My experience and solution for disk signature collision

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by Jim1cor13, Jul 11, 2013.

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  1. Jim1cor13

    Jim1cor13 Registered Member

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    Hi Wilders :)

    I hope I properly detailed the following, in order to help someone facing the same situation.

    I recently swapped out a 500GB Western digital Scorpio Blue WD5000BPVT advanced format hard disk from a recently purchased used/refurbished Dell Inspiron laptop E1705 and replaced it with a smaller and older WD250GB drive. Reason was the constant idle timer and head parking 'power saving' features of the 500GB drive and resulting delays while the drive would head park every 4 - 8 seconds was causing constant delays at times and was simply becoming irritating. I did try the WD tool called wdidle3, which had no effect on my particular BPVT drive, although it stated the idle timer was changed within the firmware, but this utility has reported to work for the 'green' drives and some Scorpio drives. So I decided to swap out the drive and replace with an older WD 250GB drive.

    I structured the partitions in similar fashion to the 500GB drive, keeping the primary OS partition the same size so I could restore an IFL image to the 250GB drive. That went fine, and all partitions were created with 2048 sector alignment on the 250GB drive, and I also restored the 'disk signature' when I restored the image, not that it was necessary, but I did it anyway. Keep this in mind and realize that I now had 2 HDD's with the same disk signature. I decided to use the 500GB drive as an external backup as it is in fine shape, just a higher than normal load cycle count showing 'Power on hours' at around 540 with a load cycle count at over 87,000, averaging approx. 160+ LCC an hour if my math is correct. In any case, it was too aggressive and often caused delayed writes and sometimes screen freezes while it came out of idle mode. otherwise, S.M.A.R.T. tests showed no problem with the drive other than higher than normal LCC in relation to the Power on Hours, the drive when it was actually NOT parking performed quite fast.

    I then bought a USB 3.0 SATA adapter, supporting SATA I, II, III from Anker that would work with this WD drive which is I believe SATA "2", and my current Vantec USB adapter would not read the drive properly and did not show proper drive geometry due to lack of support for newer SATA drives. I also note that my laptop has no USB 3.0 ports, only USB 2.0 which is fully supported by this adapter with backward compatibility.

    I hooked up the new adapter to the WD500GB AF SATA 2 drive, booted into Partition Wizard and finally the drive was being read properly, showing all partitions, etc. and the proper geometry. I deleted all partitions, and created one single Primary/active also aligning to MB or 2048 sector. That went fine. I now had a laptop drive to use as more external storage, so I thought. I booted into Terabyte IFL and of course using File direct method, it saw the drive and had no issues reading/writing to it. It turns out that IFL was the ONLY imaging app that would work with this drive now being used for backups, etc. I tried Aomei, Macrium, Active@Disk image, etc., all saw the disk, but I was unable to save a backup to it due to no drive letter assignment under Winpe as I found out when I first tried Macrium which I will detail below. At the time, I also tried the command "mountvol" and there was nothing showing as far as the WD500GB connected via the USB SATA adapter, but it did show the other volumes including my boot flash drive.

    I booted into Macrium WinPE boot disc, to try an image using it with the 500GB drive. It saw the drive, listed it in Drive imaging screen, but assigned NO drive letter to it, it was showing all the detail of the drive but for drive letter it stated (none). This caught my attention, and when I went to create an image, and chose destination, NO external drive was offered. I could not think of why this was occurring, first thought was the Anker adapter was simply not compatible, but that made no sense because it is plug and play. I then thought it was a USB 3.0 issue because I have no 3.0 ports. I could find nothing about this from Anker mentioned in regards to the issue because it was backward compatible.

    The Solution: I decided to connect the 500GB drive while in Win 7, and then went to disk management to see if there would be a drive letter assignment and I was finally made aware of the problem. Disk management showed the drive, but it was showing "Offline" and the info icon stated when I held my mouse cursor over it that the drive was "offline" due to a "Disk Signature collision". That was my AHA! moment, and I remember reading about this but never experienced it because of course one would not have two drives present with the same disk signature unless they restored the signature from an image backup to the new or replacement drive, or edited the signature of the replacement disk to match the original.

    To solve the issue, after scratching my head for awhile, I remembered I could address this issue using BIBM that I also have from Terabyte Unlimited. I booted into BIBM, choosing maintenance mode which I then chose Partition Work and had to choose "USB" instead of the typical BIOS mode, then after the 10 second delay built into BIBM when you choose USB mode, BIBM showed the WD500GB AF drive. After reading through the help file within BIBM, I then clicked View MBR, I chose to Edit the signature...I simply changed the last number of the signature of the WD500GB drive from 5 to 6 and applied the change.

    Confident this was the reason for it being offline in Winpe also, I booted into Macrium Winpe disc again, and thankfully all was as it should be...drive detail with the difference being there was now a drive letter assigned and now other imaging apps also work with this drive. :) Was it the only answer? I do not know, but it was in my case, and maybe in someone elses case too. Just remember if you restore a disk sig. from an image backup, if you choose to use the original drive as a quick USB external backup, you will need to change the signature for it to be available in Windows or in Winpe environment and have a drive letter assignment to write to the drive.

    I hope something of the above experience is helpful to someone at some point. It never occurred to me it was a disk sig. problem, until I realized it within Win 7 disk management, and remembered I had restored the disk sig. to the drive I installed in the laptop. Windows reacted properly, and I will end with saying THANK YOU to Terabyte Unlimited because there imaging products, at least IFL/IFD that I use was the only imaging software that actually allowed me to proceed with imaging using the "File direct" method regardless of the disk signature issue when I first tested the Anker adapter. After the Disk sig. editing, problem solved. :)

    I am sure many of you would have known this, but I simply did not even consider it because I never ran into it before, but it was self caused, and the solution I hope will be of benefit to someone who finds themselves in a similar situation.

    Have a good day!

    Jim
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2013
  2. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    Jim,

    I've run into that problem quite a few times, mostly in testing. In many cases, Windows will automatically change the signature on the "duplicate" drive (this is what often renders a connected clone unbootable). However, once Windows decides to put the drive offline instead it stays that way until it's fixed.

    There's nothing wrong with your solution. You could have also cleared the signature and Windows would have created a new one for it.

    To avoid the problem, you could have not restored the signature (existing signature would have been retained), or, if restoring a drive image, selected the Change Disk ID and GUIDs option (IFL would have adjusted the new drive to use a new signature).
     
  3. Jim1cor13

    Jim1cor13 Registered Member

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    Thank you very much Mudcrab :) You gave me some great info I was unaware in case I ever do this again. :)

    If I had to do over again, indeed I would not have bothered with restoring the disk sig. I just did it as a precaution, now learning it was not necessary. I am just thankful I learned from my mistakes. The replacement drive is working great and now also the original for backups, etc.

    I appreciate your comments Mudcrab and your help. I have great respect for you and so many here, and have learned much from the likes of you and BrianK and pandlouk and a host of others. Shows we learn something new daily, and after working with these machines for over 16 years, there is so much I still do not know but I am learning, especially all the features of Terabyte apps that sometimes can be a bit intimidating, but they do have great help files.

    Thank you to all who are so generous with their advice and help here at Wilders. It is so very much appreciated.

    Jim
     
  4. Robin A.

    Robin A. Registered Member

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    What about this solution?
    [From http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/252982-32-external-signature-collision-change]
     
  5. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    You could do that too. Anything that changes the signature will let it come back online.
     
  6. Jim1cor13

    Jim1cor13 Registered Member

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    Thank you Robin. Unfortunately, I did right click the icon and nothing was offered to bring the disk out of offline state in my case, within disk management console. Also, right clicking the disk itself only offered properties, all else of course was greyed out due to it being offline.

    That would have been much quicker for sure had it offered the online option. It did offer me to open "Help" and when I read through it, there was some info. regarding dynamic disks, etc., but no real solution discussed regarding basic MBR disk although once I saw the message about the sig., I did not give a thorough read of the help file. I had also thought one could change the disk signature via 'Diskpart' command, using 'uniqueid' function, but I must have missed something.

    Appreciate your info., it certainly would have been a quicker solution. Perhaps it did not offer it due to being connected via USB and not a fixed disk? I don't think it was that but at least I was able to find out it was due to disk sig. and went from there. Thanks :)

    Jim
     
  7. curiouscustomer

    curiouscustomer Registered Member

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