Invalid or non standard MBR

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by greg100o, Mar 8, 2007.

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  1. greg100o

    greg100o Registered Member

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    I am using Windows XP SP 2 with Acronis 8 backup image to secondary hard drive. Dell Dimension Next Gen 4. I know that it has hidden partitions(?) which provide diagnostics, all which I backed up on my Acronis Image.

    Windows suddenly refused to boot beyond the Windows logo, won't go into safe mode, no error messages etc.

    I wanted to do some simple troubleshooting to see if there was an easy before restoring a slightly outdated backup image. Never had to to do this before.

    I can see the Acronis backup image with the Acronis boot CD so I hope it will work.

    When I go to the Windows recovery console and type FIXMBR the message "invalid or nonstandard MBR ... using this command may destroy partitions.." appears which is scary.

    My fear is that if I employ it I might lose ability of Acronis boot CD to restore the image from secondary Hard drive.

    Yet if it worked I would not lose any data that I did not recently back up.

    Any suggestions for me?

    Thanks,

    Greg
     
  2. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    If it is finding Windows and starts to load it then I'd say that the MBR is likely OK. Others on this forum are more knowledgeable than I about MBRs, partition tables etc but the non-standard MBR is probably the fact it is Dell's which has its recovery partiton link built into the MBR.

    Before I did anything, I'd run a memory diagnostic like memtest86+ V1.7 free from www.memtest.org . Another basic test would be to validate an image using the TI CD. This would give the system a bit of a workout.

    If you have a BartPE CD you could use its copy command to copy any data files to your other drive.

    If you have any doubts about whatever you are doing might upset your backup storage drive, unplug it. That's one thing I miss on PCs - a write-protect switch! Disabling the drive in BIOS should work but there is nothing more secure than an unplugged drive.
     
  3. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    greg100o,

    Could you describe where Windows is stalling? Is it the large logo with the scrolling blue bar underneath? Is it the small logo (around 2 cm) with no other text or with "Windows is starting up"?

    I agree with seekforever. Don't use fixmbr.
     
  4. greg100o

    greg100o Registered Member

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    After the Post,The large logo with scrolling bar appears and runs and then the screen closes. Usually the windows welcome screen appears next. But with me a blank screen [blue ? Black] appears. I can see the hard disk chugging a bit the after a few seconds it stops, and nothing happens. The sceen has no error messages. I had no evidence before of a virus, was just rebooting.

    if I reboot I get the standard verbage about Windows did not start normally offering boot to safe mode, restore point, start normally etc etc. None of those options has any effect. Boot to safe also hangs after all the files loaded appear on the screen. Restore etc justs repeats the above sequence.

    I was able to use Dell diagnostics to check all the hardware,(memory, hard drives, mouse, keyboard, etc and all check out. Disconnecting all the peripherals was of no help. Chkdsk found and repaired errors on the NTFS C drive but did not allow a boot.

    My Dell troubleshooting algorithm suggests at this point running Fix MBR, Fixboot (already tried CHKDSK/R), and a couple of others I cannot recall at this point, which I have not done.

    Thanks

    Greg
     
  5. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    Greg, a friend had a very similar problem recently. Safe mode froze on loading the last driver. I can't remember its name at present but it's the last driver everyone sees. Loading WinXP froze towards the end of the scrolling blue bar phase. Slightly before your freeze. His most recent image was 1 year old. We restored this image but the problem was unchanged. We then removed all PCI cards except for the video card. The computer booted normally. Adding cards one at a time showed it was the firewire card causing the problem. Try this before considering the image restore.
     
  6. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    Greg, do you have a floppy drive or a bootable USB stick?

    Still under Dell warranty?
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2007
  7. greg100o

    greg100o Registered Member

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    Thanks for the help. It is still under warranty. I do have a floppy drive, but no bootable USB stick.


    I tried booting to a floppy that has the NTDLR, boot ine etc on to see if that helped but no joy.

    I can certainly try pulling the cards. I only have a sound card and video card though. But I could try pulling the sound card. I think the internet cable connection is built in.

    Disconnecting all the other peripherals and cable modem did not help.

    Greg
     
  8. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    Greg, OK try without the sound card. If that doesn't work are you happy to restore your image?

    I'd call Dell before restoring your image. See if they can think of a hardware problem.
     
  9. shieber

    shieber Registered Member

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    I agree that the problem is either hardware or a driver for hardware that is causing the problem when win tries to load the driver. Try the techique of remiving cards and addinghtem back one by one.
     
  10. greg100o

    greg100o Registered Member

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    Ultimately removing the only card, the sound card did not help. I tried with Dell Tech support to repair Windows using the recovery console. Still would not boot with ISSAS error appearing. Once a blue screen with error message appeared for a microsecond, mentioning a driver, appeared but I could not get it to reappear to find out what it really said.

    At that point I restored my Image, and in few minutes everything was well. I lost some data, but it was easier than ever trying to get back to my old configuration manually. Now I will back up weekly or whenever I do something I cannot affort to lose like my taxes!


    In retrospect it must have been a driver as suggested. Maybe the video card, cause I could not test that one.

    Thanks Acronis and thanks to everyone who tried to help me!

    Greg
     
  11. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    Greg, thanks for letting us know. Good news.
     
  12. jjbtnc

    jjbtnc Registered Member

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    Bit late now but i had a similar problem - a file concerned with the video card had become corrupted and i had an option next to the safe mode options called

    Enable VGA Mode


    just some notes for the future if you need to get to your data but have a dodgy install like yours

    seeing as you were going to overwrite with an image you could have tried this first

    http://technologyvault.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,440.msg3204.html#msg3204

    to do an over the top repair - it might have got you in to be able to copy off the data you didn't want to lose

    Or you could have run a linux live cd and copied off your data or tried the ultimate boot cd - ubcd - to see if you could copy off your data

    If the acronis boot cd was working you could have also made another image of the non working installation - granted you couldn't use it to make a working installation but your data files would have been included and you could have used the file recover process to get your data back
     
  13. jjbtnc

    jjbtnc Registered Member

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    also loads of Dell and MBR recovery info here

    http://www.goodells.net/



    links to Dell info and fixes bottom right of the web page
     
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