Help Me please!!! I need data off my hard drive

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Thread Starter
Nov 1, 2007
I recently had a few too many memory-intensive programs open at once on my old computer (I DO know better…) so I rebooted after it had frozen completely, a process that I have done many times without a hitch. Well, this time there was a major problem; I got the following error message during the re-boot:

“Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt C:\WINNT\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM

I tried the “Repair” option after booting with the installation disk to no avail. Nor was I successful using the ”Emergency Repair Disk” I hade made with a floppy ages ago.

So I did the following: Instead of using the “R” option while rebooting from the installation disk I typed “C” and entered into the “Recovery Console”. There I renamed the above-mentioned corrupt “SYSTEM” file to “SYSTEM.OLD”, and then copied -- into the same directory -- a new “SYSTEM” file from C:\WINNT\REPAIR.

Long story short: it seemed to boot into windows OK. CHKDSK then ran and showed lots of orphaned files which it supposedly repaired. I had to re-install the graphics card and monitor and got everything working pretty well, albeit squirrelly. (At this point I just wanted to backup some of my critical work data and had resigned myself to probably doing a clean re-install)

Well, I couldn’t back anything up to any external storage, and shortly after that nothing worked – whenever I clicked anything I got a prompt to run CHKDSK. I rebooted, and got the message: ERROR LOADING OS

Not good. So I took that drive out of the computer, thinking I might be able to get the data off of it another way. I had another drive in there, which I set as the master drive, formatted and did a clean install of Windows 2000. I put the old drive back in as a slave, and this is what happens now:

1) It shows in windows explorer but that’s about all. When I try to “open” it, I only get a prompt to format it.
2) When I run COMMAND.COM I get the following information in DOS:

C:\>DIR F:\
The volume does not contain a recognized file system. Please make sure that all the required drivers are loaded and that the volume is not corrupted.

The type of file system is RAW
CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives.

Can anybody help me access this drive? I have design files on it need for work!
Nov 2, 2007
im afraid the same has happened to 2 of my external drives . it sounds like you got a head crash on your drive thats when the head that reads the platter comes into contact with eah need to get the drive to pc world or some data recovery place, where they take the platter out of the drive case using a clean room it is an expensive process theres plenty of rip off places doing it ranging between £80 & £759. pc world will do it for £99 and if they dont retreive data you want you dont have to pay a penny. so if you want to pay these rip off companys for you own data just have a real think so see if that data is really important to you.
Oct 24, 2001
I recently found a program called Zero Assumption Recovery that pulls data off of drives chkdsk labels as RAW. It doesn't get everything but when I ran it it managed to pull up most of my documents and settings. The free trial only lets you recover four folders worth of data--although I don't know if that's four per run or four total. It's worth a shot, anyway, and you can download it from Good luck!

EDIT: It's worth mentioning that ZAR advises that the more you try to access a RAW drive, the worse the damage gets. So it might be a good idea not to even have the drive connected until you've decided what to do.
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