System Rebuild - Lost MBR on C drive

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Something happened to my C drive and it stopped booting. Other stuff was going wrong before I discovered this because I was getting emails from Crashplan that backups were not working. I was on vacation in Tucson when this started happening, so I had to wait until I got home to check it out. The network was acting up, so I decided to re-boot. No workee. I tried the repair functions from the recovery disks I created right after getting the machine, but they did not work. I got one successful boot and then it stopped working again. I can only assume the MBR sector on the disk is bad, plus some other stuff. I also tried some third party tools, but no luck. But while I was gone, the replacement disk for the bad V drive came and was sitting on the front stoop. I installed this and tried to restore the system to it from the image I had made recently. This also would not boot. So I ran a factory restore from the recovery disks, and now things are working. Of course, now I have to re-do tool installations, etc, to get everything running.

Bring up external drives

  • X drive comes up as J, but works. Resetting it to X
  • M drive is finicky about starting. It is still in warranty, but I managed to make it start. Resetting to M
    • Played around a little with this a couple of days later because the drive keeps dismounting. Guessing it is not getting enough power, so swapped power supplies with O drive, and now M works fine. Taking O drive offline until I can get another power supply.
    • SeaGate support guys are sending me a new power supply, and I also ordered an in-line one from Amazon for just a few bucks.
  • O drive started fine
    • Took it offline so I can use the power supply for M drive, which is my content redundant backup.

Bring up internal drives

When I did the factory restore, I unplugged the SATA connectors from the internal drives, V/Y and W. When I restarted with these plugged in, the machine did not boot. I found that the drive order was wrong in the BIOS and it was trying to boot on W, which is not bootable or active. I did have Y set to active, though, but no boot stuff there. I changed the BIOS to put the boot drive first, and it booted with no problem. It does make me wonder if this was what caused the boot problem with the old drive, though. But the symptoms were different and why would this suddenly happen? ...unless this was the first reboot since setting Y to active? Maybe I will check this out sometime, but now I am committed, and an occasional system rebuild is probably good to do.

Set up drive letters for V and W, then deleted and recreated the volume on Y, not active this time, and named it "spare."

Restore user files on drive C

Installed CrashPlan and logged into my account. Set up the X: drive local backup for this machine as a destination, and started a restore on all of the C drive stuff I had backed up. This includes all of the application specific user directories, email database, firefox favorites, etc. The restore took about three hours, during most of which I was out at a meeting. I set up CrashPlan for resuming backups later.

Set up network

  • Set IP address to
  • Set up print shares.
    • Had to use the wrong driver for PostScript (Laser Jet 2300 instead of Laser Jet 2200.) Seems to work anyway.
    • iMAC now works with this printer
    • ejblap2 set up very easily because it is a windows 7 machine. Once the share was set up, I just browsed to it on the laptop and created a new network printer.
    • aiblap is a netbook running windows 7 starter. It was not set up correctly for the network for some reason, even though I had set up a print share in the past. To find the new share, I had to log into ejbdesk1 with username and password, so this may not be totally right.

Re-install applications

Skipped the big stuff like LabView and Inventor for now

  • Norton Internet Security came up automatically because it is part of the factory build. Still have not figured out why it already knew about my paid subscription. Computer serial number, some installed code, or whatever, but it knows who I am and the state of my subscription.
  • Windows live came up automatically and prompted for download of applications. I chose Movie Maker, which I use regularly.
  • 7-zip
  • acritum rename 3 - applied license from kits folders
  • AVS Video Tools - applied license
  • Better file Rename - applied license
  • Bit Torrent
  • calibre - came up with all of the restored content and subscriptions. Downloaded the latest when prompted and re-installed.
  • exiftool, exiftoolgui - not installable tools. They were restored to the applications folder.
    • Added C:\Applications to system PATH to access these tools.
  • Thunderbird - downloaded latest version (8.0) and added to kits. As soon as I started it, it started downloading unfetched mail from the server using the restored files in my user area.
  • Firefox - downloaded latest version. Home page, bookmarks, etc, are already set up because of user specific file restore.
  • VLC Media Viewer
  • Fast Stone Image Viewer - downloaded the latest version
  • FastPicureViewerCodecPack-v3.1 - This is a new download.
  • Filezilla - downloaded latest version
  • Irfanview and plugins - downloaded latest version
  • Google talk - downloaded latest version
  • Java SDK and JRE - downloaded and installed latest v6 release
  • Jalbum - downloaded latest version
  • K-Lite_codec_pack_760_Full and K-Lite_Codec_Pack_64bit_510 - There are later versions of these, but I did not bother to upgrade.
  • Crashplan - more than just installing. I needed to re-start with the backup environment. More on this below.
  • Adobe reader - not in kits, but needed it to read some crashplan stuff
  • Vegas Movie Studio 9.0b - this installs visual c++ 2005 runtime. The tools below came with Vegas. Each of the three applications has a serial number that gets entered when the tool starts.
    • DVD Architect Studio - This is a separate tool and starts in the normal way and asks for the serial number when it starts.
    • Cinescore Studio Plug-In - This is a Vegas plugin that starts with the menu item for generating music for a clip. The license is entered when the plugin comes up.
  • tsdiscon - session disconnect application. Copied to c:\Windows\ and shortcut for the start menu.
  • turbotax 2010 - probably don't need this, but it might be useful for starting next year's taxes. Installed updates on prompt. Opened and was able to open my 2010 tax return.
  • Nero Burning Rom - Ran installation but it aborted because I was also installing turbotax. Something completed and asked for a reboot, but I ran installation again. This time it asked for the serial number, then completed installation. Started and entered registration information.
  • Nikon Capture NX2 - Don't use this much anymore since I got photoshop CS5, but it is use useful on occasion. Canceled download of Nikon Transfer, which is not useful to me. On tool startup, I was prompted for both the NX2 and NX1 key codes. Good reason to keep old stuff.
  • Photoshop CS5.1 - prompted for serial number during install. Installed only the 64 bit version. Tested with open recent and it found the right stuff.
  • PDFCreator - Virtual printer that creates PDF files. Downloaded the latest version and installed. Did not work, so I uninstalled, removed the old PDFCreator printer, and installed again. Now it wants a reboot before installation - done. Re-installed.
  • UltraEdit - Re-installed V1.13. For some reason there it came up registered. The license file is an html file, which would not open with firefox, so I opened it with the newly installed UltraEdit. The license key is there, but it looks like I will not need it. Creating a text file.
  • windirstat
  • WinRar - The registration key is already in place in the program files area. Maybe the installer copied it from the installation directory.
  • powershell - already installed, but needed to change script policy. Details for this: Power Shell Owner's Manual
  • SeaTools for Windows - for diagnosing SeaGate drives, which is nearly all that is in the system at this point.
  • SmartMonTools - to add capabilities for diagnosing drives with SMART Monitor.
  • GSmartControl - GUI for smartctl, part os SmartMonTools. The system crashed with a blue screen after bringing this up, so there might be a problem here. I'll check it later. For now, leave it alone in case the blue screen was a coincidence caused by something else.
  • Default Programs Editor - Not an installable program. Already restored to the C:\Applications directory. Moved a shortcut to the Task Bar
  • DNG Converter - for converting camera RAW to Adobe Digital NeGatives
  • flowplayer - not really an application. It is a flash player for the web, and was already restored.
  • foobar2000 - for playing APE lossless audio files. I use it with the foo_input_monkey plug-in to convert APE to MP3
  • XAMPP - web development environment. Lots of setup for this including setting up passwords, etc.
  • MySQL Workbench 5.2CE - ER diagram editor for databases. Downloaded latest version. Came up with my previous work. This required installing...
    • Visual c++ 2010 runtime - 32 bit version
    • .NET 4 runtime
  • VMware Player - Need reboot to complete. After reboot, started the program and chose update option. Restarting again - and again. The virtual machines are stored under user\eburdick\documents\Virtual Machines.
    • Brought up a restored virtual windows XP. Not using this for now, but I will keep it in case I need windows XP.
    • The EJBLINUX1 installation was not restored. Not sure why, but the current backup is tracking it. Re-installed Ubuntu 11.04 64bit and immediately went for update to 11.10, calling this machine EJBLINUX. To save on backup space I opted for a multiple file virtual hard drive of 50gB maximum so I don't end up backing up a lot of empty space. Details at ejblinux-build-diary
  • freeripmp3 - For ripping CD audio tracks to audio files - need to reboot to complete. Started program after reboot.
  • Moo0 TimeStamp - for modifying file timestamps
  • clonezilla - Downloaded this to do a system snapshot. It is run from a bootable linux CD with the cloning and restore software installed, so that none of the system disks are actively running Windows software.
  • Autodesk Inventor 2012 64 bit - Big program with lots of IP. Started installing 12/17 9:00 PM. Had to dig a little to get Serial Number and Product Key. I have email from Autodesk with the Serial number, but somehow I did not save the product key. Eventually I found it by opening my installation on ejblap2 and using help->About Autodesk Inventor Professional->Product Information. Updated license information in Kits area. On starting, program will not activate because I have reached the maximum number of allowed activations. Need to deactivate the original installation somehow. Emailed Autodesk. They responded (on Sunday!) asking for the activation request code. Final answer: you can only have one installation per license on the student program. I ran the Autodesk license transfer utility to export the license from the laptop to my Autodesk account and then ran the same utility on the desktop machine to import it. This worked. The only question I have is why I was able to install and activate on the laptop without doing this. I am thinking that I have another license from a different registration. In any case, I don't really need this running on the laptop.
  • VMware Player 4.0.1 - I want to try out Windows 8 Preview, which will not install on the older versions. Installer uninstalled old version. Re-installed VMware tools for Linux.
  • LabView - Installed from FRC installation DVD image. Activation does not seem to be a problem here. It reports that it is already activated. This license expires in 4 weeks, though because there will be a new version after Kickoff.
  • Windows 8 Preview - Installed pretty easily, but had to tell the VMware installer that it was Windows 7. Still worked fine.
  • Google Chrome browser - I hear it is pretty robust now, so I am trying it.

Pending for reboot

continue VMware Player 4 installation

Bringing CrashPlan back up

This was not as easy as I had hoped, mostly because I did not understand how everything worked. The two computers that back up to this one were fine once I set the machine up to be on the right IP address; it may have even worked without this IP update. aibdesk just started working, but ejblap2 needed to be set up to back up to ejbdesk1. Getting ejbdesk1 to start backing up was not so easy, because ejbdesk1 showed up twice in the list. I deleted the old one, which I probably should not have done. CrashPlan gives each computer a serial number that is associated with the backup files, so I am afraid I deleted the backup files from the server when I deleted the old computer instead of using a CrashPlan procedure designed for this situation. I emailed CrashPlan support about this, so maybe they can fix this.

Update 12/8: CrashPlan support is sending me a hard drive to seed the online copy. This is normally a $100+ paid service, but they are giving me a freebee on this.

Update 12/12: Received the drive and started backup. Needed to re-boot in order to get it to connect. Backup to this drive should be complete sometime tomorrow. Once they get it back and read it into their server, online backups will be reset to the data on that drive, and then any changes from that point will happen on line.

Update 12/13: Backup finished in the afternoon and sent the drive back to CrashPlan, due to arrive on Friday. I dismounted the drive without removing the destination from the software, so it is keeping me informed as to how much is going to need to be backed up once this data set is added to the server.

Update 12/17: CrashPlan has received the seed drive and is uploading it.

Update 1/1/2012: Once the seed drive was loaded, I found that the local client would not connect. After a lot of communication with CrashPlan support, including a long phone session, we determined that the server the seed archive was on was not accessible from my network. The support person persuaded the operations people to move the archive to a server that I could reach, but it took many days to get this done, partially because the Christmas holiday reduced staffing. Once the archive was moved, the client still could not connect, because it did not know to change the address. Finally, on New Years Day, I got an email that recommended that I re-install the client. This worked, and backups have started with 90% complete due to the seed drive.

Update 1/3: The backup is now up to date. For some reason, CrashPlan is not starting on reboot, but my recent reboots have been automatic from a blue screen crash, so I need to debug this problem first.

System Drive Image

12/15/2011 9 PM Took a snapshot of the C drive with clonezilla. I will do this periodically to avoid having to do the multiple day rebuild I have been doing. This is a static snapshot of the drive using a linux-based bootable CD so that Windows is inactive.


The system drive (C:) has three partitions, sda1 sda2 sda3. They are backed up to the root directory of drive W, a 500GB internal drive, which shows up in the linux boot as /dev/sdb1. The backup image is 2011-12-15-21-system_image. The backup took about two hours, including a check image operation to make sure the image will restore to a viable bootable clone of the original drive.

From the backup image log file Info-packages.txt: Image was saved by these Clonezilla-related packages: drbl-1.10.67-1drbl clonezilla-2.4.18-1drbl mkswap-uuid-0.1.1-1drbl partclone-0.2.38-1drbl drbl-chntpw-20110511-1drbl