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Author Topic: Can't boot Windows ME - Error Reading c: and FAT  (Read 1977 times)
super_fonkey
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« on: November 18, 2003, 02:06:04 AM »

PLEASE SUPPLY RELEVANT INFORMATION:
Operating System Version: Me
Problem Application Name & Version:
Problem Hardware Make & Model: 40Gb HDD
Error Messages: Error reading FAT. Error reading Fixed Drive C: - Abort/Retry/Cancel.



My poor PC has died on me. I ran scandisk and went to work. I came home and it seemed all fine, went to shut down and up popped the message about FAT.

Even when error messages were all cancelled - the PC would just hang (with nothing running in the task manager).

Tried booting with Me bootdisk. Booted into DOS. Ran scandisk again to reepair any damage. No good - says there is an arror reading the FAT so therefore it can't fix the errors and moves onto the next drive.

At this point i shoudl say that there are several partitions on my HDD. All seems to be well on the others (this is where my data is) when i scandisk them.

I tried running scanreg but it behaves strangely. It runs for about 5 seconds then the command prompt shows up at the top of the blue scanreg screen!? It then freezes entirely.

I also tried formatting the C: drive thinking that i would lose my settings on IE etc but that it wouldn't be so bad as my data was on other partitions. However, when i try and format c: in DOS it manages about 8Mb before stopping and saying "insufficient memmory".

I even tried running setup.exe from Me CD but again it won't install because "error reading drive C:". It then goes to the blue screen of death.

So i am stuck!! Other info that may be of use is that i have 128Mb RAM and 1Ghz Celeron processor. I also partitioned and formatted using FDISK some time ago with no problems having enabled large disk support.

Do i need to buy a whole new HDD?

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« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2003, 05:30:41 PM »

Hi,

Sounds like the bad sectors are at the begining of the drive where the FAT is kept. I would try to backup all your files before the problem gets worse!

Get a new drive, set as primary master, install Windows and then move your personal files over from the old drive and then remove the old drive.
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Sylvain Amyot
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super_fonkey
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« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2003, 02:56:55 AM »

Thanks for the response. Is getting a new HDD the only option?

Here is some more info on problem:

when i try format c: / c i get error msg: Invalid media or Track 0 bad - disk unusable. Format terminated.

Is is possible to reinstall windows Me from CD but skip the initial scandisk (as it justs stops when it can't read the FAT).

Can i use format /mbrto rebuild the FAT? I have five drives (one primary - which is screwed, 4 logical extended ones - which are fine) so there are FOUR partitions, right? I have heard format /mbr can overwrite partition data if there are multiple partitions.

I have hunted the internet but frustratingly i can locate instances of similar problems but few solutions that i haven't tried....

all help will be hugely welcomed.
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« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2003, 05:53:18 PM »

Hi,

If track 0 is bad, backup your data now!
Your four logical drives may eventually no longer be accessible if the drive keeps deteriorating!

I think the command you're thinking of is 'FDISK /MBR' which rebuilt the master boot record. This will not rebuild your FAT!

Since your FAT is kept at the begining of the drive and it is damaged, I suspect the only thing that may fix this is a low-level format. A low-level format will wipe the entire drive, including your 4 extended partitions, so use this as a last resort.

I would backup your data on the four extended partitions, run FDISK and remove only the primary partition (the damaged one) and then recreate it. Set as active partition through FDISK and then try to format it. If you don't remove the extended partitions, they should remain but be ready (with a backup) in case they are lost!

If problem persists, let me know the make of your hard drive and I can suggest a low-level format utility. There is no guaranty a low-level format will fix this!
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Sylvain Amyot
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super_fonkey
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« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2003, 02:10:22 AM »

One of things i love about the internet is that someone in Canada can help me here in Australia. Share the knowledge! This is my way of saying thanks i guess!

I would like to take your advice about backing up. I have some queries however as i am fairly new to working with hardware and DOS.

You say i need to back up my files. How can i do this outside of Windows? I know one way is to install a new HDD without removing the old one and just dragging and dropping. What i am unclear about is how do i have 2 in at once? Is there enough room generally in a tower-style PC (mine is almost 2 years old)? Or do i have one dangling outside? i am quite apprehensive about opening up the case...i would like to avoid this if possible.

Is there any other way to back-up from DOS? Apart from 10000 floppies that is!

One other thing...i thought one had to delete logical drive partitions before the primary one? Or am i just a nong?

also what is the difference bewteen a low-level format and the format <drive> command in DOS?

Sorry to be a pest...you shouldn't be so clear and helpful in your posts!

Thanks in advance

simon
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« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2003, 05:43:47 PM »

Hi,

Did you try 'FDISK /MBR' ?

You cannot delete an extended partition if they are logical drives within it but you can delete the primary without deleting the extended partition and then recreate it.

Unfortunately if you don't have any other method of backing up your files, you will need to do it to floppy. You should only backup the files you created with apps (e.g. Word documents....) Also note that copying files in DOS will truncate long filenames (e.g. "Long Filename.doc" will become "longfi~1.doc")

Do you have many files to backup?

You could add a second drive and copy your files to it but I thought you were trying to avoid buying a new drive (which you may have to do anyways if the damaged one cannot be fixed). If you already have another drive, let me know and we can go through other options.

What is the make of your hard drive? (e.g. Maxtor, Western Digital...)
Each manufacturer has a low-level/diagnostics utility to test and perhaps fix minor drive problems.

Is your hard drive still under warranty?
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super_fonkey
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« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2003, 01:51:20 AM »

Hi Sylvain

Sorry for the delay in checking out your suggestions - i had alot of files to back up and inexperience in DOS to contend with! Anyway,

I deleted the primary DOS partition in fdisk - fine. Recreated it - fine. Formtatted C: - hmmmm, well it got further than ever before but not quite a good result, let me explain. It kept saying "Trying to recover allocation unit <number>" and the <number> ticked over. This went for about 19 or 20 hours! Then desastre! In my frustrated state (i was checking the PC every half our so) i accidentally hit the restart!

After howling with frustration, i decided to start again. When i booted it came up with a message about the S.M.A.R.T drive being bad - backup and replace. Hit F1 to continue". Oh dear.

Plowed on anyway, deleted the primary partition - this took a VERY long time, it took several hours to check the drive integrity as it kept getting to 99% and restarting. Ditto for recreation. It took a further 12 hours or so to format C; and strangely, it only "saw" 2.5GB or thereabouts of the partition rather than 6GB as before.

Anyway, i thought that 2.5GB of reformatted of HDD was better than none and decided to reinstall windows. I typed I: setup.exe and sat back. Imagine my disbelief when scandisk (in its preliminary check before installation of OS) could not read the bl**dy FAT! Despite the message after the format that the file allocation tables had been done. Aaagh.

I decided to reboot and do setup with the /is switch to circumvent scandisk and maybe do a kind of "dirty" installation and then back up my audio files and project files (too big for diskettes). No luck - it now comes up USER.EXE failed to load or GDI.EXE failed to load. I did manage to get the window up on one occasion (i tried several times) but an error message came up "drivers failed to load".

Am i stuffed? Any (more) help woud be gratefully recieved!

simon
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Haith
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« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2003, 05:34:03 PM »

You have far more patience than me!
You would be running on a new hard drive in far less time, and I'm afraid that's going to be the result anyway.
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