Could you upload this hive in onedrive or google drive and post a share link.
Microsoft OneDrive - Access files anywhere. Create docs with free Office Online.
In particular, I wanted to dump the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Print\Forms entries so I can import these into the live system. I attached the hive, exported the entries, edited the file, imported the entries, checked them, then detached the hive. Haven't been able to disconnect that Valiant drive ever since.
Disconnect all the disks and storage units other than that one containing the C drive. It should be one of the 250 GB Seagates.
Make it sure that the 450 MB partition is marked as active there. If already not, mark it as active.
As the computer will cease to boot at this point, Method 3 will be very useful (and for the last part of my post, too)
Now, with the only one disk connected, run Startup Repair; for three times, with restarts in between every single run.
It may take a time, dont worry if it takes long.
Hopefully it will be bootable after the end of the process. (If not, we have to do some further steps, so please let us know).
Now boot to the BIOS with that single disk attached. Make it the first boot device.
Now attach the other disks back. Unmark (set inactive) all the active partitions from all the other disks. Let the computer have only one active partition; that is on the disk containing the C drive. It will prevent the future possibilities of the same issue.
Let us know your results.
Well, it's not good. After disconnecting all but C, I tried the "hard power-off" method to invoke a Startup Repair. But of course, the machine blue-screens before getting that far. So I attached Valiant to at least get past the blue-screen to force off the power. Unfortunately, on the 3rd try, I inadvertently powered it off simultaneously as I noticed Windows saying it was "preparing to repair".
So, then I tried booting from a Win10 install disk to do a Startup Repair. But Startup Repair fails to fix the problem.
If I boot to the hard drive now, the machine believes it is booting Windows 7, and shows me a "Choose an operating system" menu with "Windows 7" and "(recovered)". If I press Enter to select Windows 7, it throws a 0c000000f (or oc000000e if Valiant is not attached) error saying a required device is inaccessible.
It seems evident that something important got deleted or corrupted due to my hard-power-off, and the system is rather nicely borked.
Any thoughts while I sleep on the prospect of doing another clean install of Win10?
We need to see the partitions and parameters. Thrice.
- Of the HDD having the C drive only,
- With all the 4 HDDs (3 250 GB and 1 1TB) connected; and
- with the said external HDD in question connected.
Apparently, at least two of your HDDs have good indications of a OS installed on it, and the 1 TB one (which should not be the C drive) is the first disk in the stack. The bootloader is nicely messed up there.
Do you have access to another computer right now? If so, download Partition wizard Bootable CD (the last one in the link). Burn it in a blank CD or in a USB flash stick.
Boot into Partition Wizards GUI following this instructions. When you are on the last screen, take a camera snap of the screen and upload the snap here.
Screenshots and Files - Upload and Post in Ten Forums
We need to see the partitions and parameters at this point.
Well, Arc, many thanks for shining some light in this dark cavern. As a result of examining these drives one by one, it would appear that I have been booting off the external 250 GB drive all along! Of course the system won't boot with that drive disconnected. D'oh! The external 250 GB drive is NOT Valiant, it actually has no label and by exploring it's contents with Partition Wizard, I can see that it has been my C: drive. The Valiant (V drive is my first internal drive. How these got switched around, I cannot explain. But of course, I want to be booting off the internal 2560 GB drive and I want the external 250 GB drive to be Valiant that I can disconnect.
I can't figure out how to make Partition Wizard (the free bootable version 9.1) show multiple drives, so I have taken screenshots of each drive connected individually. The first screenshot represents what I thought was my C: drive (internal drive), but it turns out it is Valiant. The last screenshot is the external drive I thought was Valiant, but it is the unlabelled C: drive that I have been booting off all this time. Now it won't boot. The error message is:
I notice in Partition Wizard that the first 450 MB partitions has a status of "Active, Boot", whereas the 232 GB partition has a status of "System" but not "Boot". Could this be the reason this drive is not booting?An operating system wasn't found. Try disconnecting any drives that don't contain an operating system.
Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart
A very nice feedback! It has almost all the necessary information, but unfortunately it misses the key information. On which Disk windows is originally installed.
And we need to know which one of the five disks have the OS installed originally.
We can Eliminate Utopia and Reliant.
BTW, please set Utopia as inactive.
The Disk marked as Valiant (internal) cannot contain any OS in it. It can host the Boot files, but the other partition is unallocated, 0 bytes used.
The disk zodiac can contain the OS, but it does not contain the boot records in it.
If you say that your OS is installed on a 256 GB Internal disk, it must be Zodiac; based on the explanation and camera snaps you supplied.
Before proceeding, Please let me be sure that we are going to take the right step. Let us use the partition explorer feature of Partition Wizard. Do it: How to Explore Partition | MiniTool Partition Wizard Tutorial
The disk that is having the file structure like this one ....
Please let us know .... Does Zodiac contain a similar file structure? If not, then which of the disks contain those files?
We can go for our final steps after knowing this information only.
Hi, Arc. I have attached screenshots showing the files.
#1 is the 250 GB external (which has been my boot drive),
#2 is the 250 GB internal (Valiant) and
#3 is the 250 GB internal (Zodiac).
#3, Zodiac (internal) is not my operating system drive. However the folder Defiant-C is my working backup of the "C" drive.
#2, Valiant (internal) is not my current operating system. It is a backup of the C: drive taken a few months ago before I did a reinstall of WIndows.
#1, Unlabeled external drive. I'm certain this contains my operating system. I have drilled down with the explorer to find files I placed on it only two days ago. I can only assume that it was plugged in when I did the reinstall of Windows a few months ago and mistakenly chose it for the installation.
Thanks for your help--I feel I'm getting closer to a solution.
But its partition structure is corrupt.
And this corruption (unallocation and conversion to logical of the boot device) is an indication of a malware; a special type of bad malware called bootkit/rootkit.
Get Kaspersky Rescue Disk. Boot from it, update it and perform a full scan of your entire computer. If it finds infections, kill them all.
When done, disconnect all the disks, keep only Valiant connected. Boot back to Partition Wizard Boot CD. Format the 452.49 MB partition as NTFS, Primary. No drive letter will be preferred.
Next, Mark this 452.49 MB partition as Active.
Note that only a primary partition can be an active partition; and only an active partition can hold the boot flag.
Next, Rebuild MBR on that disk.
Now try to boot normally. Does it work? If not, run Startup Repair for three consecutive times, with restarts in between every single run.
Please follow these instructions exactly without violation a single part. Dont add back any other disk still it becomes bootable on itself.
Report us back with the results upto this step.
If it is now bootable, the job is not over. A good lot of housecleaning will still be remained.