DIRECT DISK Editing Partition table & master boot secto
smylnjak
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Joined: 23 Mar 2007
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Location: Honolulu Hawaii
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Partition Magic 7 Pro or the recommended decompress procedure thereafter screwed up during NTFS --> FAT32 conversion
on my DELL Inspiron Lap Top W2K O/S 6 gb TOTAL DRIVE 4 gb PRIMARY 2 gb EXTENDED.. and left me with DOS unreadable characters for the Volume name in unprintable characters so now neither DOS nor Windows recognizes the 1st primary partition. I have data in a second FAT32 Extended partition but need to get the primary partition either back, or at least access the data to recover device drivers.

PM still "sees" the drive but the label function is now greyed out so I can't re-lable that way.

(And yeah I know I shoulda backed up the drive before I did anything but had nowhere and noway to store 6 GB of data!) I don't have a USB HD yet & the LT didn't come with a CD drive.......and no PCMIA or nothing....just a 56K modem. AND I have been using PM ever since 3.0 and NEVER a disaster. Til now . . . .

It made the conversion OK but when I went to try to resize the partition, PM choked and said that the data was compressed or sparse. Used the recommended procedure to decompress but that was when disaster struck. Bad volume label.

I have PM's PTEdit as well as an old Norton Diskedit which works well in DOS to give me direct disk R/W access. PTedit doesn't give me a clue where the volume label is or even display it so I can edit it and although Norton's diskedit accesses the drive, again I don't know where to look to do direct disk writes to make corrections. Have tried but as I recall sometimes the Vol lable is quite a few sectors away from sector 00. Have seen a map once many years ago but don't remember where.

Does any SUPER-guru out there know where it is or have a map of editable Master boot and Partition table values for hard drives (in this case a 6 GB one) or know where I can find such a map?

Mahalo nui nui if someone does! (Thank you very much!)
Jack
<edit: removed email address to protect user against email harvestors for spam>
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techAdmin
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Location: East Coast, West Coast? I know it's one of them.
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Pick up the latest copy of the ultimate boot cd, or, if you need even more tools, Hiren's Boot CD. Hirens can be hard to find a download location for, so you'll have to search around, but it's worth it.

Both have disk recovery tools, Hiren's has more.

Rewriting the disk label wipes out the partition table usually, at least that's been my experience.

Unfortunately, trying to convert from one file system to another WHILE the data remains on the disk is really not possible, it's simply too risky, as you found.

That's something you shouldn't ever try, for any reason, it's basically guaranteed to fail. You might, with phenomenal luck, have it not fail, but you have to realize what is happening, the actual file system itself, that addresses the data, is being altered, so where does the data actually get stored during this process?

And if you were using disk compression with windows the odds get even lower.

Probably not much you can do I would guess, but try the two tools I listed, who knows, you might have some luck.

I would put the odds very low that you will be able to recover the first partition data, but give it a try. Why were you converting to fat32 anyway, I could see going from fat32 to NTFS, but not the other way around, fat32 is really a legacy file system, not something I'd use unless I needed to exchange data between windows and linux.
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DIRECT DISK EDIT AND PARTITION TABLE etc.....
smylnjak
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Joined: 23 Mar 2007
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Location: Honolulu Hawaii
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Dear techADMIN

Thanks for the links, I will try them out. Can't use a CD on the LT as it has no CD drive, but if files are small enough I can transfer via floppy or use an external USB drive. LT does have a USB port. Hope they can tell where the "Bad file record signature" error is. I can edit the disk and hack about a bit with what I have...but was hoping for a "map" of where everything is. As I wrote earlier, I saw one such many years ago but no longer have that info. Sigh.....

As to the conversion, I have done NTFS to FAT32 before successfully with PM. Just recently last month converted an XP FAT to FAT32 even.

I never use compressed disks as they are too fussy and unpredictable, plus sometimes slow things up. If I need more storage I get another HD and install it with the old one in place or even an external HD. Have a bunch of junque from years in electronics and computers.

As for rewriting the volume label, I would think that changing it in a direct disk edit would not affect anything, unless one has many places where the label has to be edited. Which is why I was looking for a map.

Why FAT32? I have a multitude of geeky stuff that chokes on or ignores NTFS but hums and purrs on FAT32. I agree that for security and storage space NTFS will outperform, but for my home use I don't need any of that. Also have an old pre-windows CAD program that runs fine but in DOS mode ONLY and wanted to use it with the old LT when I go to the field with it. No room in the LT to add another drive either.

Am retired and do odd job consulting and so don't have a lotta cash to buy the latest and greatest so I make do with what I have. Even the LT is a hand-me down that was originally a W95 box but my daughter converted it to 2K NTFS and had some good stuff on it. Had.

Well, I ramble too much, but thanks again for the leads, I will also badger Symantec a bit too but never have had much luck from them. Usta have a good personal relationship with some of the PQ people while I working - like getting undocumented tips etc but now all that is past and they are gone.

Mahalo and Aloha!
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techAdmin
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Location: East Coast, West Coast? I know it's one of them.
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Oh, you actually know what you're doing, it's hard to tell from posters questions sometimes, but you clearly aren't a newbie.

The two cds I linked to are isos, so you won't be able to run them from the usb stick, but it's barely possible that you can run the programs they contain (they are both just livecds that contain a large collection of good recovery tools).

disk labels are weird, sometimes they reset the whole partition table, they always do with linux type partitioning tools, that's the overall disk label, not the partition label.

Anyway, that type of operation is very high risk, I've found partition magic is pretty good, fairly reliable, but there are limits. Other things I've had make partition magic fail is bad ram or bad hard disks. During the transfer/update data gets corrupted, and bang, full failure, like you saw.

But it's always high risk, unless it's something really basic like just resizing the partition.

If it doesn't have a cdrom it's harder though, fewer options. There are a few linux distributions you can boot off the usb stick, but it's kind of a pain to set them up on the usb stick but they do work, and they would let you copy the data from the partitions, if it's readable.

Anyway, this will probably be a tough one. Other things you can do, if you have the interest, is to pull out the hard disk then use one of those cheap ide 2.5 hard disk to usb converters, and just see if you can grab any data off of it that way.
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DIRECT DISK EDIT AND PARTITION TABLE
smylnjak
Status: New User - Welcome
Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 3
Location: Honolulu Hawaii
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Well, often I know what I am doing, but sometimes I hafta just hack ;-) read the forums and ask for help when stuck. Like now! Thanks again!

Was PC and LAN support for the governor of Hawaii for 6 years.....and same for 4 years for Dole pineapple in the DOS era. supported about 300 users for the GOV. Been all the way up from Dos 2.0 on the first IBM PC's thru to XP. FREE Vista upgradeis on order. Build my own PCs outta shell cases, sometimes a new MB'd and leftover handmedown parts from PC's people I help throw away. Lots to know! - too much and so I just learn what I have to. When I have to. Like Now.

I do know about ISO CD but may just try to use the utils. The LT is bootable as I created a third bootable partition and of course the UBD or NTFSPRO I have will boot it from a floppy. No need to remove the HD (yet) as PM and Diskedit can now see the damaged NTFS partition.. but not the files in it.

Loved the old Norton Utilities which had some nice tools. Still have 'em up to NU95. Could even copy files off a 'dead' disk if they were contiguous or you could decode the partition table, see the main C:\ directory etc etc which told you where the files were. Could direct edit floppies and the hard drives, but never really became super-guru. Programmed in Basic and Fortran but quit when GUI's appeared. Don't know Unix-Linux altho I have a Universal boot disk Unix floppy that lets me access NTFS when I needed to reset forgotten passwords in the SAM file or copy off smaller files. Have launched and maintained via FTP a coupla (now defunct) web sites progrfammed brfute force HTML or ISPs' templates, one selling ladies undergarments of all things. THAT was a fun job! Nice lady, but she was recent divorcee and wanted the 'candy store' of men before she married again. Sigh.....

There IS a DOS/USB utility where I can access the USB HD but haven't gotten to it yet. Have carbon copy and interlink I might could use, but they may trash the longfilenames. since they are 16bit progs. HAve DOS modem program whose name I forget but to upload or transfer 4G at 56 K would take awhile. Right now no need. What I may do is install 2 K in the remaining space on another partition on the LT that will recognize the USB. Try to Copy the NTFS file/partitoin to USB HD and then take that file to my latest machine. First will try the files off the UBCD.

All of which goes to say, it's a hobby, and I do what I want when I want as I am retired. Have 4 machines. DOS/Unix, W98, 2K and XP. Need to keep the brain oileAlso the people I help as part time consultant have mall that as well. Get a few dinners and $$$ for helping lady entrepreneurs in Hawaii in need. Dessert sometimes too. ;-)

HAM radio helps keep the brain up as well. Been in that since 1953 when I was an elektroniker in the USAF in Germany. Hence the interest in PC's -- they were an addition to my professionj as control systems engineer for 50 years.

Again I ramble. 76 years will do that to you..

Aloha!
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