Windows XP partition help

Sorry to do this, but my fellow tech friend is too inebriated to listen to me bounce this question off of and I feel feel like making some progress…tonight.

So to try and summarize a very long story, my computer (Toshiba M35X Satellite) got a virus many years ago and from time to time I work a bit more on making it work again. I feel I’ve stumbled onto an important clue but need others with XP or very reliable XP partition knowledge to lend a voice.

The data is all there only it won’t boot, each time stating “Operating system not found

Now mind you, I do know about fixboot and fixmbr and recovery console and such, but my partition structure knowledge is not what it should be for OS’ and for various proprietary set-ups that happen based on the brand of computer.

So basically I have gone into my computer with a Hiren’s disc and Gparted.

With the Hiren’s disc I you can see a small partition on the same row as the primary partition with all the data in it only the small partition has no drive letter and has a capacity of 2MB and apparently also 2MB of free space! it’s this partition (the small 2MB partition) that is set as the active boot partition. But if if it’s 2MB in size but also has 2MB of free space?? That left me confused so I decided to take another look at this with Gparted.

In Gparted it shows up as a hidden partition and also the Boot partition and is said to be 2.48MB in size. Unlike the Hiren’s version this does not show this partition to be in the C: volume, but is instead “SDA2” whereas C: is indicated as “SDA1”.

What I’d like to do is delete this partition and make C: my active, boot partition, but I haven’t the ability to back-up such things so I need to be sure of what I’m doing. I checked out a Dell computer I have also with XP on it and there is no such 2MB partition on this computer.

So would you think it would be safe to delete the current active partition and set the C: as the active partition? Please respond as though this was your computer with data to be lost, I’ve done a good bit of backing up, but I want to make the right move and find my machine bootable again rather than play around with this stuff or have to rebuild things.



Well it seems I can’t pull my second link from the post -it’s the wrong image so I am posting the second Gparted image HERE

i would backup those extra partitions to another hard drive and resize the ntfs partition to cover the whole drive, then use the fixboot or fixmbr

that way if you screw something up you can always get it back

How would I backup a partition?

i’ve found that Win XP didn’t like partitions that it didn’t make.

is this one of those prank threads?

No I honestly don’t know how to back a partition up, Like I said in the OP. I don’t have the knowledge I should have in this area. Which really is the only reason I have yet to just torch the partition and move forward since I truly believe the partition was created by a virus like filedropper and then misdirected my boot process to the empty partition giving me this message.

If you don’t have any idea what you’re doing, don’t mess with it.

Have you tried restoring it to factory settings by holding down 0 while it starts?

Acronis TrueImage can do a sector-based whole-disk backup which will grab everything on the disk, at an even lower level than the filesystem and MBR. It seems overkill, though. Wouldn’t it be easier to just wipe the whole thing and reinstall Windows XP?

You haven’t even used it in years; what could be valuable enough to keep?

Okay, each line there is a separate physical connection (which usually means a separate physical device).

So, the best way to pull data off a non-booting computer is with a “Live” cd. A live cd is basically an entire OS that runs from just the cd/dvd, without needing to be installed or write to an internal drive. Most Linux discs/images are setup this way. If you have another, healthy computer running XP, you can download Ultimate boot cd for windows and use that to create a Live windows cd.

Linux especially will usually let you mount and access misbehaving NTFS partitions, provided they weren’t encrypted (drives usually aren’t encrypted).

Copy the important data to a usb drive, a network share, or the like. Then, figure out what each partition is for (I suspect the smaller drive is used for the OS and programs, with user data and media being stored on the second, larger drive). Once you know what you want to do with each partition, simply repartition and reformat the system drive, and try to access the other drive.

Oh yeah, install a virus scanner and run it first thing after you get the OS reinstalled. There are several portable (doesn’t require installation to use) antivirus programs. The live cd should be relatively safe from infections (especially if it’s linux) since you’re running it from a read only medium.

Are you saying we shouldn’t have a General Questons forum, or that we just should never allow posts requesting advice?

If you’re not interested in answering the question, the best way is to move on to another thread without commenting. You went out of your way to non-answer.

I once tested Server 2003 virtual machine install this way.

Disconnect the “disk” and attach it as the D: drive to another machine.
Run Windows Backup on the disk.

Then I created another blank machine with a blank virtual disk.
I attached this disk to a live virtual machine, then did a restore.
Remove from restore machine, reattach to brand new virtual machine, and boot.

I imagine you could do something similar from a physical PC- unhook the disk drive from the laptop (a lot of laptop disks just pop out).
Plug it in as a D: drive on some other PC.
Backup, reformat, repair, restore from that PC.

Put it back in the original machine, an use the utilities to set to correct boot options?

I know the verson of NTFS has changed over the years, so you want to be sure you don’t reformat he disk with a too new evrson of NTFS.

Thank you Gnowitall for the support. Md2000 I appreciate your suggestions as well, It seemed a bit more lengthy to use a virtual machine over a live CD, but both methods have their strengths and weaknesses I’m sure.

I’m just writing in to say that even though I was eager to push forward and fix my machine, I held on and eventually was able to bounce it off of a then sober fellow technician buddy. I tend to over-think things so he usually takes a more direct approach to matters like this. I was already pretty sure of my theory, but after a chat with my buddy I was convinced to go ahead and set the C: partition as active, at first not deleting the second partition (have no idea why I didn’t think of this). After I saw my computer “magically” boot once again I went in a second time and deleted the false boot partition.

Yes, my computer was very sick though and so I’ve been spending much of the day disinfecting it from a very bad 2010. I’m pleased to say it’s starting to look like my old machine -booted up in 2 minutes, on the internet in 15 seconds… I SO missed this computer lol. Thanks to everyone with a helpful comment. Consider this thread closed.