Originally Posted by Geminias
Concerning other questions: the partition table is damaged because i get this error when the computer starts: "invalid partition table" And absolutely nothing will boot off the disk.
I'm not sure whether the BIOS is providing this message, or whatever boot loader is currently there (possibly NTLDR?). Either way, that information could be a best-guess error message and totally wrong. I would definitely investigate first.
I didn't know that i should back up my partition table because I never had to deal with anything like this before. In fact I didn't even know what I was doing.
And why should you have? Most computer users have no idea that such things even exist. When a user starts multi-booting, it is best to become aware of such things exactly because of the kind of trouble you're having now. It's not your fault, just your problem.
About the Ultimate Boot CD, and I hope you read this in time, because I should have mentioned: Make sure to get the version of Ultimate Bood CD (UBCD) with Insert, which is based on Knoppix. This means downloading
the full version, as opposed to the basic version. It's worth the extra 64 MB of download because (despite being for the "advanced user") you can then also use UBCD to boot Insert Linux from the CD, without installing to hard-drive. If you like, you might also try out Knoppix
straight away, although it is a bigger download and is more of a "try out Linux" type of deal.
I don't seem to have explained live CD concept so far, so here goes. The advantage of these live CDs (like UBCD full and Knoppix) is that they allow you to easily run a complete operating system without using the hard-drive. You can then use them to investigate and make changes to your machine, including such things as restoring partition tables.
Note that I am no expert and can only tell you my thoughts on what to do. Just trying to help.
To boot with UBCD, you just need to put it in your CD drive and start the machine. If it doesn't boot from CD, you may need to open your BIOS to enable booting from CD. What happens with UBCD is that it brings up a menu. You can then choose whether to start using tools or to load Insert Linux.
In your case, the first thing I think you should do is to start Insert Linux. It uses Fluxbox as a window manager, which you probably are not familiar with. No worries, you can right-click on the desktop and look for a terminal window app. Look under XShell for Xterm for example, or Apps > Shells for Bash or Sh.
Once you have a terminal window, switch to superuser by entering the command "su". You won't need a password, since this is a live CD session and not a permanent Linux installation. Now type
The -l (lowercase L) switch tells it to print out the partition information to the screen. If it shows you a list of your partitions or even just some of your partitions, then your partition table is likely not screwed after all.
If you don't like fdisk or don't understand it, you can try running Qtparted, which is a graphical interface to the program parted. (It should run if you just type in qtparted in your terminal window and hit Enter.) Be careful though not to actually use the program to partition until you understand what you're doing. All you're looking for is to see whether the partitions show up.
We can be much more specific than that though, if needed. If the above two methods don't help you, we can take a look directly at your partition table. To do that, from the terminal window as superuser type in (don't type the #, it just means you're superuser):
# sfdisk -d /dev/hda
I write /dev/hda because I assume that you have a single IDE hard-drive and not, for example, a SCSI hard-drive. (The "hd" part means IDE, and "a" would be the first drive: with mulitple drives you have hda, hdb, hdc, etc., including IDE CD-ROM drives.) Here's what it looks like on my Linux box at work:
# sfdisk -d /dev/sda
# partition table of /dev/sda
/dev/sda1 : start= 63, size= 3919797, Id=83, bootable
/dev/sda2 : start= 3919860, size= 1959930, Id=82
/dev/sda3 : start= 5879790, size= 29350755, Id= 5
/dev/sda4 : start= 0, size= 0, Id= 0
/dev/sda5 : start= 5879853, size= 9767457, Id=83
/dev/sda6 : start= 15647373, size= 7823592, Id=83
/dev/sda7 : start= 23471028, size= 3919797, Id=83
/dev/sda8 : start= 27390888, size= 3919797, Id=83
/dev/sda9 : start= 31310748, size= 3919797, Id=83
You can see that for each partition on the drive (sd means it's a SCSI drive, btw), the output lists the starting sector plus the size in sectors, an Id and a flag for which partition is bootable. The Id tells you what kind of filesystem the partition has: in this case, Id=83 means ext2 and Id=82 means swap. Id=07 would be an NTFS partition.
If you get this output, then your partition table is indeed intact. Let us know how this looks. The more explicit the info, the better, especially if you get warnings, errors, or garbage.
To quote the Red Hat post
where I got this:
Try this command by itself to see your partition table as it is very safe. You will want to check to check for warnings in the output.... Output containing a warning may look like the example below:
$ sfdisk -d /dev/hda
Warning: extended partition does not start at a cylinder boundary.
DOS and Linux will interpret the contents differently.
# partition table of /dev/hda
/dev/hda1 : start= 63, size= 16771797, Id= 7, bootable
/dev/hda2 : start= 16771860, size=217632555, Id= f
/dev/hda3 : start= 0, size= 0, Id= 0
/dev/hda4 : start= 0, size= 0, Id= 0
/dev/hda5 : start= 16771923, size=104856192, Id= 7
/dev/hda6 : start=121628178, size=112776237, Id= 7
If you are now convinced that the partition table is hosed though, then I would reboot and try using the partition tools from the UBCD startup screen. (To reboot, right-click the Fluxbox desktop and select Exit, or if you can't figure out how to restart it should be safe to just press your reset button since the hard-disks shouldn't be mounted.)
EDIT: Ultimate Boot CD says that it includes Active@ partition recovery. I've tried the demo version and this software was successful up to the part where i couldn't write to disk since it was demo. Is the one on Ultimate Boot just a demo? I can't see how it would be the commercial...
About Active@ Partition: The Ultimate Boot CD only uses software that is free to distribute. In the case of Active@ Partition, this will mean only the demo version, which is too bad.
Hopefully you won't even need it, hopefully only your MBR is wrecked.
But if you do still need such a tool, let's see what the Ultimate Boot CD has to offer. Here is a list of tools on the UBCD that I found will recover a partition table:
- Active@ Partition (demo, need to buy to restore)
- TestDisk (free, though you've already tried it)
A couple of other notes:
DIY Datarecovery DiskPatch
; this is listed on UBCD as MBRtool, which is freeware from DIY. MBRtool won't recover your partition table, but their DiskPatch software will. It also has a demo, which you can use to create a support logfile to send to their staff. Of course this is also payware -- the non-pro version costs $30, compared to Advanced@ Partition for 30 Euros.
On the same page hosting MBRWork
there is a utility called Partinfo that you can use it to view your partition table, although the way described above with sfdisk above does this already.
Furthermore, it looks like DIY Datarecovery has some good information. This is more like expert advice, even if their products are not free.
General procedures for data recovery:
Info on the MBR and partition tables:
You should figure out whether your partition table is okay. If it is, you just need to fix your MBR. If it is not, it looks to me that to restore it you have the choice between freeware and payware. For freeware, try TestDisk again and get as much help with it as possible. For payware, there are two versions: Active@ Partition and DIY DiskPatch, both of which cost roughly $30. Of course, there is always the abortive approach, which is to reinstall Windows -- but you are likely to lose any and all valuable data already on your drive if you do this.
I would consider giving TestDisk another, closer look. (I just used its sister program PhotoRec, to recover some valuable files from a partition I borked at the end of a 200GB drive.) There is a list of live CDs
that it appears on.
If, at the end of all these trials, you cannot recover your partition table, which I consider unlikely, and you have valuable data on the drive that you want to keep (say on your Windows partition), all is not lost. It is still possible to recover the data. But one step at a time.
If none of this helps you, maybe it will help some poor soul down the road, that's the great thing about searchable forums.