be putting plans in place to immediately start developing this new technology as quickly as possible. The ability to manufacture sheets that are 1000’s of feet long? Like rolling out paper? The applications of flexible visual media are too staggering to imagine.

We won’t see OLED’s until the Giant’s who are phasing out CRT’s and still promoting the Plasma and LED’s decide that its time for us to have OLED’s.

In truth I’m waiting for the person that introduces biologicals into durable fabrics that behave like the well known cuttlefish. This would have an application for sofa’s, pillow cases, bed spreads, and curtains (for starters) than can be changed as easy as a PC background image for a new decor. It’s Christmas time and the walls can now have vista views of snow falling (OLEDS) and the drapes and sofa can have candy canes.


I can tell you for a fact that Linux has now come of age for the general user. Not all “distros” but many now are fully configured. I’m a Unix Guru from way back so the twiddling of the less than user friendly versions is not intimidating just a little tedious. They’re good for young people that are eager to learn a new OS. Me, I just want to USE these days; don’t want to spend hours in a terminal window doing things.

Getting back, I had reached a point of getting tired of fighting Microsoft’s lunacy and BSOD’s.

Did some basic research and found a good version called Ubuntu.

The home page just changed for testing the new release coming out soon.

New home page:

Old home page w/screen shots:

 I initially ran the OS from the Live CD. It was much better than the Mepis Live CD version of Linux from 4 years ago. Ubuntu has a beautiful, well thought out interface.

Then I did the easy as pie installation. I opted for manual partitioning (but there are automatic options)

All of the basics, Ubuntu works right out of the box. You do have to load the proprietary Nvidia or ATI graphics drivers; but that’s about it. Lots of free software is available.

I like doing video, graphics, and sound so Ubuntu has to have lots of packages loaded to make it work for that. This was proving to be tedious so I found another version called Mint:  that was advertised to be more fully configured.

Mint has a very pleasing Green look and feel and the task panels are pre-configured to have the Windows look and feel. Don’t download the larger DVD Universal Edition - it is not the one that configures everything up front; the CD image is what you want. This version, in my opinion, is the most completely configured version of Linux for the average user out there and has a great user community that is eager to help. It’s too is based of off Ubuntu. But it still wasn’t the magic bullet for me.

This is the one that I would recommend for someone that just wants to install Linux and start using it for every day use.

I, always being curious and never being satisfied until I can see all my options, migrated again, this time to Ubuntu Studio   a version that is specifically tailored to the multi media crowd. This version is the closest to being completely configured for the activities that I want to do.

To try it out simply download the Ubuntu or Mint Live CD iso images, you can boot up with that; play around with it to see if you like it before you install. It will probably work on your 14 year old machine.

I’m currently in XP and now that I have my 500 GB West Digital drive working I’m going back to the Ubuntu world.

The only reason I have to ever come back to the XP world is when I have to modify one of the very complex Access Databases I have developed that uses VBA scripting.