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Old 04-08-2008, 01:19 AM   #1
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dual boot - MBR - reinstalled windows

I have dual-boot system (windowsXP+opensuse).

I try to simulate the steps given by about restoring MBR after corrupting it.

I have saved the content of a working MBR in opensuse with this command:
dd if=/dev/sda of=/mnt/grub/save-mbr-image/mbr.image count=1 bs=512

where /mnt is mount point of /dev/sda3, which is the /boot of opensuse.

Without reinstalling WindowsXP, I purposely corrupted
/dev/sda with

dd if=/mnt/grub/save-mbr-image/random.image of=/dev/sda

As expect, I cannot boot to any OS.

After that I use the opensuse10.3 installation DVD and choose "Rescue
I login as root and hoping that I can mount /dev/sda3 using

mount -t ext3 -o rw,dev /dev/sda3 /mnt

however, "mount: special device /dev/sda3 does not exist"

is the answer i get.

I became panic:

fdisk -l /dev/sda says "Disk /dev/sda does not contain a valid partition table".

At least now I learn through hard lesson that MBR contains the
partition table is need by fdisk !!

So is this the end of story ?? What can I do to rescue the system ?
Installing WindowXP will help ?
Old 04-08-2008, 01:25 AM   #2
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I will not agree to this point that " if you corrupt your MBR then you cannot mount other partitions " I always reinstall Linux and Windows in my dual OS system. I always used to mount windows partitions from Linux, even though I modify the MBR. But I use two different hard drives for Linux and Windows.
Old 04-08-2008, 01:26 AM   #3
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dual boot reinstalled windows

I the rescue mode of open suse there is also a automatic repair
Did this option works or not

all the best
Old 04-08-2008, 05:29 AM   #4
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If you corrupt only the bootloader, then you can mount the partitions anyway, but it seems centguy destroyed the partition table also (and hopefully nothing more).
Now you must restore the lost partition table using some utility from a live CD, and then repair the bootloader.
If you just reinstall Windows (or anything), it will probably create new partition table, and recovering any data from you disk will be almost impossible.
I know nothing about openSusie rescue, but there is a nice liveCD I use: SystemRescueCD and it has testdisk utility, which helped me a lot when I lost a partition
Old 04-08-2008, 08:11 AM   #5
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I am unsure but sda refers to the entire drive, and I am afraid you may have corrupted more than just the partition table and the MBR, hopefully you did not destroy all your data.
Old 04-08-2008, 08:27 AM   #6
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Well, hoss, this command:

dd if=/mnt/grub/save-mbr-image/random.image of=/dev/sda

didn't have a size limit on it, so it is kind of hard to know exactly what you have done, but it could be very bad. Unlikely to have destroyed sda3, but might have damaged sda1.

You obviously have destroyed your partition table, and the data you need to recover it neatly is on one of the partitions that you cannot access. Interesting conundrum.

Get yourself a copy of testdisk and run it. It will probably find and rebuild your partition table.

Yes, Virginia, the partition table IS in the MBR!!
Old 04-08-2008, 11:19 AM   #7
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Thanks for the concerns out there. I did my experiment on an old computer so it is not big deal. It is the time that I spent that I am worried about.

I am no genius, the command

dd if=/mnt/grub/save-mbr-image/random.image of=/dev/sda

was mentioned in

Anyway, I was extra careful before I committed to such dd operation.
Before I messed up everything, I login as root in opensuse and I overwrote MBR using this command with the correct mbr.image ONCE and
I am able to boot. As the for the size of random.image,
I have used dd if=/mnt/grub/save-mbr-image/a-random-text-file of=/mnt/grub/save-mbr-image/mbr.image count=1 bs=512
so there should be no issue with the size. I used ls -l to check the size of random.image, which is 512.

I tend to believe dr_agon that if I reinstall Windows or linux, the other partition
will be gone according to new partition table. So that's tough luck.

The dd method of overwriting MBR demands that I should not disturb
the existing partition table setting when I reinstall Windows(i.e., let the Windows installer create EXACTLY the same partition as before and overwrite the MBR --- I cannot create D: out of the original entire space for C. If not, the good old mbr.image will be in conflict with the new partition table, and that will be hell again. I hope I am right in this deduction. Well, so much so for the dumb dd method...
Old 04-08-2008, 12:12 PM   #8
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As jiml8 has already pointed out your have destroyed the partition table so no operating system can read your hard disk.

The information inside your hard disk may be in perfect order but the mean to read it has been destroyed.

I agree running the "testdisk" program, to let it rebuild your partition table, is the best advice.

If you start to re-partition, format the hard disk and write information on it you can kiss your existing data goodbye.

Actually if you have a copy of the original partition table or know the sizes, types and order of the partitions you can recreate the partition table with any Linux Live CD and not a single byte will be lost. I have done this loads of time. The partition table is positioned between 447th to 510th bytes and is only 64 bytes long. A total destruction of the partition does not affect the internal data of the partitions but without the partition table no operating system knows where to begin or stop when reading a partition.

People should never use dd to mess around the MBR which can always be regenerated by a system command in every operating system, regardless it is a Windows or a Linux.
Old 04-08-2008, 01:50 PM   #9
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I tend to believe dr_agon that if I reinstall Windows or linux, the other partition
will be gone according to new partition table. So that's tough luck.
With a destroyed partition table, you may rest assured that a reinstall of anything will wipe out your partitions. I promise you that will happen.

And with respect to recovering partitions and disk structure and so forth, Saikee and I are the ones you want to listen to.
Old 04-08-2008, 01:58 PM   #10
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People should never use dd to mess around the MBR which can always be regenerated by a system command in every operating system, regardless it is a Windows or a Linux.
I routinely use dd to back up my mbr.
Old 04-08-2008, 02:35 PM   #11
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If you were skilled at these things and if the contents of this hard drive were valuable enough to justify serious effort, it could be fixed. (If it happened to me, I would fix it. But I'm barely expert enough to do that for myself, not expert enough to talk you through every detail).

The saved mbr and partition table are somewhere on the disk. The disk can still be read (as raw data in /dev/sda). Once you deduce some distinctive content in the original MBR you can use some search utility to find the copy of it somewhere on /dev/sda and then copy it back where it belongs.

I've never tried that testdisk utility. It sounds like it might solve the problem with less effort and much less expertise required (by the user).

Last edited by johnsfine; 04-08-2008 at 02:38 PM.
Old 04-09-2008, 01:49 AM   #12
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Don't panic as yet. I too came across a similar scenario.
Do you remember the aproximate sizes of your partitions?
Boot with a Live CD(Knoppix is my choice). run parted and try rescue option.

When i came across this i didnt have any experience in rescuing a hd. so try. don't giveup.


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