Lost boot record / sector map


New Member
I find myself in quite a pickle and might have "f'ed" myself.. I have a Dell 518 with two 680GB drives. The root drive (C) contains a number of partitions, one of which is a Vista partition which is very important. The other important partition is a HFS OSX partition which runs OSX 10.5

The other physical drive is set up to be a dedicated OSX partition for 10.6. (D)

The problem is that in trying to set up 10.6, on the other drive (D) it was suggested to change the BIOS setting from IDE to Raid/ACHI for install drive visibility. When this was done, the install failed. So I booted again, changed the BIOS setting back to IDE and now, the bootloader does not find a Windows installation.

The Vista RC disk does not recognize any existing installation. Bootrec/fixmbr has no effect. As bootsect is not on the install CD, I tried to download a copy and run it from a USB storage device. This only generated a message that it couldn't run.

I really hope that I didn't screw myself with the BIOS switch to ACHI/RAID. The first thing that comes to mind is that it possibly changes the "ID" of the drive and renders the bootloader useless. After a CMOS reset, the problem still remains. A high capacity storage doorstop.

As of now, Vista RC can only see a recovery partition on the root drive (C). It cannot through RC see the default Installation.

I'm hoping with a strong terrabyte on deck the fact that bootsect would correct the problem. But I'm just not sure enough of my skills to pull it off. That and I have a terrible amount of work data on the root drive (Where Vista is installed)

And yes.. My bad. Please forgive my ignorance.

Is there anyone out there that has had the same problem with something similar?

Thank you in advance!


New Member
Disk ID: E1913FFC
Type: ATA
Bus: 0
Target: 0
LUN ID: 0"
Read only: No
Boot Disk: No
Pagefile Disk: No
Hibernation File Disk: No
Crashdump Disk: No

Volume 1 D: Fat 39 MB
Volume 2 C: Recovery (Dell recovery partition) NTFS 15 GB
If the data is very important - use your bootable imaging app to do a sector by sector copy of the Vista partition to another HD.

If you don't have one handy - here is a free one:

EASEUS Disk Copy: Free Disk Copy, Disk Clone, Partition Copy Software. Sector by Sector for hard drive backup freeware.

You could then try this free bootable partition manager :

Partition Wizard Bootable CD allows user to boot computer directly to manage partition.

I suspect you may need to delete the first partition and then click Disk 1 at the top of the screen and select partition recovery in the left pane. Scan the unallocated space - quick scan should do it - tick any partitions you want to keep ( including the recovery partition)

Click Apply.


Another thing you might try is Test disk - it is on the Parted Magic cd

TestDisk Livecd - CGSecurity

TestDisk can find lost partitions for all of these file systems:

  • BeFS ( BeOS )
  • BSD disklabel ( FreeBSD/OpenBSD/NetBSD )
  • CramFS, Compressed File System
  • DOS/Windows FAT12, FAT16 and FAT32
  • Windows exFAT
  • HFS, HFS+ and HFSX, Hierarchical File System
  • JFS, IBM's Journaled File System
  • Linux ext2 and ext3
  • Linux LUKS encrypted partition
  • Linux RAID md 0.9/1.0/1.1/1.2
    • RAID 1: mirroring
    • RAID 4: striped array with parity device
    • RAID 5: striped array with distributed parity information
    • RAID 6: striped array with distributed dual redundancy information
  • Linux Swap (versions 1 and 2)
  • LVM and LVM2, Linux Logical Volume Manager
  • Mac partition map
  • Novell Storage Services NSS
  • NTFS ( Windows NT/2000/XP/2003/Vista/2008 )
  • ReiserFS 3.5, 3.6 and 4
  • Sun Solaris i386 disklabel
  • Unix File System UFS and UFS2 (Sun/BSD/...)
Last edited:


Mostly Harmless
Staff member
Another vote for TestDisk. Great program.


New Member
Thank you both for the help. I've downloaded all of the suggestions and am nestled in for a light evening of disaster recovery.

I will post details of success and success only.

Thanks again
LOL . That's a good positive attitude.

Please let us know exactly what happened along the way - and what each program displayed/achieved. It will help others with similar problems


New Member
As I only promised to post success, I lied.. Sorry about that.

I admit that I have to put my backing behind Test Disc as well. That's great code and helped a lot.

For some reason still unknown, the two partitions that were important were extremely corrupted. Still not sure why either. I copied them to another drive and am currently doing a last deep search on root before giving up.

As I've been working on this for the past 20 hours, I can say that this is either the largest BIOS/MBR error in history, or a physical drive failure that I never saw coming. Regardless, I have 9 months of data lost. Still sitting here with post its trying to write it all down as I remember details here and there.

Having just got the system to where I wanted, I installed the identical drive a few days ago to back things up.. How incredibly ironic..

Thanks for the help and I apologize for the crappy outcome. I guess optimism is for the ignorant and lucky bastards that never have colossal failures like this.