Problem identified using fdisk

  Valedictor 22:27 20 Oct 2006

Hello all,

I seem to have a problem getting into Windows 98, and I am fairly sure that my ineptitude and fiddling with things I don't really know about has made it even worse!

I turned my pc on a few days ago, and received the invalid FAT or FAT32 partition error, and could go no further, so I followed the advice on various forums, and tried a startup / boot floppy disk to try and get into safe mode, or to run fdisk, etc. Couldn't do a thing - not even reformat was allowed.

At first, I couldn't run fdisk at all, but after copying explorer.exe onto a floppy and copying it to C: I then tried the boot disk again, and I was then able to run fdisk. Bearing in mind I had also tried altering the boot sequence in setup mode, and tried the auto detect hdd feature, I have no idea which of these measures had done the trick. Like I said previously, I have changed things back and forth so many times that it became more a case of trial and error until I got some success.

I tried fdisk, fdisk / mbr, sys: , etc.... and pretty much all the commands that are suggested on the forums to remedy this problem, without success.

However, running fdisk at least allowed me to access its functions, and I could get to the view partitions screen. Now, I am clearly no expert, but when I first looked at the screen, there were two partitions. One was clearly what I thought should be my C: drive, as it showed 19085 MB in use. The other partition was actually labelled as C: and was active, but only had a minimal amount of MB.

One forum suggested deleting any extra partitions and starting from scratch as it were. So I deleted the partition labelled C: I think I even tried format C: (which I found I could now do), and the format took about 1 second to complete, so clearly this extra partition was labelled as my C drive and didn't seem to be doing much apart from confusing matters, while all my other information is still sitting inaccessible and unlabelled!

When I look at the view partitions screen now, it reads the following:

current fixed disk drive: 1

partition 1
Status A
Volume label (this is blank)
Mbytes 19085
System (this is also blank)
Usage 100%

total disk space is 19093 MB.

Can I assume that I somehow need to tell my pc that this should be treated as my C drive? And if so, how do I accomplish this?

Many forums suggest that reformatting is all that can be done if all the other measures do not work, but as I can see those 19085 MB sitting there, does that mean my information is safe, but inaccessible? I just get the feeling that there might be a reasonably simple fix for this. Something similar happened on the same pc before (the invalid FAT message) about 6 months ago, and I was able to fix it then with just the boot disk, but this time it looks like there is a bit more of a mess to sort out - probably due to my own carelessness more than anything!

Thank you in advance for any help you can offer me,

Regards, Samantha.

  ed-0 22:38 20 Oct 2006

What I think you need to do is to get your hard drive into a machine that is running windows XP.

It looks as if you have converted the filing system from " fat32 " that reads in windows 98 to "NTFS " that’s reads on windows 2000 and XP.

If you know of someone with XP, you need to take the drive out of your computer, alter the jumper settings on the rear of the hard drive and attach it to a XP computer.

Then all of your important data can be transferred to the XP machine.

The XP machine could then format your hard drive to fat32. It could also place a partition on your hard drive, so all your important data could be re-installed.

You could then replace the hard drive, move the jumpers, into your machine and re-install windows 98.

That way you could save your data.

  Ex plorer 22:44 20 Oct 2006

Hi have you tried a XP repair click here

  Ex plorer 22:46 20 Oct 2006

sorry didnt see that it was Win98

  Valedictor 22:52 20 Oct 2006

Thank you! I can certainly try the approach you suggested, however I am wondering if there is a way of tackling the problem without removing the hard drive - as I mentioned, this has happened before on the same pc, and I was able to recover back to WIndows 98 without too much fuss. I am guessing the problem may be more complicated now due to my attempts at fixing it, but still essentially the same issues. If anyone should be able to suggest an alternative approach, I would be very grateful, otherwise I will try to attempt what you have kindly suggested.

Thank you very much, Samantha.

  Valedictor 22:57 20 Oct 2006

By the way, do you think my system is somehow unstable because I originally had XP installed on it, then formatted at some time in the past and then installed 98? Or would reformatting allow me to install whatever OS I wanted without problem? Just wondering why this problem has occurred more than once now.Is my hardware set up especially for XP, or are hardware setups compatible with any OS?

Thanks Sam :)

  ed-0 22:58 20 Oct 2006

" partition 1
Status A
Volume label (this is blank)
Mbytes 19085
System (this is also blank)
Usage 100% "

the information you have given above, says that your hard drive partition has been changed to a format that windows 98 can not see. i.e. NTFS.

There is no way to revert back to FAT32 ( the filing system used for 98SE ) without

a) totally formating the drive via an operating system that can read NTFS e.g. XP

b) to use third part software to convert the file system but this has a few flaws.

1) you need a working copy of windows to install the program

2) the program is not free

3) there maybe a chance that it could go belly up and you loose the data.

To my mind that doesn't give you many options:-(

  Valedictor 23:27 20 Oct 2006

I'm just wondering how I managed to recover it last time, if it is how you say (i.e: impossible to revert back to FAT32). I can only assume that the problem was similar, but not as severe (?) It was exactly the same error message that time.

I have no idea how I could have changed the file system. Is it possible a virus could have caused it?

Would using a Windows XP start up disk help at all? Just racking my brains to think of an alternative before I pull the plug and seek out an XP system to try your suggestion.

Thank you kindly, Samantha :)

  ed-0 23:40 20 Oct 2006

well I can't think of how you revert back without loosing your data unless you load XP operating system back on. That might work if you do not format the hard drive.

You see there is still a chance of loosing your data.

The only imponderable is, do you know the full extent of your hard drive, the total size. The information at hand seems to show it at just 20Gb or 19085Mb, is this about right?

  woodchip 23:48 20 Oct 2006

If it was Fat32 And you only used FDISK to create NTFS, I would say your info as gone for keeps. But how you did this beats me as FDISK will not do anything with NTFS. It only works with Fat32. As above your best bert is get the drive in another computer that as XP on it

  Valedictor 00:53 21 Oct 2006

Yes, it is a really odd situation. I honestly don't know how I have managed to create such a mess!

20GB I believe is the total size, yes, but I can check this in the morning when I am at home :)

Fortunately, the pc isn't my main one, so the possibility of data loss would be annoying but not disastrous.

Based on your comments guys, it looks like I will have to remove the hard drive, but it still niggles me that a.) this has happened before and I fixed it and b.) I have made some degree of progress by being able to now get fdisk and format command to work (whereas at first I couldn't do a thing), which makes me wonder if I keep fiddling with things I will accidentally stumble across a way to recover it. No doubt a false hope, but I'll have another go tomorrow as I don't really have much to lose. Then I'll try what you recommended. If you come up with any miracle fixes in a moment of inspiration in the meantime, then please do let me know!

Thank you for your time and advice!

Sam x

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