Why is my harddrive empty?
November 4, 2007 7:12 AM   Subscribe

My windows didn't want to boot up, so I bought a new hard disc installed Windows on it and made the old one slave. The old hard disc reads as completely empty. Why?

The old disc has two partitions, and the second partition I can read and move files etc, but the main partition where windows was/is reads as empty, so I was wondering if anyone has an idea of why this could be? Of course any solution would be great, too! Thank you!
posted by A! to Computers & Internet (15 answers total)
Well, I am absolutely no kind of expert, but since you haven't had any answers yet...

Maybe DiskPatch, here? I've used that and iRecover (same developer, slightly different application) with much success.

One of the best things about that stuff is that the writer of the software patrols the forum and is very helpful.

Good luck, and I hope someone who really knows what they're talking about helps you!
posted by SampleSize at 8:31 AM on November 4, 2007

A corrupt file system on the primary partition would both prevent Windows from booting and possibly show up as empty.

You maybe able to use a file restore utility to recover some of your lost files, but in my experience it is usually futile.

Good luck.
posted by wfrgms at 8:32 AM on November 4, 2007

You might want to run a chkdsk on the secondary drive.
posted by Diskeater at 9:13 AM on November 4, 2007

Probably want to image that drive first if you're going to run chkdsk, as it can make things worse.
posted by SampleSize at 9:27 AM on November 4, 2007

Have you tried booting the computer with linux and examining the drive?
posted by caddis at 10:00 AM on November 4, 2007

No, I didn't. I could possibly boot the computer with linux, but once done I wouldn't know what to do. I was primarily interested in what could be a cause for this old hard disc being read as empty. Solution would be great, but I am not feeling very confident with my skills regarding this...
posted by A! at 10:18 AM on November 4, 2007

If you go the Lnux route, grab a live CD. It shouldl let you take a look at the slave HD (you may need to manually mount it), without altering any files on the drive. (At least, I don't think it would need to modify anything on the slave drive.)
posted by oddman at 10:23 AM on November 4, 2007

If Linux can read it then you can move the files off to the new hard drive and then go back into windows and reformat that partition, or even format it for Linux. Knoppix is pretty easy to use, even for the Linux newbie, at least for just reading and transferring files. This guy has put together a set of instructions. It was the first one I found using Google, so there may be better ones available.
posted by caddis at 11:46 AM on November 4, 2007

Thank you for the instructions. So, before I do anything let me know if I understood this: even if Windows is unable to read the disc Linux could? I assume this won't be altering anything on the original hard disc?
posted by A! at 12:02 PM on November 4, 2007

Linux perhaps can, and the cost is one CD blank a a few minutes of your time, so it seems worth a try. It is my understanding that as long as you are not writing to the disk, only copying files off of it, then nothing will be altered on the original hard disc, although I am far, far from a Linux expert. I used this trick once, but the disc was so totally corrupted that none of the files that mattered were left, luckily it was fairly new and didn't have much data. There were some files that could be read though.
posted by caddis at 12:27 PM on November 4, 2007

Control Panel/Administrative Tools/Computer Management/ Disk Management should give you information on the health of the logical drive. Maybe you can go from there.
posted by Neiltupper at 12:52 PM on November 4, 2007

you can usually get free software from drive manufacturers that can check the integrity of the drive.

the drive could actually be physically ok, only the file allocation table or some partition table or some other non physical aspect got damaged and everything appeared to disappear.

in that case youd want to get all the data off the second partition and unpartition and repartition the whole drive.

either way you ought to find out before using the drive again.
posted by browolf at 1:57 PM on November 4, 2007

You may have accidentally formatted it while performing your windows install if you did it on that machine. It's very easy to do!

I second the "download a bootable-from-CD linux install", but then I'm a linux nerd so I would.
posted by polyglot at 4:00 PM on November 4, 2007

To polyglot: I am certain that I didn't format the disc by accident. I bought a separate enclosure for it where it was placed right after I took it out. And I didn't connect it to the computer until 2 days after I installed the OS on the new hard disc.

To browolf: I have the diagnostic disc from the manufacturer which was what I first tried. It claimed that everything was fine.

I will try the Linux route tonight.
posted by A! at 8:23 AM on November 5, 2007

An update for anyone searching the archives with the same problem.

A friend of mine had GetDataBack so we tried it out with my hard disc and it recovered most of my files. I have no affiliation with the company, just a happy ending that might help someone else....
posted by A! at 6:05 AM on November 19, 2007

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