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I have a pair of identical computers. One of them stopped booting the other day (it gets past the BIOS screen then goes black). Booting from a USB recovery stick I've verified that the partition is still there and I'm able to recover data from the corrupted disk.

When I try and restore the Master File Table using TestDisk it says that the MFT and backup is corrupt.


  1. Are there any other tools I should run to help diagnosis?
  2. If this is a corrupt MFT stopping it from booting, is there a way I can back it up from the workig machine and use that backup to restore the broken machine?
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You need to copy the MBR, not the MFT. – Moab Apr 13 '11 at 16:21


  • MFT Master File Table.

    In many ways, a MFT is an upgraded version of a file allocation table (FAT). Instead of simply being a simple list of file addresses on a hard disc, the MFT contains the attributes of the file or directory itself. This information will include items such as name and address but also security details or permissions. If the file being tagged is small, the file data can actually be stored in the MFT entry, making the access of such data very fast.

This makes me think that you shouldn't just be copying it from one machine to another as they won't be identical. This isn't information about the partitions but about the actual data on the disk.

Have you tried running chkdsk from the recovery console of your windows installation media?

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This is an Windows XP Embedded install on a flash disk. Is there a USB stick based recovery disk I could make from the working machine (we don't have any install media)? – Jon Cage Apr 13 '11 at 14:51

Rather than try to clone one single aspect of the hard drive, why not do the whole thing?

If the computers are identical, why not just clone the working drive onto the drive of the other computer? Retrieve any files you need from the corrupt hard drive if possible, then use a utility like Acronis to make a copy of the working PC on to the corrupt hard drive. Change the XP key after the fact on the cloned machine and you should be in business.

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