Back Win7 2 Life [fail]

So it was Sunday 🙂 Late night, I received kinda message “SOS, HELP -Windows is not working”. I thought – “What can be easier than reinstall Windows?”, – just a few minutes, max 1h. But I was 100% wrong. I spent ~ 5 days. But it was nice week, with huge amount of knowledge, and I will tell ya here, what kind of knowledge it was. 😉

Man Dead For 40 Minutes Brought Back To Life With New CPR Technique

So, the original issue – “Somehow during work of Windows on ASUS laptop, was executed recovery process. And Windows stopped to boot”.

ASUS Recovery

So after quick questionnaire, I receive an answer, that recovery process was executed somehow, and was selected 2nd variant of these 3:

asus_recovery

At first, I was not sure, but after day googling, I found this, and realize that it’s ASUS approach how to run recovery. And in fact it was so – All partition (C, D, E) was erased and merged into one only. But the secret is for me till now, why ASUS recovery did not finished process successfully. I guess there was need in Windows7 installation disk, which was absent, or maybe ASUS recovery did re-partitioning from MBR to GPT and stuck on it 🙂 More details soon.

HIREN’s

So then I tried to run my Hiren’s disk (I have my old version, but then I downloaded 15.2. Here is valid url to download). I entered Mini Windows XP, I expected to see at least one Partition “C”, but was surprised that I didn’t see partition(s) at all.

TESTDISK

In the Hiren’s disk I have TestDisk tool, really nice tool to understand what’ going on with disks, partitions, volumes. So I hit “testdisk” \  anylyse and receive this:

2014-04-07 00.52.55

So it was noew for me. I did not know what “bad ending head CHS and LBA don’t match” does in fact mean. After googling, I realize it’s kinda related to physisc of hard drive. Resource 1, Resource 2.

Warning: the current number of heads per cylinder is 64
but the correct value may be 255.
You can use the Geometry menu to change this value.

Something with geometry? Brr, it’s kinda odd. Should be easier result after just ASUS recovery mode fail. I did not tried that Geometry, but at least TestDisk tool told me that there are GPT disks, some undefined EFI and hidden partitions with capacity of all HDD.

This is shot from another disk testing tool:2014-04-07 00.45.39

So I ran testing of disk, to analyse, and receive info about hidden partition:

2014-04-07 01.18.07

“So what next” – I was asking myself. Then I asked my friends to help, or at least to explain what’s going on.

They told me:

  • All data are lost, forget about it. U will not recover them.
  • EFI is specific approach to load from disks using another technology against MBR/BIOS like GPT.

I did not want to surrender, I wanted to recover that lost data, but I wanted to do this in “FengShui style”. I mean I always do/try all possible variants, and then if no other ways, I do next steps. This case was not exception. 🙂 I’m very stubborn and purposeful in such cases. I may try variants and spent dozen amount of time, but I will get it.

Ok, next …

I tried to Install Win7 Ultimate from my disk somehow (BIOS did not seen CD-ROM), and I faced with issue, that Win7 CAN’T be installed 🙂

2014-04-07 20.16.49

Clicking on below link, I had similar to this shot:

Bootrec.EXE: [not sure here yet]

I was thinking first time that it looks like broken MBR, and I googled ways how to fix it.
But I know that in fact it shouldn’t be a reason, because it’s GPT disks, not MBR. I had ability to run this, but I was afraid that fixing MBR on GPT disks, may cause more damage that it’s already 🙂 So I postopne any changes here, but knowledge received during research is great 🙂

Resource 1. And this is another resources, and I would say, here is very good described what options bootrec has in fact:
fixbmr

Time ago, in my past /FixMbr helped me, but it was real issue on MBR disks only. And I had to write new MBR.

So this time, the help was only one, and THIS was TAKING me off converting to GPT. After scanOs I realized that there is still Windows alive 🙂

2014-04-07 21.02.48

Later, I realized that was ASUS recovery version of Windows, but not finished.

Then I even googled, that to load I have to DISABLE BootBooster or UEFI Boot.

2014-04-07 21.38.08

I did so (disabled, then enabled back) but no results. Windows was not able to boot.

Then I downloaded Hiren’s Boot Disk 15.2, and entered Mini Windows XP, but now it was able to see File System 🙂 New HIREN’s – new abilities – access to GPT disks. My old HIREN’s was not able to see it, and treated as Unallocated disk.

2014-04-08 14.04.31

At first time, I was happy, that I see that lost Windows, with hope that I could recover data. But, unfortunatelly !!! It was version of Windows after ASUS Recovery tried to setup on whole disk. And it was minimum Windows setup. And one more time – I’m curious WHY ASUS RECOVERY COULDN’T finish that recovery process…

So here is one more time message, what system told me, when I tried to install Windows 7 onto GPT disk:

2014-04-08 18.10.45

So what a heck? What is this GPT? Why should I care about it?

GPT vs. MBR

So what is GPT? It’s GUID partition Table. GPT is part of UEFI Specification.

Very details resource – “Booting from GPT“, with notes for a few OSes how to use, install, setup.
Resource Windows and GPT FAQ. I suggest to read for sure !!!!

The GUID Partition Table (GPT) was introduced as part of the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) initiative. GPT provides a more flexible mechanism for partitioning disks than the older Master Boot Record (MBR) partitioning scheme that was common to PCs.

Then I found this: “Do’s and Don’ts

  • MBR: this is the legacy partitioning style which allows you to create maximum 4 partitions.
  • GPT: this partitioning style allows you to manage partitions larger than 2 TBs, also it is recommended to work with IA64 architecture.

Nice resource btw, very usefule to understand all details on very deep and low hard-level.

Dozen of resources talking almost about the same: “Change a GUID Partition Table Disk into a Master Boot Record Disk“, “How to Convert a GPT Disk to a MBR Disk

Here is quote from last resource:

A disk is a separate physical hard drive. This will show you how to convert a GPT (GUID – Globally Unique Identifer) disk to a MBR (Master Boot Record) disk in Windows Disk Manager or in a command prompt. By default Windows uses MBR disks.

While all Windows can boot from a MBR disk, you can only boot from a GPT disk if you have a operating system (see below) that supports GPT and your motherboard has a EFI BIOS and is enabled. Windows 7 and Vista does support booting from a GPT disk.

A few valuable points:

Differences Between MBR and GPT Disks:

  • MBR disks are supported (readable) by all Windows operating systems.
    • GPT disks are only supported (readable) by Windows server 2003 SP1 +, XP 64-bit, Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008.
  • MBR disks use the standard BIOS partition table.
    • GPT disks use extensible firmware interface (EFI).
  • MBR disks supports up to 2TB per single partition.
    • GPT disks supports up to 256TB per single partition in Windows.
  • MBR disks supports up to 4 Primary partitions or 3 Primary partitions and 1 Extended partition with up to 128 logical volumes in the extended partition.
    • GPT disks supports up to 128 Primary partitions.
  • Removable disks are MBR disks by default.
    • Removable disks cannot be converted into a GPT disk.

EFI and UEFI

Resource:

The Unified EFI (UEFI) Specification (previously known as the EFI Specification) defines an interface between an operating system and platform firmware.

 

Windows Disk Partition System

First of all, I wanted to understanding old and new Windows Disk Partition system. And here is resources, where it’s popular described.

  • Basic Input/Output System (BIOS). Uses the Master Boot Record (MBR) partition structure.
  • Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) Class 1. Uses the GUID Partition Table (GPT) partition structure.
  • Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) Class 2: Uses the GPT partition structure. Also includes a compatibility support module (CSM) that enables you to use BIOS functions, including the MBR partition structure. This module may be enabled or disabled in the firmware.
  • Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) Class 3: Uses the GPT partition structure.

 

Install Win7 on EFI

There were and still are ways how to install Windows on EFI with GPT. here is resources:

I downloaded Rufus software, and maybe in future I will create Bootable USB drive, but not now.
BTW, from that disks I have, not all have EFI folder in bootmanager structure. So above url is really helpful, to understand how EFI booting is going on in fact.

I planned to install Windows in EFI/GPT manner, so to be “Feng Shui” :), but I was running out of time. And the only one way is to do CONVERSION to MBR, and Install Windows as we always did before.

GPT/EFI doesn’t applied on x32, but on x64 only. And all my DVD installers are not applied to run EFI at all.

So I came back to DiskPart to convert to MBR finally.

 

DISKPART

I was sure diskpart will help me soon, but I wanted to try all variants, possible and not possible to maybe re-born that lost Windows and data.

Other resources about DiskPart: “How to Optimize an SSD / HDD When You’re Ready to Reinstall the Operating System

When I recovered data, then I finally opened for my self nice tool “DiskPart”.

So I googled lots of mention the same approach – CLEAN existed GPT disks and recreate new on in MBR style. This is first official resource where u can read more about. In short way:

Load Win7 boot disk
Shift+F10
diskpart
list disk
select disk 
clean
convert mbr
exit

This approach works in the same way, when u want to setup Windows on GPT disks, but you have MBR only (just use “convert gpt” instead).

Another resource how to use DiskPart. I would say, it first I found.

DISKPART will erase all your data, so please make sure U create BACKUP. Otherwise u will have to deal with recovery tools, which are not so perfect.

Bootmgr is missing

When I cleaned up the whole disk, it becomes empty, and I have this error:

So, it’s expected. But In case u need more, here is resource how we may fix it in different ways: “Bootmgr is missing Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart“.

New Partitions, New Windows, New Drivers

I have Windows 7 Ultimate but x64 and it’s Xtreme disk type. I have Acronis Disk Director there. So I re-partition HDD into 3 partitions, and run Windows 7 setup on first.

So as expected new version of Windows installed in proper way. Additionally I have installed MS Office and other soft.

But, there was issue with drivers for ASUS laptop. For some reason downloaded drivers from official site did not applied to laptop properly. this is last bad thing, I would like to fix. But as I mentioned, I was running out of time.

When I started to think what version of Windows to setup, I was balancing between Win7 Premium EN (which is default on that laptop), but I did not have installation DVD and another copies of Win7. So Extreme DVD has Win7 RU on board, so I installed it. Maybe it’s reason why drivers were not applied. Crap. Need to try EN version of Windows 7, at least Ultimate or Premium.

Note:

Another helpful resource is about “How to format disk from command line“. Yes, not from GUI, as we always do, but from Windows command line. I did this ONLY for testing purpose with my USB drive. on HDD I have used Acronis Disk Director.
In short (being in DISKPART console):

list disk
select disk 0
clean
create partition primary
select partition 1
active
format fs=ntfs quick
exit

FYI: Window Licence Crack

Before I install, I googled this – “Official Windows 7 SP1 ISO Image Downloads“. ISOS files are really fast downloaded. But only one issue may be – licence.

a retail wrap thаt offers a 30-day trial period. Yου need tο activate уουr Windows afterwards wіth a genuine license activation key tο continue using іt.

When I was thinking about version, I googled a few pages about Genuine license, and how to crack it 🙂 Here is resource.

  1. Click Start button.
  2. Type: CMD.exe into the ‘Search programs and files’ field
  3. Right-Click on CMD.exe and select ‘Run as Administrator’
  4. Type: net stop sppsvc   (It may ask you if you are sure, select yes)
  5. Note: the Software Protection survive may not be running, this is ok.
  6. Type: cd %windir%\ServiceProfiles\NetworkService\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\SoftwareProtectionPlatform
  7. Type: rename tokens.dat tokens.bar
  8. Type: cd %windir%\system32
  9. Type: net start sppsvc
  10. Type: slui.exe
  11. After a couple of seconds Windows Activation dialog will appear. It’s most likely that Activation will occur automatically but you may be asked to re-enter your product key and/or to reactivate.

Another list how to crack it got from video, but I missed URL.

Run cmd as Administrator:

slmgr -rearm
reboot
slmgr -ato
reboot

Here is more info about SLMGR – Software Licensing Management Tool. Windows Activation and Key Management Service (KMS).

And 3rd way – to use MS Toolkit. Here is video how to do this.

Neither of these variants I tried. But I add this info here, just in case it might be useful for someone.

Recovery tools

Before CONVERTING TO MBR, I did recovery. And it was real help of Goolge and tools I found.

First – “AOEMI“, simple but recovery results in most cases were like broken file names, old years, and so on. So quality and probability to recover is very low.

2014-04-11 00.31.03

Second – “MiniTool Power Data Recovery“. Simple as it can be, but recovery outcome is much better. Trial version has limit for 1GB of recovered+Copied files. So u should find keys on Torrents and download and apply for your copy of MiniTool. I tried 6.8. but no torrent deleted, so just in case, here is 6.6.

So, u can imagine how to feel, when after ASUS Recovery clean all partitions, an merged all into one, u may recover lost files.

2014-04-10 00.11.43

MP3 files recovered as well, not all in ideal shape, but still:)

2014-04-11 04.30.43

 

So, Conclusion:

  1. All the time BACKUP your data on other HARD drive, other PC, make copies on CD/DVD.
  2. ASUS recovery process (F9) is not so far ideal. And being accidentally executed may not finish his work.
  3. After cleaning, formatting data still can be recovered by Recovery tools. But quality of recovery is very low. resources which are best recoverable: JPEG, PNG, MP3, MP4, MKV in fact media files. Word, Excel, PowerPoint are recovered with mistakes, errors.
  4. There is other word after MBR – It’s GPT under EFI.
  5. All future PC/LapTops Linux and MacOs will use GPT/EFI for sure, because disks will grow up, and here is the reason we have GPT/EFI – to handle big disks.
  6. Windows Licence can be easily cracked if you know how to do this as Administrator.
  7. Disk can be cleaned/formatted by using DiskPart tool.
  8. Disk can be tested by using TestDisk tool.
  9. Disk can be rebuild and fixed by BootRec.EXE
  10. If you have Bootable DVD for Windows, double check if it’s really EFI styled. there should be specific folders structure.
  11. ISO file can be opened as simple archive, and files may be copied from there to your USB drive, so that USB become bootable. But need USB drive with big capacity, minimum 4GB.
  12. You better have many different CD/DVD disks like Hiren’S, Acronis, XTrme so that u will be sure you have many tools to do Windows Troubleshooting.
  13. Even you fail, find out and realize some positive outcome.
  14. When you eager to do something, when you stubborn to do that in proper way, when you know that it will definitely give you more experience – DO IT 🙂
  15. I would say, that these resources are very helpful:

 

PS.

It’s not my regular work, I would like to mention, I’m working as Web Developer (HTML/CSS/JavaScript). But in my past I was studying Electronics, and even worked as Repair man. And this all hardware stuff is till interesting for me a bit. But now, I treat this all from that point of view – “I have to know this all at least on that level, i can handle by myself, with no help from others”. And to be honest, I like troubleshooting more than development. It’s kinda motivating for me. I wanna be posted, kept up to date about all modern technologies, so that understand where we are, where are we going, and what future can we have after a few years.

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