Partition Resize = Bad

I was working with someone else on a system today that had an issue with a lack of disk space.

This machine was loaded with a fair bit of software, and I don’t think the user was keen on dropping all the software to save on space, and I imagine rightly so too. You install items of software because you use (or plan to) utilise them in many ways.

And this user is very remote, as remote as remote gets, the other side of the country, in a regional area, running on a BigPond satelitte connection, and pays more than $600 for it.

So, what I had before me was basically some way of guiding a user through resizing his hard drive using partitioning tools (hey, he knew what a drive and a partition were, and what RAM is!, can’t go too wrong!).

The solution was that I basically was guiding the user through, and the user did everything to the letter.

Resize the last partition down 10GB to make an extra 10GB free at the end of the drive.
With that same partition, move it to the end of the disk, placing the 10GB of “space” at the end of the partition we wanted to resize.
Resize the middle partition an additional 10GB to swallow the space in the middle, and viola, resize complete.

So the theory goes.

Partition Commander was the software we were using, and it finished the 1st resize step just fine.
At the 2nd step, where you would wait for a partition to be moved on the disk to make the free space in the right position available, the system locked up.

Now, I know some IDE actions can produce that same issue, been there, done that, many times, but the user checked the HDD light and he concluded the system had locked up.

Great, just what I needed with the many hours of time that was spare that I would have been able to use … differently.

So, I was somewhat stuck on how to resolve this.

My immediate reaction was a rather annoyed ‘ohhhhhh!!! :(‘, realising that the user’s emails and data was on this partition. I wasn’t going to panic or give up on it, so in the hours that followed, were many checks of software items to find something that would do the job of:

1. Getting the system booting again (apparently, Partition Commander writes an MBR and then replaces it, I believe, when it does any actions, so that if it fails, it can recover in some way), so the system wouldn’t boot when trying to get back into Windows.

2. Get that partition assigned as an NTFS partition and recognised the data on that drive, so he can function as normal.

In the 6 hours that followed this, I was very much annoyed.

I tried Partition Magic, Smart FDISK, EasyRecover, Seatools, anything I could throw at this in search of an option to assign the partition it’s System ID of 07.

We ended up getting Winternals to recognise the missing volume, but.. but..

It didn’t have any valid destination to copy to, A: ? For 20GB ? yeh right. C: (ram disk ? well, if he had 20GB of RAM, and a dang good UPS, maybe), R: (another ram disk, not likely).

So, that was put back out as useless at recovering the stuff up caused by Partition Commander, which locked the machine during a partition move and caused the Partition Table to be in a state of confusion over whether it is or is not a partition, and whether the data is recognisable.

But, we made a breakthrough, through all the testing we did to try and get a boot, or a recovered partition, we got the drive to boot back into Windows.

And I knew just the tool for the job at that point.
Nothing beats Runtime Software’s GetDataBack for NTFS.

This item of software was shown to me a few years back when I had a drive that just was being a pain, and it didn’t get much to recover, but it did recover data then.

So, with just a screwed partition table, but a drive that has 2 fresh formatted partitions at hand as well, the solution was obvious, recover data off the hidden partition, and place the recovered data on the formatted drive, sure beats rewriting a partition table and risking losing data.

But, the whole process could almost certainly be done completely different.

We went in ready to resize partitions, when it should have been that we used ghost to ghost the partition to the new drive, and then deleted the other partition and resized the original partition and recreated the second.

That would have saved.. well, many hours.

I have used Partition Commander for a while and it normally performs well, but I doubt I have plans to do any resizing of drives with it again soon, I think I would rather use the ghost method, and a larger HDD (they are cheap anyway).


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