Partition Table keeps becoming unbootable

Using TestDisk to repair the filesystem
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AndyII
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Joined: 15 Apr 2012, 06:15

Partition Table keeps becoming unbootable

#1 Post by AndyII » 10 May 2015, 22:01

A while ago, I had a hard disk controller board fry. I sent it out and they replaced the board. Since that time, I was having problems where every second to fourth reboot forced me to do a startup repair. Every single repair was for invalid system information in the partition table. It always performed a successful repair, but even sometimes the system would require a subsequent repair. I assumed it was bad boot sectors on the disk from the fried board.

I finally replaced the disk and cloned the information to the new, larger disk sector-by-sector using Acronis True Image. I thought I had solved the problem, but the problem persists. This disk is partitioned with 4 partitions. I thought it was supposed to have 4 primary drives maximum, but only three of them would become primary and the fourth is logical.

During one of the non-boots, I went into the command prompt again to run Testdisk. The initial result before analyzing the disk shows the wrong drive as bootable, but also shows 5 partitions. The wrong bootable partition, the boot as primary, the third partition as primary, a fourth partition as LBA which I didn't set up and a 5th partition as logical. Then I analyze and it finds only the four but also with the wrong drive bootable. I've fixed them and saved them but they always move back.

Why can't I create a fourth primary partition?
What is this mystery LBA partition?
How can I determine what keeps damaging the partition after Windows and I keep repairing it.

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Fiona
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Location: Ludwigsburg/Stuttgart - Germany

Re: Partition Table keeps becoming unbootable

#2 Post by Fiona » 11 May 2015, 05:51

If you'd like to create a fourth primary partition you should use diskpart.
Using disk management console normally creates 3 primary and the fourth partition will be an extended to add logical partitions.
It's a standard routine integrated in windows to allow more than 4 partitions.
If you can't boot you can take some pictures using a camera or handy in low resolution and upload them.
Otherwise the content of your testdisk.log would be appreciated.

Fiona

AndyII
Posts: 54
Joined: 15 Apr 2012, 06:15

Re: Partition Table keeps becoming unbootable

#3 Post by AndyII » 12 May 2015, 18:07

I'd love to send the logs, if I could get booted up. I've just repaired the disk 6 times in a row (that's a record). I also found that sometimes I can just hit CTRL-ALT-DEL when it starts booting to the CD and it boots okay, but not this latest time. While I'm trying, could you tell me the subdirectory where the log would be kept? If I have to I can try to get it from a command prompt.

AndyII
Posts: 54
Joined: 15 Apr 2012, 06:15

Re: Partition Table keeps becoming unbootable

#4 Post by AndyII » 12 May 2015, 19:56

It turns that this last set of problems was caused by my BIOS. It somehow changed the Hard Disk Boot Priority to a non-system disk. I've attached the log. I tried to attach it as a text file, but the forum didn't allow it. I have zipped and attached it.
Attachments
testdisk.zip
The file log was not allowed, so I zipped it.
(1.81 KiB) Downloaded 87 times

AndyII
Posts: 54
Joined: 15 Apr 2012, 06:15

Re: Partition Table keeps becoming unbootable

#5 Post by AndyII » 13 May 2015, 22:44

I didn't mean to imply that the issue is resolved. It is far from resolved. I really need your help.

Something of note is the fact that many times, once I know it won't find the operating system, I can hit CTRL-ALT-DEL and it will boot properly, but not always.

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Fiona
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Re: Partition Table keeps becoming unbootable

#6 Post by Fiona » 21 May 2015, 07:43

Sry for late! :)
Do you use dual boot?
Because the label of your first partition is vista and the next partition is windows?

Fiona

AndyII
Posts: 54
Joined: 15 Apr 2012, 06:15

Re: Partition Table keeps becoming unbootable

#7 Post by AndyII » 22 May 2015, 12:21

Fiona wrote:Sry for late! :)
Do you use dual boot?
Because the label of your first partition is vista and the next partition is windows?

Fiona
No, I don't dual boot. The "Vista" partition is just what I named it because it contains the System Recovery provided by Gateway. The "Windows" partition is the boot partition. I'd rather get rid of the System Recovery because I'm never going to use it, but I guess that doesn't preclude me from using it to sell the computer after it's too old for anyone to want a Vista system. :|

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Fiona
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Re: Partition Table keeps becoming unbootable

#8 Post by Fiona » 26 May 2015, 11:25

Why can't I create a fourth primary partition?
What is this mystery LBA partition?
How can I determine what keeps damaging the partition after Windows and I keep repairing it.
1-Creating a fourth primary partition, you can use diskpart.
2-LBA is Logical Block Addressing and also important to handle large disks (Fat12 is for floppy and FAT16 up to 2 GB).
For example 48bitLBA can handle disks larger than 137 GB.
3-Something to try (fixboot would be possible too):
http://www.redmondpie.com/how-to-fix-wi ... ot-record/
Before you run this procedure, you should have a backup of your data.

Fiona

AndyII
Posts: 54
Joined: 15 Apr 2012, 06:15

Re: Partition Table keeps becoming unbootable

#9 Post by AndyII » 26 May 2015, 17:49

Fiona wrote:
Why can't I create a fourth primary partition?
What is this mystery LBA partition?
How can I determine what keeps damaging the partition after Windows and I keep repairing it.
1-Creating a fourth primary partition, you can use diskpart.
2-LBA is Logical Block Addressing and also important to handle large disks (Fat12 is for floppy and FAT16 up to 2 GB).
For example 48bitLBA can handle disks larger than 137 GB.
3-Something to try (fixboot would be possible too):
http://www.redmondpie.com/how-to-fix-wi ... ot-record/
Before you run this procedure, you should have a backup of your data.

Fiona
Okay, parts 1 and 2 are answered. I'll leave it as is.

On part 3, I'm reluctant to try that if my data might be affected. That link, while it pertains to Windows 8 should be applicable to Windows Vista. The part that is different is that the "damaged partition" might be incorrect. Many times when it can't load, I can simply reboot it using Ctrl-Alt-Del and it will load just fine. Doesn't this mean the boot partition is fine? It's only when I go through the entire process of doing a Startup Repair, that it says the partition table is damaged.

Even when I load TestDisk and do a scan, the partitions look fine. I've checked the boot sectors and they match.

Should these behaviors, that it can boot fine and the boot sectors match, mean the partition tables are okay and that something in the boot process rather than the MBR is messed up?

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Fiona
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Re: Partition Table keeps becoming unbootable

#10 Post by Fiona » 27 May 2015, 10:12

During one of the non-boots, I went into the command prompt again to run Testdisk. The initial result before analyzing the disk shows the wrong drive as bootable, but also shows 5 partitions. The wrong bootable partition, the boot as primary, the third partition as primary, a fourth partition as LBA which I didn't set up and a 5th partition as logical. Then I analyze and it finds only the four but also with the wrong drive bootable. I've fixed them and saved them but they always move back.
Which partition was your wrong bootable partition?
Some computer manufacturer are modifying the MBR to let you start into a system recovery to get back to factory settings using a certain key during startup (manual and BIOS message can help).
It's like a bootmanager.
I finally replaced the disk and cloned the information to the new, larger disk sector-by-sector using Acronis True Image.
Would it be possible that you cloned a modified MBR?
Some Info about the MBR:
Partition table only contain your partitions and is a part of your MBR.
The MBR also contains your bootloader 446 Byte (64Byte is your partition table and 2 Bytes a signatur that your MBR is valid).
MBR is a single sector and the size is 512 Byte.

Did you check your BIOS for any MBR protection like Virus Protection?
It could prevent any changes to your MBR.
I thought it was supposed to have 4 primary drives maximum, but only three of them would become primary and the fourth is logical.
You can use testdisk to set your 4 partition to primary (and of course your bootpartition to bootable) and testdisk can write them into your partition table.
Your extended partition would be not available anymore.
Normally, nothing should be changed, except the causes mentioned above.

Also watch your eventviewer and windows logs for some entries under system like disk or controller.

Fiona

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