Sudden appearance of an invalid-partition-table error from an outboard back-up drive

Peter N. Spotts pspotts at
Mon Dec 22 14:42:46 UTC 2008


This may be slightly off topic, but I'll try anyway. I'm using a Maxtor
outboard hard drive as a repository for back-up files. Capacity is 300
gigabytes. I've had it for a couple of years, and within the last nine
months or so, it's twice given me the following error when I use fdisk

Disk /dev/sdb doesn't contain a valid partition table

The most recent incident happened yesterday, when I booted up my laptop
(Ubuntu 8.10 on a new Dell Studio 15). Up to yesterday morning, the
laptop recognized the Maxtor with no problem. And all I did the night
before was turn the laptop off! (Likewise the previous incident.) The
first time this happened, the only way I could think of recovering was
to rework the disk with Gparted. Is that the only solution? I used the
Maxtor successfully a few days ago to restore the files I needed from my
old machine, after making a clean install of 8.10 on the Dell. So if I
have to clear the Maxtor off and start over, I will lose nothing. But is
that the only solution? 

If it is, can anyone recommend a more reliable outboard medium for
backing up files? For some reason this strikes me as something that
shouldn't-a ought-a happen like this!  ;-)

With best regards,


Peter N. Spotts | Science reporter
The Christian Science Monitor
210 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, MA 02115 USA
Office: 617-450-2449 | Office-in-home: 508-520-3139
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