Re: laptop hard drive problem

Discussion in 'Computer Hardware' started by Paul, Oct 13, 2010.

  1. Paul

    Paul Guest

    JClark wrote:
    > Hello Group.
    > System: Sony Vaio notebook VGN-NS150J
    > OS: Vista Home Premium
    > Problem: Laptop belongs to my daughter in law. Hard drive seems to be
    > dead. I was trying to get the data files off onto an external drive. I
    > booted with Linux (Knoppix). It sees the working partition and the
    > restore partition, but no files can be seen on the C:\ drive. It was
    > suggested by Knoppix to run chkdsk /f.
    > But I don't have a Vista CD. When I tried to boot with a Win XP CD, it
    > gets to the file copy part, then I get BSOD.
    > I've ordered the CD from Sony, but I'm wondering if the BSOD is
    > because of the wrong operating system, or if I'll have the same
    > problem with the repair cd when it arrives.
    > Any thoughts greatly appreciated.
    > Jack

    Then the drive isn't dead, if Knoppix sees the C:\ drive.
    That is a good sign.

    That means the MBR is still valid. You can examine the MBR
    in effect, by doing something like

    sudo fdisk /dev/hda


    sudo fdisk /dev/sda

    depending on where the hard drive shows up. You can use

    ls /dev

    to list the detected devices, and see if you have hda or sda
    showing. (The sudo above, is assumed necessary, to allow
    you to run as pseudo-root account.)

    The fdisk command in Linux, isn't quite the same thing as in
    another OS. It supports commands to do things to the primary
    partition table. In your case, the most useful command might
    be "p" to print the current partition table. And that would
    show you the details of the current partitioning scheme. You
    might see two or three partitions, if, for example, the computer
    has a recovery partition used to return the computer to factory

    In any case, you wouldn't use the "w" or write option, unless you
    knew what you were doing. Press "q" to quit.

    Other interesting utilities, might be to try something like
    the "disktype" utility. If you open Synaptic Package Manager in
    Knoppix, you can get a list of uninstalled utilities. First,
    refresh the list, so it is up to date (might take a 30 second to
    60 second download). Then, type "disktype" in the search box, and
    mark it for installation. Once it is downloaded and installed
    (it's a tiny package", you'll now have the disktype command
    at your disposal. You can even run "disktype" against the
    CD in the drive, and it'll list the file systems used in
    the making of the CD.

    If you do

    sudo disktype /dev/hda1 (or sda1 as the case may be)

    the disktype should look at the block device first partition
    /dev/hda1 and try and determine the partition type, by reading
    the first megabyte or two of the partition. It should then report
    that it sees "NTFS" say. That would tell you the front part
    of the file system is present.

    Or, alternately, Knoppix will have a copy of "testdisk" already
    installed. Testdisk can scan the entire drive, looking for
    partitions, determining their type and so on. It may even give
    you access to the data, like perhaps the ability to list some

    In your case right now, there probably isn't a reason to be
    making changes to the disk. Testdisk is good if you need to
    rebuild the partition table, but is dangerous to your data
    if you haven't made a sector by sector backup of the disk.

    To back up the disk, you could connect a larger USB hard
    drive externally to the laptop, then do

    dd if=/dev/hda of=/dev/sdb

    where /dev/sdb assumes the USB hard drive shows up in SCSI
    space. What that command is attempting to do, is copy all
    the sectors. Using the command in a naive manner like that,
    assumes there aren't any CRC errors on the disk and that
    the disk is perfectly readable. The "Damaged_Hard_Disk" web
    page above, gives some hints on a damage-tolerant transfer
    method, that will get most of the data, without taking
    an eternity to run. If the disk has errors, the regular
    "dd" might take hours to run. On a good day, using the syntax
    above, without added block size or count parameters, that
    command typically achieves 13MB/sec transfer rate. Using
    that figure, you can estimate the transfer time, and then
    assume trouble if it runs over the suggested time. If
    you give a block size and count parameter to the command,
    it can run up to three times faster.


    If you want to run chkdsk, there are a couple command prompt
    CDs available. You're required to use bittorrent to get them.
    If you can only afford to download one of them, I'd get the
    Windows 7 one. Using Synaptic Package Manager in Knoppix,
    you can likely find a torrent client, and do the transfer
    that way. Or preferably, do it on some other machine that
    has a working burner ready to go. You'll need a burner
    software that can handle an ISO9660 file, such as K3B on
    your Knoppix CD, or Nero or Imgburn on your Windows system.
    The ISO9660 file must be parsed, and turned into a bootable
    CD, rather than just burning the file directly to the CD.
    Not all burner programs know how to do that.

    How those work, for a person working on a WinXP machine, is
    they "search" the hard drive, for their own version of OS,
    and they'll find none. So the box displaying OSes to "log
    into" will be blank. But, why you're there, is to be able
    to run the command prompt.

    System Recovery Options

    Startup Repair
    System Restore
    Windows Complete PC Restore
    Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool
    Command Prompt <----

    You can run "chkdsk" from there. The Windows 7 version should
    support all the normal options, plus be able to do an additional
    option, which is to examine marked bad_clusters to see if they're
    still bad. Use whatever command you think is prudent on the C:
    partition. If C: is not visible as such, the "mountvol" command
    on a working system, can give an alternate path specification
    to get to C: , so you can run chkdsk on it. So if the drive
    letter were to be lost, you can still use chkdsk. But in your
    current condition, I don't see a reason for mountvol to
    provide the necessary info.

    Look for the word "mountvol" on this page. And below, I've shown
    examples of a labeled and unlabeled partition. But I doubt
    mountvol will give you the info, so if you can't access it
    as a drive letter, you might not be able to get there by
    the alternate means. I'm showing the alternative, for
    the same of completeness. The alternate path specification
    might have worked, if you were working on a second, data-only
    hard drive.

    chkdsk C:

    chkdsk \\?\Volume{2d9bd2a8-5df8-11d2-bdaa-000000000000}

    In any case, there are plenty of experiments to try. The
    reason I'm so optimistic, is because you're telling me
    Knoppix is reading the MBR and knows of potential partitions.
    How recoverable they are, is all a matter of how long
    you can keep the drive running before it dies completely.

    You could also slave the drive to a desktop PC, using a
    2.5" USB drive enclosure, run chkdsk there, do your
    backup image there, and so on. Because of some
    bad experiences I've had, I always do the backup step
    first, so I'm free to use whatever commands I want
    after that. If the backup attempt won't work, then
    chances are recovery is a waste of time anyway, as
    a sector by sector backup is about the simplest thing
    you can do. If you're encountering CRC errors, then
    the recovery job could be messy.

    Since you've run the WinXP installer, that could have
    done further damage, so maybe you're not interested
    in recovery any more ?

    Paul, Oct 13, 2010
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  2. Paul

    JClark Guest

    On Wed, 13 Oct 2010 11:51:41 -0400, Paul <> wrote:
    >Since you've run the WinXP installer, that could have
    >done further damage, so maybe you're not interested
    >in recovery any more ?

    I actually didn't get that far. I tried to boot with the Win XP CD,
    but as soon as it started copying the files, I got the BSOD. Recovery
    of the data on the hard drive is actually my primary goal, not
    necessarily repair.

    My thought was to get into the repair console and do xcopy for
    everything on the boot partition to an external hard drive.
    But I thought the BSOD might be because I was trying to boot a Vista
    system with Win XP. I'm glad you state that since Knoppix can see the
    HD, it may be recoverable. It can't mount it, however. It can mount
    the recovery partition, but I can't seem to do much with that from
    within Knoppix.

    Paul, thanks so much for the elaborate instructions and links. I've
    copied your reply and will try to work on some of those Knoppix
    commands over the weekend.

    Many thanks again.
    (Sorry for delay in reply, my "own" computer was down! Bad week.)

    JClark, Oct 16, 2010
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