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Posted 14 Jan 2013

System crash? Good news!

, 14 Jan 2013 CPOL
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What to do about system crashes.

System crash? Good news!

It will be a shocking experience, after a system crash, to learn that the recent made backup is faulty and/or incomplete.

The war is not lost yet!

It’s late time for an assessment.

  • Was it due to a virus? Do not assume this, prove it (malfunction is no indication)!
  • Is the data affected or the directory or the partition only?
  • Was there a motherboard problem?
  • Too many motherboards chicken out now days causing gradual damage.

  • Did the drive fail?
  • Heads can get stuck on old drives. That’s an emergency.

    After 3 years of proper operation drives start to get faulty.

Do a drive health test.

And many more.

Time for analyzing the drive:

Do not write onto the drive during this at all!

Good to know that Windows is weak in dealing with partition issues and their corrections, where probably many faults occur, but this is also an extremely dangerous task. Strangely, Linux can read partitions which are inaccessible under Windows.

If the OS can not be started anymore a backup system comes in handy. In case of a faulty motherboard any attempt to do repairs on this system compares to a Russian roulette having a 6 shot gun loaded with 7 bullets. Copying a faulty partition, if still available, onto a different drive before analysis starts is a very good idea.

What parts of the hard disk can still be read?

Have a look at the information of the disk and if that is available check up on the partition information. Is the information correct?

To get information about that many disk editors come in handy. The whole disk can be traced and edited easy besides a convenient user interface is provided. Further information is available from “” the article “An Introduction to Hard Disk Geometry”. A bit basic math is necessary. The old ways of CHS (Cylinders, Heads, Sectors) is most likely not in use on your hard disk anymore and thus replaced with LBA and Count which is the start address of the partition's first sector and the count of sectors used for the partition. Often this info is messed up on the drive and it is written to one location only.

The widespread belief that if a file entry is available the content of the file is available too is, the least to say, very naive! Nobody knows to what extend damage already has occurred on the system. Systems are in use with bad damages on the drive, the operating system altered the behavior gradually, and the user has no idea about it at all. Sure, it worked OK yesterday. Yesterday!

In case of lost (deleted) files there are many tools available to recover them successfully if their content is still available. But the same questions occur. What caused the loss exactly?

Since such a task needs very exact (bit level) operations, in case you do not feel comfortable with it, find a real good service and pay a few bucks to recover your data. Beware, enthusiasm leads often to bigger trouble in such scenarios.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Philippines Philippines
Grew up in a metal processing company and did industrial HW/SW development since the birth of Intel’s 8080. Lectured IT since 1986 at several levels. Hobbies, sidesteps: Woodworking and deep sea diving. Background: ASM, C, C++. Platforms: Win, Novel, CP/M, MP/M, DOS, (Linux).

It’s not the developer’s duty to pay up for the engineer’s ignorance.

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