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Some background first (a little long):

A while ago, my desktop got stuck at the "logging off" screen (prior to shutdown, the machine was sluggish and I suspected some process making trouble). I waited for it to finish up overnight, but it failed to do so. Seeing no other way out, I chose to force a shutdown using the power button. When booting, I encountered a disk read error and after a few tries i managed to run the recovery console and preform some sort of repair using the built in software, though I am unsure on what it actually did. I booted into safe mode and saw that an AVG-file (avgidseh.sys) was having trouble, so I followed troubleshooting instructions and uninstalled the software.

Unfortunately, after another reboot I encountered another disk read error.

From this point I chose to use an AVG rescue CD and see if I can find anything using the utilities in it. To my surprise, the utilities (Midnight Commander) could neither find nor mount my boot disk. This is clearly related to the problem.

All HDDs in my device are mechanical and my boot drive is less than a year old.

Is there any way for me to re-discover and/or re-mount the missing boot drive without resorting to formatting or similar methods that would require re-installation of the OS (and software)?

And, on a related note: does anyone have an explanation as to why this happened? It would be nice to know for future reference.

share|improve this question
If your drive controller is set to use ACHI or RAID in the BIOS, then the OS (regardless of which one) will need drivers for the controller so that it knows how to use it and see the drives. TRy setting it to standard "IDE" or alike and see i the LiveCD/Utility CD's can see the drive. As mastashake57 suggests, it sounds like disk corruption or surface errors. Time to try using CHKDSK or SpinRite (or alike) to get an idea of the drive's condition. – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Feb 22 '12 at 20:54
If you have irreplaceable data, I would stop mounting the drive in any OS and send it to a professional data recovery company for data recovery, or risk losing more data. Sounds like the hard drive has failed. – Moab Feb 22 '12 at 21:33
Fortunately, the disk only contains a number of programs, some random documents gathered in a "downloads" folder and maybe some other scraps. I am currently not using ACHI or RAID settings. – Aiden Feb 24 '12 at 14:41
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Let's start with the reason why it happened. Basically, a read error, to me, indicates that you're having some sort of a hardware issue, either from the motherboard or from the HDD. I would suspect the HDD first, even though, it's less than a year old. I would get something like a Linux Live CD or a WinPE disk and just run through exhaustive 'chkdsks' to find out if you have bad sectors.

The other suggestion would be to download the HDD manufacturer's utilities and perform exhaustive checks using them.

As far as trying to get the data back from your HDD, again, use a Live CD. Either Knoppix or Ubuntu would provide you the necessary utilities to get to your data. Hopefully, your drive is not beyond repair. My personal suggestion, use Trinity Live CD. I've used it in the past and it works very well.

Hope this helps!

share|improve this answer
I am currently quite confused. I managed through some strange voodoo computer magic boot into Windows again by loading "Optimized Defaults" in the BIOS. I have (despite common sense saying 'no') managed two reboots without issue. Currently, I'm trying to perform a chkdsk, but the system cannot run it on a active disk (or something along those lines). It claims that the process will run after restarting as the first process, but so far it has not worked/started. – Aiden Feb 23 '12 at 12:01
That's quite odd. I, honestly, would have NEVER thought to bring BIOS settings back to default. Hey, if it works, go with it, just make sure to do your due diligence and check your HDD out. Hell, scrutinize the motherboard while you're at it because this is just odd behavior. Good luck! – Carlos Feb 23 '12 at 14:02

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