Question SSD Strangeness (failure to boot, but I can see files albeit incorrect drive capacity) while troubleshooting laptop - Help appreciated!

sgupta

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Hey all,

Appreciate any help/insight on this. Troubleshooting an HP laptop with a 512GB SSD (Intel HBRPEKNX0202AH if it matters).

System would not boot - upon attempting to boot, it said no OS was installed and to install an OS.

After booting to a recovery version of Windows (Hiren BootCD), I can see the drive and file structure, including the Windows files/directories that would generally be expected. However, the owner says there are a lot of pictures, etc., on there, and I can't see any of that. There are the standard User directories, but they appear prettymuch bare. Also, in Explorer under "This PC", the drive is showing 41.7GB free of 76.4GB total, which isn't even close to right for total space. If I go into Disk Management, I see the correct size of what the partition should be - 475.70 GB (and the other small partitions around it).

Does anybody have any idea what's going on here? This is one of my first SSD issues I've troubleshooted, and I've never encountered anything quite like this with more traditional hard drives. Only things I can figure is:
  • It's something weird with the Hiren BootCD version of Windows seeing the drive wrong (but I'd think file structure should be right even if size is reported wrong).
  • It's some partition issue where the drive was partitioned into separate drives, and this version of Windows isn't seeing them correctly.
  • It's some issue with encryption like BitLocker, but then I don't think I'd be able to access the drive at all if that was the case, and I think the partition should still show up as BitLocker encrypted if there was a partition like that.
One other note - drive passes built-in diagnostics fine (albeit even the extended test is quite quick, though that might be normal for an SSD), and I'm not sure if I do end up doing an OS reinstall if that drive should be trusted or not.

Thoughts appreciated, and thanks in advance!
 
under "This PC", the drive is showing 41.7GB free of 76.4GB total, which isn't even close to right for total space.
If I go into Disk Management, I see the correct size of what the partition should be - 475.70 GB (and the other small partitions around it).
Can you show the screenshot?
(upload to imgur.com and post link)

Diagnose it with Intel SSD tool.

The drive is Intel Optane Memory H10 (32GB Optane Memory + 512GB QLC SSD).
 

Aeacus

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However, the owner says there are a lot of pictures, etc.
IF the owner wants to recover the data, contact data recovery firm and give them the drive, to recover the files from it. Before your poking makes things far worse.

But when owner doesn't want any personal data back, format the drive and install new OS on it.

It's some issue with encryption like BitLocker, but then I don't think I'd be able to access the drive at all if that was the case, and I think the partition should still show up as BitLocker encrypted if there was a partition like that.
This is most likely, while also explaining why drive size is different. However, we can not help you to crack the encryption.

Btw, you can encrypt individual files/folders too, and not just the entire drive.

Does anybody have any idea what's going on here?
Probably corrupt boot loader, hence why drive won't boot to OS.
 

sgupta

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Thanks much for the feedback SkyNetRising and Aeacus!

Doesn't look like I can run the Intel SSD Tool
Can you show the screenshot?
(upload to imgur.com and post link)

Diagnose it with Intel SSD tool.

The drive is Intel Optane Memory H10 (32GB Optane Memory + 512GB QLC SSD).
Thanks for the feedback. Here's a screenshot of Disk Management as requested:
View: https://imgur.com/a/LxbIfTv


Re the Intel SSD Tools, unfortunately that won't run on the Hiren Boot CD PE version of Windows I got going, so I might need to find another option to run that - good thought though.
 

sgupta

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IF the owner wants to recover the data, contact data recovery firm and give them the drive, to recover the files from it. Before your poking makes things far worse.

But when owner doesn't want any personal data back, format the drive and install new OS on it.



This is most likely, while also explaining why drive size is different. However, we can not help you to crack the encryption.

Btw, you can encrypt individual files/folders too, and not just the entire drive.



Probably corrupt boot loader, hence why drive won't boot to OS.
Great info. I'll need to talk to the owner some more; I get the impression they're not serious enough about recovery to go that route, but I'll definitely talk to them about it before doing anything potentially destructive (beyond trying to diagnose the drive, which I realize could be if the drive is indeed going).

Good to know it may be some sort of encryption issue. If it's BitLocker, the key might be tied to their Microsoft account, and I'll ask about that. I'm definitely not looking to crack anything, and I'm doubtful that's even be possible if it were encrypted with no key available.

What I don't know is if I installed a new OS to the drive (as it's partitioned/showing currently) and in fact they did just encrypt individual folders/files, if it would keep the encrypted stuff available. If they had encryption enabled, I doubt they realize it.

Appreciate all the feedback!
 
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sgupta

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So this continues to get weirder and weirder.

I talked to the owner. As far as they are aware, there was no encryption used for files or folders, and there were no additional partitions. Apparently they even used a local account instead of a Microsoft account (though it did have a PIN set up, so I'm not 100% on that), which is my only clue if there are encryption/decryption keys tied to an account. However, it likely wasn't Bitlocker, as the license for Windows 10 with the PC is for Home, which I don't believe includes Bitlocker, and even if it is somehow, they aren't aware.

They did not want to send it in for advanced recovery and wanted me to go ahead with a new install of Windows but still see if I could recover anything. I thought I'd install it to the existing partition without a format just in case I'd be able to see anything additional on the drive after (I did tell them there was a possibility I couldn't get much back).

So, Windows installs fine and boots for the first time fine. Computer seems to run well, apart from again the C drive only showing 76 GB of total space. However, upon trying Windows updates, it seems all fine pre-reboot, but then goes into an Automatic Repair loop and can no longer boot. Again, I'm thinking the SSD is bad somehow, unless there's a really strange hardware compatibility issue going on.

With the initial Windows install, I was able to get the Intel SSD Tool (I think it's called Memory and Storage now) to run on the drive. Identifies and passes both the short and long diagnostic with flying colors. (I believe I tested memory already but I'm running another memory test right now also - update; passed with flying colors).

Am I right to suspect the drive is somehow bad but just not testing that way?

Thanks again for any feedback!

UPDATE a few hours later:
So after some more testing, if I install Windows and don't update it, it reboots fine. It's after the updates that it seems to break.

Even though it doesn't apply to this specific system as far as I can tell, I also found this: https://support.hp.com/us-en/document/c06471233 It seems to describe exactly what was originally happening, except for all the missing space/files.
 
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Aeacus

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At this point, i'd try 2nd, known to work SSD.

Since it's HP laptop, who knows what kind of hardware issue there may be due to the HP way of making laptops. Especially after looking that one issue (which you linked), spanning across multiple HP systems; notebooks, laptops and even desktops.

Btw, it could be MoBo issue as well, which doesn't want to play ball with that Intel SSD with Optane. Though, it is possible that this Intel SSD works fine on normal desktop PC (either prebuilt or DIY) but fails to properly operate on proprietary MoBos (e.g those made by HP or Dell).
 

sgupta

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Thanks. At this point it's looking like data recovery is highly unlikely and I agree another SSD might be the route to go. Unfortunately, I don't have one onhand to try, but I can discuss with the owner and see what they want to do.

Really appreciate the help/feedback!

At this point, i'd try 2nd, known to work SSD.

Since it's HP laptop, who knows what kind of hardware issue there may be due to the HP way of making laptops. Especially after looking that one issue (which you linked), spanning across multiple HP systems; notebooks, laptops and even desktops.

Btw, it could be MoBo issue as well, which doesn't want to play ball with that Intel SSD with Optane. Though, it is possible that this Intel SSD works fine on normal desktop PC (either prebuilt or DIY) but fails to properly operate on proprietary MoBos (e.g those made by HP or Dell).
 

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