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Dskprobe Overview

Updated: March 28, 2003

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Dskprobe.exe: DiskProbe

This GUI tool is a sector editor for drives on computers running Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. A user with local Administrator rights can use DiskProbe to directly edit, save, and copy data on a physical hard drive that is not accessible in any other way.

This tool can help you prepare for disk-based problems by saving critical disk structures before problems arise. Documenting and preserving these disk structures, such as the Master Boot Record (MBR) and boot sector, provides a fallback in case of disk corruption. DiskProbe can also be used to resolve problems that you might encounter. With it, you can edit and repair disk sectors on a byte-by-byte basis if corruption occurs.

You can use DiskProbe to replace the Master Boot Record, repair damaged partition table information, and repair or replace damaged Partition Boot Sectors or other file system data. The tool can also save Master Boot Records and Partition Boot Sectors as files. They can then be replaced if the sectors become damaged at a later time. These on-disk data structures are not accessible through the file system, and so are not saved by any backup programs currently available.

Caution

  • Before you make changes with a low-level tool such as DiskProbe, make sure that a reliable, complete backup of the drive is available. Misuse of DiskProbe might make all data on the drive or volume permanently inaccessible.

    DiskProbe and other sector editors function at a level "below" the file system, so the normal checks for maintaining disk consistency are not enforced. This tool gives the user direct access to every byte on the physical disk without regard to access privilege, which makes it possible to damage or permanently overwrite critical on-disk data structures.

Concepts

The Master Boot Record (MBR) is created when the disk is partitioned. The MBR contains a small amount of executable code called the master boot code, the disk signature, and the partition table for the disk. At the end of the MBR is a 2-byte structure called a signature word or end of sector marker, which is always set to 0x55AA. A signature word also marks the end of an extended boot record (EBR) and the boot sector.

When you start a computer from the hard disk, the system BIOS code identifies the startup disk and reads the MBR. The master boot code in the MBR searches for the active, primary partition on the hard disk. Occasionally the MBR can become corrupted. This can be caused by human error, hardware problems, power fluctuations, viruses, and other factors.

Note

  • You can also use the Recovery Console to rewrite the MBR to resolve a corrupted MBR on a startup disk.

Corresponding UI

DiskProbe provides its own user interface.

System Requirements

The following are the system requirements for DiskProbe:

  • Windows Server 2003

Files Required

  • Dskprobe.exe

  • Dskprobe.chm

  • LoIOSrv.dll

See Also

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