Removing suspect disk 0 with no active partitions

  Rebuilt 13:28 01 Dec 2009

How I got here is a bit of history associated with a fried CPU leading to a new CPU/Motherboard/Harddisk and clean install. Where I am now is:

Disk 0 EIDE 200Gb Boot sector and partitions holding old data

Disk 1 EIDE 300Gb partitions used for online backup

Disk 2 SATA 500Gb C: System D: Current Data

About a week ago I found that startup times became very long and everything was running like I was walking in mud. At the same time I could see the disk activity light on almost permanently indicating some sort of thrashing.

After investigation I found that one of the partitions on Disk 0 (that previously contained some old data but had an assigned drive letter) must have had a problem and was now shown as RAW. Removing the drive letter resolved most of the problems but the disk itself is clearly dubious.

I would like to remove this disk entirely and make the SATA disk as drive 0 but I know that all NT based systems (this is Vista Ultimate) are a bit touchy about the position of disks.

Can anyone recommend a safe procedure to accomplish this reconfiguration?

  GaT7 14:02 01 Dec 2009

Physically disconnect the dodgy drive, & change 1st boot drive to the SATA 500Gb in the BIOS. It's probably already setup this way, but confirm all the same. See what difference this makes.

Reconnect dodgy drive & backup its data to another one of your drives if necessary. If you find the startup & continuous activity problems again, it may be the drive giving up the ghost. Attempt a reformat, but if the problems persist disconnect it for good. G

P.S. Another thing you can try is changing the IDE drives' statuses from slave to master via the jumpers & vice-versa, or experiment with cable-select jumper settings

  Rebuilt 14:28 01 Dec 2009

Thanks for that but I am not clear on one point. I am pretty sure there is no active boot sector on the SATA drive so, while I can change the BIOS setup to move the SATA ahead of the EIDE drives, this will not work unless I do something else.

I know this also because, sometime in the past, the sequence did get accidentally changed and the system refused to boot.

My other concern is that, even if I do get a boot sector on to the SATA drive and move it first, will it then point to the correct partition for the Vista system (Now Disk 0 Par 0 instead of Disk 2 Par 0). Finally, when Vista starts up, it seems to know partition by location so will it see the same partitions as C: & D: even though they have moved position (the other partitions I dont care about).

  GaT7 14:40 01 Dec 2009

Why do you think there's no boot sector on the SATA drive - it's the system drive, isn't it? All the other drives/partitions only contain data, don't they?

Yes, should do for both of the other queries. Try it out to see what happens:

1. Disconnect the dodgy drive
2. Enter BIOS on the next reboot & change boot priority to boot from the SATA drive first
3. Save BIOS changes & bootup normally


  Rebuilt 14:59 01 Dec 2009

I thought I had explained.

The SATA drive is Disk 2 and the boot sector being used is on Drive 0 (the dodgy EIDE drive). It is the only useful thing on there but it is being used.

I had already, by accident, tried booting from the SATA drive so I KNOW there is no valid boot sector on it.

The primary system partition does not have to be on the disk with the boot sector (it isnt in this case). The boot sector just points to where it is.

So, the very minimum I would have to do is :-

a) get a boot sector put on to the SATA drive.

b) get that boot sector to point to the first partition on the first drive (which is where the Vista primary partition would be if the drive order is changed).

What I am not sure about is if that is enough for Vista not to get confused.

  GaT7 15:18 01 Dec 2009

Right, I'm with you now :-). You've confirmed what I feared is the case. A similar thing has happened to me with XP.

First off, try using the Bootrec.exe tool in the Recovery Environment click here. You may have to do it with both IDE drives disconnected.

If that doesn't solve it, then I think you'll need to reinstall Vista afresh after removing both the IDE drives - this is to ensure the boot sector is created on the SATA disk only. Prior to this, please remember to backup any emails, important data, etc you may have on the SATA drive. After the install you can reconnect the IDE drives & try it without the dodgy drive, changing jumpers, etc. G

  Rebuilt 15:32 01 Dec 2009

If I had been sensible when I did my Vista initial install then this would not have happened. I was trying to recover my XP system on the EIDE drive and, when that would not work, I did not reorder the drives before installing Vista on the new SATA drive. If I had then this would not have been a potential problem

If you reread my first append then you will see that I have absolutely NO personal data on the C: primary partition. That is all on the D: drive. This applies to My Documents and everything else.

Despite this I am not eager to reinstall at the moment. Clearly, if I were to do so, this would not be an issue!!! When I do go through the pain of reinstall it will be when I move to Win7.

However, your suggestion of the Bootrec.exe tool will probably solve my problems - providing I reorder my drives before I go into the Recovery Environment.

  Rebuilt 15:33 01 Dec 2009

Yes, I will take a 'Ghost' image of my primary partition before playing with this.

  GaT7 15:47 01 Dec 2009

I think sometimes there's no way to prevent where the boot sector is created - Windows' install chooses what it thinks is correct at the time no matter what one does with the order of drives.

After it has happened to me 2-3 times, I now only ever install with the one drive connected - the one I want to boot from & contain the system files. I only hook up the secondary drives after this.

Anyway, I hope the Bootrec method works & you won't need to reinstall afresh. G

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