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Windows 7: Disk Management - Blank volumes and lost Hard Drives?

08 Feb 2015   #1

Windows 7 Pro 64 bit
Disk Management - Blank volumes and lost Hard Drives?


Just wondering if anybody has had a problem like this.
I've run into a few problems of late which primarily involve the new 4TB and the not so new 3TB HDD's.

Firstly the Disk management attachment will show multiple Drives, 1/2 of them with unrealistic volumes. I suspect that there maybe sections on each hard drive that are boot sectors or recovery sectors but I think this is something different.
Also my 4TB hard drives which I have three of randomly seem to disappear usually while I'm trying to back them up. I thought this maybe the host controller driver which I updated from the motherboard website but this did improve somewhat. As when I lose a hard drive now it no longer goes to a RAW status but usually gets picked up again on a windows re-start without any problems.

All other drivers are up to date. Also when the 4TB Hard drives went to a RAW Status I could not re-format the drives using the longer method as they would drop out after 3 or 4 hours. So they have had a quick format.
I have also used 'chkdsk g: /r' which did not pick anything out that was a problem for that hard drive.

Oh yeah one last thing the hard drive which is the one I have had the most problems with is connected to a sata raid controller card because the motherboard only has 6 sata connectors and I have 7 hard drives + 1 optical drive, both are connected to the card and are set up as a pass through connection.

Thanks in advance if anybody has any ideas on this one.

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My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Feb 2015   #2

Windows 7 Pro 64 bit

OK resolved part of the problem those being the blank volumes. When I first started losing hard drives I attempted to recover the lost files and then re-formatted the discs on my second pc. This was done successfully. However when I transferred the discs back to the primary PC it all started to go wrong again. Now the reason for the problems after re-installing the discs was the 2nd pc has windows 7 32 bit, the primary pc's operational system is 64 bit and of course a re-formatted disc on a 32 bit system does like being loaded onto a 64 bit system. Now this does not resolve the original problem, but I did update the UEFI after the original discs failure. So I will see what happens this time round as I am doing the recovery work on my 64 bit windows 7 laptop and reformatting the discs on the primary pc.
Thanks to all the people who had the courtesy to look at the original message.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Feb 2015   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit

Strictly speaking, it shouldn't matter even a bit whether the HDD is formatted in a 32 bit system or 64 bit system.

All your woes arise from repeatedly trying to format/partition the drives leaving dirty bits (here I mean digital bits :)) all over.

Take for instance your 3TB drive. It shows a 129MB unallocated partition in Windows Disk Management. This is an aberration. When a drive is initialised and formatted as a GPT drive, a 128 MB MSR partition is created and this 128MB partition will not be visible in Windows Disk Management. ( But other formatting utilities like Partition Wizard will show the same as "other") Why is it showing up in your Windows Disk Management as unallocated !!!!! ( No question mark only exclamation :))

Both your 3TB and 4TB drives need a thorough full wipe writing zeroes to each sector. Do this with either the manufacturer's diagnostic/repair utility (recommended) or a third party low level format tool like HDD Guru's.

I know that it may run for a day or even more for this total wipe, but it is necessary and inevitable to wipe out the past sins and live happily thereafter :) ( Of course you need to move out the existing files before you wipe)
My System SpecsSystem Spec

12 Feb 2015   #4

Windows 7 Pro 64 bit

Thanks for the reply, I maybe clutching at straws as I have been trying to sort this out for about three weeks now. A lot of the time is waiting for the software to recognise the files and moving them to another disc. Then wiping the disc before restoring the non-corrupt files back to the original disc. And yes this takes forever.
But I have been using windows disc management to re-format, I will try something else as you have suggested other options.
I will see how this goes as I have run out of other ideas, I mean really what do I do buy another motherboard?

Thanks for your views.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Feb 2015   #5

Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit

I am afraid that you misunderstood what I stated in my previous post. Perhaps my Queen's English has to do with it.:)

1. The 128MB Microsoft System Reserved partition in a GPT drive is a Microsoft requirement created with a specific purpose.

2. Lest users meddle with it, that partition is deliberately hidden by Microsoft and Windows Disk Management by design and intent and will not normally show it in Windows Disk Management.

3. The very fact that the MSR partition on your 3TB drive is shown in Windows Disk Management is indicative of a corrupted format.

4. Your 4TB drive format is also corrupted and that is why you get to see some irrelevant drives on Windows Disk Management.

5. To set things right, you have to move out all data on these drives to one other good drive and then wipe your 3TB and 4TB drives clean by writing zeroes to all sectors and then format the drives afresh.

6. I did not advocate formatting the drives with a third party application. Since it is a Microsoft requirement and Microsoft knows better about it, format your GPT drives only with Windows Disk Management.It will automatically create the 128MB MSR partition to its specification but it will be hidden and will not show up in Windows Disk Management.

7. For wiping - writing zeroes to all sectors - use the Manufacturer's Diagnostic utility. If a Seagate external, SeaTools for Windows and if a Western Digital, Datalifeguard Diagnostic for Windows. If any other, use a third party low level Format tool such as HDDGURU: HDD LLF Low Level Format Tool

Note: Before wiping move out all existing data to another drive.

8. After wiping, initialise and format as a GPT drive in Windows Disk Management.

9. Older motherboards/bios may not support drives larger than 2 GB. Since you have two or more PCs you have to check it. Using the drives on such older machines may also be a reason for the GPT drive formats getting corrupted. We have seen this happen with incompatible older HDD docks.

As I understand you are struggling to retrieve the data from the corrupted drives.

You may try TestDisk to recover the data.

Follow the guide here Regain a lost drive using Test Disk - An Illustrated Guide

Be sure to select the correct drive for recovery. ( You should have only the problem drive and another good destination drive to copy the data plugged in before starting TestDisk and can distinguish the two by the capacity indicated. Of course your system drive will also be seen. Don't touch it. Do not copy files to your system drive.)

In the Third Window, instead of [Intel] select [ EFI GPT]

When you come to the screen where it shows all partitions on the problem drive, select a partition and press P (capital) to list the files and then copy those to the destination drive.

Disk Management - Blank volumes and lost Hard Drives?-12-02-2015-16-42-12.jpg

( I am assuming that TestDisk will find the partitions.:) )

Note: TestDisk is highly interactive. Read each and every Window. Since our aim is to recover files only and not partition recovery you will not click on any [write] command anytime anywhere.)

My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Feb 2015   #6

Windows 7 Pro 64 bit

My thanks for that explanation, I must not have expressed myself as well as I could in my posts. Most of which you listed I have done except the formatting of the 4TB discs which failed each time I ran the Windows software for the thorough format. I do take responsibility that my original recovery & formatting may not have been as clean as it could have been, I certainly won't make that mistake again. As for the recovery of files on some disks it was 100% but on others it was around 95%, I don't know if there would be an expectation that all the disks would have a 100% success rate as I was careful not to write to the discs during the recovery period.
Now I will see how this recovery goes and will comment on its outcome.
Just on a end note I'm still not convinced why this started, maybe not for the 4TB's but certainly for the 3TB's as they have been in the PC for several months with no problems.
And thank you again for your instructions it is appreciated and it also gives me confidence that a successful outcome could be achieved.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Feb 2015   #7

Windows 7 Pro 64 bit

Well I've been on this for several weeks now I have cleared all partitions re-formatted the disks using the slow method and I am still loosing the disks. Don't know what else to do, so going with a different motherboard.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Mar 2015   #8

Windows 7 Pro 64 bit

OK, finally managed to get some stability. Well it appears that there might have been a number different issues at play. So I'll go through the steps I have taken to get to this point.

1. Firstly I deleted all the partitions concerning the failed disks, I used the following method.

Diskpart>list disk
Diskpart>select disk 0
Diskpart>list partition
Diskpart>select partition 1
Diskpart>delete partition override

Now I deleted all the partitions on each disk including the reserved partition as well as the OEM partitions and primary partition.
Then re-formatted the disks.
Now just to make sure I ran a disk check on the re-formatted disk to see if any issues were left outstanding.

This managed to stabilise the discs at rest but there was still an issue when the disks were under load, some failed again.
After re-formatting the failed disks again I decided that I would start un-installing drives from various components and re-installing freshly downloaded drives from the manufacturers.
This was a good outcome as the changes stabilised the system to zero errors.
The most notable driver changes that seemed to work were,

NET Framework 4.5
USB 3.0 Hub Controller

So it's not clear to me what the initial problem was but issues with drivers may have been to blame.
I would like to thank jumanji for his contributions.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Mar 2015   #9

Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit

I should say that my suggestions didn't work and it is that your own efforts that worked. Glad you persevered and did it.

In many cases we are unable to solve a problem mainly because we do not know what exactly is causing the problem. Finally it comes to a repair install and that fails even, a total clean install.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Disk Management - Blank volumes and lost Hard Drives?

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