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Hard Disk Drive Problems: How to Fix IDE PATA and SATA Hard Disk Drive (HDD) Problems - Page 1

This section of this website consists of three pages of descriptive links to the hardware and/or software solutions of 90+ IDE and SATA hard disk drive problems from the straightforward to the relatively complicated, all of which anyone with a moderate knowledge of computers should be able to implement.

Click here! to skip the preamble and list of free hard-drive diagnostic and partitioning tools and go directly to the first list of solved problems on this page.

To make it as easy as possible to find the problem that you are encountering, I have included as many of the symptoms of each problem in the descriptive link that links to each one. If you were brought to this page by a search engine, the quickest way to find the problem that matches yours would be to press the Ctrl + F key combination that brings up the Find box in most web browsers and enter the same search query in it on each of the three pages of hard disk drive problems. Alternatively, just read through the descriptive links. There is one common problem provided on this page that affects network-attached storage (NAS) devices, which are essentially hard drives packaged as network devices. There is only one problem involving an SSD (solid state) storage drive dealing with how best to install one and transfer an existing installation of Windows 7 to it to boost boot times and general performance. I have read accounts of the outright failures of SSD drives, but there are not many problems with them of the kind that are provided here for hard disk drives, no doubt because, being far more expensive than hard drives, these drives are not in widespread use yet, being mainly confined to high-end laptop PCs, and because they are purely electronic drives, they don't suffer from mechanical problems. In May 2012, a 512GB SSD drive was priced between £400 and £550 compared to the £50 to £80 for a 500GB hard drive, depending on the manufacturer and the vendor. Significant savings can be made by selecting the cheapest manufacturer and vendor. Moreover, hard drives were significantly cheaper before the floods in Thailand in October 2011 reduced production capacities of the three major manufacturers, which was still affecting the prices in May 2012. Note that the capacity of a hard disk drive is quoted in round figures (250GB, 500GB, 1TB, which is 1000GB, etc.) while, because they are made of flash memory, the capacity of an SSD drive uses the same figures as RAM memory (64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, etc).

The questions and answers (Q&As) on hard disk drive problems on this website are linked to below the following useful hard-drive-related diagnostic and recovery information.

Visit the Disk Drives section of this site for information on internal and external hard disk drives SSD and CD/DVD drives/writers.

Click here! to go to the full list of hardware and software problems dealt with on this website

Restorable backups and system images

Making backups and/or system images that can be restored successfully is vital if you have valuable data that could be lost or cost a fortune to recover in the event of the complete failure of a computer's boot hard disk drive. Backup Methods and Strategies is the page on this website devoted to that topic.

Where to download the hard-disk-drive diagnostic utilities for a particular major make of hard drive

MHDD is the most popular freeware program for low-level hard-disk-drive diagnostics. -

Seagate - SeaTools:

Note that Maxtor and Quantum drives use SeaTools (above).

Western Digital - Data Lifeguard:

Hitachi/IBM - Drive Fitness Test:

Note well that if such a utility is used on a faulty system (suffering from bad RAM, an inadequate power supply unit, a faulty motherboard, etc.) it could produce unreliable results.

DiskInternals UK - do it yourself data recovery for Windows - Includes CD/DVD Data Recovery, Uneraser, Office Recovery, Partition Recovery and Flash Recovery - Free-trial versions available -

HWMonitor - "HWMonitor is a hardware monitoring program that reads PC systems main health sensors : voltages, temperatures, fans speed. The program handles the most common sensor chips, like ITE® IT87 series, most Winbond ICs, and others. In addition, it can read modern CPUs on-die core thermal sensors, as well has hard drives temperature via S.M.A.R.T, and video card GPU temperature." -

Speedfan - "If you need a tool that can change your computer's fan speeds, read the temperatures of your motherboard and your hard disk, read voltages and fan speeds and check the status of your hard disk using S.M.A.R.T. or SCSI attributes, then you came to the right place." -

EASEUS - Free and paid-for backup, data-recovery and partitioning solutions

If you just want to back up home computers the free EASEUS Todo Backup program and an external hard disk drive is all you need. However, for medium to large businesses, an external device such as the IBM Protectier TS7650a Deduplication Appliance is required.

"EASEUS Todo Backup is a completely free solution for your operating system and data backup to protect them away from unexpected damage or loss. It provides backup, restore, disk-clone functions based on Windows operating systems with ease and reliability." - Supports Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7 and Windows Server 2000/2003/2008. -

EASEUS Partition Master - Free and paid-for versions - "Top Benefits: * ALL-IN-ONE partition solution. * Resize/Move partitions without data loss. * Extend system partition to maximize your PC. * Recover deleted or lost partitions. * Disk & Partition Copy Wizard." -

Data Recovery Wizard - "Free and powerful data recovery software to recover 1 GB data free of charge. It solves all data loss problems - recover files emptied from Recycle Bin, or lost due to software crash, formatted or damaged hard drive, virus attack, lost partition and other unknown reasons under Windows 2000 / XP / 2003 / Vista / 2008 / 7. It recovers data from formatted partitions with original file names and storage paths. Moreover, the free data recovery software works well with dynamic disk, RAID and EXT2/EXT3 file system." -

Sysinternals free utilities

"The Sysinternals [freeware] web site provides you with advanced utilities, technical information, and source code related to Windows NT/2000/XP/2K3 and Windows 9x, Windows Me internals that you won't find anywhere else. Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell alone write and update everything here. We welcome all suggestions and comments."

Sysinternals was an independent organisation but it is now owned by Microsoft. Visit for the great free utilities.

The hidden treasures of Sysinternals -

"Every few months I make a pilgrimage to the Sysinternals website to look at its superb collection of tools. It's now hosted inside the Microsoft Technet monster since its authors joined Microsoft as employees some while ago, but the value of their site is still as strong as ever and the tools are now guaranteed not to be ignored or left to rust." -


Click the relevant link below to go to that Q&A article. Use your browser's Back button to backtrack

1. - Some of the most common hard disk drive problems... - These are the common problems or questions dealt with on a single page: - A. - My PC's SATA hard disk drive failed and I replaced it with a 1TB SATA drive, but on booting it gives this error message: "Hardware BIOS Initiate Failed, Press "G" to continue" B. - Why can I only create four partitions on my hard drive? - C. - Windows can only see 137GB of my 250GB IDE hard drive - D. - I partitioned and formatted my new hard drive, but a message just says there's no operating system - E. - I ran benchmark tests on my IDE hard drive, which say that the drive isn't running at full speed - F. - A problem with an old IDE hard drive and a new SATA drive running from a PCI SATA adapter card. - G. - How can I transfer the contents of my entire old hard disk drive to the new one so that Windows 7 Home Premium boots from the new drive? - H. - Can I use an old IDE hard drive in my new PC that only supports SATA hard drives and CD/DVD drives?

2. - SMART and chkdsk: The best way to check and protect a PC's hard disk or SSD drive from a sudden and fatal failure

3. - I can't restore a system image to my PC's new SSD drive that was saved to an external hard disk drive when it had an SATA hard drive

4. - Why can I only use half of my huge 4TB external Seagate hard disk drive with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 and 8?

5. - Can an ultra-large-capacity 3.0TB hard disk drive be used with Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 & 8?

6. - PC freezes: My desktop/laptop PC/computer keeps freezing? Is the hard disk drive or some other vital component about to fail for good?

7. - How to resize/expand a PC's C: drive into unallocated space with an F: drive between the C: drive and the free space

8. - Locked out - hard disk drive not recognised in the BIOS: The firmware bug that causes a lockout in the Seagate 7200.11 series of internal SATA hard disk drives

9. - Dead hard disk drive: The HDD of my laptop PC has died giving the error message: Operating system not found

10. - Information on the most common hard disk drive problems in the Microsoft Knowledge Base

11. - PC/Computer gives a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD, tracked down to the hard disk drive by using chkdsk, which said that the C: drive was in the RAW format and the disk could not be checked

12. - How best can I install an SSD solid state drive and transfer an existing installation of Windows 7 to it to boost boot times and performance?

13. - Network-attached storage (NAS) device problem: After a sudden crash, I can't access the valuable data on my LaCie 1TB Network Space 2 NAS drive

14. - After having my desktop PC's SATA hard disk drive upgraded, the system freezes from time to time while the system clock still functions

15. - Bad sectors reported on hard disk drive - Norton Ghost refuses to create a system image but Windows 7 Backup does

16. - Toshiba Equium M70-173 laptop stopped at Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7 startup screen and then produced an error message that announced a hardware failure after a grinding sound came from where its hard disk drive is

17. - Startup of Windows 7 is interrupted by a request to run chkdsk and a countdown. When it tries to run it says it can't do so because of recently installed software and says to use a restore point

18. - My PC is taking a long time to boot and shut down - hard disk drive is showing as nearly full but files only occupy half of its capacity

19. - My HP desktop PC's hard disk drive has a C: boot partition and a D: Recovery partition. How can I delete the D: drive and make the C: drive fill the unallocated disk space?

20. - I have a Windows 7 desktop PC and I want to know how to add a second hard disk drive and install Windows XP on it

21. - Can I add the SATA hard disk drive with Windows XP Pro on it from my old PC to my new Windows 7 PC to create a dual-boot system?

22. - I can't erase/delete files on my external USB hard disk drive

23. - Changing from IDE to AHCI mode in the system BIOS made Windows XP/Vista and Windows 7 produce a blue screen of death (BSOD)

24. - I can't copy 6GB master image backup files of my PC/computer to a USB external hard disk drive or to a USB flash drive

25. - My desktop PC runs Windows Vista/Windows 7. How can I install Windows XP on an external eSATA or USB-connected hard disk drive without having to reinstall Windows?

26. - I have to start, restart, shut down and restart my computer to get it to boot properly and Windows Vista reports corrupt hard disk segments and Registry files

27. - My PC reboots by itself and warnings have appeared asking me to run Chkdsk, the Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7 hard-disk-drive diagnostic utility

28. - Chkdsk, the hard-disk-drive checking and repair diagnostic utility in Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7, is "Unable to read security descriptors"

29. - Windows XP/Vista/7 PC/computer is producing many hard disk error messages and prompts me to run chkdsk, which fails to fix the problem

30. - Is my PC's hard disk drive dying? - A constant "disk boot failure" error message appears at startup that only a shutdown and reboot can fix

31. - Windows 7 Disk Diagnostics reports that my PC's hard disk drive is faulty and about to fail

32. - Can I install/mix IDE PATA and SATA hard disk drives in the same computer/PC and in a RAID array?

33. - Will a backup copy/image created by Norton Ghost on a second hard disk drive be bootable when the drive is installed as the boot drive?

34. - The Windows XP Disk Defragmenter won't go all the way: Defrag stops at 10%, 12%, etc.

35. - Change ownership of a user account in Windows XP: I can't access my files in a user account protected by a password on a hard disk drive that was installed in another PC running Windows XP

36. - In Windows XP, the boot drive is F: instead of C: - How can I change the boot drive's letter back to C:?

37. - If I connect an SATA hard disk drive to my PC using an IDE hard drive, it won't boot. It gives error message "hal.dll is corrupted"

38. - When I install Windows XP on an SATA hard drive and then reboot, the setup program asks me if I want to begin the setup all over again

39. - I can't find out if DMA is enabled for my IDE or SATA hard drive in Windows XP/Windows Vista/Windows 7

40. - My external hard disk drive is not recognised (US: recognized) by my PC/computer

41. - File systems: How to convert from the FAT32 file system to NTFS

41. - I want to set up a RAID 1 mirrored array of two hard disk drives for backup purposes on my Windows 7 Professional PC. Should I use hardware (BIOS) RAID or software RAID?

Click here! to go to Page 2 of Hard Disk Drive Problems & Solutions

Click here! to go to the full list of hardware and software problems dealt with on this website

SMART and chkdsk: The best way to check and protect a PC's hard disk or SSD drive from a sudden and fatal failure

Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (SMART) is built into almost all hard drives in use today. It is able to predict if a hard drive or SSD drive is about to fail. If the PC's BIOS monitoring the hard disk or SSD drive is able to read what SMART is reporting, it will produce a warning message during the Power-On-Self-Tests (POST tests) at startup, such as "Hard Disk: SMART Status BAD. Backup and Replace."

That means that the PC's hard drive is close to having an irrecoverable failure and should be backed up and replaced as soon as possible. The warnings produced by SMART, which can also come via free and paid-for software designed to monitor it, should be taken very seriously because hard and SSD drives are very sophisticated devices that can correct errors due to wear effectively. SMART monitors what error-correction is taking place and when it becomes serious produces a warning such as the example provided. When SMART produces a warning, the PC's owner should backup and replace the affected drive as soon as possible.

S.M.A.R.T. -

Free or paid-for tool are available to make sure that there is software monitoring the hard disk or SSD drive of a particular desktop or laptop PC that can bring SMART messages to a computer-user's notice.

Comparison of S.M.A.R.T. tools -

For example, here is what a paid-for utility says about itself on its website: "HD Tune Pro is a hard disk / SSD utility with many functions. It can be used to measure the drive's performance, scan for errors, check the health status (S.M.A.R.T.), securely erase all data and much more."

SMART monitors the physical health of hard disk and SSD drives. The built-in tool provided by every version of Windows since Windows XP called chkdsk (Check Disk) runs checks on the logical health of the files on the drive and can mark bad unusable areas of he drive as bad so that Windows does not use them.

To run the basic version of chkdsk, open Windows Explorer (to find an option to do that in Windows 7 right-click on the Start button), right-click the drive you want checked and select the Properties option in the menu that comes up. Opening the Tools tab provides the Error-checking option. Just click on the "Check now" button to run its routine maintenance tests.

There is a much more powerful version called chkdsk.exe that is run from the Command Prompt.

The command-prompt switches (commands) that chkdsk provides vary significantly from one version of Windows to another due to the fact that it is continually being improved, but the chkdsk c: /f switch performs error correction of the C: drive that Windows is installed on by default for all versions of Windows since Windows XP. To run the checks on any other partition or drive just change c: to the drive letter of that drive partition or separate hard drive. Laptop PCs normally only have one hard disk or SSD drive but a desktop PC can have as many installed as there are sockets for them on the PC's motherboard itself or from special adapter cards installed in its card slots.

To find out what all of the switches that chkdsk provides your copy of Windows, for example, in Windows 7, enter cmd in the Start => Search box, right-click the cmd.exe link that is provided by that search and click "Run as administrator". Type chkdsk /? at the prompt and press Enter. You'll see a complete list of all of available chkdsk switches, such as chkdsk /f that fixes errors and chkdsk /r that checks for errors and locates bad sectors of the drive or partition and recovers readable information.

In Windows 8.1, just typing Command Prompt while on the Start or Desktop screen brings up the Search box with that search already entered in it.



I can't restore a system image to my PC's new SSD drive that was saved to an external hard disk drive when it had an SATA hard drive


I replaced a failed, unpartitioned SATA hard disk drive (100GB) on my laptop PC with an unpartitioned SSD drive with a larger capacity (128GB). Unfortunately, I couldn't restore the system image I saved to an external hard disk drive to it. When I installed just Windows 7 on the SSD drive and created a system image of it using Norton Ghost 3, which I have used for a decade, and also used Norton 15, which is the latest version. It also couldn't be restored to the SSD drive after I wiped it. Strangely, Symantec's support (the company that owns Norton Ghost) said that as SSD and hard drives use different technology, so it's not possible to restore a system image on an internal or external hard drive back to an SSD.


Windows Vista, Windows 7 & 8 have been tested to find out if their built-in backup and imaging tools support restoring backups and system images to SSDs from standard internal or external hard disk drives. No problems were found. Those versions of Windows all have excellent backup tools that support SSD and standard hard drives.

Visit the following page on this website for information on all of the different methods of creating backups:

The problem is almost certainly caused by Norton Ghost. Version 3 is probably too old to support restoring system images to an SSD from a standard hard disk drive. Version 15 is the latest version, but Symantec is discontinuing sales of the consumer version of Norton Ghost. Support via chat and its knowledge base is to continue until June 30, 2014. So, from your experience, it looks as if even the latest version of Ghost doesn't support SSDs.

Acronis, the developer of the True Image backup and imaging software, states on its knowledgebase which of its products support SSDs. It would not do that unless it was necessary to do so. That is, if their products are able to detect if a backup or image restore is to an electronic SSD or to a mechanical hard drive and are able to restore to SSDs from standard hard drives.

Solid State Drive Support in Acronis Products -

If you must have the data in the system image you created with Norton Ghost, the best way to rescue it is to buy an SATA hard drive with the same or bigger storage capacity as the one that failed, install it in the laptop, use Ghost 3 to restore the image to it and then create a system image using the Windows backup tool (called Backup and Restore in Win7, accessed from the Control Panel) and then install the SSD back into the laptop and then restore the image using Win7's backup tool, which requires the use of a repair disc that can be created by Win7. To create the repair disc just type that term in the Start => Search... box to be presented with a link that allows you to to do so. Remember that to boot from a disc the PC's BIOS setup program has to be set so that the CD/DVD drive is the first book device. You can use the new 2.5-inch SATA drive as an external drive by buying an external USB caddy/enclosure for it.

Why can I only use half of my huge 4TB external Seagate hard disk drive with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 and 8?


I have a 4TB Seagate external hard drive but only half of the drive is available for use and I wasn't able to make Windows 7 create a system image or backup on it. Seagate support advised me to download their DiscWizard tool in order to be able to use the whole drive. Is that correct or is there a better way of solving this problem? Also, if and when I can make backups, how much disk space will be required for a full system-image backup? The computer is using 220GB of its 500GB internal hard drive. I want to save system images and backups of four computers - two desktops and two laptops - on the drive, so I need to know the best way of not mixing them up. In the event of an irrecoverable problem on one of them, I don't want to restore the wrong system image to a computer.


Most computers still use the Master Boot Record (MBR) format employed by the NTFS file system, which most internal and external hard drives are formatted to use. MBR formatting is not possible on drives, or partitions within drives, larger than 2.19TB, therefore, since your PC uses MBR formatting, only half of the drive can be formatted and a drive has to be formatted to use a file system before it can be used. If you want to format your 4TB drive using MBR, you'll have to make Windows split it into two 2TB partitions in Disk Management and then format them by using Disk Management or by right-clicking on each of the partitions under Start => Computer in Win7. After formatting, a drive, Windows assigns it a drive letter.

Of course, with drives that have storage capacities larger than 2.19TB there would have to be a file system able to format without having to partition them.

The GPT file system can format any current size of drive and will be able to do so for many years to come.

Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 fully support drives larger than 2.19TB. For example, Windows Disk Management can format a 3TB external drive normally as long as the user chooses to format the drive as a GPT partition, which allows Windows Vista/Win7/Win8 to create a single partition of a drive with a capacity exceeding 2.19TB. GPT uses 64-bit addressing that allows a truly enormous partition size of 10 zettabytes (ZB) - a 1 followed by 21 zeros, measured in bytes of information. The number of bytes of information in a terabyte (1TB) is a 1 followed by 12 zeros. Every time a zero is added the whole number is multiplied by ten, so the GPT file system is going to around for a very long time.

GUID Partition Table [GPT] -

Using GPT Drives -

The Master Boot Record (MBR) format used by the FAT followed by the NTFS file systems, used for decades, has a maximum partition size of 2.19TB, therefore for partitions larger that they have to be partitioned as GPT partitions. It's to do with a 32-bit limit that goes along with the RAM-memory limitation in 32-bit systems of 3.2GB. To use bigger partitions requires 64-bit addressing and more memory requires using a 64-bit version or Windows (Vista, Win7, Win8) or another 64-bit operating system, such as Linux.

The new GPT format also allows you create more than four primary partitions on the same drive. MBR can only be used to create four primary partitions (defined as a partition that can be used as a bootable system partition). A primary partition can be further partitioned into one extended partition that can itself be partitioned into logical partitions that are each given a drive letter (G:, H:, etc.) but can only be used for data storage or have software installed on them that is not the operating system. A bootable operating system has to be installed on a primary partition.

On PCs, full GPT support requires a 64-bit version of Windows (Vista/Win7/Win8) and a UEFI (Universal Extensible Firmware Interface) BIOS. Note that from Vista to Windows 8, 32-bit and 64-bit versions are available. A 32-bit version of Windows cannot be upgraded to a 64-bit version. To have a 64-bit version requires a clean installation using the 64-bit installation DVD for that version.

Systems that have a standard BIOS and/or a 32-bit version of Windows installed can be made to work with partitions larger than 2.19TB by employing intermediary software, such as Seagate’s DiscWizard, that takes care of the addressing conversions.

Seagate DiscWizard tool: A site with a free download, user guides, and more -

To open Disk Management, which provides the information and formatting options on the installed data-storage drives, enter the diskmgmt.msc command in the Start => Search box in Vista/Windows 7 (it's the Run box in XP). In Windows 8, press the Windows key (the one with a flag on it) plus the X key on the Desktop screen to bring up a menu containing it, or press the Windows key (the one with a flag on it) plus the R key to bring up the Run box and enter that command in it.

Windows XP cannot format drives exceeding 2.19TB, but if the drive is an external, non-boot drive, the drive manufacturer can provide an installation option to format it for Windows XP compatibility. The external drive's user manual should explain what to do.

This article reviews four 3TB hard drives made by Hitachi, Seagate and Western Digital, providing information on why they don't always work as expected:,review-32271.html

With regard to the size of backups compared to the original amount of data on a drive, backups and system images are compressed to a certain extent, so will be a little smaller than the original amount of disk space occupied by the data. Data files can be compressed by about 30%, but most image and sound files are already compressed and can only be further compressed by a few percent. Empty space is compressed 100%. Therefore, the size of a system image or backup depends on the mix of file types the original data contained. 220GB of used drive space created into a system image would probably require somewhere between 180 and 200GB of external drive space.

With regard to restoring the the wrong backup set, the best way to avoid doing so is to create separate backup folders for each computer. Give each computer a recognisable name (Mary's laptop, Office desktop, etc.) and then create a folder with the same name on the external drive for that computer. Then you just have to make sure that the backup or system image is created in the correct folder. If you have to perform a restoration, then it's just a matter of navigating the restore process to the correct folder.

After Windows can see and access all of your external drive, you should be able to create backups and system images without any problem. just remember that a backup allows individual files and folders to be restored and that a system image can only be restored as a whole.

Read the following Q&A on this website for more information on this topic: Can an ultra-large-capacity 3.0TB hard disk drive be used with Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7? -

The following article provides detailed information on the 2.19TB barrier.

The 2.19TB Barrier -

[Almost] Everything You Need to Know About 3TB Hard Drives -

How to resize/expand a PC's C: drive into unallocated space with an F: drive between the C: drive and the free space


The partitioning of space on my PC's hard disk drive is as follows: Recovery Partition 18.5GB that contains the system recovery data - Acer [C:] 170GB NTFS - Data [F:] 21GB NTFS - unallocated space 88GB. I want to expand the C: drive so that it absorbs all of the unallocated space, but when I right-click on the drive in Disk Management in Windows 7, the Extend and Delete Volume options are greyed out (not available). There is also no Convert to Dynamic Disk option. I only have the option to shrink the C: drive.


The number of possible scenarios can make hard disk drive resizing a complicated subject. If you have a hard disk drive with two partitions - a C: system drive containing Windows that needs space and a D: drive used for data storage that has plenty of free space, resizing C: by shrinking D: and making C: claim its space is a relatively straightforward matter using either of the free tools mentioned in this answer.

Here is how to deal with your particular situation:

The Windows system volume (usually the C: drive or partition) can only be extended into free space that is directly adjacent to it on the disk. You have plenty of unallocated space on the drive but it is separated from the C: drive by your F: Data drive.

Fortunately, the positions of the unallocated space and the F: drive can be moved, but doing so requires a free third-party tool such as EaseUS Partition Master from or GParted from There are several other tools that can be used.

The following video shows how to do what you want to do with the free EaseUS Partition Master Home Edition just by dragging with the mouse on a graphical representation of the partitions on the drive. It shows C:, D: and E: partitions. The first operation is to drag the free space on the E: drive from the right end to the left, shrinking it, but I just did the same operation using the latest version of the software and I had to drag the left-hand side of the E: drive to the right to shrink it. Try the alternative choice if the first choice fails to work.

In your case, it looks as if you will have to drag the right end of the F: partition over the unallocated space, because you can't do anything to unallocated (unformatted) space. The time it takes depends on how much data has to be shifted, but is relatively quick.

After you have got the graphical representation of the partitions the way that you want them, you have to click the Apply button at the top of the screen. The software then does the reallocation of space from within Windows, showing graphically how the progress is going, allowing you to work with the computer as it does so.

Note that just in case anything goes wrong when making changes like this, always create a restore point in System Restore and make a backup or system image using Backup and Restore in Windows 7 (in Start => Control Panel) or a third-party backup tool.

Free software to extend system partition -!

Here is the information provided by EaseUS Partition Master's user manual:

Alternatively, download the ISO file of most recent non-beta (non-test) release of the free GParted and burn the file to a recordable CD/DVD, which automatically creates a disc that will boot the system when the disc is in the optical drive and the PC's BIOS setup program is set to make that drive the first boot device.

The disc-burning can be done in Windows 7 by right¬clicking the file, clicking Open with..., choosing Windows Disk Image Burner and following the prompts. After the disc is burned, restart the computer, which, if the CD/DVD drive is enabled as the first boot device in the BIOS, will boot from the CD/DVD instead of into Windows. The excellent burning software from has an option to burn an ISO file that can be used in Windows XP and Vista. Visit the BIOS section of this website for information in how to set the first boot device.

With GParted running, the disk's two volumes and free space should be shown in the same way as in Windows Disk Management console, shown in the image below, which can be brought up by entering diskmgmt.msc in the Run box in Windows XP and the Search... box in Vista/Win7.

The Disk Management console in Windows 7

The F: drive has to be moved to the end of the disk so that the unallocated space is next to the C: drive. Click on the F: drive to select it, checking in the Label column that you've selected the partition called 'Data', then right-click on it and click on the Resize/Move option. In the Resize/Move window, click on the graphical representation of the F: drive and make it slide to the right side, before clicking the Resize/Move button. GParted should now show a preview of the C: and the F: drives separated by the block of unallocated space. If so, click the Edit menu and select Apply All Operations. The F: drive and all of its data will be moved to where you want it, which will take some time to complete, depending on the amount of data that has to be shifted. The F: drive is only 21GB, so it shouldn't take longer than about half an hour or less.

When that has been done, exit, choosing to restart and return to the Windows Disk Management console by entering diskmgmt.msc in the appropriate box. You should be able to right-click on the C: drive's graphical representation, select Extend Volume and expand the volume to fill all of the free space. There is no need to convert to a dynamic disk unless doing so becomes necessary. E.g., to set up a RAID array of hard drives working together in one of a number of possible configurations.

Microsoft: "Dynamic disks provide features that basic disks do not, such as the ability to create volumes that span multiple disks (spanned and striped volumes) and the ability to create fault-tolerant volumes (mirrored and RAID-5 volumes)."

Because the conversion to a dynamic disk applies to the whole drive rather than a partition on it, the option to do so is accessed by right-clicking on the first block in Disk Management, probably described as Disk 0, and then clicking on Convert to Dynamic Disk in the menu that is presented.

Locked out - hard disk drive not recognised in the BIOS: The firmware bug that causes a lockout in the Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 series of internal SATA hard disk drives

If a hard disk drive is not recognised by the system BIOS, either the first time it is installed or after being in use, it might not be a dead drive, because the problem can be caused by a bug in the drive's firmware.

For example, the Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 series of drives has a firmware bug that does just that. You can't use Seagate's or any other diagnostic tool because the BIOS has to recognise the drive before doing that is possible. The data is still on the drive, but it can't be accessed. This particular firmware bug is discussed on this Wikipedia page:

This problem can occur after installing a buggy firmware update. So, if you are locked out of your PC's hard drive after having installed a firmware update, it is likely to be the cause.

Since the drive is not recognised by the system, you can't apply the firmware update that fixes the problem. The drive has to be returned to the drive's manufacturer to be repaired - free of charge if it is still under warranty, but charged for if not. The drive manufacturer can apply a firmware update without having to access the drive. However, you should note that it will be possible for the technical staff doing the restoration to access the data on the drive, which you might not want to happen if it contains information that you would not want anyone else to see.

It is because of cases like this one that you should always make regular restorable backups or system images of the drive should it fail. In a case like this one, you would just be able to buy a new drive, restore the backup/system image to it and destroy the old drive that contains the kind of data that you don't want third-parties to access.

To find out if a particular make/model of drive has a known firmware bug, you have to find out what the drive's make and model is and then visit the manufacturer's website where information about any know problems will be provided. The make/model information will always be written on the drive itself.

PC/Computer gives a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD, tracked down to the hard disk drive by using chkdsk, which said that the C: drive was in the RAW format and the disk could not be checked


My desktop computer with a new 1TB hard disk drive and is running Windows XP Professional, The C: drive containing Windows is 100GB and the rest of the disk is partitioned as drive D: which is used for storage. Both partitions are formatted to use the NTFS file system. The PC was running just fine until it produced a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) yesterday. The drive's power and data cables are connected correctly, but when I ran the Windows chkdsk diagnostic utility by entering cmd in the Start => Run box and entering chkdsk c:/r at the Command Prompt. It told me the C: drive partition was in the RAW format and the disk couldn't be checked. When I entered diskmgmt.msc to bring up Disk Management, it confirmed the C: drive was unformatted. I then restored a system image created with Windows 7's Backup & Restore, but got another BSOD today.


This looks to me as if it is a problem with software-related rather than a hardware-related problem. For example, if you use disk or file encryption software it could be responsible. You need to run the Windows chkdsk disk-checking program to give the drive itself a clean bill of health. Then you need to be able to find out which software is the cause of the problem.

In Windows XP, open My Computer, right-click on the C: drive, click Properties and open the Tools tab. Click on the Check Now button. Place a check mark in both boxes with the mouse and click Start. Answer Yes to schedule the disk check for the next boot up and restart the computer. Note that the disk-checking can take several hours.

In Windows Vista and Windows 7, you have to run the Command Prompt as the Administrator. If you just enter cmd in the Search... box and then enter chkdsk (plus any of its switches) at the Command Prompt, a message that says: "Access Denied as you do not have sufficient privileges. You have to invoke this utility running in elevated mode".

To do that open Start => All Programs => Accessories, right-click on Command Prompt and click on "Run as administrator". Enter chkdsk /? to be provided with a list of the available switches provided by the chkdsk command.

Obtaining the CHKDSK Results in Windows XP:

1. - When the Event Viewer is open, select Application.

2. - The 4th column of information in the right-hand pane is titled Source , click on the word Source at the top of the column to sort by that column.

3. - Scroll through the Source column to find the most recent entry titled Winlogon.

4. - Double-click Winlogon to open the CHKDSK results.

The Windows Vista and Windows 7 CHKDSK results are much more difficult to find in Windows Vista and Windows 7. Here is a webpage that provides that information:

Where to find the CHKDSK results in Vista, Windows 7 -

If you can make head or tail of the results, you can use the Copy button to copy and paste the results into a file that can be provided as an attachment to a computer forum, such as the one provided below, whose experts can analyse it for you.

In Windows XP, use Windows Explorer (right-click on the Start button and click on Explore) to open the C:\Windows\Minidump folder. There should be a file in it that has a .dmp extension. WinDbg can be used to analyse it.

Windows Debuggers: Part 1: A WinDbg Tutorial -

Right-click on it and click on Send To => Compressed (zipped) Folder. You can then attach the zipped file to a computer-forum thread that you have created.

The regular posters at this forum - - will be only to glad to analyse the results for you or provide you with further help.

How best can I install an SSD solid state drive and transfer an existing installation of Windows 7 to it to boost boot times and performance?


I want to install an SSD drive to improve boot times and performance by transferring Windows 7 from my desktop PC's existing hard disk drive to it. Can you tell me the best way to do that and are there any serious pitfalls?


The best way to do that would be to make a backup of your system (not create a system image, which can only be restored in its entirety) so that you can restore folders and individual files from it. You would then open the PC's case, disconnect the hard disk drive from the motherboard and install the SSD drive. Note that you have to have a 2.5-inch SSD drive installed in a caddy so that it can be installed in a 3.5-inch drive bay. Most SSD drives come with the required caddy. All drives must be connected to the power supply and to the motherboard. (Visit this page of the Build Your Own PC section of this website for information on installing drives. SSD drives use the SATA connection interface. The motherboard must have an SATA (not an older IDE) connection point on the motherboard for the SATA data cable and power supply must have an SATA power cable. A standard Molex power connector from the power supply can be converted into an SATA power connector by using a cheap adapter cable. (Web search query: Molex to SATA power adapter cable.)

With the SATA drive installed, you would then reboot, enter the BIOS and set the boot order of devices to boot first from the CD/DVD drive, place the Windows 7 installation disc in the optical drive and reboot. The Windows setup will run and you will then be able to clean-install Windows 7. (If necessary, visit this page of this website for instructions on how to clean install Win7.) The boot order of devices in the BIOS can be set as 1. CD/DVD drive 2. SSD drive 3. hard disk drive or SSD drive, hard disk drive, CD/DVD drive. The hard drive must be lower in the boot order than the SSD drive. If there is no CD/DVD disc in the optical drive and it is set as the first boot device, Windows will boot from the next device in the boot order of devices. If you only have the recovery disc provided by the PC's manufacturer, ask it for advice. A recovery disc installs the PC to its factory state. Using a recovery disc is unlikely to make Windows optimise itself to use an SSD drive. You can then reconnect the hard disk drive and should be able to access its files. You will have to reinstall all of your programs to register them in the fresh Windows registry of a clean installation, but you can transfer data files from the hard drive to the SSD drive. You could also format the hard drive and install your programs on it and transfer the data files back to it. If you have an SSD drive with 100GB+ of drive space, installing everything on it except your data files would provide the best performance, because an SSD drive works much faster than a hard drive, so booting and loading programs are much quicker than if those actions are performed from a slower hard drive. Installing a fresh copy of Windows to an SSD drive makes Windows optimise itself for use on such a drive, which is why a clean installation is the best method.

Another way of doing the installation would be to create a system image using an imaging program that can implement the specific partitioning requirements of an SSD drive, such as Acronis TrueImage Home, creating it on an external hard drive, then restore the image to the SSD drive when it is installed as the boot drive. In theory, Windows should boot from the SSD drive without the user having to do anything else. Unfortunately, using this method is not desirable because when the image is restored to the SSD drive, Windows might not configure itself to optimise its use on an SSD drive, which would lead to reduced performance and greater wear of the most well used parts of the drive's flash memory (similar memory to that used by a flash drive), thereby reducing the drives's life span. The flash memory used by an SSD drive only has a finite number of writes before it cannot be used any more and if Windows doesn't spread the use evenly over the whole drive, the most well used parts will wear out and render it unusable.

Network-attached storage (NAS) device problem: After a sudden crash, I can't access the valuable data on my LaCie 1.0TB Network Space 2 NAS drive


I have a home network consisting of one desktop and two laptop PCs, which are backed up to a LaCie 1.0TB Network Space 2 NAS drive. Being a professional photographer, I also store all of my digital photos on it. To my horror, when I was copying a folder of new images to it, the device crashed. When I rebooted the main desktop computer, I was unable to access the main partition on the NAS drive where my images are stored or from any of the networked computers. Fortunately, the drive can still be accessed through the LaCie Dashboard, which provides all of the configuration data. The setup can be changed, but the "openshare" partition is greyed out. The Dashboard states correctly that there is 0.6TB of used space on the disk with the rest free space.


This NAS has received very mixed purchaser reviews on the web - some purchasers think that its great, easy to work with on a home network, does everything it says on the box - for others it is a devil to use, crashes or fails and has to be returned. Given that more people always tend to bother to write damning reviews, on balance the reviews look all right, but I would have bought a better-reviewed NAS.

As is the case with many similar external devices, such as routers, network printers, video streamers, Android smartphones and tablets, VoIP devices, Kindles, etc., it is almost certain that your NAS device is controlled by a customised version of the Linux operating system, which makes it possible to use Linux troubleshooting tools and techniques to fix problems with them.

You have to know how to recover a Linux partition, because although the concepts are very similar to those used by Windows, the terminology and tools are not the same. Quite a bit of information can be found on the web in forums, blogs and articles by using a search query, such as linux partition recovery, in a web search engine.

Now you need a Linux partition-recovery tool, which many free, bootable Linux CDs such as Knoppix and Ubuntu provide, but you can download independent recovery tools of which SystemRescueCd is probably the most popular. If necessary, read the user guide on

With the PC's BIOS set to make the CD/DVD drive or USB flash drive the first boot device, you can boot from your Linux disc or flash drive containing the recovery disc you have created and try accessing the LaCie NAS drive on the network. If you can see the drive, you should be able to employ the recovery tool.

If not, you can remove the faulty drive from its housing, which, note, will almost certainly render its warranty void. But removing the bad drive will dissociate it from the network interface and the customised Lacie software, which is what you want in order to proceed further with recovering its data.

Then you can install the bare drive in your desktop PC as a non-boot secondary drive. Visit this Build Your Own PC page for instructions on how to install a secondary IDE or SATA hard drive. You can enter its make/model in a web search to find out which type it is. It is almost certainly an SATA drive.

With the NAS's hard drive installed in a PC, boot it with a Systemizes disc or USB flash drive. You should be able to access the system’s hard drives and apply its tool to recover the partition of the NAS device's drive. Once recovered, you will also be able to transfer the contents of the drive to a healthy internal or external hard drive.

Note that the LaCie support page lists two recent updates for the Network Space 2 NAS device, which should be installed after you have put the recovered drive back in its Lacie housing. In fact, you can update any of the Linux-driven devices listed above - if updates are available.

Bad sectors reported on hard disk drive - Norton Ghost refuses to create a system image but Windows 7 Backup does


I have a HP desktop PC that I upgraded from Windows XP to Windows 7 Home Premium, which is working perfectly, but when I tried to use Norton Ghost 15 to create an image of the whole system, which it has done many times, it failed, stating some sectors could not be read. When I tried to create an image of the system using Windows 7's Backup and Restore, it did so successfully. Disk scans by both Ghost and Windows Chkdsk found and supposedly fixed several KBs of bad sectors. Norton still fails and my HP hardware-diagnostic test fails when the hard drive is checked, saying that there were 980KB in bad sectors, but the computer itself is working as well as ever.


The hard drive is no doubt on its last legs. Drive wear is the cause of the bad sectors - the head-positioning mechanism of the drive is worn and not positioning the read/write heads correctly all the time so that when the diagnostic software is run it reports bad sectors, which probably aren't bad, just not being read or written to properly. Windows chkdsk and other diagnostic software can mark bad sectors as such so that they aren't used, but if the heads are worn other sectors that aren't really bad will be reported as such during another scan.

The best advice is to replace the drive while the going is good - before a total failure occurs.

Standard IDE and SATA hard disk drives are very cheap these days and can be replaced very easily. A huge 2TB internal hard drive can be bought for as little as £50 and a 1TB drive for £35. Be aware that that a drive with a higher capacity than 2.19TB requires a new EFI BIOS, which only a few motherboards were providing in September 2011.

Read this Q&A on this website that discusses the 2.19GB barrier: Can an ultra-large-capacity 3.0TB hard disk drive be used with Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7?

Make sure that you buy the same type of drive that is installed in the PC - IDE or SATA - as a replacement drive. If the motherboard has SATA ports, you can buy one; if it only has IDE ports, you'll need to buy an adapter card that fits in a free PCI or PCI Express slot on the motherboard to which you install the drive. You can identify the PC's motherboard by using the free CPU-Z tool and then download a user manual (in the PDF format), which will tell you which type of drive ports it provides. Enter cpu-z as the search query in a search engine to locate its website.

Visit the Hard Drive and Build Your Own PC sections of this website for information on IDE and SATA hard drives, including how to install them.

Most new hard drives come with replacement instructions and even include software that can transfer the data from the old to the new drive. Rest assured that it's not very difficult to do. The physical work requires only the use of a screwdriver.

After having my desktop PC's SATA hard disk drive upgraded, the system freezes from time to time while the system clock still functions


I have just had my my desktop PC’s SATA hard disk drive upgraded by a qualified PC technician from 200GB to 500GB. However, now the PC freezes from time to time for about 15 to 20 seconds and then gets going again. During the freezes, the system clock, set to display seconds, still does so. I have the ZoneAlarm firewall installed plus Microsoft’s Security Essentials and the firewall is enabled in my ADSL modem-router.


Because the system clock is working, it's not a full system freeze, which freezes everything. The freezes appear to be caused by the new hard disk drive being delayed in its spin up, which can occur if the drive has been set aggressively for power-savings, which the PC technician who performed the upgrade might have done, making it spin down too soon. When in a low-power standby state, the hard drive has to wake up and then get spinning before it can start reading or writing data. A delay of that kind is probably hanging any software that is seeking to run from the drive, leaving the the system clock unaffected.

If you listen carefully, a hard drive can usually be heard spinning up. If a particular instance of freezing occurs while the drive spinning up, then you have found the cause of the problem, which you should be able to fix by increasing the drive’s sleep time to a longer interval via Power Options in the Windows Control Panel. It's the time delay shown for the setting called Turn off hard disks in Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.

If the problem still exists, try using the Task Manager, brought up by the Ctrl + Alt + Del key combination, to find out which software is dominant. The software using the most CPU (processor) time is probably connected to or causing the freezing. The Task Manager's window is shown in the image below open on its Processes tab. As you can see, many of the processes are identifiable by their name. I know that the first entry - ZABackupTary.exe - is the executable file (the file that runs the program or tool) thyat makes the ZoneAlarm's online backup service place an icon in the bottom right Notification Area and BatteryCare.exe is the executable file for a utility that monitor's my laptop's battery. But there are entries that I have no ide about, such as alg.exe and jusched.exe. All of the processes shown in the image were taking up zero percentages of CPU (processor) time when the image was taken and the system is only using 3% of the available processor cycles running 52 processes.

The Windows Task Manager window

Open the Task Manager by pressing the Ctrl + Alt + Del key combination. Windows 7 and Windows Vista brings up a screen presenting several options one of which is the Task Manager. Clicking on its Processes tab should produce a list of the software (their executable files) that the system is running and information about each item. The percentage figures in the CPU column is the approximate current percentage of processor time that each loaded program, named in the Image Name column, is using. Scrolling down the list of programs should reveal the program with the highest percentage against it. Clicking on the CPU heading should order the dominant programs alternatively in ascending or descending order. If the name doesn't identify the software to you, using its name as the search query in a search engine should enable you to find out that information. The free Process Explorer does a better job of providing information on the running processes than the Task Manager in Windows XP, but the version of Task Manager in Windows Vista and Windows 7 is just as good as Process Explorer.

When the problematic software has been identified, you might be able to adjust its settings or just replace it and the problem should be solved.

File systems: How to convert from the FAT32 file system to NTFS


I bought a new desktop computer that came with Windows XP Professional installed on drive D: - so that drive C: could contain the Recovery System. Another oddity is that FAT32 is the file system in use instead of XP's native NTFS file system. The company that I bought the computer from went bust, so the warranty is worthless, and I can now convert to NTFS and have Windows XP on the C: drive without rendering it void. I need to know if this can be done without reinstalling everything.


Some OEM computer manufacturers and vendors (that have to provide the technical support for their merchandise) prefer to have their system's set up to use FAT32 instead of NTFS because the latter file system is far more secure and complex and hence more prone to require technical support. Indeed, it is for this reason that Time Computers [no longer in business] made it a condition of the warranty that renders it void if the file system is changed from FAT32 to NTFS.

If a computer has a hard disk drive larger than 64GB, or a user wants to have partitions on a drive larger than 64GB, the NTFS file system is a must. If you want to keep using FAT32 without problems, drives and partitions of drives that are smaller than 64GB are required.

See FDISK on this site for information on the use of that MS DOS partitioning utility on a FAT32 drive.

Windows XP has a Convert utility that converts a FAT32 partition to NTFS without having to copy all of the data elsewhere. This is a time-consuming process and the files are not as well arranged on the drive as they would be if they were installed on a partition that was already configured to use NTFS. Moreover, the cluster size, which is the size of the addressable units that the partition is broken down into when the file system is created, can be set far too low at only 512 bytes (0.5KB) per cluster, and this can slow down file access significantly.

Moreover, note well that unless the user enables the Cvtarea option before the drive or partition is converted, a new Master File Table (MFT) is created that is placed all over the drive/partition. And even though it is the most used file on a drive, Windows XP's Disk Defragmenter can't defragment a fragmented MFT. Even if you defragment the drive before running the conversion, there is no guarantee that the MFT won't be fragmented. Read the following article on how to use the Cvtarea command.

Build a Better NTFS Converter -

Note that Sysinternals is now owned by Microsoft.

The Contig utility can be downloaded from

Read CONVERTING FAT32 to NTFS in Windows XP for information on how to prepare a drive before converting it to NTFS in order to avoid using 512 byte clusters.

How to find out what a drive's cluster size is in Windows XP/Windows Vista

To find out what the cluster size is for a particular drive, enter cmd in Windows XP's Start => Run box (Windows Vista's Start => Start Search box) to bring up the Command Prompt. Enter the command chkdsk c: to check the C: drive (or any other drive's letter to check that drive). After the quick check has taken place, a message appears that provides information about the drive. Note the number next to the bytes in each allocation unit line.

The bytes in each allocation unit is the drive's cluster size in bytes. To obtain the cluster size in kilobytes (KB), divide the number by 1024. For example, if Chkdsk shows 4,096 bytes in each allocation unit, then the cluster size is 4 KB. (4,096 bytes / 1,024 bytes per KB = 4KB). If it shows 512 bytes, you'll have to format the drive to get it to 4KB. If it's the C: drive and Windows XP/Vista is installed on it, you'll have to format the drive and reinstall Windows and all of your software applications. To do that you would boot the system from the Windows CD/DVD (the BIOS might have have to be set to use the CD/DVD drive as the first boot drive). Note that you are given the option reformat the drive during the Windows setup process.


Note that if you make a backup of a FAT32 drive with a backup utility such as the one that comes with Windows XP/Vista, or make a master image with a utility such as Norton Ghost and burn it to a CD/DVD discs, the file system is also backed up. Consequently, it is restored when the backup or master image is restored. Therefore, you can't make a backup or master image of a FAT32 a drive, format it with NTFS, and then restore the back-up or master image, because the FAT32 file system will be restored as well.


Windows File Systems: Converting to NTFS from FAT32 - FAT32 versus NTFS on this site has some additional information on the advantages and disadvantages of using NTFS instead of FAT32.

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