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Before I start, I have two things to say: First, please do not scold. I know I was a moron to try this without backing up the drive. Secondly, please ...
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  1. #1
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    Huge partitioning mistake, can I recover?


    Before I start, I have two things to say: First, please do not scold. I know I was a moron to try this without backing up the drive. Secondly, please bear with me, this will be a little long.

    I used PartitionMagic 8 to set up the following configuration for a dual boot machine. The Windows and Data partitions were pre-existing, I shrank the Data partition to make room for the others.
    In this order:
    30Mb FAT16 (BootMagic)
    12.5Gb NTFS (Windows 2000 already installed)
    10Gb EXT3 (RedHat Linux 9)
    1Gb SWAP (Linux swap drive)
    ~=14Gb NTFS (Data, I had planned to switch to VFAT but haven't yet)

    The Linux install went well, but when I booted to Windows to edit the BootMagic configuration and make sure it recognized Linux, BootMagic said there were partition errors. I went back to PartitionMagic, which would not run. The info app that came with PartitionMagic would run, and it told me I had error #114 on the partition holding my Data drive. The PartitionMagic said the way to fix this error would be to delete the partition and create a new one--difficult since PartitionMagic won't run when it detects errors on the drive.

    Please note that at this time Windows 2000 ran just fine, and although Linux would not boot from BootMagic it would load just fine if I used the RedHat startup disk.

    I copied the contents of the Data drive to a new folder in the Windows drive, then rebooted and used Linux Fdisk.
    The Fdisk analysis said the partition table did not have the drives in sequential order. I gave the command to fix this, then deleted both the Data drive and the Linux swap drive, planning to boot Windows and re-create them using PartitionMagic. At this point Fdisk said there were no errors on the drive and correctly showed the first 3 partitions. The number it gave for unallocated disk space I don't remember now, but I remember that it seemed to be about right. I told Fdisk to apply the changes, and then rebooted.

    Now when I boot the computer, BootMagic still loads, but it shows Linux as "Unavailable", where it was at least an option (didn't work, but was an option) before. When I select Win2000 (which still shows up, BootMagic will try to load it), I get the error:
    "Windows 2000 could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:
    <windows 2000 root>\system32\ntoskrnl.exe.
    Please re-install a copy of the above file."

    Linux will still start to boot from the hard drive when I use the boot disk, but it stops after a certain point--I suspected this might happen b/c I deleted its swap drive. It has since occurred to me that I used to have the Windows swap file set to drive D: and forgot to change that, but I doubt that has anything to do with the current problem.

    Is there any way to recover the computer's state from before I deleted the end partitions? If not, is there any way I could recover the contents of the Windows partition so I don't have to reinstall Windows (Linux is not my main concern right now, I just need Windows so I can get back to work, and I'll set up Linux later)? If not that, then can I at least recover the data?

    I know there are many partition repair tools and many system recovery tools available online, please let me know which would be most effective for my current situation. Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Linux Guru AlexK's Avatar
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    trying to fix windows only:
    boot windows cd, tell it to repair the present windows install. Hopefully this should get rid of PM for you and you won't be able to boot linux.


    Recovering data:
    if you have a cd burner or dvd burner and fast net connection, do this. Download knoppix or System Rescue CD (a live cd) and use its burning software (i think it has some) to backup your data. Alternatively you could transfer contents of your machine to another machine on the network and use the burning tool there to burn your data.

    Now, I strongly suggest that you do not use partition magic as the windows partitioner (fdisk) and linux partitioner are perfectly good. If you downloaded knoppix, you can use qtparted to set up the partitions the way you like. e.g. 12.5 G NTFS windows, 14 G NTFS data, 10 Gig ext3 RH, 1 Gig swap (in that order preferably).

    Now install windows using you windows install cd. Once that is done, install RH or any other linux. Tell linux to install the bootloader onto the MBR of your hard drive and you should be able to boot either OS.
    Life is complex, it has a real part and an imaginary part.

  3. #3
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    Hmmm... I think I'll just fix Windows only (for now), and then when I have time (probably this weekend) start over with Linux using Linux Fdisk or Disk Druid this time. The main objective right now is to get Windows and my data back up, preferably without having to reinstall, since I'm a commuting college student and really need my home computer.

    Thanks for your help.

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