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Could transferring a laptop hard drive image to another Hard Drive cause bad sectors?

Posted on 2006-06-11
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-26
Here is the deal, I traded an 80 GB Hard Drive, which was seemingly running fine on my laptop, for three 40GB Hard Drives, after the swap the other party had an image of his laptop hard drive on his desktop of his PC he attempted to transfer it to the 80GB Hard Drive and he says it produced "Bad Sectors" now he wants me to return the three hard drives he traded me for the 80 GB - But he has shipped the 80 GB Hard Drive to a friend of his in Sacramento to retrieve data and said he wouldn't be surprised if it was dead when he gets it back because of the "Bad Sectors" - I am hesitant to do anything further with him.  He said that when he decided to make the trade with me he transferred an image of his laptop hard drive to his desktop computers desktop, then when he returned with the 80 Gig Hard Drive he started using "Ghost" to transfer the image to the 80 GB Hard Drive and it "produced" the "Bad Sectors".  

I contend; based on his own language - "it produced" that his file transfer caused the damage and the hard drive was in good working order when he picked it up.  At the time of the transaction I offered him an opportunity to run a disk check with software I have from HP, he declined and waited while I checked the three 40 GB Hard Drives.

Now I do a lot of buying, selling, trading of laptops, and the associated parts and software, I have a stellar reputation in the community in which I live, so if this is "my responsibility" then I would want to accept it, etc... but I feel like the facts are such that he damaged this hard drive and I bear no further responsibility, especially in lieu of the fact that he has now shipped the 80 Gig from San Francisco to Sacramento and wants me to reverse our transaction when he gets it back?  I need to know if this ghosting could have been the reason for the bad sectors?  HELP!
Question by:reyeuro

Expert Comment

ID: 16881379
Bad Sectors are sectors on the plate that have corrupted, so my guess is when he imaged his driver, when the damaged area was "unreadable" then makes "bad sectors" within the image, its basiclly like a photo copy.

Did the 80Gb previously had "Bad Sectors"?

Im guessing that whatever disk he was using had bad sectors somewhere,scan em & if you find something a miss, just send him proof somehow & if he doesnt like it tell him, it was a swap & you knew the consqences, thats what i would say
LVL 70

Accepted Solution

Gary Case earned 2000 total points
ID: 16881700
No good imaging program will CREATE an image with bad sectors ==>  if there are bad sectors on the disk you are Imaging, the program will tell you THEN and refuse to write the image.   That's certainly true of Boot-It NG (my preferred imager - a very focused and exceptionally well-written utility); and has been true of every version of Ghost, Drive Image, True Image, and other imagers I've tried.   So it's fairly safe to say there were no bad sectors "... within the image."

So IF the drive had bad sectors that showed up when the image was being "restored" to the drive, then it most likely is a problem with the drive.  It's NOT likely that the imaging program "created" them.   HOWEVER, the sequence of events you've described after that does not make sense:

     (1)  If there were bad sectors identified during the restore, THAT was the time for the other party to complain about the quality of the drive;

     (2)  Since this was a "new" drive for the other party (he had just got it from you), then if bad sectors were identified when he was restoring the image, the image itself would have still been on his desktop's hard drive -- so there would be no need for any data recovery => so it makes no sense that the drive was mailed off to another city to attempt recovery.

     (3)  The drive will now be "messed with" by an unknown 3rd party to attempt data recovery - and depending on what's attempted those efforts themselves could cause some harm to the drive.

Bottom line (from my perspective):

->  The drive probably did have some bad sectors ==> an imaging program does NOT "create" these (nor does it "store" bad sectors in an image and restore them !!)   But whether they were already on the drive, or were caused by mishandling of the drive, is almost impossible to say at this point.

->  Notwithstanding that, a trade as you've described is generally an "as is" trade => and you DID offer him an "... opportunity to run a disk check with software I have from HP ..." -- which he declined; but you did not (since you ran the utility on the 3 drives you were accepting as part of the trade).

->  He should have immediately called you when he was first attempting to restore an image to the drive and it identified some bad sectors;  at that point there would not have been any need on his part to do any data recovery; and you could have decided then whether or not you would reverse the transaction.

==>  I would point out that he failed to notify you immediately of the apparent bad sectors; and that if in fact bad sectors were identified you don't understand why he used the drive and stored important data on it (I assume the data is "important" -- else why mail the drive to another city for recovery).   I don't think you are obliged in any way to reverse this transaction.

... as an afterthought:   The far-and-away BEST utility for testing a hard drive is Spinrite, from    It would be a good idea to buy a copy of this, and always run it against any drive you're thinking of selling -- and print the results.    It can even recover bad sectors in many cases !!

Author Comment

ID: 16881911
EXCELLENT ANSWER complete with all possible situations, etc... Armed with a copy of your comments I discussed this with the other party, who simply agreed he handled it wrong and apologized for any inconvenience, etc... Thanks 100 times over for a thorough and well written answer!!!
LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 16881925
It is quite possible to copy corrupt files and data from drive to drive in RAW mode imaging.  That may create corrupt files on the taget drive but will not produce "bad" sectors.  A drive hanging while trying to read a corrupt file will have symptoms approximating a "bad track" on drive.

I've not tried to image a corrupt drive to an image file, just wanted to copy a failing drive as quickly as possible.  So must assume Gary is correct that imaging software will abort in that case (Ghost will on drive to drive).

Only way I'd refund is to test drive myself.  Given route that drive has taken (third party involved), refusing a refund/return is certainly acceptable in my opinion.

I agree with Gary that bad sectors are intrinsic to drive and not caused by writing an image and that Spinrite is best hard disk testing and maintenance software available.

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