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[ The PC Guide | Troubleshooting and Repair Guide | The Troubleshooting Expert | Troubleshooting Specific Components | Troubleshooting Hard Disk Drives | Drive Letter Issues ]

I booted from my floppy disk and now I can't see one or more hard disk volumes that work when I boot from the hard disk itself

Explanation: After booting from a floppy disk, one or more of the hard disk volumes that are normally present on the system seems to disappear.

Diagnosis: This is usually caused by drivers that are on the hard disk being bypassed when the floppy disk is booted. Another culprit is the ever-present virus threat. Some particularly nasty viruses encrypt the hard disk structures; when the hard disk is booted they load and then "decrypt" the structures on the fly. When you boot from the floppy the virus is bypassed and the encrypted structures cannot be read by the system. (Obnoxious, isn't it?)

Recommendation:

  • If you are using a dynamic drive overlay to access the full size of your hard disk, then booting from a regular boot floppy not prepared by the drive overlay software will cause the hard disk to disappear. Look here for more on this.
  • Make sure that the system is clean of viruses. If you think that you have an encrypting virus of the sort described in the diagnosis above, you may need to use special procedures to remove it (these are quite rare, fortunately). Consult your antivirus software's documentation.
  • FAT32 disk volumes are only supported by Windows 95 OEM SR2. If you boot an older version of Windows or DOS, either from a floppy or another disk partition, FAT32 volumes will not appear to the system.

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