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Can't access active partition on slave HD--please help!!!

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by tiger_eddie, Jul 22, 2006.

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  1. tiger_eddie

    tiger_eddie Thread Starter

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    I'm running XP Pro sp2 on a Dimension 4400. I recently added an old 2nd HD as a slave which has several partitions on it. The 10 GB Primary on it contains an old damaged version of XP which I do not want, but the other partitions have valuable data that I do want- so I tried to just erase the old windows folder from My Computer-but I cannot access the partition, so I checked it in Disk Management which lists it as healthy and active-I don't know if this is an issue or not as to why I can't gain access to the partition to clean it out. All of the other partitions on it are accessible. I'm not sure if my system is even detecting the old version of windows either-I'm not getting a choice of boot OS at startup. I hope this all makes sense-if not I'll do my best to clarify.
     
  2. qldit

    qldit

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    Good Evening tiger_eddie, you need not worry about the slave drive having an operating system on it, when your machine boots there is a direction from BIOS making it only select the drive actually preset there for booting.

    Chances are that if you entered BIOS and altered the boot priority or deselected the main drive it may boot the second drive, provided it was in the boot list but normally the operating system would have to have been installed in that arrangement for it to work.

    This is how multibooting systems operate, by selectively altering the boot priority.

    When you have different partitions on a drive and play around with any of them you are liable to lose all the data on the entire drive, so be wary with what you do.

    You don't mention what kind of file system is being used so it is difficult to know why you can't see the drive contents.

    Sometimes it may be neccessary to use a Linux program to see these areas for retrieving information. Linux reads a drive differently to windows and can be quite useful.

    It may also be easier to reinstall the subject drive as primary master and fix it's windows operating system to allow simple data retrieval and copying to other media.

    Is this data important or are you just trying to clear the drive?

    qldit.
     
  3. tiger_eddie

    tiger_eddie Thread Starter

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    All of the partitions on both drives are NTFS (the problem partition has no listing for file system in Disk Mangement, but the old version of windows was XP, so I'm assuming it 's NTFS as well.

    I want to keep all the data on other the other partitions (logical drives within an extended partition really) and wipe/reformat the primary one to gain the extra 10 GB it holds. I don't have the installer for the old version of windows anymore so repairing it is not an option. I just want to wipe it out.

    BTW, what difference does an "active" drive make?
     
  4. qldit

    qldit

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    So far as I know it only refers to the drive as being tagged as having a possible bootable partition.
    This is mainly for BIOS recognition.

    I would be inclined to remove all the data off the drive in the other partitions and completely zerowrite the drive, surface check it and then re-partition it say in two primary partitions.
    This would be more substantial than the extended and logical stuff.

    qldit.
     
  5. tiger_eddie

    tiger_eddie Thread Starter

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    First off, Thank you for your assistance. I was remiss in not acknowledging it in the previous post. I think it is really great that people will take up there free time to offer strangers advice & aid.

    OK, I will consider that as a last resort, because there is 70 gigs of data there now. I like to have several partitions on disks for scratch disks and archives of fonts, etc-just a personal preference. I'm holding onto the hope that there may be an easier way to deal with this, and I'm also curious as to what the root problem is-I've never experienced anything like it.

    BTW, I don't know if this makes a difference-I tried accessing it by CMD line and got "parameter is incorrect".

    If "active" means that it is seen as possibly bootable, does that mean that my system may be protecting it from interference from within this OS? There was a small partition on my Laptop that held the DELL diagnostics that was unable to be accessed from XP. Is there a way via Disk Management or some other resource within windows to designate the offending partition as non-bootable?
     
  6. qldit

    qldit

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    G'day Tiger, my pleasure, there are so many possibilities that may have happened, the drive parameters are quite involved for a windows system, if there is any problem it will usually mean the system will not read it.
    In that you are not entirely sure what the actual drive arrangement is, makes it more important to learn what is actually involved and how it is arranged.

    When a drive is set up, it has a master boot record at it's beginning which contains information as to how the drive is partitioned and if it may contain a bootable system.
    There are allocated areas here for primary partitions to a maximum of four.
    If any extra partitions are needed there is more information at the beginning of each primary partition as to how this might be arranged within that partition, it goes on and on!
    So then we have other type partitions that proceed from that point.

    The problem with a drive that has had partitions and been altered is that you won't know what the partitioning arrangement was, this is probably why you are having problems trying to see what is on it.

    Drive partitioning can be quite complicated and more especially when different file formats are used can be very confusing.

    In that you mention logical partitions it infers a considerable downstream fragility that needs consideration.

    The "parameter incorrect" possibly refers to your syntax being incorrect.

    The bootable inference really has no bearing on anything apart from a tag in the MBR as far as I know.
    Windows normally has protected files which make them difficult to remove.

    Your mention of a Dell program (hidden) is a possible part of the reason you are having problems, it was probably in another partition.

    When you zerowrite a drive it places zeroes in every memoryblock, so the drive is returned to the condition when it was made, this allows all the different procedures to be done to reorganise the drive for the new intended task.

    If you organise a drive for an operating system you mark it as having an active partition and proceed from there, if you organise a drive for storage you leave it with no active tag and simply partition and format it and proceed from there.

    With most windows installations these operations are automatically carried out and unseen.

    That was kind of the reason I was suggesting the clean and rehash.

    I am not all that familiar with the Windows XP disk management, I use other tools most of the time.

    Others will have different ideas.

    qldit.
     
  7. tiger_eddie

    tiger_eddie Thread Starter

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    I noticed that when I read the properties of the partition it showed the file system as RAW, and after a bit of Googling, I discovered that others had found that this meant the MFT was damaged and recommended a free disk test and repair utility called TestDisk. http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk
    I used this to repair the MFT and now I am able to access the drive.

    Once again, thanks qldit for your helpful suggestions.
     
  8. qldit

    qldit

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    Good Morning Tiger, that is an interesting program, I have just downloaded them and will have a nice play!
    Thanks for the URL.
    Cheers, qldit.
     
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