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Summary

Unable to boot into the OS X partition of a 2013 MBA which dual-boots OS X and Windows 8 via BootCamp. Could "Repairing Disk" via "Disk Utility" damage the working Windows 8 partition? What other utilities/actions should I try?

Detail

I have a 2013 MBA that was setup by the Ops department in a company I did some work for to dual-boot OS X (for me) and BitLocker-encrypted Windows 8 (for work on their codebase) via BootCamp. They had to wipe the OS X Recovery partition to achieve this. At some stage the OS X partition was working fine (I'm assured), but I'm only able to boot into Windows 8 now. To complicate matters my access to the account on the Windows partition is now disabled (so I can't do further diagnostics through it), but that's another story. The Ops department have had a look but it's beyond their experience with BootCamp.

  • On pressing Alt/Option on startup I can get into the BootCamp Boot selector; it lists only "Windows"
  • From within Windows 8, when I choose the BootCamp "Boot to OS X" option, it just starts up in Windows 8 again.
  • From within Windows 8, the BootCamp control panel lists two "Windows" related startup options, both of which appear to boot to the same
  • From within Windows 8 I could confirm there were 2 accessible disk partitions of approx equal size, one looked (to a cursory examination) to have the filesystem structure I'd expect from a Unix, from which I extrapolate that the files of the OS X partition are still in place and undamaged.
  • When I run Internet Recovery, Disk Utility lists 5 partitions. It is unable to mount any of them. disk0s2 and disk0s4 must be the Windows and OS X partitions as they are almost 50% of the total volume each (the others are all ~ 100MB), but both show up as MS-DOS (FAT), whereas presumably one should be a Mac OS Extended format? I tried to "verify" the first three, all got as far as "Checking file system" and then failed "Error: This disk needs to be repaired. Click Repair Disk", some with extra info:

    • disk0s2 Format: MS-DOS (FAT):

      ** /dev/disk0s2
      Invalid BS_jmpBoot in boot block 000000
      
    • disk0s3 Format: Mac OS Extended (Journaled): [No extra explanation]

    • disk0s4 Format: MS-DOS (FAT):

      ** /dev/disk0s4
      Invalid signature in fsinfo block
      fix? no
      ** Phase 1 - Preparing FAT
      FAT[0] is incorrect (is 0xD9058EB; should be 0xFFFFFF8)
      Correct? no
      FAT[1] is incorrect
      Correct? no
      ** Phase 2 - Checking Directories
      Root directory starts with cluster out of range(0)
      
    • disk0s5 Partition Type: DE94BBA4-... (corresponds to Windows Recovery Environment): unavailable for verification

    • disk0s6 Partition Type: DE94BBA4-... (corresponds to Windows Recovery Environment): unavailable for verification

My questions are

  • Could running "Repair Disk" damage the working Windows partition?
  • Does this sound like a common problem that can be easily fixed by doing X (my google-fu drew a blank)?
  • What other utilities/actions should I try that definitely won't damage the working Windows 8 partition?
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1  
is virtualising the windows machine to somewhere else then copying it back after re-installing osx an option? hmm not thinking about the bitlocker-encrypted bit.. that might be an issue –  gordatron Sep 5 '13 at 13:59
    
Definitely an option - is there any way I could try this without being able to get into either OS X or Windows 8? –  Tom Sep 6 '13 at 16:42
    
I finally tried calling up Apple Support, they showed me how to try this through Disk Utility ("New Image"), sadly none of the partitions serialised successfully ("error -61" for all but disk0s4 which reported "error -4"). Next they suggest I try to virtualise the partitions by booting into "Target Disk" mode support.apple.com/kb/PH10725 –  Tom Sep 6 '13 at 18:05
    
So it seems "error -61" means "The external hard drive you're trying to write an image to is NTFS which is read-only from OS X without 3rd party tools". –  Tom Sep 6 '13 at 19:03

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I managed to run more diagnostics against the disks from the Windows side. From the BitLocker password screen, choose something like "Esc", "Esc", "Skip this drive", "Advanced", "Utilities", "Command-line" (please correct), then use manage-bde -unlock to unlock the BitLocker drive, and use various wmic commands to examine the disk partitions. Through this I confirmed:

  • disk0s2 is my OS X partition. There are some tools which can change Guids in the GPT; it seems this is what happened to my OS X partition. This explains why OS X doesn't recognize it, but when booted into Windows I could access the data in it no problem.
  • disk0s4 is my Windows partition. To the best of my knowledge, the Invalid signature in fsinfo block errors I was getting are due to it being fully BitLockered which means the encrypted bits on disk don't look like a valid partition. Windows can apparently recognize the signature and warn you on trying to read from a locked BitLocker partition.

These are all the possible solutions I came across (largely through Apple's very helpful Tech Support), including the things that didn't work for me and why:

  1. Backup your existing partitions as images to an external drive via the "New Image" option in Disk Utility. I do have a 1TB backup drive, but it's NTFS formatted and apparently OS X can't write to NTFS disks by default (try this to enable NTFS write access on a standard OS X installation - but it doesn't work in Internet Recovery as the terminal gives you access to a read-only file-system only).
  2. Backup your existing partitions as images to an external drive via [name of Windows program here]. I couldn't find any built-in Windows utilities capable of this, and due to my Windows login being disabled I couldn't access a full Windows environment to run any proper backup tools. I tried running them from the BitLocker command-line but I couldn't get any of them to work, I assume because the environment is heavily cut-down (and most of them insist on "installing" rather than just "running").
  3. Backup your existing files by transferring them to another Mac via Target Disk Mode - I have no second Mac on hand to make this work.
  4. Just run Repair Disk - it is reportedly very unlikely to damage anything. When I tried this it just said it couldn't repair the disk - possibly because the BitLocker partition doesn't look like a valid partition (see above). A bit of an anticlimax after agonizing over the decision for days...
  5. If you have the Invalid BS_jmpBoot in boot block 000000 error, someone wrote a utility which can reportedly fix the GPT up again. I couldn't use it because I couldn't find a way to install all it's dependencies (e.g. Python...) in the Internet Recovery read-only file-system.
  6. Just erase some/all partitions and start again - in the end I decided to take the plunge and erase the existing corrupted OS X partition, leaving the rest untouched (once I'd made myself relatively certain which one was OS X). Disk Utility makes it very straightforward to erase a single partition and install OS X on it.

Erasing the OS X partition and re-installing has now resulted in me being able to dual-boot OS X and Windows 8 via BaseCamp as desired. Next time I'm in Windows I'll have to check whether I do indeed have "MacDrive" installed, and remove it if I do.

share|improve this answer

if only you could remove the drive an just attach it to another windows8 machine, where if the drive is recognised and accessible, bitlocker should prompt you to authenticate.

if you have a virtualised instance of the disk, maybe you could attach the flat file to another windows 8 guest and see if the drive is recognised...

(:

option 2 (bit of a longer shot)

reinstall osx on the previous osx partition. Install fusion to see/run/access/convert... the win8 bootcamp'd partition

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks for the reply! On option 1) to clarify, I can boot into BitLocker, authenticate, then go on to boot Windows 8 fine - except of course that my Windows account is disabled at the end. So the Windows 8 partition and everything on it appears to be fine; it's just that OS X doesn't seem to recognise it or any of the other partitions. On option 2), I'd love to do that, my reading of Disk Utility is that it wants me to "repair" the disk before I can do that - and I'm worried about this damaging the working Windows 8 partition. –  Tom Sep 6 '13 at 16:39
    
@wanchoo could erd commander open up an account on the windows 8 partition to allow him in to virualise it? presumably there must be some local admin accounts there –  gordatron Sep 6 '13 at 21:41

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