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How to make NTFS partition bootable and keep the data?

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9 replies to this topic

#1
bbiandov

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Hi,

Here is the situation - dont ask how this ended up the way it did but I am entrusted with fixing it. Basically we have C: and D: -- the OS files of windowds 2003 are installed on C: but the ntldr is on D: and the system loads the bootstrap files from D: until it reads boot.ini at which point it then boots the OS from C:

The objective is to make C: bootable but not by format c: /xxxx -- I need to preserve that partition.

Making C: active, of course, does not provide remedy since it is NOT bootable, and simply copiying ntldr, ntdetect.com and boot.ini does NOT make a partition bootable. So then the question is - how does one make it bootable without destroying it.

FYI: the bootfix and mbrfix of the recovery console do NOT do the trick!

Thanks to everyone who reads or replies.
~B


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#2
redxii

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Did you simply do "fixboot" and "fixmbr" or did you do "fixboot C:" and "fixmbr \Device\HardDisk0"?

They also say for fixmbr if you didn't do the latter: "If an invalid or nonstandard partition table signature is detected, you will be prompted whether you want to continue. If you are not having problems accessing your drives, you should not continue. Writing a new master boot record to your system partition could damage your partition tables and cause your partitions to become inaccessible."

Edited by redxii, 08 September 2006 - 05:34 PM.


#3
bbiandov

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Did you simply do "fixboot" and "fixmbr" or did you do "fixboot C:" and "fixmbr \Device\HardDisk0"?


Sorry, I was NOT clear -- yes I did "fixboot C:" and "fixmbr \Device\HardDisk0"

Thanks
~B

#4
redxii

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You can go into Disk Management and mark C: as active if it isn't already. D: should simply report "Healthy", but if it says it is still active then that is no good.

Since i'm not aware of any way in 2003 or XP or 2000 to remove the active flag short of deleting the partition, I use the first CD of Slackware (slackware.com) to boot and run "cfdisk" which can remove the bootable flag on a partition without destroying it. In your case, after doing that for D: you might have to run those commands again.

Edited by redxii, 08 September 2006 - 06:34 PM.


#5
bbiandov

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You can go into Disk Management and mark C: as active if it isn't already. D: should simply report "Healthy", but if it says it is still active then that is no good.

Since i'm not aware of any way in 2003 or XP or 2000 to remove the active flag short of deleting the partition, I use the first CD of Slackware (slackware.com) to boot and run "cfdisk" which can remove the bootable flag on a partition without destroying it. In your case, after doing that for D: you might have to run those commands again.


Thanks, however as I indicated it is NOT a matter of marking it active, that is the simplest thing.

It is a matter of constructing the binary sectors which will pick-up the bootstrap and eventually, ntldr and so forth. That is what format command does when instructed to make a disk "bootable"

Thanks

#6
allen2

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You could try to use sys.exe after booting from a winpe based on windows 2003. Sys.exe is part of the OPK. I am not sure if it works with NTFS perhaps you'll have to first convert your partition to FAT32. But if the fixmbr and the fixboot method doesn't work, i don't know any other simple solution.
Did you tried to first copy the missing files from d: and then use chkdsk /p, fixmbr \Device\HardDisk0, fixboot c: ?
In last, i'll rename the Windows folder from a winpe or an other windows and try to reinstall without formating in the same folder. Then remove the newly created windows folder and rename back the old one.

#7
jaclaz

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That is what format command does when instructed to make a disk "bootable"



NO,
sorry but you have it wrong.
The OLD format from DOS did that.
Under NT/2K/XP/2003, whenever the format command is used, the bootsector for booting NTLDR is written everytime.

It is quite difficult however to help you without exact information, since we are not allowed

- dont ask how this ended up the way it did

to ask HOW it happened, maybe you can post WHAT it is now, by answering the folowing.
1) The partition you call C:\ is a PRIMARY one?
2) The partition you call C:\ was modified by some third party tools (like Partition Magic, Acronis or the like?)
3) Was it the result of using the CONVERT tool to convert it from FAT16/32 to NTFS
4) Are you confident with using a hex/disk editor?
5) Have you an alternate method to access the system (mount the drive in another PC, Live Linux CD with NTFS support, BartPE)?

A NTFS partition has a "backup" bootsector at the END of it:
http://thestarman.pc...FSBR.htm#BSback

If the partition is a primary one, you just copy it to the first sector, make the partition Active, copy to it NTLDR/BOOT.INI/DETECT.COM and if needed NTBOOTDD.SYS and you are done.

jaclaz

#8
bbiandov

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That is what format command does when instructed to make a disk "bootable"


A NTFS partition has a "backup" bootsector at the END of it:
http://thestarman.pc...FSBR.htm#BSback

If the partition is a primary one, you just copy it to the first sector, make the partition Active, copy to it NTLDR/BOOT.INI/DETECT.COM and if needed NTBOOTDD.SYS and you are done.


Hi jaclaz


You are right, I need to give you more info. Basically C: is primary and WIndows 2003 was installed by booting from Windows 2003 CD and following the setup. However the system did NOT boot for some reason and the tech decided to make a bootable floppy and fix the situation that way. Now I need to remove the floppy and make the system boot the OS from C:

Just copying NTLDR/BOOT.INI/DETECT.COM and if needed NTBOOTDD.SYS to C: does NOT make it bootable. There is something else that casues the MBR to pickup the ntldr and I am missing that point. Sure, I am confortable with hexedit but what do I modify?

The objective is to boot from C: and avoid formatting it. I do have access to the C: by either booting the system with that floppy or by booting from BART PE. However nothing that I do seems to make C: bootable. Like I said, I already have NTLDR/BOOT.INI/DETECT.COM and if needed NTBOOTDD.SYS copied there but it still does not boot. What happens upon boot is blank screen, no errors, no the usual "can't find NTLDR" etc

So what do I do to make C: bootable?

Thanks
~B

Edited by bbiandov, 09 September 2006 - 01:20 PM.


#9
jaclaz

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There is something else that casues the MBR to pickup the ntldr and I am missing that point.

Sorry, wrong, the MBR "picks" a partition BOOTSECTOR, the partition BOOTSECTOR "picks" NTLDR.
Since you can boot from floppy, the MBR is probably OK, the boot.ini on the floppy has an entry like
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\Windows
that work, this means that the partition data is read allright by BIOS.
The problem could be the bootsector.

Sure, I am confortable with hexedit but what do I modify?

Nothing for the moment, you should use it to save the BOOTSECTOR, than copy the backup bootsector over its original position.
Details are in the link in my previous post.

However, before the above, do download this freeware utility:
BEEBLEBROX
http://students.cs.byu.edu/~codyb/
and use it to check both MBR and boot record, helping yourself with the info found here:
http://thestarman.pcministry.com/

If you don't feel like using a hex editor directly on the system, you can use testdisk to copy backup bootsector:
http://www.cgsecurit...g/wiki/TestDisk
http://www.cgsecurit...covery_Examples

jaclaz

#10
Drugwash

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WIndows 2003 was installed by booting from Windows 2003 CD and following the setup. However the system did NOT boot for some reason [...]

Sorry for barging in, but reading the above made me think of either a HDD defect or a BIOS bug.
A clean install on C: would have absolutely no reason to fail booting, unless a hardware failure occurs [HDD sector(s) defective] or the BIOS has a bug in the HDD parameters translation routine.
I would do a surface scan of the HDD on another machine (if possible) and also a BIOS update/reflash (careful with that one!).
Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.




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