I have a 8-year old Windows-XP-only computer with one NTFS partition. Starting up Windows is not possible anymore, it stops with "A disk read error occurred". When trying to mount the partition using a Ubuntu Karmic Live CD, I get the following error:

root@ubuntu:/home/ubuntu/Downloads/testdisk-6.11.3/linux# mount -t ntfs-3g /dev/sda1 /mnt
Incomplete multi-sector transfer: magic: 0x44414142  size: 1024  usa_ofs: 48  usa_count: 1  data: 588  usn: 590: Input/output error
Record 0 has no FILE magic (0x44414142)
Failed to load $MFT: Input/output error
Failed to mount '/dev/sda1': Input/output error
NTFS is either inconsistent, or there is a hardware fault, or it's a
SoftRAID/FakeRAID hardware. In the first case run chkdsk /f on Windows
then reboot into Windows twice. The usage of the /f parameter is very
important! If the device is a SoftRAID/FakeRAID then first activate
it and mount a different device under the /dev/mapper/ directory, (e.g.
/dev/mapper/nvidia_eahaabcc1). Please see the 'dmraid' documentation
for more details.

There is no RAID, btw. I already did the following steps:

  • dd-based backup (using Clonezilla Live CD), so that I have infinite attempts to restore that thing...
  • gparted recognizes the partition as NTFS but gives me the same error as the mount command.
  • Checked MBR. It is perfectly okay (equal to the last backup).
  • Checked partition table. Partition offset, type and size are correct.
  • Fired up recovery console from a Windows XP CD and ran chkdsk /R but it says (roughly translated!) "at least one irrecoverable error occurred". dir listing of C:\ did not work, either.
  • Started Windows XP installation to see what it shows. At the partition selection prompt, it says that the partition type is unknown.
  • Had testdisk repair the MFT using the mirrored MFT (running on the Karmic live CD). Afterwards testdisk says that both MFT copies are equal, but the file system is still broken.

What else could I do to repair the file system? Does it make sense to try it in another computer (I'll need another week for that...)?

2 Answers 2


At this point, your main goal should be data-recovery. Photorec can help, because you don't need to mount to use it. Without an MFT, though, you unfortunately don't have a lot of options.

Finally, after you reinstall, buy an external drive and start a daily backup regiment. Macrium Reflect prevented a crisis last time this happened to me. Highly recommended.

  • Actually I have a Clonezilla backup, but it's three months old :(. I will try Photorec as soon as possible and give you feedback.
    – AndiDog
    Jan 31, 2010 at 20:44
  • Well, Photorec is a nice tool but was only able to restore files, not their names (which makes sense, sadly). Anyway thanks for your help! Answer accepted.
    – AndiDog
    Feb 14, 2010 at 10:24

I guess that since you did a dd backup and don't mention anything unusual, the hard drive doesn't have any bad sectors, so we're talking about a software corruption. Trying on another computer should not change much (except maybe an unlucky problem with the IDE system ?), but since the alternative I'll be giving you won't be free, it would be a good idea to give it a try.

I don't know any free tool to recover data from an NTFS partition (been working in that field 4 years ago, so things might have change since then). The softs I used to use are R-Studio, Stellar and EasyRecovery. Maybe you could try them.

Sorry I'm not of much help..

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.