Question I accidentally deleted "System Reserved" partition, regular tools & methods not working to fix it ?

Mar 4, 2022
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Long time lurker, probably should have signed up years ago. Also if this is the wrong forum feel free to move it, but it seems like people are asking Fix It questions in this one.

I'll try to keep this as short as possible while putting in all the details that might matter... It's a duesey of a problem.

So I have an older computer that's running Windows 7 (Yeah, I know, I have W10 and Linux Machines too, not worth upgrading this old workhorse), and the built in ASUS motherboard RAID on this computer loves to break the RAID 1 array sometimes when the power goes out. That is to say it keeps working and booting, but no longer recognizes one of the drives as being part of the RAID, even though both still have full data on them. It's weird, but it's happened a few times over the years.

Basically you have to nuke info on whatever drive it's not booting from, re-add the now blank drive to the array, and everything rebuilds. This time I made an oops, mainly because I think windows was doing some weird stuff. Basically windows assigned drive letters out of sequence so instead of C and F or whatever drive letter was the System Reserved on the drive still in the array, it made the earlier drive letter be from the drive that was no longer part of the array, and the System Reserve that was part of the array be a higher letter.

I had already deleted the main partition from the standalone drive, then went to delete the System Reserved from the standalone drive. I'd tried this from disk management (where you can easily see what is on what physical drive), but it wouldn't let me, which should have a tip off for what was going on... So I deleted it from My Computer which was displaying the drives in this backwards order... Which was of course the copy that was on the drive still in the array. Oooooops.

After doing this I noticed my mistake, and so I copied all the System Reserved files from the non deleted standalone drive (with hidden and system files viewable) to a folder just to have some backup of the data. I think it copied everything but one file correctly, with one of course having an access error or something. Keep in mind the 2 copies of the system reserve should have been identical or near identical still from both drives.

I rebooted and everything seemed fine. I assumed Windows recovered my accidental delete somehow since it had been booted at the time, and shut down correctly, and all was well to carry on. I couldn't deleted the System Reserved partition on the single drive from within Windows (because it was apparently using it), which should have tipped me off again to my coming additional mistake... So I went into the RAID program pre windows boot and fully wiped the drive that wasn't part of the array.

Then of course it wouldn't boot. I figured out at this point that somehow the computer must have been using the system reserve partition from the drive that WAS NOT still part of the array the whole time, that's probably why I was able to format the copy that was still in the array it in the first place! ARRRRRRGHHHHHHH.

First thing I tried was popping the drive into an external dock on another computer, but windows shows it as being Invalid and a dynamic disk, which doesn't seem right to me. When I've had raid issues in the past I've popped drives in this very dock before, and they read fine, maybe because they're the motherboard and have the same RAID drivers. In windows this won't even allow me to access any of the files or anything. I assume this is all because of the System Reserve info being gone? Deleted allocation tables or something? Doesn't make sense since it still worked when in the old computer before I nuked the 2nd copy of System Reserve from the standalone drive. I dunno.

The point of this is I was going to copy those System Reserve files manually back into the system reserve partition and see if that was enough for it to boot up again. Switching it back and forth between Online/Offline doesn't do anything, it just chokes. Reactivate disk won't go. It gives me the option of converting to a basic disk, but I don't know if this would mess anything up... I don't think it could have even been a dynamic disk on the old computer, as this was the boot drive. If I did this it may read the partitions there, but would it mess other things up?

I tried moving the dock to a Linux machine to see if that read it. It did! Kind of. It would see the System Reserve partition, but claimed the main partition didn't exist and was all empty space, so I still couldn't get to my backup of the System Reserve files because I had stupidly stored them on the same drive instead of on another computer.

So I then tried doing Windows Repair from my install disc, and it said it wasn't compatible with this version of Windows. This is an install any version of Windows type deal, and the installed version is 7 Ultimate, but it doesn't give me the option to select what version or anything anyway. I thought maybe a Service Pack difference or something... So made a repair disc from a computer running a similarly updated version of Windows. Same thing, not compatible with this version.

So I am really at a loss as to what to do...

I do have some hard drive/file recovery software. One is called Recover My Files, I used it on some computer years back and recall it worked. I'm weary of letting it do it's partition recovery stuff on an OS drive though. I think I have Undelete too, which IIRC lets you look for files on unpartioned drives and do weird stuff.

Would it be a good idea to leave the drive setup as is, not try automatic partition recover, but try to recover only the specific missing System Reserve files, then pop the drive in my Linux machine that can see that partition, and copy said files to there? Try to boot?

Or should I try converting to a basic disk in Windows and see if I can see one or both partitions in Windows and do the same?

Or should I let the program try to repair both of the partitions? Anybody have a program (especially a free one) they know would fix this problem easily? I'll pay for something if somebody knows a "perfect" program for this exact issue.

Or should I try partition or file recovery on ONLY the System Reserve partition? I don't know if any bits got rewritten just from booting up and down a few times, but I only did a quick format so the original data is probably MOSTLY still there from before I formatted it.

Another wacky thought is I have 3 near identically setup computers... What if I just copied the system reserve info from one of them to this drives system reserve partition? It would be "wrong" in some of the details no doubt, but would it boot? Then perhaps I can repair in windows on the actual computer I am trying to fix?

Some of these actions will preclude me from doing others in the future...

If I try copying anything to the system reserve, this will make old files unrecoverable, so if there's an order people suggest trying this in lemme know...

The most frustrating thing here is that this is all my own dumb fault. I hope it's clear I'm not a total n00b with computers either, this is just several dumb mistakes all stacked on top of each other that created this situation. I've not lost data in 10+ years because I always run RAID, even on SSD computers, because I hate having to reinstall all my programs, tweak settings, etc. I know I can get the valuable files from this thing right now, but really want to just make the computer work again as is. It's long in the tooth, but I just don't want to bother with a from scratch install at this point.

If any geniuses out there have any thoughts on how I should proceed to keep the computer functioning as is and make it bootable again I would be eternally grateful.
 
Mar 4, 2022
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Not reading through all that but...

Is there actual data on that drive you need to keep?
Not applications or the OS, just 'data'?

Do you have another working PC you can connect this drive to?
Those are both in the monster post, but yes. Data I need, and I have a half dozen other PCs I can connect it to. I'd really like to restore it as a working OS though.
 

USAFRet

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Those are both in the monster post, but yes. Data I need, and I have a half dozen other PCs I can connect it to. I'd really like to restore it as a working OS though.
The first thing is to capture the data, off to some other device.
(this should have been included in your regular backup, but whatever)

So the critical data was encapsulated in a RAID 1?
What happens if you were to connect ONE drive to some other system, Win or Linux?
 
Mar 4, 2022
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The first thing is to capture the data, off to some other device.
(this should have been included in your regular backup, but whatever)

So the critical data was encapsulated in a RAID 1?
What happens if you were to connect ONE drive to some other system, Win or Linux?
The OS and data were both on the same Raid 1 array. Yeah, I do have the data backed up, but it was only synced twice a week, so I'd rather save the latest changes.

I will probably copy the data to my backup drive just in case I can't "save" the drive.

I already said in the long post. My Linux machine recognized only the system reserved partition, not the main partition. Windows won't show either, and I don't want to do anything crazy until I have a plan of attack. But I can get at files with my recovery program. I have that discovering files and partitions right now. I will copy off only for now.
 
Mar 4, 2022
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Could we see the Partitions window in DMDE?

https://dmde.com/
Ugh. Sorry it took a bit, busy weekend.

Here is what DMDE is showing.

There's extra partitions showing in there, presumably from previous versions of this drive. It's a 2 TB so I've usually been too lazy to do anything but a quick format, guess I know why full format or random value overwrites are worth doing now! LOL

Thinking about it, I think I'm going to do a bit by bit including "empty" space clone of the drive too. Then maybe I can experiment with the cloned version without risking the original.

But let me know what you think. I'm willing to buy some software if it can allow me to fix the drive and keep the OS functioning as is. This computer will probably get retired in the next year or two anyway, but I really don't feel like doing a from scratch install of all the weird software etc right now... If I have to go through the pain I'd rather do it on new hardware with a new OS, and I'm not ready to spring the money for that right now.

Thank you very, VERY much for any suggestions or help you can offer.

Wow, have to have the image at a URL... I'll have to work on that and will post as soon as I think of somewhere to upload it...


UPDATED: Here ya go. Won't auto insert from google drive for some reason, but the link brings it up fine.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1FcSA_iHKQNjf3tBKvoDhbLg8iwCbm2-9/view
 
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Mar 4, 2022
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The free version of DMDE can fix simple partition problems.
To me it looks like the 4th row down which it labels as "Primary (A)" is probably the current wiped System Reserve partition that doesn't have the info needed to boot on it.

Then one of the found 105mb partitions is probably the correct one that I deleted like an idiot. I suppose I could create images from those and manually restore, or restore them in the program, and hopefully it would boot up again... But I think I want to try this from a cloned drive as I said above so as to not mess with this one.

Any thoughts?
 
It appears that the drive is now a dynamic volume (LDM = Logical Disk Manager).

As I see it, the original partitions were:

System Reserved -- Start LBA = 2048, End LBA = 206839​
$NoName 05 -- Start LBA = 206848, End LBA = 3906246647​

The Indicators for these partitions are BxF. They should be BCF. This is telling us that the copy (C) of the boot sector is missing.

If this is all that is missing, then the simple solution would be to change the partition type from LDM(42) to NTFS(07). We would also use DMDE's disc editor function to restore the boot sector copy, and we would delete the 1.02MB LDM(42) partition.

This assumes that there is no other "damage". I don't know if this is a valid assumption.

I would start by d-clicking each of the abovementioned partitions and expanding the $Root. Do you see your original file/folder structure? If so, now would be a good time to recover any needed files.

Let us know what you find. Then we can proceed with our edits ... or not.

It would be useful to see how a working RAID 1 array on a working machine shows up in DMDE.
 
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Mar 4, 2022
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It appears that the drive is now a dynamic volume (LDM = Logical Disk Manager).

As I see it, the original partitions were:

System Reserved -- Start LBA = 2048, End LBA = 206839​
$NoName 05 -- Start LBA = 206848, End LBA = 3906246647​

The Indicators for these partitions are BxF. They should be BCF. This is telling us that the copy (C) of the boot sector is missing.

If this is all that is missing, then the simple solution would be to change the partition type from LDM(42) to NTFS(07). We would also use DMDE's disc editor function to restore the boot sector copy, and we would delete the 1.02MB LDM(42) partition.

This assumes that there is no other "damage". I don't know if this is a valid assumption.

I would start by d-clicking each of the abovementioned partitions and expanding the $Root. Do you see your original file/folder structure? If so, now would be a good time to recover any needed files.

Let us know what you find. Then we can proceed with our edits ... or not.

It would be useful to see how a working RAID 1 array on a working machine shows up in DMDE.
Thank you. I believe I understand what you're saying. Just because I'm paranoid I think I will do a bit by bit copy as I said above, and perhaps try this on that first to see if it works... In my other software I did see that the file structure was there and looked correct. Just looked in here and it looks the same.

I will probably copy out the important files just as data as well as the clone. These things will take awhile to do, but I will post back results once I have some. Thanks again for your help! I've never made a stupid mistake that was this stupid before, so haven't had to deal with this particular issue.
 
Mar 4, 2022
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1
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It appears that the drive is now a dynamic volume (LDM = Logical Disk Manager).

As I see it, the original partitions were:

System Reserved -- Start LBA = 2048, End LBA = 206839​
$NoName 05 -- Start LBA = 206848, End LBA = 3906246647​

The Indicators for these partitions are BxF. They should be BCF. This is telling us that the copy (C) of the boot sector is missing.

If this is all that is missing, then the simple solution would be to change the partition type from LDM(42) to NTFS(07). We would also use DMDE's disc editor function to restore the boot sector copy, and we would delete the 1.02MB LDM(42) partition.

This assumes that there is no other "damage". I don't know if this is a valid assumption.

I would start by d-clicking each of the abovementioned partitions and expanding the $Root. Do you see your original file/folder structure? If so, now would be a good time to recover any needed files.

Let us know what you find. Then we can proceed with our edits ... or not.

It would be useful to see how a working RAID 1 array on a working machine shows up in DMDE.
Hey. So I finished cloning the drive, which seemed to work fine. I also copied off all the actual data folders that had unbacked up versions of things... So I guess I'm ready to try fixing the cloned drive.

Interestingly the system reserved partition (likely the new wiped one without the correct data on it) is showing on my Windows machine now, whereas it wasn't on the original. Weird. However the main partition is still showing as unallocated space.

Anyway, I see if I right click I can un-delete the presumed original system reserve partition, as well as the $Noname 5 partition that is probably the proper main partition.

A few things are confusing me though... Under partition column it shows Primary and found below it appearing as a sub level or however you want to describe it. The primary ones all say LDM 42, whereas the found ones I want to be showing are all showing NTFS, which is what they originally were.

I can usually figure programs out pretty good, but this one is just not seeming intuitive to me.

Do I just need to undelete the 2 found partition that are likely correct? Why are they listed under neath those LDM partitions? If I un-delete the others, will they magically become their own "higher level" row or something? Would I then delete the rows that list LDM?

Will simply un-deleting the found partitions restore the boot info they need, or do I need to do something else?

I'd kind of like to understand how this works and what it's doing... But in lieu of that a simple walk through of what steps I should do will work! Haha.

Un-deleting the 2 found partitions and then deleting the LDM ones if they still remain seems to be what my brain tells me... And then possibly using the "write boot sectors" command on the newly restored system reserve and main partition?

Once again, I really appreciate the help. Hopefully I just have to do whatever couple steps and I should have this bad boy up and running again.
 
I confess that I don't understand LDM partitions and metadata. This could be how Windows sets up a RAID -- I don't know. That's why I asked if we could see a working RAID in DMDE.

The edits I proposed would convert the drive to a single basic disk, so it will no longer look like a RAID. However, you data would be visible to Windows. In data recovery that's all you need. However, you want to restore the RAID, so that's something else.
 
Mar 4, 2022
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I confess that I don't understand LDM partitions and metadata. This could be how Windows sets up a RAID -- I don't know. That's why I asked if we could see a working RAID in DMDE.

The edits I proposed would convert the drive to a single basic disk, so it will no longer look like a RAID. However, you data would be visible to Windows. In data recovery that's all you need. However, you want to restore the RAID, so that's something else.
I don't have a functioning RAID drive I can show right this second... It may only be because I have multiple computers running the same motherboard (hence same RAID hardware/software), but usually if I pop out a drive from one of the RAID arrays and put it into another computer as far as the new computer is concerned it looks like any other basic disk. They're just normal disks that are cloned/kept in sync on the fly by the RAID hardware as best as I can tell.

Anyway, the way the RAID system works on these PCs I can setup just fine once I have a functioning drive that will boot as a single drive. I am using hardware RAID, not software, and can just clone the single disk to a restored RAID array if it doesn't just "convert" over to being an array in the RAID management software like I have done in the past.

So to restore it to a functioning single disk what would be the steps?
 
Mar 4, 2022
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I confess that I don't understand LDM partitions and metadata. This could be how Windows sets up a RAID -- I don't know. That's why I asked if we could see a working RAID in DMDE.

The edits I proposed would convert the drive to a single basic disk, so it will no longer look like a RAID. However, you data would be visible to Windows. In data recovery that's all you need. However, you want to restore the RAID, so that's something else.
Anything man? I know you said some stuff before, but I don't see an option to convert to NTFS as you suggest, and am curious about your thoughts after the new info I posted...
 

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