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Windows 7: Hard Drive Failing, Start-up Repair corrupted it more?


29 Mar 2012   #1
Longs2517

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 
Hard Drive Failing, Start-up Repair corrupted it more?

Acer 5741g, Windows 7 64 home premium, 4GB ram, Hitachi HTS5459b9a300 500GB hard drive, BIOS version 1.23

A few weeks ago, hard drive crashed, which i thought was due to it losing battery power during a windows update. I created a Windows recovery disk from a similar laptop, ultimately had to use a recovery from the reserved partition to get the computer operating - wouldn't do system restore, start-up repair wouldn't work, etc., then had issues with being able to apply Windows updates (Service Pack 1).

The hard drive crashed again, would get past BIOS and then sit with a blank screen. I could boot with the Windows recovery disk. It would not find an operating system to repair. At command prompt, it would not switch drives from x: to c: or d:, returning an I/O error.

After another boot attempt to the Recovery disk, went to "start-up repair" and it did seem to at least see the hard drive, since it indicated that it was repairing disk errors and the process could take over an hour, which of course is an understatement. Went to bed. This morn it indicated that it was finished, to restart the computer, and if it was fixed, it would start windows normally, if not, the repair was not successful.

So I restart the computer, and it starts cycling - get a flash of the BIOS screen, it thinks for a couple seconds, then shuts down and restarts! It will do that over and over. It is not allowing me to hit F2 even to get into the BIOS, seems to cycle too fast or not get to that point, although I do see the F2 prompt at the bottom of the screen. The only way to stop the cycling is to remove the power cord and pop out the battery to kill it.

I didn't have much time to fiddle with it this morning, but I did try removing the hard drive completely. When it boots, it doesn't show the BIOS screen but it does start loading files from the Windows recovery CD that's in the optical drive, like I'd expect it to if i had instructed the computer to boot from the optical drive. The optical drive is the first boot device, but normally you still have to press a key to make it boot from there, otherwise it will still boot from the hard drive.

My thinking is that Windows start-up repair did further damage to the drive, to the extent that the computer shuts down when it's detected in there.

This computer was purchased at Costco so it is in the 2nd year of the 2 year warranty they provide, but apparently year 2 is through Costco, not Acer, so there's a different repair process for that.

My primary issue is that there are a few files that I'd like to get off that hard drive. Does anyone have any suggestions about using a 2.5" SATA to USB type of setup, plugging it into another computer to see if I can read the drive at all that way? Any other suggestions getting this thing going? If i can recover some of the files from the HD, I can then replace it in the 5741g and send it off for repair or replacement under warranty.

Any help/suggestions from the experts are appreciated!

Longs


My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Mar 2012   #2
FliGi7

XP / Win7 x64 Pro
 
 

It's a pretty straight forward process for copying the files off of it using a SATA->USB connector. Just plug it in, hope the drive mounts, and copy the files off of it. The only problem would be is if the disc isn't recognized by Windows. Then you'll have to attempt to recover files from the drive in a different process. You could also boot the machine using a Live Linux cd and copy the files to an external drive.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Mar 2012   #3
Longs2517

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

To your point, I'll likely have to obtain a SATA to USB connector and hope that I can recognize the drive on another computer since this laptop just turns on and off if the drive is installed.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Mar 2012   #4
FliGi7

XP / Win7 x64 Pro
 
 

I would go into the BIOS and adjust your boot order (or press F12 at the BIOS screen) so that it boots from CD before it tries to boot from the hard drive. That will solve your issues of it just looping and turning off at the moment. Then, you can boot from the Live Linux cd without issue and see if you can save the data that way.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Mar 2012   #5
gregrocker
Microsoft MVP

 

You can copy out your files to external using Win7 DVD or System Repair Disk : Copy & Paste - in Windows Recovery Console, or free Paragon rescue disk to recover data

When a HD becomes suspect the first thing to do is copy out files, then run HD maker's HD Diagnostic extended CD scan, followed by Disk Check. This is because bad blocks or surface errors need to be repaired first before attempting to fix the resident file system.

Startup Repair was running Disk Check on a HD that likely had surface errors, which may or may not exacerbate the problem which needed repairs attempted by HD repair scan first. But even if repaired fully the HD should remain suspect indefinitely.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Mar 2012   #6
Longs2517

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by FliGi7 View Post
I would go into the BIOS and adjust your boot order (or press F12 at the BIOS screen) so that it boots from CD before it tries to boot from the hard drive. That will solve your issues of it just looping and turning off at the moment. Then, you can boot from the Live Linux cd without issue and see if you can save the data that way.
My boot order already is set to go first to the CD... interesting that the computer's cycling with the HDD installed - although i briefly see my BIOS screen with F2 to enter, I can't seem to hit it fast enough, or it shuts off too quickly. When i completely removed the HDD, it booted from the Windows Repair disk in the CD... but i didn't see the BIOS screen at all.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Mar 2012   #7
gregrocker
Microsoft MVP

 

The HD Diagnostic will autostart so should avoid the cycling you describe. Hitachi's Drive Fitness test is really the very best one of these tests.

If the HD is not toast then it could be boot sector corruption which can cause these kinds of boot abnormalities, even block BIOS post. This is solved by wiping with Diskpart Clean Command.

You'd then need to Clean Reinstall - Factory OEM Windows 7
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Mar 2012   #8
FliGi7

XP / Win7 x64 Pro
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by gregrocker View Post
The HD Diagnostic will autostart so should avoid the cycling you describe.
The system repair disc won't even boot, so apparently discs are not auto-starting, even though it should have nothing to do with the HDD. It sounds like mounting to an external connector is going to be the best bet.

You could also try to be sneaky, disconnect the hard drive, boot from the Live Linux CD, and then connect the hard drive the split second after the CD starts to boot. That might work.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Mar 2012   #9
gregrocker
Microsoft MVP

 

System Repair disk does not autostart (boot itself) unless the HD is wiped first. HD Diagnostics will normally autostart, so if it confirms the HD then using it's option to wipe the HD will force installer to start. This is how WIn7 can be installed when a disk will not boot by user.

If files need copying out you can use Paragon rescue disk to recover data which should also autostart.

However if HD or something else is blocking normal disk behavior then it might require slaving it in another computer. This is how I had to wipe a HD that was blocking BIOS post: Frozen BIOS Boot screen

first reset the BIOS to defaults: Clear CMOS - 3 Ways to Clear the CMOS - Reset BIOS. Set OD to boot first to try booting disk again. If this fails, set HD first to boot and use one-time BIOS Boot menu key.

Confirm also your DVD/Repair CD will boot in another machine. If not burn confirmed ISO to DVD using ImgBurn at 4x speed.

Next try writing the confirmed Win7 installer ISO to flash stick using Universal USB Installer with Win7 in dropdown menu. Boot using one-time menu under USB, Removable or HD's, set BIOS boot order HD first to boot.

ISO's here: Clean Reinstall - Factory OEM Windows 7

But first confirm your HD.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Mar 2012   #10
Longs2517

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Thanks Gregrocker, here's how it played out:

I downloaded Paragon Rescue disk, and went and purchased a SATA 2.5 to USB cable (for $30, ripoff) at Best Buy. Tried to boot with the Paragon Rescue Disk while the HD was still installed in the laptop, no dice. Kept cycling power, couldn't even get to the BIOS.

Removed HD from laptop, hooked up via SATA cable to my desktop running XP, couldn't read any directories. Used Ultimate Boot Disk for Windows to check the HD, showed some damaged sectors, etc. with HDTune.

I disconnected the HD from the desktop and plugged it into one of the laptop's USB Ports, with Paragon Rescue in the CD drive and another memory stick in another USB port, and was able to boot from the Paragon Rescue CD and copy some files from the HD to the USB stick via Paragon's file recovery utility.

I removed Paragon and installed the Windows System Repair disk and rebooted the laptop, tried to chkdsk /r the drive. Got a number of errors so obviously the HD is fried, I just have to decide whether there's anything else to recover from it.

I need to decide how to deal with Costco Concierge - whether i want to ship off the whole computer and be without it for days or weeks, or just spend $100 on another HD and do a clean reinstall of Windows. Thoughts on that?

So my dilemma was "sort of" solved. The laptop clearly didn't like the HD enough that it would just keep turning on and off, had zero chance of booting. It was the presence of the HD that was causing the restarts, not anything wrong with my boot CDs, CMOS, BIOS settings, etc. Using the USB to 2.5" SATA cable was the key, along with Paragon Rescue CD. I still have a corrupt, unusuable HD to contend with, though.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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