The Starman's Feedback Page Pre-Processor


See below for these topics:
  1. Comment/Question about a web page.
  2. ...about your PC, and it 'boots-up' OK.
  3. Cannot delete a "Non-DOS" partition, etc.
  4. Removing every byte of info permanently!
  5. You can NOT boot up your computer!!!
REMEMBER:

   Trying everything you can find (to get back your lost data), will most likely result in losing everything instead!

   If you really care about your data, then forming a logical plan of how to proceed is the most important step. You begin by gathering all the facts you can about your problem, before taking any action. Do not run a program unless you know for sure it will help; doing so, often leads to more problems! (Control your urge to power-up the platters over and over again just to see if your drive miraculously fixed itself !)


Sending Comments to The Starman


What you should Include:

 

1.  

If you only have a comment/question about a web page:

Please at least try to describe the page, for example:
"This is about your RGB Color page " but if you can:
Please use (reference) the link (URL), for example:
'RGB/16WinColorT.html' ( the first part: 'http://www.oocities.com/thestarman3/' or whatever mirror site you are visiting, is not necessary).

 

2.  

If you have a question about hard disks, Boot disks or anything else and  your PC "boots up" OK:

Try to include all relevant information, such as:
Drive size(s), Operating System(s) (Is it just some kind of DOS or Windows: 95B, 98, 98SE, ME, NT4, 2000 or XP, or is it Linux, or some other kind of OS ? ), if there's more than one OS on the drive ('dual' or multi-booting), computer maker, etc.
Anything that might apply to your question.

If you want to know more about your hard drive's MBR and/or Volume Boot Records, you should download one of PowerQuest's INFO utility programs for your OS type: DOS ( PARTINFO.zip; 117KiB), Win9x ( PartIn9x.zip; 347KiB) or WinNT/2000/XP ( PartInNT.zip; 351KiB) from PowerQuest (see my FreeTools page also) and save the info to a text file; which I can examine for you.

 

3.  

If you're having problems deleting a partition from your hard disk: For example, you were only trying out an OS such as Linux, and decided to do a completely new install of some Windows OS on the same drive... but MS-FDISK won't allow you to delete the "NON-DOS" partition(s):

Then you can simply download my ZAP63 utility which will completely 'zero-out' the first 63 sectors of any hard disk you choose that's connected to your computer. You would then use the "FDISK /MBR" command to write a new MBR sector. (See FDISK /MBR for more info). See #4 below for completely removing all data from a drive!

NOTE: If you want to delete only a NON-DOS partition, but also want to keep data from other partitions on the same drive, then try using either the Microsoft DELPart program* or FreeFdisk (either of which will remove only those partitions you select from the Partition Table). If you're familiar with Linux, then you can use fdisk or sfdisk on a Linux CD or rescue disk.

*Note: Here's a page All about the DELPart Utility (with pictures)!

 

4.  

You either:
a) Want to make sure that every byte of a new/used hard disk can be written to and read from, or:
b) Want to give/sell a drive to someone, but make sure they can not recover any of your files!


File system checks are OK once an OS is installed, but to really make sure there are no defective sectors or 'left-over' code strings from a virus, you need to 'zero-out' and test every single byte on a drive! The best way to do this is to locate a utility from your hard drive's manufacturer. Western Digital has a specialized program to do this (WD_DIAG for older drives, or DLG_DIAG for more recent models; this is the same program you must run before they will allow you to return the drive as faulty under warranty), and every other reputable drive manufacturer should have a similar program. [ Here's a new one called DFT for Hitachi/IBM drives. Or see this: HDD utils listing for other manufacturers.]

If you just bought a brand new drive, or obtained a used one from a friend, then this is the ideal type of program (if your HDD maker made one that is) to both test the drive and 'zero-out' every byte at the same time. Obviously, if you want to give or sell your drive to someone else, this is what you want to use!  IF you've tried searching everywhere on the Net but still can't find such a program for your drive, here's a utility which will 'zero-out' up to 8.4 GB of any hard drive: You'll find it listed as WIPE8.zip on my "Wipe" page. See my WIPE.html page for other suggestions.

 

   

 

5.  

If your computer will not boot:

a. Describe how far along in the boot process it gets... Do you see anything at all on the monitor? Do you hear the hard drive motor spin up? What error messages, if any, are displayed on the screen? Think about what you were doing just before this happened (when was the last time it booted-up OK?). Did you change any settings, add a new program, or update the OS? Things like that.

b. Use a floppy boot disk (or CD) for your OS: You did make one for an emergency right? If not, you'll have to borrow one that's compatible with the file system on your hard drive (see NOTE below for determining that); if you don't have a Boot Disk for your system, and can't borrow one, you can try to find one to download from here: www.bootdisk.com. I'd recommend using a Win98SE Boot Disk as a DOS boot disk for other utilities that need to run under DOS (see below).

OK, boot up your computer using the floppy boot disk, and see if you can read any files on the hard drive (if you use Windows™ 2000/XP, this will only work for FAT32-type partitions). [ You will have to know a few DOS Commands to do this. At the A:\> prompt, entering: c: (press ENTER key after typing c:) under normal conditions will give you: C:\> meaning that DOS at least recognizes your C: drive as existing and changed from the root folder of the floppy drive to that of the C: drive. You can then enter the directory command at the C:\> prompt: dir , which should display a list of files and folders on the drive. Note any error messages. Here's a list of all: the MS-DOS 7 Internal Commands and what they do. Learn some more of them! ]


NOTE on various file systems:

A Windows 98 boot disk can be used on any other MS-FAT file system: That means all previous OSs (including any DOS, Win 95, Win 95B/OSR2) AND also Win98SE or even Win Me (which are both still based on FAT32 files). Remember, we are simply trying to see if we can read any files on the hard drive at this time (not use any programs from other OSs). It can even be used on a Win2k partition if it was created as a FAT32 partition (not NTFS).... However, keep reading if you have an NTFS partition you want to read files from under DOS!

All MS-DOS boot disks before version 7.1, use the older FAT16 file system which displays:  Invalid file spec  or something similar when you try to access FAT32 or NTFS partitions with them. An NT4 drive might have a FAT16 partition, which means its files could be accessed by say MS-DOS 6.22 or any Win9x boot disk. But you will not be able to access an NTFS volume without an NTFS file driver! Some Win2k (Windows 2000; NT5) partitions might use FAT32, but most likely they will be NTFS also! If absolutely necessary, you may wish to try Avira's Personal NTFS4DOS program though; using it just to verify ("read-only") a file system exists might be helpful at times.

Linux has boot disks as well (some are even helpful in troubleshooting Windows problems!), but you'll need to know some of its rather cryptic console commands to get almost anything done! There's a page here at The Starman's Realm about Linux: An Introduction to Linux Console Commands using "tomsrtbt" boot disk (every Windows user should learn a bit about it; and all computer forensics techs should really know how to make use of a Linux boot disk!).

c. If possible, make a binary copy of your hard drive's Master Boot Record (MBR); the very first sector on any hard drive. If you're not familiar with how to do this already (perhaps by using some commercial Disk Editor), then download and use this PowerQuest Utility "MBRUTILD.exe"; extract just that file from head.zip onto a spare floppy disk and (after booting up with a known good DOS Boot Disk) run the program from your DOS prompt like this (for example):
A:\>
mbrutild /S=1mbr.bin which will create a new file on your diskette called: 1MBR.BIN (make sure the 'write protect tab' is set to allow writing to the diskette; not 'open'). Unfortunately, PQ's MBRUTIL is only for the first hard drive; so won't help with a slave or secondary drive!

A very good utility for extracting binary data from any hard drive's MBR and any other boot sectors as well, is: GETSECT (now included as part of Svend Olaf Mikkelsen's new versions of Findpart). Download the DOS version of FINDPART from here:
http://www.partitionsupport.com/fpart472.zip. (If the link doesn't work, then try: http://www.partitionsupport.com/utilities.htm and see if Svend has a newer version of findpart for DOS available.) Extract the files to a floppy diskette that can be written to by the program (i.e., not  your boot disk!), and after booting-up and replacing the boot disk with this one, execute the following command at the DOS prompt:

A:\> findpart getsect 1 0 0 1 100 mbr100s.bin
[ This command will copy the first 100 sectors of the first hard disk to a file on the floppy called, mbr100s.bin. If the faulty hard drive is not the very first drive on the computer, then change the command to: findpart getsect <disk number> 0 0 1 100 mbr100s.bin where disk number can only be the values 1 through 8. The 0 0 1 means the first Cylinder, Head and Sector (CHS: 0,0,1) of the drive as its starting point. ]

The file, mbr100s.bin, should be exactly 51,712 bytes in size: 51,200 bytes (512 bytes/sector x 100 sectors) plus a 512-byte 'header' created by GETSECT. I would really appreciate it if you could place the file in some type of archive first before e-mailing it to me! (You can use .ZIP, .RAR, .TGZ, .any_file_compressor you have! If you don't have one, try finding a free .ZIP archiver, or just get a trial version of WinZip from: http://www.winzip.com/ .)

If you have another partition or drive that you can boot up with into Windows, then you can use Svend's 32-bit version (for all Windows OSs) of FINDPART; which contains all of his other utilities! It's very similar to using GETSECT. All you need to do is run it like this (see my "GET100" Batch files below too):

C:\findpart>findpart getsect <disk number> 0 0 1 100 mbr100s.bin

fpart481.zip (165,424 bytes; version 4.81; November 13, 2006) or just visit his web site and look for the download stating it's: "For Windows95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP."
As with the DOS version described above, send me a copy of "mbr100s.bin" or whatever you called it.

NEW: I've created a couple Batch file programs that make the process very easy! Just download GET100.ZIP here. Put the files in the same folder as Svend's FINDPART program and click on (execute) either the 1get100.bat or 2get100.bat program to make a copy of the first 100 sectors of your first or second hard drive. You don't have to open (or know how to use) a DOS prompt to use these two programs! [get100.bat is an interactive Batch program that must be run from a Command prompt with the drive number (1 through 8) as its parameter.]

     

NOTE :
If you decide to run any other kind of utility programs, such as FDISK.EXE, do *NOT* use them to make any changes to your drive without knowing for sure that it's the correct thing to do! Many users have overwritten important Overlays, or even wiped out their Partition Tables trying to perform a 'quick fix' that was 'suggested' to them (such as the undocumented FDISK /MBR command; read the CAUTION note at the bottom of that section)!
The best thing you can do whenever you've accidentally erased an MBR or zero-filled a partition table entry is not to panic! You should WAIT until you have learned enough about the subject to confidently make only the necessary changes. Trying everything may mean losing everything!

 


Using the E-mail Page

    The following  forms page should work with any Internet browser, and does not require you to have any kind of e-mail program or service... so, you can write to me from any computer that has access to the Internet.

I'm ready to Send my Comments/Question to The Starman


 

Updated: 24 March 2007. 1