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FixBoot changed my file system from NTFS to FAT . . .is there any hope?

By Marko44 · 16 replies
Jan 9, 2006
  1. I think I found this community forum a little too late but here are the details:

    A friend has an XP Pro installation on a 40GB Maxtor drive. The PC would try to boot and come up with the error message of:

    We apologize for the inconvenience, but windows did not start successfully

    and give me a choice to boot Normal, Safe, Safe with Command, and Safe with Network.
    It would try and boot, then automatically restart.. (Auto Restart must have been checked)

    I took the drive out of the PC and installed it on my XP PC (secondary IDE) The PC assigned a drive letter but when you click’d on the drive, it responds with: The disk is not formatted, do you wish to format it now?

    I then replaced it back into the original PC and attempted to do a Repair. Not the recovery console but Enter to install. At this point I couldn’t do a repair because the partition was listed as: Partition 1 (Unknown)

    I then fired up the Recovery Console. I issued a CHKDSK command and it responded with “The volume appears to contain one or more unrecoverable problems”

    Next I tried a DIR command and it responded with: "error occurred during directory enumeration

    At this point I didn’t know what File System was on the drive. Back at the Recovery Console, I tried a FixMBR I forgot to write the specifics but it didn’t change a thing and I was still able to get into reboot loop at startup.

    Here’s where it gets ugly. I then issued a FixBoot command, and it came back with:
    Fixboot is attempting to detect the file system type.
    The boot sector is corrupt
    Fixboot is checking the file system type
    The partition is using the FAT file system
    Fixboot is writing a new boot sector
    The new boot sector was successfully written

    Now when I try booting the PC, all I get is a “NTLDR is missing” message.

    The FixBoot util created a FAT boot partition of 10 MB as seen in Windows Explorer. I used a partition utility to look at the partition and it said it was a FAT12 partition which I thought was only used for floppies.

    Did I hose myself? I would bet the original partition is NTFS but now I only see a FAT partition. Then I found this community and this thread hit close to home:


    I think this would have worked for me had I not overwrote the partition boot sector.

    My friend really needs the data off the drive. Do you see any way get this back? Thanks for your time.
  2. cyrax

    cyrax TS Rookie Posts: 68

    There are a few low level format tools you could used....via network though, like system mechanic. But here is a gold nugget of advice. NEVER buy a maxtor hard drive. those things are designed for grief.
  3. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,634

    If the partition tables and/or MFT were changed, the only way to change them back is to use a partition/boot sector recovery application. However some of these require that you already know at one locations the mft and bootsector and partition tables are located. If the drive used to have just one big partition, that might make it easier.

    If Partition Magic can't do anything, you may want to try a utility such as Partition Table Doctor (http://www.ptdd.com/). Not sure if they have a free demo or anything, it is a for-pay program, but one that I use sometimes.

    Also, per chance, did/does the hdd have GoBack on it? As in Norton Goback or Roxio Goback or Gateway Goback depending on the age? Because if so, that dumb program totally jacks your partition tables and most programs like Partition Magic will think it is an "unknown" partition, or FAT12 or FAT8 or maybe that it is just a bad partition. The Goback cannot be removed, it has to be uninstalled by its own app.

    If it doesn't have goback, and you can't find a good partition repair program, the next step would be data recovery, which should still be possible. Check out programs like "Recovery My Files" and "PC Inspector File Recovery".
    PC Inspector may be better, it looks for any and all files. RMF looks only for specific file extension pre-built into the program, but it includes most all common file types. Those programs I think are free, or at least have functional demos.

    Good luck!
  4. Marko44

    Marko44 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Did I compound this problem with the FixBoot command or was this thing already hosed?
  5. Marko44

    Marko44 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    To my knowledge, the drive was one big partition (40GB)

    I will check with her on the GoBack software.

    I have Partition Magic 8. Can you briefly explain how this could be used to repair this? Thanks
  6. Marko44

    Marko44 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I loaded Partition Magic and it lists the drive as FAT32

    Size (MB) 39,080
    Used 3
    Free 7.1

    which only totals 10MB . . . nowhere near the 39,080

    If I RIGHT click on the partition and choose properties, I get an Error #2001 "Fat copies are not identical".

    Click OK to that, and I get 7 occurances of an Error# 2004 "An invalid cluster was found in a directory entry"

    And finally an Error #501 "Cross-linked files were found"

    Any idea how to fix this? Thanks
  7. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,634

    It is possible the drive was FAT32, as you can choose to use this or NTFS during setup. That may need to be confirmed if possible.

    Partition Magic, as far as I know, doesn't have very many robust tools for repairing partitions and FATs and such, but that it is excellent at rearranging them all, which is what its main function is.

    At this point, you don't need retail user-based utilities, you need repair and recovery utilities, the kind you don't find just on the store shelves. That is, IF it was NTFS and is now FAT32.
    If it was FAT32 the whole time, then maybe it isn't that bad.
    You say PM says the drive is 39,080MB in size, that is right, a 40gb drive. Yet uses only 10mb, that can't be right. The only way it would loose info on the file structure is if the FAT was screwed up, which it sounds like it is (as per errors).
    PM said the FATs don't match? Can you find a function to recover the 2nd copy to the first?

    Once the FAT is repaired or the 2nd copy replaced, the files should come back. But if neither FAT copy is good, or the HDD has bad sectors where the FAT is stored, the drive is toast. Data can only be recovered with special programs like the ones I mentioned.
    The FAT cannot be just "repaired", as far as I know, do to the nature of the data it contains.
  8. Marko44

    Marko44 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I have no idea what the original file system was and my friend doesn't know either. The PC was originally built by a local system builder who is now out of business so no way of going back to the source.

    My knowledge of the physical layout on a drive is limited. I'm at a point where I think I should turn this over to someone else with more expertise. I like a challenge but I'm dealing with someone else's data. Do you think there would be a problem ghosting this drive to a second drive so I can play with a "duplicate model" ?

    As far as the FAT tables, if I do a DIR command at this moment, I have an empty 10 MB drive so I would like to see if I could find a utility as you suggested and copy the 2 FAT table to the first. Would this also fix the drive being listed as 10MB? One thing I'm not sure of, did I blow away the FAT table with the Fixboot command? I know Fixboot writes a new boot sector but I'm not sure where the FAT table is in relation to boot sector.

    Thanks Vigilante for your well thought out response's to my questions. Your help is much appreciated.
  9. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,634

    You can do this, assuming there are no bad sectors on the old HDD. If the FAT corruption is due to bad sectors, ghost won't help solve it.
    The File Allocation Table on a FAT32 partition has to be location at the top of the partition, and so does the root directory, they cannot be stored elseware, so if a bad sector develops right on that spot, there is really nothing you can do.
    NTFS doesn't have a FAT, they have the Master File Table. Which can be stored anywhere, and there can be multiple copies of it. Nothing in NTFS really has to be in any locked position, that is part of their "single sector" recovery system.

    It boils down to this I think:

    1) The drive is FAT32 and the FAT went bad. Solution: recover FAT from backup copy. If that can't be done, file recovery tools are needed to recover data.

    2) The drive is FAT32 and a bad sector developed where the FAT is stored. Solution: HDD needs replaced, use file recovery tools to get data.

    3) The drive is NTFS, but somehow corrupted to be listed as FAT32. It is NOT possible to conver from NTFS to FAT32, so if it is listed as FAT32, it either IS, or there is some really big problems. Assuming no bad sectors, advanced recovery tools may be able to repair the drive. If bad sectors, use recovery tools and replace drive.

    Well I think you see where this is going, at this point you can't use regular drive testing software without a full working partition, unless you find a DOS based tool to test it directly. I think, for you, file recovery and a full repartition/format would be best. I'm also thinking the drive may have gone bad, otherwise it may not have crashed in such a big way.

    Good luck!
  10. Marko44

    Marko44 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Sorry for the late reply. I've been out of town. I have already installed a new hard drive in this PC so at this point I'm just looking to recover what data I can off the old one. I will try some of the utils you mentioned earlier and if that doesn't work, see if I can find a util to copy the second FAT table to the first (after a Ghost of the drive) and then if no luck there I will send it out for recovery.

    Again, I appreciate your help. Thanks!
  11. Darkhadou_X

    Darkhadou_X TS Rookie

    I've got the exact same prob, but this threads problem doesn't seem to be resolved yet, please help. I've tried recovery tools but there's too man yfiles and it takes DAYS to recover my data, would replacing the missing NTLDR files get the windows back up and running?
  12. Marko44

    Marko44 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I didn't have any success getting any of the data off that drive. I did get a notebook in with the exact same symptom. This time, CHKDSK was able to fix the problem.

    As to your question, replacing the missing NTLDR file will not fix the problem, at least in my case as the partition on the hard drive only reports a size of 10 MB so there's no data in that partition.

    Hopefully someone more knowledgeable will chime in for some assistance.
  13. Squiggly

    Squiggly TS Rookie

    Been there, done that

    Did pretty much the same thing here. Here's my story.

    I have 2 hard drives, 1 IDE 120GB and 1 SATA 250GB, both NTFS. Both have bootable versions of Windows, the newest one on the 250GB.

    I just picked up a new ASUS mainboard for my computer. After installing it, the computer booted up with the message "Error loading operating system." (That would be the 250GB).

    I changed the boot order and loaded Windows off the 120GB drive. The 250GB drive is fine, all data is visible.

    I tried booting from the XP cd and running the installer first to see what it thought of the drive. It listed the partition as "Unknown" for the 250GB, NTFS for the 120GB. So I decide to try the Recovery Console.

    I run fixmbr and it said that the MBR was damaged, so I fixed it. Heres the mistake: I then ran fixboot.

    Fixboot is attempting to detect the file system type.
    The boot sector is corrupt
    Fixboot is checking the file system type
    The partition is using the FAT file system
    Fixboot is writing a new boot sector
    The new boot sector was successfully written

    OMFG!! My 250GB of data just got converted to FAT. All data is gone. Windows now shows it as a 10MB drive!

    Thank god I found your forum. The answer was the first one on the list: Partition Table Doctor.

    Partition Table Doctor saved my *** in about 5 minutes. I started it and it showed my drive as an NTFS 250GB drive. It had a big red X on it, that according to the help means that the drive has a bad boot sector, run the Fixboot tool. So I did, and in a few seconds all was well again. After rebooting all my data is back.

    You can download the demo to see if it will fix your problem. If it will you will have to buy it or download it by searching for the torrent (that may take another 15 min, took a while to find a seeder).
  14. howard_hopkinso

    howard_hopkinso TS Rookie Posts: 21,238   +17

    Techspot does not condone any form of piracy

    Buying the programme is fine. Stealing it is not. Get it?
  15. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,049   +11

    Actually, it is, at least with some utilities, like Paragon Partition Manager and Norton/Symantec Partition Magic.

    However, there must be no compressed or encrypted files, and 8.3 filename creation on the NTFS partition needs to be enabled (I have personal experience about that :p ).
  16. kazlivsjy

    kazlivsjy TS Rookie

    Same thing happened to me...

    Yo! The same thing just happened to me, and I was luckily capable of recovering, so I thought I could just post the recipe in.

    First thing to say, as far as my experience has taught me, NEVER use FIXBOOT.


    I had just installed Ubuntu. I had installed a few OS's before on a secondary drive, and I didn't want my Windows MBR to be overwritten by GRUB, so I always configured partitioning, etc... manually and took care of that. But Ubuntu didn't ask! It overwrote my MBR and I wanted it back the way it was. I forgot to make a backup of the MBR (very userful. You can always use dd to have a backup of MBR's and bootsectors), so somebody adviced me to use FIXBOOT. WRONG TURN! Firstly, I should have user FIXMBR. Secondly, FIXBOOT TOTALLY SCREWED UP MY PERFECTLY WORKING 1st PARTITION (WINDOWS PARTITION AND THE SOLE PARTITION OF THE DRIVE) BOOT SECTOR. Booted Linux (SuSE), and after capturing the Windows boot sector and having a look at it, ta-da, oh boy I was so socked to find out that FIXBOOT had replaced it with a FAT12 boot sector!!!

    What to do:

    ·Use FIXMBR from recovery console and make sure the mbr is filled with the correct information (partition type: 0x7 which is ntfs and so). Trying to boot from this drive should not make the Loading GRUB message appear, instead, NTLDR Missing alert should pop up.
    ·Get another HDD and install windows on it so that you can boot a usable system. You may have to disconnect the damaged disk, so that the Windows installer does not complain about an uncheckable volume.
    ·Get a fully working copy of Partition Table Doctor (www.ptdd.com), since the demo version won't do. Install and connect the damaged disk.
    ·Use ptdd to browse the damaged disk. A red dot with an X marking (batsu in japanese) should appear next to the description of the damaged partition (reported to be NTFS according to MBR, which really is, and reported to be FAT12 by the overwritten boot sector). According to PTDD, the partition should be NTFS.
    ·Select the damaged partition and choose the menu option FIX BOOT (NOT THE COMMAND IN RECOVERY MODE!). The partition boot sector should be ACTUALLY fixed this time.
    ·Reboot. Windows will complain about inconsistencies in the repaired volume. Let it check & repair it. It WILL find LOTS of glitches and will repair them all, and it WILL take long (I think it reconstructs the entire MFT or something). The process will eventually finish, and there ya go!

    Hope this little piece of experience will be found most useful by some grieving soul out there!
  17. beneviva

    beneviva TS Rookie

    thankyou!! thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!!!!!!

    OMG - partition doctor REALLY saved my *** - I managed to screw up my pc at work - for a *looong* moment it seemed i have to reinstall EVERYTHING, let alone the lost data files... i would have been DOOMED!!!

    But thankyouthankyouthankyou!!!
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