View Full Version : Internal drive not found + errors in memtest

10-30-2009, 12:58 PM
Hi there,

First post after being recommended to try out knoppix to try and recover data from my laptop thats running vista. Its currently stuck in a loop and wont boot up at all.

Basically there is no hard drive visible on the desktop, after trying to access the system folder i get the 'device.volume.unknownfailure' error message that i have seen posted on various threads. On another thread it was recommended to do the 'memtest' at boot and it has found some errors (4 in total at the time of posting and its 27mins in)

In the test it has the following:
L1 Cache: 64k 32706MB/s
L2 Cache: 2048k 16353MB/s

I have connected an external hd to the laptop and it sees that and can access it fine.

Can anyone point me in the right direction from here as im lost! :cry:

Harry Kuhman
10-30-2009, 01:15 PM
Your memtest failures could be the source of the damage that has been done to the disk data. And they may have even corrupted things so that Knoppix can't read the existing hard drive properly any longer.

First things first, resolve that memory problem. If you have multiple SIMMs you may be able to isolate the memory problem to a single simm, if so get it out of the system (if it has a lifetime warranty as many modern memory simms do, get it replaced). In any event, don't use bad memory. If your have too little memory without the bad simm then get more memory, but in many cases you can just continue without it (for example a 4 gig system with 4 one gig simm memory strips may run as well or better when you remove the failing simm). If all else fails, move the drive that you want to try to recover files from to a different computer and try Knoppix there to see if it can see the drive.

If Knoppix can still not see the drive then I expect that the drive is scrambled enough from the memory problem that Knoppix isn't going to recover data from it. I would suggest instead that you look for Windows based recovery programs. A place to start is do a Google search for "recuva". Depending on how much data was written while the memory was bad you may not be able to recover everything from the drive, but older files that were written when the memory was good (or just not affected by that particular bad memory) may still be able to be recovered.

10-30-2009, 01:24 PM
Thanks for the reply :)

Im not to clued up on the internal stuff on pcs but i presume my laptop has 2 sets of memory?

This is the spec of the laptop:
Esprimo V5505, Core 2 Duo T7250 2Ghz, 2 x 1024MB DDR2 Ram, 250GB, DVD-RW, Vista Home Premium

Presume the bold is the memory, Would it be safe to assume that its L1 thats causing the problems?

Ok, going by your suggestions i should try and isolate the simm, now as im no expert is this straightforward enough to do? I dont know if this helps but i can see sda1 & sda2 but i just cant get into them.

The crash happened when it was downloading a optional windows update (wont be doing that again) so there is nothing that i have put there recently that i am too bothered about losing but i do have pics from ages ago that i would like back.

Thanks again for getting back to me.

Oh forgot to add will having the laptop on while im tryping this cause any more problems?

Harry Kuhman
10-30-2009, 01:51 PM
Using the laptop to write ant data to the disk while the memory is bad may very likely make things worse. Just running a memory test ot having it on but locked up is not likely to cause problems, but if it manages to get into it's OS then it will start writing to the disk.

I know what you mean about the updates. I came here years ago when the very first time I finally agreed to accept the "security update" from Microsoft on my new (couple of months old) notebook, it suddenly would not allow Linux to connect to the network. Windows could connect fine (they apparently worked around what they did), but Knoppix that worked fine on the same computer prior to the update could no longer connect. I believe that Microsoft played games with the EEROM that comes in all modern NICs to give it non-functional configuration information (one of the things that can be stored in the EEROM along with the unique MAC address). Knoppix couldn't deal with it. I've never accepted a Microsoft update since. Heck with all of the security warnings, I do other things safe, like running non-Microsoft firewalls and security software, and I've never had a problem from a virus or other malware. The only source of malware that has ever caused me harm is Microsoft's own updates.

I don't know your particular hardware and am not going to do your homework to look it up, but your laptop likely has a little trap door on the bottom sealed with a few small screws that would give you access to the 2 simm strips of memory. The memory should be easy to remove, but you don't want to force it and break it (or worse, break the socket for it on the motherboard). If you don't know how to remove simm memory safely, research it on Google before you try or find a friend with experience who can help. Dropping down to 1 gig of memory would be a big step down (worse with Vista, XP should survive it nicely) but it is still better to run with 1 gig of good memory than 2 gig of bad. And at this point you still need to confirm that it is actually one of the simms of memory that is bad, and not some other part of the laptop like the memory controller. I suggest running memtest with one simm in the laptop at a time and seeing what you can learn. With luck one simm will give errors, and the other will pass memtest without any problem.

10-30-2009, 02:02 PM
Yeah after searching about the problems i was having i was shocked to see so many replies about computers crashing when doing the updates!

I will do some research into the simms then to see what i can learn and will report back.

10-30-2009, 04:35 PM
Ok have removed the sticks one at a time. First pass has went ok on the 1st stick not finding any errors. Test on 2nd stick is going at the moment and hasnt found anything so far.

If after testing them on their own and they dont find any errors do you have any idea what i can try next?

Edit: Test on 2nd stick hasnt found anything, would that point to a faulty holder (dont know the technical name)

Harry Kuhman
10-30-2009, 04:52 PM
Well, you can try putting them both back in and running the test again. And indeed they might fail or they might now pass.

If they now pass I would suspect that there might have been a memory seating problem or that tarnish might have built up on the simm contacts and that removing them and replacing them was enough to break any insulation caused by tarnish. (a pink pencil eraser lightly rubbed against the contacts and any residue completely bushed away may be a good idea to reduce the chances of future prblems in the near future in this case). I would also suggest that you run memtest for longer periods of time, perhaps overnight, just to be sure that problems don't reoccur. And I suspect that you are testing without replacing the little memory door on the bottom of the laptop. If that is the case, put the door back on and test some more, it could well be that the memory is temperature sensitive and the problem only shows up as heat builds up inside the notebook, and having the door off gives you enough extra airflow to make the problem not show up (it, of course, could come back when you finally replace the door or when the environment rises to a warmer temperature).

If they don't pass when running together I would suspect that one of the memory simms is running very close to it's critical timing and that the differences seen when two simms are interleaved as opposed to just one simm is enough to trigger the problem (although I would have expected that the one simm by itself was the more timing critical configuration). The best that I can suggest in this case is running on one Simm until you can find a replacement, but I would also suggest testing each simm by itself for an extended period of time with the hope that a problem might eventually show up in one to let you know which is the problem SIMM. And, of course, since the SIMM is just part of the memory system, it could well be that a support chip on the motherbaord is the real cause of the problem, although in my experience in most cases it is indeed the memory itself.

Good luck.

10-30-2009, 08:36 PM
They passed the second time with them both in :? I did actually do the test with the cover on as i thought it would be more accurate that way.

I still couldnt get access to the hard drive so i downloaded a few other things - ultimate boot cd recovery and had a look through that, i didnt really understand how to transfer the data accross as there was a lot of dos command type programmes, the one that did look simple enough wouldnt let me do it and told me to download the next version up which i had to pay for.

Another one i went for was PartedMagic which is something similar to Knoppix isnt it and it has been able to recognise the hard drive! :P So i am currently transfering all her photos etc wooohooooo

I know i havent fixed what was wrong initially but atleast i have got the data off the drive now (well its still churning away at the moment so i better get it all!)

I also downloaded puppy linux and burned it to the disc that i had knoppix on but it didnt even load! i thought you can use cd-rw for these things?

Anyway thanks for your help :D

Harry Kuhman
10-30-2009, 09:08 PM
Not at all sure why PartedMagic would see the drive if Knoppix still will not (did you try Knoppix again since the memory problem "went away"?). Nor am I clear on why Puppy would not boot for you, I've always had good luck with it. But you are new and there are many things that could go wrong in downloading and making a disc, so it's hard to diagnose.

Yes, you can use RW media for making Live CDs and DVDs. It should be said that RW media has a different lever of reflectivity, so it xercises different parts of the frive (which has to adjust what is called "automatic gain" to read RW media. In some cases when I've had marginal or failing optics I've had a drive that douldn't read CDR media but could read CD-RW. I imagine that there could be other cases where the opposite was true. If CDR fails for me I often try CD-RW. But in general you should be able to use

Of course, when using RW media, don't format it for "packet writing" software. And don't try to put the bootable image on as a second or later session, just erase the disk if there is anything already on it and then use it in the same way that you would erite a CDR.

I'm glad that you are getting the files. Not at all clear what the original problem was, although it might have been problems with contact with the memory strips. I would suggest that after you receover the file that you might wnt to let memtest run all night before you try to set up the system again. If it passes without any errors than, if you want to put Windows back on, go back to the original Install or recovers CD and install Windows fresh, reformatting and overwriting everything that is out there niw.

11-02-2009, 07:49 AM
Im not sure, i admit i never tried knoppix again since the problem went away. I did let it do a run-through and it never found anything again which is good.

Well i obviously dont know what the problem is other than the memory problems it found. I am actually having an issue re-installing vista at the moment and was thinking about chaning over to linux, can you recommend a linux system that would have a similar layout but without the problems? I did a search yesterday and ubuntu came out on top.

11-13-2009, 06:20 AM
There are many Linux choices for a HD install. Knoppix is not a good choice, but Debian, which Knoppix is based on, could be an option. The easiest way to try a few out, would be to get a few "live" disks together and give them a try. Ubuntu is probably OK, but I'm not always thrilled with it. I seem to go back to Debian, but have tried many of the distros that are available. Some of the Distros might not support your hardware well, and it would be easy to try the live disks and discover how they do. Here are a couple of good resources for information on some of the various distros and new releases.:



As for the problem booting a few of the disks you have burned, it could be the media or a bad burn. It happens often enough. I usually recommend that the disk be burned at a slow speed, somewhere around 4X for CD or DVD. Some drives don't read some types of media well, so trying another type might be in order.

Another option when trying to access a Window$ partition, would be a disk like Bart PE, Vista PE, or Window$ PE, which are live Windows disks. They are usually able to read and write, with a lower risk of data corruption, to NTFS partitions. They support external media as well and can be configured on a network. They can be customized for various purposes. I use them quite a bit for Virus and Malware removal, along with disk imaging and data backups. There are a few other versions available as well. Microsoft has the PE disks available for download. You have to "extract" them from a larger suite of tools, but it's not that hard to do. There are a few versions available for Vista and Windows 7. Both of them should be somewhat backward compatable to XP. For Vista, PE version 2.0 works well. A quick google search will bring up a lot of options.

The L1 and L2 Cache that you have listed actually lives in the processor (CPU). It is the Cache memory for the processor and is a two level configuration. It is small, but VERY fast memory. It can't be serviced separately and the cpu would be replaced if it is defective. In your case, I think Harry had the answer. Sometimes the memory Dimms get a bit of tarnish between them and the contacts in the sockets. Usually a quick cleaning as he described works fine. Other than a memory issue, you could also have a hardware failure that is not quite as obvious. I've had bad chipsets corrupt data on drives. It's just not as common as memory issues. Somtimes it happens when the system heats up. Poor cooling on a laptop is a major cause of problems in some cases. Even using the laptop on a soft surface (Bed or Couch) that covers the cooling vents can have a disastrous effect on some machines.

I'm glad you were able to recover the data, since that is not always the case with drive corruption or failures.