Missing Operating System

#1
Hi everyone.

I'm trying to fix a laptop computer with Vista installed. The error message is "Missing operating system" and when I go to the recovery console on the Vista disc I see that the volume is in the "RAW" state and I cannot access it. How can I fix the boot sector or the bootloader or whatever the trouble is? I suspect a boot sector virus of some sort since the computer was working fine before my friend installed Direct Connect and suddenly it switched off without a warning. I've tried to run bootrec /fixmbr etc without any luck and I am a bit clueless atm.

In other words, how can I access the hard drive again?

Thanks in advance!
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#2
Have you tried "repair my computer" / "repair startup" (not recovery console) after booting the Vista DVD. If it can't find a Vista installation to repair 1st time, click "next" anyway.
Others have reported that it works sometimes.
If it does, you'll probably need to repeat the medicine a second and possibly third time till it fixes everything ,one at a time.
Sometimes, disconnecting HDDs which don't contain your Vista (if you have any), can cause the Vista DVD to find your system again.
 
#3
I haven't tried that yet. I am running TestDisk 6.6 now and the drive is making clunking noises for about a minute, they stopped now but I suspect that the hard drive is failing... ? The problem area was at 7% of the disc cylinders.
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#4
If you think there might be HDD damage, try the recovery console again and run a chkdsk /f command.
Leave it running for as long as it takes and hopefully it will remove any damaged blocks from use.
Then you can try to fix the boot, as mentioned before.
 
#5
I've tried chkdsk and it says "chkdsk cannot run on RAW partitions" or something similar to that. My guess is that the file system has been damaged but I'm not sure how I can fix the problem.
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#6
Try it the other way round then, fix the boot, then chkdsk.
If you have no luck, you could try a free download of Gparted, and quick format (NOT full) the partition in NTFS or FAT32 (whatever it was before), so that the partition table gets rebuilt.
Then a free live Linux distro like Ubuntu 8.10 can be booted to see if you can find and copy to external storage whatever of your personal data you need to rescue.
All worth a try before you resort to a full format and reinstall.
 
#7
I've tried fixing the mbr but it doesn't seem to help me access the drive, I've had some luck now with TestDisk and hopefully I can get things up and running from here :smile:

Update: no luck I still can't access the Vista partition...
 
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#9
Well I've decided to make a partition that covers the broken part and hide it and make another partition after the broken part of the drive and install Vista on that partition. What kind of lifetime can I expect from the drive in this state??
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#10
If you're going to do a reinstall, just do a full format of the HDD before you set it up for your new system.
A quick format just resets the partition table to say that the disk is empty, a full format actually analyzes the disk surface and flags any bad blocks so they never get used again.
It'll take a few hours but it might make your disk OK for normal use again (but slightly smaller than before)
 
#11
I went ahead with the partition thingie and it seems to be working out ok for now. But what are the risk / chance of the "corruption" spreading or the drive failing??
 

JustinW

Super Moderator
Staff member
#12
Probably likely. Make sure you're backing up your data and put some pocket change aside in case you need a new hard drive in the future.
 
#13
Thankfully it's not my laptop / drive that is failing, I am just responsible for fixing it :smile: The guy who owns the laptop will have it sent in for service instead. I had hopes of fixing it because I thought it was simply a messed up boot sector. Thanks for your support anyhow :smile: