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Windows 7: Randomlyish-occurring BSOD after installing hardware from another PC.

05 Dec 2017   #21
Layback Bear

Windows 10 Pro. 64/ version 1709

Us dumb ones, like me make backups so we don't get in such a problem.
When I'm in doubt of a hard drive I just through it away. I don't worry about getting anything off the drive because I have a Clone and/or Backup's
Use the backup drive and buy a new drive; or maybe two.

The question I have, if the bad spots on your drive had data you wanted, would you be able to recover the data from those bad spots?


My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Dec 2017   #22

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Backups aren't dumb; I run them too. I have backups, and if this didn't work, I'd be okay. I just wanted to know if IaStorA.sys or storport.sys were in bad sectors, cuz that'd explain a lot!

Anyway, I'll answer your question, but first, disclaimers and stuff!:


Okay, now that that's out of the way.. First, take everything I say with a grain of salt: I am not a certified forensics technician, I'm entirely self-taught in all of this, and although I know the theory behind this stuff, I'm still human and can make mistakes. Also, all situations are unique; there will never be a global blanket one-size-fits-all "type this command and wait ten minutes" solution for this level of data recovery.

We'll start with a simple example: You have a 20 megabyte .txt file. Maybe you're a writer and that's a manuscript for a new book. Hard drives gets some bad sectors, and one's on your story. Oh no!

The sector is just 512 bytes large, so at most it should logically nuke 512 characters, but because the file resides on a bad sector, Windows just refuses to load the thing up in Notepad (or any other program). Now what?

First, I'd use ddrescue to grab what I can from the hard drive. It'll hit the bad sector and probably fail to read it anyway, but I'll have everything else.

The magic part is that ddrescue zero-fills any areas it can't read so that the sector alignment stays in sync with the physical disc. This means that, if you open that file from the copy /right now/, it'll work, and you'll just have a string of 512 null characters where the missing data is. It shoudln't be too hard to write what you had back there yourself; you can probably remember your own book, or at least well enough to make it work.

If your text editor can't handle null characters, ddrescue can replace them with any other string you want, like "BAD SECTOR " over and over again. Check the manual for details.

This is the basic premise for any sort of corruption recovery you can do yourself at home without significant specialized hardware or software costs; you take what you can, fill it with valid padding data, and try to make the rest up by hand.

Depending on the file format, this won't always be easy. In fact, it almost never is; .doc, for example, isn't actually plain text and I don't know how you'd go about doing this with it. If you wanted to recover a .bmp, you really can just fill the empty space in with zeros and it'll be a black pixel. (white? One of those.) -- .jpg though, that has to end at a specific alignment depending on how the image was compressed. .mp4 requires cutting to the nearest keyframe and then making up a new set of frames and injecting them into the file so that decoders don't throw errors. (I'm not sure it'd work even then, but that's what I'd try!) -- The list goes on. Basically, you need to Google the file format you're interested in and figure out how you'd go about constructing it from the ground up, as if writing your own program to output one of these files in the first place, without using any external libraries. In essence, you actually are doing exactly this, but by hand instead of having it be automated.

If your original file is equal to or smaller than the size of the bad sector, you won't be able to get any data back. NTFS will still have the filename so you can at least tell what's been lost, and that might be enough to remind you of what that thing was and potentially allow you to recreate it from scratch, but that's likely the best you can do.

Obviously this won't recover the original data, unless you happen to type exactly what's left out of that manuscript or somehow re-paint stuff pixel by pixel. If you want actual data recovery, not just a way to work around corruption, then things take a different route. This one is even less likely to succeed.

First, if you're lucky, you might eventually just be able to read a bad block if you try enough times. Don't count on it, but it can happen; ddrescue, specify -r0 along with the rest of your original command line, go to sleep, see if it recovered anything when you get up. It'll automatically put any data it recovers in the proper place in its rescue file, so if you run it through a loopback device or copy it to a new physical drive, the recovery's all done for you already!

If that doesn't happen, your best at-home bet is to try and help your drive recover its self. AGAIN, DO NOT ACTUALLY DO ANY OF THESE STEPS; IF THE DATA IS TRULY THAT IMPORTANT TO YOU, SEND IT TO A PROFESSIONAL INSTEAD AND JUST EAT THE $1,000-$2,000 CHARGE! Get one of those fancy special screwdrivers, open your casing up, and see if there's some sort of gunk on the platters. The top one is obviously easy to see, but the rest, you have to physically disassemble your drive to get at. The chance of ruining things is exceptionally high here. Dust-free rooms and white gloves are a *must*. Remember the order the platters are in and the specific orientation; if they aren't physically rotated the same way, your hard drive might not even recognize its own platters anymore, let alone your data! Each screw has to go through the same hole. All the holes have to be lined up with where they were before. Do not take this lightly. Get lots of paper, take lots of notes, and be really careful about how you set any platters down or pick them back up. Handle them by their edges. Wear an ESR band; the smallest discharge, one that you won't even feel, can nuke gigabytes of data. (This isn't one of those "Oh wear an ESD band" topics like when working with your computer like a normal builder; this is a "Seriously, wear an ESD band, you /have/ to" thing.)

Sometimes you'll get lucky and find a large piece of dust stuck to the disc somehow. If you can get it off and reassemble everything, you might fix a few sectors.

Sometimes drives won't spin up at all. In old drives, this can be due to a minute amount of rust or moisture that somehow got in on the spindle and made just enough friction that it can't start spinning on its own. I heard of one story with a guy who had his drive open, spun it up very carefully by physically rotating the spindle with his fingers, and once it got going it was totally fine and he read data off it like normal with ddrescue, somehow while finding no bad sectors!

If your data is in any state worse than this, you actually do need specialized hardware to recover things. It might not /be/ recoverable, even with special tools. I don't know how the process works from there, but I do know it's expensive. I've already speculated enough in this post, so I won't go barking up what I know absolutely zilch about right now!

Regardless of how you get your data back, if your drive starts working again, it's a trap, don't trust it! Ddrescue your data off to another known-good drive and use that instead ASAP!

Just to recap: If you have really important data and can't stand to lose it for any reason, you should back it up in at least two places! Super-ideally you'll have them be in different physical locations, too. The ideal backup solution that still remains realistically feasible is: one copy on your local hard drive in your computer; one copy on an external hard drive or thumb drive (not optical media, those physically decay after a few years!); and one copy somewhere that isn't at your house (if it's small enough, you might be able to email it to yourself and as long as it stays on the server, you're good. Bigger, consider Dropbox or something similar.)

You might think three places is overkill, but one time I had data on a local drive and data on a thumb drive. I went to open a file, found out it was corrupt. Not sure why. Oh well, plugged my thumb drive in to copy it back to my hard drive, annnnnd BZZT! Crud. Entire thumb drive fried. Data's gone. (Technically, sure, I can try to de-solder and lift the memory chip off the drive's board and put it in another drive of the same model, but I don't have that sort of confidence in myself and it wasn't a critical file anyway. Would've just been nice to have.)

Two local external hard drives are better than one, but what if your house has a fire when you ain't home and both go up in smoke? What if your motherboard has a port with a short in it, and you brainfart and plug the second drive in after it kills the first one? What if you drop one drive while it's turned on onto the other drive while that one's turned on too? Cat runs through and pulls the wires and drives off the table? Dog lays on things and kicks its leg while it's asleep? Kid decides that the drives are dirty and need a bath so they pour their milk all over them? These things sound crazy, but they actually /do/ happen; that's why having that off-site backup is so important.

Internal hard drive, external hard drive, cloud. Use all three. It's cheap. $150-ish one-time cost for the external drive, $5/month for a typical cloud service. (I use Backblaze personally, but there's plenty of alternatives!). If you can afford your cell phone bill, you can almost certainly afford a reasonable backup solution, too.

PS: RAID-1 is not a backup! If you delete a file, or get hit with ransomware, or anything of that nature, it'll hit both drives and you'll lose your data anyway. RAID-1 is only for tolerance against /mechanical/ failures, not for having a second copy of your data. Although it technically does make a second copy as soon as you make the first, it also nukes the copy if anything non-mechanically-related happens to the first. This makes it entirely unsuitable for any sort of real-world backup operations. Again, it's for "redundancy" or "mechanical fault tolerance", not for backups!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Dec 2017   #23

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

I told you I have storport.sys loaded!

System was fine for ages. Made the RAID-1 with Windows' internal software (diskmgmr.mmc and such). Worked fine. Suddenly thought "Hey we should revert those drivers because it was a failing drive right?", did that.

System stays fine through the night. Finishes syncing disks. Wake up to it all happy in the morning, 12+ hours update. Good.

Rebooted just to be sure all is well, then started going about my day. Not even 45 minutes after booting, this happens.

Again, this started happening again after reverting the drivers. I'm leaning more and more towards them being at fault.

Anyway, dumps attached again, please offer advice and.. Yeah. You know the drill. Please excuse me for a few minutes, I spent almost my entire day yesterday, at least eight hours, working on getting RAID to work by various means. I could rant about how no matter what solutions I tried (BIOS, Software, don't have a free PCIe slot so can't do legit hardware RAID) I have to sacrifice something (Windows stinks at random reads, Intel stinks at sequential and looks really flaky, hardware RAID would require me to give up a GPU..), or what a pain it was to get either solution to work (Linux doesn't play nice with my BIOS' raid, Windows coudln't copy its own EFI partition so I had to boot to Linux and copy it there, aligning the sectors took far more manual work than expected once I was back in Windows..), but I'll spare you guys that particular run of agony.

EDIT: Half an hour, crashed again, storport.sys.

EDIT2: About an hour after the last crash, got a third BSOD. Didn't point to any .sys file this time.

EDIT3: Removed the SSD outright and the other hard drive. Now I just have one 4TB Seagate Iron Wolf Pro in. Back to getting IaStorA.sys BSODs again. x.x'

Attached Files
File Type: zip (2.50 MB, 1 views)
File Type: zip (2.89 MB, 6 views)
My System SpecsSystem Spec

11 Dec 2017   #24

Windows 10 Pro

Sorry for the delay.

I don't have experience with RAID troubleshooting so I asked for others that do to have a look at your problem.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Dec 2017   #25

Windows 7 Ultimate 32bit

Fix your IaStorA.sys problem by going here - SABERTOOTH X79 Driver & Tools| Motherboards | ASUS Canada

Finding your correct driver on this page may be a little hard, so after selecting your OS on this page, scroll down to "SATA" section and below it choose "See All Downloads", then download and install Intel Rapid Storage Technology driver version (17.75 Mb). Now your IaStorA.sys driver problem should be fixed.

Now because you never mentioned what is your SSD (I think), nor you have it in your specs, you should search your SSD name with "firmware" after it. Try to update the firmware of your SSD.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Dec 2017   #26

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Holy cow. o_o' Okay, obviously we won't know for sure if I'm not crashing unless I'm stable for like two weeks straight or something, but I already see a massive improvement from getting the drivers from the page MSClin linked to! Crystal's reporting 20-25% increases, and my system feels way more responsive!

I actually had that page before, but never noticed the "show all downloads" buttons. Man, why did Asus hide stuff there? D: Anyway, I grabbed the RSTe one instead of IRST since that's what's actually installed on my system. The version I used to have wasn't even listed on the site, somehow! Maybe I installed it off the CD that came with the board or something..

Anyway, I forgot to mention this and thought I was imagining it anyway, but performance *tanked* at the same time the crashes started. I have actual hopes that this fixed things because performance is back to normal now! Fwee!

Other notes: As mentioned in my previous post, I'm only running one HDD now for testing purposes, and no SSD. BIOS is set back to AHCI. Windows mirroring is disabled. I have one drive, period. For completeness, though, I'll mention that the SSD is a Samsung 840 Pro, 120 gigs, and it hasn't even had 10TB written to it over its entire lifetime, I reckon.

If this somehow does fix my issues, then.. Seriously, what the heck caused them in the first place? Like I said in my original post, this is a 24/7 system and it ran near-flawlessly for about three years before now! Why did the drivers suddenly need to be updated now and not years ago? So weird.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Dec 2017   #27

Windows 7 Ultimate 32bit

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Nofew View Post
I actually had that page before, but never noticed the "show all downloads" buttons. Man, why did Asus hide stuff there? D: Anyway, I grabbed the RSTe one instead of IRST since that's what's actually installed on my system. The version I used to have wasn't even listed on the site, somehow! Maybe I installed it off the CD that came with the board or something..
Or it was a "stock" Windows driver... I don't know.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Nofew View Post
If this somehow does fix my issues, then.. Seriously, what the heck caused them in the first place? Like I said in my original post, this is a 24/7 system and it ran near-flawlessly for about three years before now! Why did the drivers suddenly need to be updated now and not years ago? So weird.
Installing new hardware without getting updated drivers for it may cause issues like yours.

I can't help you much with the storport.sys BSODs. The only advice I can give you is to update your SSD firmware. I am pretty sure the storport.sys BSOD is connected with your SSD.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Dec 2017   #28

Windows 10 Pro

There are various reasons why Windows would crash now after years of normal function. Think about failing hardware, software updates and corruption showing up out of nowhere that can potentially cause problems. Mainly hardware problems can be a pita if not identified soon.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Dec 2017   #29

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

18 hours, no crashes, performance is still great, and I have all my usual stuff open! It's still too early to call it for sure, but this is how I feel on the inside right now!:

Semi-relatedly, it's probably maybe safe to plug my SSD back in. I'm afraid to. I don't wanna jynx it. If I do, I think I'm gunna clone my drive first just in case plugging it in makes Windows Update do something funky or something. Call me paranoid if you want, but after the massive ordeal I've been through (the timing was *really* weird with other life events), I have firmly become superstitious about this PC.

Back more on-topic; SSD firmware is up-to-date. That was the very first thing I checked. AsMedia (My 6 gig ports use those) drivers might not be, but I might just leave it in Intel's 3G ports. Depends how things go. I'm just using it for fast random reads, so it's not like I actually need 600 meg/second sequential.

I'm just writing this bit in case someone else follows the same route I did: I think DriverEasy didn't work completely because it took the IaStorA.sys file from the IRST package rather than the RSTe one. I figure they both have the same .sys file, but IRST is more widely used, so it grabbed that one instead. Evidently I needed RSTe. This became a bit more evident when RSTe gave me errors upon trying to open it after using DriverEasy, but I didn't make the connection completely until MSClin pointed me at Asus' site again and I saw the downloads right next to each other.

Go figure. My BIOS even has an option to pick between RSTe and IRST, and I knew it was set on RSTe, and somehow I still didn't make the jump! Oh well, it seems to be all fixed now. I hope.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
4 Weeks Ago   #30

Windows 7 Ultimate 32bit

This is very nice. I hope all of your issues were resolved or will be resolved. By the way, Asus site was really a mystery for me too... I was very close to miss the "Show All Downloads" details as how you did too, but my curiosity just did nice work.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Randomlyish-occurring BSOD after installing hardware from another PC.

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