Where's the XP Installer's Undo?
November 16, 2009 11:17 PM   Subscribe

A Windows 2000 hard disk got clobbered by the XP installer and is "unallocated". What are my next steps?

I have an old PC running Windows 2000 (SP 4). There are 3 internal drives:

D: 40 GB (Win2K system disk)
C: 200 GB
F: 500 GB

Recently, I tried to install WinXP on the C drive so I could dual-boot Win2K and XP. I ran the XP installer (new install, not upgrade); it successfully completed but I could never boot from C; it was giving me various errors about missing hal.dll and stuff. I've basically given up on the dual boot on this machine; I don't need it badly enough to spend more time on it.

After my first attempt to install XP, I discovered Win2K no longer mounts the F drive. It still shows up in the BIOS, but not in Windows Explorer; only the C and D drives show up in the Explorer address bar now.

When I go into Computer Management, I can see the missing drive in the Disk List and Graphical View, but not in the Volume List. In the Graphical View, it shows up as

(left side)
Disc 0
465 GB

(right side)
[no letter drive here]
465 GB

As far as I can tell from Googling around, the F drive apparently had EZ-Drive on it (I tried Partition Magic 6, and it gave me an error saying "EZ-Drive has been detected on drive 0, but EZ-Drive is corrupt. Run the EZ-Drive setup diskette to correct this problem."), and apparently XP hates EZ-Drive.

I've tried running

fixmbr \Device\Harddisk0\Partition0

(that's the device that shows up using Recovery Console's map command) from the Recovery Console, but it didn't change anything.

The Add/Remove Hardware Wizard can see the drive, too (it says the device is working properly).

I ran Western Digital Data Lifeguard Diagnostics on the drive - did the Quick Test - and got

Test completed successfully

The drive shows up in the Physical Drive list in WD Diagnostics, but not the Logical Drive list.

I'd like to just undo whatever the XP installer did to the drive and get it back to where I can read and use it again. If I have to partition it, I can do that, but I'm wondering whether EZ-Drive will remain on the disk (it sounded like that would happen, based on some of the reading I've done) and what effect that would have on anything else I need to do in the future.

I only use this machine for a couple of pieces of software and I'd like to spend as little time as I can getting it working again. If at all possible, I'd love to avoid reformatting/repartitioning the drive. It just seems like there should be SOME way to undo whatever the XP installer did.

Any suggestions?

posted by kristi to Computers & Internet (3 answers total)
EZ-drive lives in the boot sector, and the FIXMBR you've already done will have overwritten it with standard Microsoft boot code. FIXMBR doesn't alter the partition table (which occupies the last portion of the boot sector). If the drive only had one partition on it, as most do, then creating a single partition covering all the unallocated space should restore access to the filesystem.

Personally I'd do this with Linux console tools, but that's only because I'm old skool and a fanboi. Using the Windows disk management console should be safe; DO NOT format the new partition, even if it doesn't immediately reveal its contents - a restart should be enough to make that happen if it doesn't happen spontaneously.
posted by flabdablet at 11:44 PM on November 16, 2009

posted by caddis at 11:52 PM on November 16, 2009

Sorry, Linux console tools should have been a link.
posted by flabdablet at 11:56 PM on November 16, 2009

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