(Raid 1 / Mirror) Can't boot = windows 7 Root cause found : unspecified changes to system configuration might have caused the problem

Hi guys,

I'm hitting a wall with my wife's computer... and getting a bit desperate right now :(

Coming back from an oversea trip I tried to start her computer with only one hard drive from her Win7 software mirror... and it failed.
Thing is I used the slave disk (by mistake)  and the system refused to boot saying changes have been made to the system.
The day after, finally getting back the primary disk from a friend, who stored it for safety, I tried again to boot with both disks (edit: very bad idea) and got the same issue (edit: worse as corrupted both disks) .
(edit: same issue as Odin Trisk here)

I did some tests like:
- Booting with only one or both disks, even switching the SATA cables = failed
- Doing multiple passes of Startup Repair == unspecified changes to system configuration might have caused the problem
- Attempting system restore == failing with "the memory could not be read" message
- Booting in safe mode or last known configuration == failed
- Testing the RAM == no errors found
- Command prompt : sfc /scannow and chkdsk /f or  /r == no issues found
- Restore the registry hives from backup: Copying the C:\Windows\System32\config\RegBack files to C:\Windows\System32\config\ == not booting
- Trying Paragon Rescue Kit 11 system restore and all boot options /fixmbr or else = nothing

Right now I can access the files on the primary disk with the command prompt,
and the Paragon utility finds my windows partition fine.

So I'd appreciate if you could point me at some suggestions.

Thanks!
Answer
Answer
Toyed a bit more with the beast...

As the dynamic disk was still being seen as invalid by windows and accessible directly under linux , I went further this path.

Initially I tested the EaseUS Partition Master but contrary to the example in the following thread I had no option in the disk menu to convert the disk back to basic.

I was about to use the TestDisk method from Ultimate Boot CD (highly recommended) but was getting quite fed up by now.

Lucky for me a friend of mine had a version of Dynamic Disk Converter.
Not to say after all the sector editing, diskpart and so I tested, I was quite doubtful.
Still 30 secs later after converting the disk back to basic and rebooting all my data was now being readable by windows.

==­> SOLVED

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POST MORTEM

 

Booting with the slave disk only failed and Windows repair did nothing.

Found out later on that sometimes it takes 3 runs of Windows repair to fix a system, even if it "seems" to do nothing. That might have solved my issue.

Due to the stress/urgency/tiredness, due to the oversea travel, I'm not sure I even selected use the second PLEX boot option!

Adding back the 2 disks of the mirror after trying to boot with only the second was a mistake. It seems Windows marked the first inserted disk with a special tag, then the disks where conflicting. Looks like related to how windows adds a serial tag to the disks to recognize them.

When booting in Windows repair mode and stuck with the uncancellable windows: do not ever physically shut down your computer. It's going to corrupt your files and move you to a check disk (painful on large drives... read 3+ days).

Initially my files were fine but then, when I had access to the command line I should have run a chkdsk /f /i /c on my onw and a sfc /scannow, as later on I was stuck in the locked reboot mode and spent lof of time searching how to still run them.

Sometimes being too geeky doesn't help: recovery from my inital system clone + data recovery + Windows and programs updates would have taken way less time than trying to fix the system.

 

 

 

END of story:

 

Suggestions for data && system backup for a Windows 7 software RAID 1

 

Try to use same model hard drives but ideally from different batches, but make sure they have the same controller and the same firmware. (Had twice a second disk failing in a raid 5 system while reconstructing the RAID @work in 10 years)

  1. Mirror both the reserved (hidden) partition and the system one (and data if separate)
  2. For easier recovery, deploy the Windows repair disk on your system (ie.: no need of the Windows CD to repair).
  3. Do not put your data on your system disk, but move it to a separate partition. (It allows easier data recovery and eventually fresh OS install without loosing the data).
  4. Make a clone, or a Windows image, of your disk before setting up the mirror
  5. As suggested by Forest Brook above, keep the latest version of your mirrored image plus one or two before.
  6. Save your data regularly on a separate external disk, that you always keep with you (your are safe if your PC is stolen or you house go through fire).
  7. I'd advise against always having your backup HD plugged in your computer when powered on and automatically syncing your files: it would not allow you to recover easily accidentally deleted files (or older versions) and won't protect you against files corruption or infection by viruses.
  8. Write down in a cloud stored location (ex: email) and an usb key/CD your system recovery plan, plus a few links pointing at how to solve most issues. Usually your system is going to fail when you need it the most... urgently or you don't have access to internet anymore.
  9. Also prepare a recovery kit: print docs, prepare boot CD, Windows bootable disk, Windows recovery CD.  And store them in a safe place. Do not forget your admin password... in case you need to use a system clone 2 years later.
  10. Before a disaster... familiarize yourself with Windows booting sequence and tools like bcdedit, diskpart, chkdsk, scandisk, HxD

Never forget: it's not because Windows cannot boot or can't access your files/volumes that they are lost!

First try Linux based bootable CDs to check if you can access your files.

Then try software like filescavenger.

Finally check with companies specialized in data recovery. Sometimes for personal data you can get a deal, getting in touch with a representative, and while expensive it could be well worth it. Provided you can't afford it and you have data like family pics and so. I'd suggest storing your disk away, and maybe in the future you're going to be able to afford the data recovery.

 

 

Hope this thread will help people in the future!

Best luck to you.

 

 

 

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Last updated May 25, 2020 Views 4,808 Applies to: