Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have made a lot of mistakes and now I cannot see my hard disk nor I can start my operating system on my laptop. All my passwords and important files on my hdd without any backup.

I followed this course of action

  • Changed my hard disk partitions to dynamic just for getting 5th partition. (1st mistake)
  • Decreased partitions to 4 again.
  • Backed up operating system from 4th to 3rd partition with Norton Ghost.
  • Booted from a live CD for Windows XP. Formatted 4th partition and moved my all important data from 1st and 2nd partitions to the 4th partition.
  • Deleted 1st and 2nd partitions and got 1 partition from half of empty space. So I have just 3 partitions and empty space between 1st and 2nd partitions.
  • Tried to install Windows 8 to the first partition but it did not allow because it is dynamic. Also it did not allow to install to other partitions.
  • Tried to install Windows XP to the 1st partition but it said if I continue I cannot use other drivers. Therefore I escaped from installing it.
  • Booted from the Windows XP live CD then increased 1st partiton to less than 400mb of empty space. Therefore I thought it will be adjacent but it was shown as 2 partitions. In my computer I see just 3 drivers.
  • Using Norton Ghost I recovered my OS to the 1st partition. (2nd mistake it was on 4th partition originally)
  • Booted from a Windows XP live CD I tried to install bcdedit to the Windows XP live CD but it did not work. Then I tried to install EaseUS Partition Master Home Edition. It was installed with errors then I start it and it showed me an error like there is no hard disk. I looked to my PC and my drivers were not there.
  • Booted from the Norton Ghost CD and it did not show me my drivers either, but before I was able to see them. I checked numbers of partition shown by the Norton Ghost utility and they are still have same numbers so I have to see my drivers but I cannot see them now.

These partition tools are already exist in Windows XP live CD by The Ultimate Boot CD for Windows. Can any of them help me?

  • BootBuild
  • MbrFix
  • MBRWizard
  • TestDisk

My hard disk is shown as extarnal dynamic now in other words there is no partition in the disk manager so I cannot see any drive in my PC in the live Windows XP. There are two options; first one is import extarnal disk and second one is convert disk to basic. Will they delete my data?

I can see partitions with their renamed drive names using above tools' analysis. However I am not sure to try to fix MRB because I have never used them before. Finally

  1. How can I make it so that my drives are visible again without losing my data?
  2. How can I convert my dynamic partitions to basic without losing my data?
share|improve this question
Your account is a little confusing at times (especially between "live Windows XP" and "live CD Windows XP"), so you may want to clarify it a bit. – jonsca Oct 15 '12 at 13:24
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." I'm guessing you mean DRIVES and not DRIVERS? There's a fairly large difference. However, right off hand if you want to recover it, if it were me I'd use some form of Linux Live CD like Knoppix, SystemRescueCD, or even a Linux Mint Live CD and see if the partition(s) can even be mounted there. If they cannot, it's a fairly sure bet that the drive is pretty much hosed. – UtahJarhead Oct 15 '12 at 13:27
@jonsca Sorry I do not know how it is called. It is a bootable CD of Windows XP in other words it runs from CD. I just know live means bootable. Thank you for editing seems better now. – user165408 Oct 15 '12 at 13:30
@user165408 UtahJarhead makes a good point, I tried to clarify those points as well just now, but some are still ambiguous. If you can see C, D, and E, what do you want to be displayed? – jonsca Oct 15 '12 at 13:35
@UtahJarhead Thank you, yes I meant drives not drivers. – user165408 Oct 15 '12 at 13:39

1st SLOW DOWN. There's about 8 things on your list that are likely to cause you loss of data and it sounds like you are acting out of desperation. Don't "install" anything on the affected drive. Doing so only increases the chances of overwriting something important. Get yourself an external drive or even a thumb drive before you try again and make sure you only write to that.

Given the statement "I can see my hard disk as one partition now without any drives, as C, D, and E in the live Windows XP." it's likely that you have wiped all your partition information and possibly your data also. Frankly, at this point there's not a whole lot that can be done. There are ways to read block level data as a stream and possibly recover image and text files but recovering your OS and installed programs is unlikely.

Most recovery tools will perform a NON DESTRUCTIVE or READ ONLY pass and allow you to verify that they are doing what you want. Use that feature before you commit to any more changes.

Good luck.

share|improve this answer
This live CD uses just 100 MB from hard disk so I think I have not destroyed anything yet. <br/> I think to buy 2 TB USB hard disk but a few hours ago I read I cannot install it OS even some webpages say I can do it. <br/> That statement is false I thought it is like that but there is no partition now. Updated my question and new line is at below of partition tools. <br/> I need my data only not OS nor programs. <br/> If I cannot get any solution other than 2nd hard disk, I will do it. <br/> Thank you very much. – user165408 Oct 15 '12 at 15:52

Use a Linux Live CD to copy data off of the laptop drive to an external drive, once your data is safe use the Factory restore discs to recover the laptop to a factory state, then see this article on how to properly create a fifth partition without damaging the partition structure or making the OS unbootable.

share|improve this answer
Currently I do not have external drive. I think extending partitions has limit too because I remember I used it then it asked me to converting dynamic one without telling me I will not able to install any OS like basic partitions. It just said I can use only one OS which could be enough for me. By the way I used dynamic disks without any problem for months until I decide to try Windows 8. – user165408 Oct 15 '12 at 16:04

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .