can't format HD, but can read files (tried 'everything') - Techist - Tech Forum

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Old 03-21-2010, 12:54 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Angry can't format HD, but can read files (tried 'everything')

Okay, I've been at this all day long now and I feel I'm going round in circles now. Perhaps someone can help.

Initial problem: Dell Inspiron 531 locks up with a black screen.

Tried F8 to run the utility partition.
- Startup repair sits for ages 'Attempting repairs' (no disc activity for over 30mins)
- Running CHKDSK hangs.
- Running DISKPART hangs
- Running FORMAT hangs

I can see all my files from the DOS prompt, can even copy them all to back them up.

Booting with safemode shows that it hangs loading crcdisk.sys

System restore reports disc errors, then we go into Startup repair (chkdsk?) and we're hung again.

I DO have a spare SATA hard drive, so perhaps I can clone everything onto that and try but I don't know how.

If I could just reformat or repartion C: then perhaps I can just get the system restore to work.
It's SO frustrating that all the files on C: seem to be intact though.

I just tried resetting the settings in the F2 menu just for fun, but no improvement.

HELP, I'm gonna go at it with a big hammer next!!!!

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Old 03-21-2010, 03:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: can't format HD, but can read files (tried 'everything')

Okay, looks like DISKPART hadn't hung. But I'm not getting a prompt, just:

Microsoft DiskPart version 6.0.6000
Copyright (c) 1999-2007 Microsift Corporation.
On computer: MINWINPC

I can press CTRL-C to exit back to my dos prompt but no DiskPart prompt

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Old 03-21-2010, 06:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: can't format HD, but can read files (tried 'everything')

I'm not too familiar with how the Dell's and their utility partition work. But can you boot up from a Windows or Dell installation CD. If your hard drive is corrupted, this may have also affected the utility partition as well. (this is one of the reasons why I've never like how manufacturers use recovery partitions as it places all your eggs in the one basket)

Also you can't format a drive which your booted from. So if the utilities are booted from the C drive, which is also the drive which you're trying to fix, then it won't be able to do it (think of it like trying to change the spark plugs in your car while your driving down the motorway).
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Old 03-22-2010, 04:24 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: can't format HD, but can read files (tried 'everything')

Aha: Ok, the not being able to format the drive I booted from makes sense.
I'd have expected an error to that effect rather than FORMAT just sitting there.

However, I don't think that totally answers the problem. It doesn't explain why CHKDSK appears to hang. The PC boots from an X: partition on the same physical drive as C: and of course, I wouldn't expect the recovery not to work because of that.

I don't think the recovery program is damaged. I've even tried copying CHKDSK.EXE from another DELL PC - same results.

Shame, because the fix ought to have gone like this.
"Oh, PC not working. I'll run the recovery.... click on Fix Computer"
PC Says: "Looking for problems.... attempting to fix problems... fixed"
"Fixed - great, my boy can get back to playing Quake III"

Spent an evening trying to get in contact with Dell but their website is an evil maze that keeps taking me in circles. they want to charge a premium rate phone number to talk to someone. NOT HAPPENING!!!
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Old 03-22-2010, 07:06 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: can't format HD, but can read files (tried 'everything')

Recovery Partitions were always a good concept as you don't need anything extra (or have discs that you lose). However if the partition tables get corrupted, this can cause problems on both the C and X drive. This is why I usually prefer to boot from another physical drive (in this case it would be some optical media) to run diagnostics off.

Note that things like CHKDSK can fix some errors but they can't fix everything. So I think short of getting assistance from Dell, I think the next step would be to see if you could boot to a windows disk and run test from there. Fingers crossed, it is something that you can recover from.
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