Master File Table recovery

By thetominator ·
I have a Dell Dimension E310, Pentium 4, 3.2GHz, 2 GB RAM, with Windows Media Center Edition on my C drive. I also have a second Seagate Barracuda disk (1 TB) for my data which is my D drive (Data). When I boot up I get the BSOD reading -

Checking file system on
The type of the file system is NTFS.
Volume label is Data.

One of your disks needs to be checked for consistency. You may cancel the disk check, but it is strongly recommended that you contine.
Windows will now check the disk.
Corrupt master file table. CHKDSK aborted.

I can access the C drive through Explorer, but cannot access my D drive any more. When I try, it reads..."D is not accessible. The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable.

How can I restore the master file table for my D drive. Not just recover data to another drive (which I don't have). Please help!!!

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All Answers

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First thing you need to do here is get a copy of Seatools for DOS

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to Master File Table recover ...

Available free here


Then copy this file to a Bootable USB Thumb Drive and run it to make sure that the drive itself is OK and not dead.

If the Drive is OK and doesn't need replacing you can then attack it with something like Recurva free and try to fix the Partition Tables


Though if the drive is not working correctly any attempt to repair it will be unsuccessful.


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by gechurch In reply to Master File Table recover ...

I suggest TestDisk. Assuming the partition is NTFS, there will be a mirror copy of the MFT in the middle of the drive that can be used to recover from.

From the TestDisk web site:
"Repair An NTFS MFT
The MFT (Master File Table) is sometimes corrupted. If Microsoft's Checkdisk (chkdsk) failed to repair the MFT, run TestDisk. In the Advanced menu, select your NTFS partition, choose Boot, then Repair MFT. TestDisk will compare the MFT and MFT mirror (its backup). If the MFT is damaged, it will try to repair the MFT using the backup. If the MFT backup is damaged, it will use the main MFT.

If both MFT and MFTMirr are damaged and thus cannot be repaired using TestDisk, you might want to try commercial software like Zero Assumption Recovery, GetDataBack for NTFS or Restorer 2000."

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by jimmurch In reply to Master File Table recover ...

Before doing anything to the drive that might affect the logical structure of the drive, I'd suggest running SpinRite from www.grc.com Excellent tool for recovering data from damaged drives. He offers a money back guarantee. I've been using this for well over ten years and you'd be surprised to see how many problems with drives have been completely corrected by this tool. Your message about a corrupt MFT might just be a small part of the MFT that is unreadable. Spinrite can fix this sort of error. In any case, it won't hurt.

The other tools mentioned here have their place but also have the potential to dig you into a deeper hole since they alter the existing logical structures on the drive.

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Reponse To Answer

by thetominator In reply to SpinRite

I've already run Seatools for DOS (Long test) and it found 3 errors. I clicked on "Repair" and it said it repaired them. I've also run Testdisk and it can't fix this. Apparently the mirror file table was corrupted to and unrecoverable. I'll try SpinRite now. Thanks for all the input people!!! I'll let you know how it turns out. Still taking other suggestions though.

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Reponse To Answer

by gechurch In reply to SpinRite

I don't see that you have any more options. Both the MFT and its mirror are corrupt. The MFT is the list of all the files on the partition. Without it, your drives contents are just a bunch of 0's and 1's - the MFT is needed to make sense of them.

To get out of the situation you need to:
* Buy another drive.
* Try cloning from your existing drive to the new one. This is very likely to fail, but once or twice I've had a failed drive clone to a new one then be bootable/accessible.
* If it doesn't boot, you will have to run recovery software over the old drive. You'll need to do a raw recovery (where the MFT is ignored and the recovery software runs through every sector of the drive looking for file signatures that it recognises (ie. "hey, this looks like a gif file", "this could be a Word document"). When you do this many of the recovered files will be corrupt, and the ones that are ok will lose their metadata (file name, folder etc). I generally use EayRecovery to do raw recoveries. It's probably no better or worse than anything else, but I'm familiar with it and have never had issues.

The last thing you need to determine is whether the drive failed because of a physical fault, or whether it was just a logical/file system fault. The latter can happen due to faulty RAM or the power suddenly going out. You'd be darned unlucky to have a logical problem take out both MFT's. I would be extremely confident that the drive itself is physically failing. If it is, throw it in the bin. If you were convinced it is ok you could format it and copy the recovered data back to it. You need to buy a new drive to recover to anyway, and drives are very cheap compared to time and lost data... if it were me I'd be doing the recovery then wouldn't waste any more time on the old drive - I'd toss it.

You probably know this already, but to prevent data loss in the future your best options are a) set up backup software [the backup built in to Vista/7 is good, is you're using XP a free product like Cobian will do] or b) purchase a second drive and set up RAID 1.

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