GoBack Drive Disk Type 44 Error

If you have a hard drive that says it is hard drive disk type 44, or one that you cannot assign a drive letter to in disk manager, it is probably related to Norton GoBack. Here is what happened to us, and how we solved the problem.

This all began when my father's hard drive crashed many years ago. In the process of removing it he managed to break the ribbon cable, so that now there was the "head" of the ribbon cable stuck into the drive. We put the project aside as a complex one and didn't get to it for a long while.

Finally in a cleaning spree we found the drive again and decided we should work on this. Step 1. Remove the broken, embedded ribbon cable head from the drive. We did this carefully with pliers, tweezers, and patience. Yes you might end up pulling out the contacts one by one. It can be done.

Next, we had to find an old system which still worked with this drive type. Luckily we had a machine in pieces in the spare room. We reassembled it, in sort of a Frankenstein-monster sort of way, and got the disk drive plugged in.

It would not boot.

OK, step 3. Try to boot from another drive and then try to see this old drive as a secondary drive. We tracked down another drive and had to install Windows XP on it. It took a few tries to get a copy of XP up and running with the disks we had. So far so good. Then we went into Disk Manager. Voila! We could see the drive. We could click on it. However ...

We could not assign a drive letter to the partition

This was completely baffling to me. How could I see a partition and not be able to assign a drive letter to it? We didn't have any antivirus software running on this machine. It was a clean, fresh install. Nothing should be preventing this from working.

So at this point we became familiar with the DOS command DISKPART. So we did start - run - cmd to get to a DOS prompt, and then we typed

SELECT VOLUME n (n being the volume ID of the old disk)

We could see, using the DISKPART commands, that the non-working disk was assigned an ID of 44.

We did some digging and discovered that an ID of 44 is a special ID created by Norton GoBack. Once a disk is formatted to work with GoBack, it can no longer be used as a typical disk. And from everything we read, the only way to fix this is to get GoBack back onto the system in question, then to uninstall it fully, which will change the disk type back.

So we went onto Amazon and ordered an old copy of Norton GoBack 2006. After a week or so it arrived. We put the software into the machine and it wouldn't install! It said

Goback has detected a multiboot disk

OK what in the world? This disk definitely wasn't a multiboot disk. It was a fresh install of windows. Just to be sure, we reinstalled windows again and watched everything we did. Nope, no multiboot disk. But when we finished, Goback still gave the multiboot disk error. Some more research found that this was apparently because Windows was installing a hidden recovery partition - one we could not see nor remove. So again we were stymied. And we didn't have any real sense that this would work, anyway.

So I did some more digging, and finally I found a link to an "internal file" at Symantec, Norton's owners, which was what their techs used to remove the GoBack ID from a drive. I'm including the link here. This is what I personally used, so it worked for me as of November 2012.

Symantec GoBack Removal Tool

I made a CD with this ISO. If you haven't made CDs from an ISO before, there are many webpages that can help you do that. I booted from this CD. That's important - you have to boot from the CD. You can't just run the program. Once it boots, you choose the option to "Unhook Norton GoBack from MBR."

It took literally 2 seconds. Voila! The disk was fully functional again! I could see all the files and work with them.

I hope our experience helps others to navigate the problem more easily!

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