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Can't backup or image hard drive due to bad blocks

Posted on 2010-09-15
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
HP ProBook 4710
Win XP Pro

The hard drive is going out (confirmed by diag and check disk).  The OS will boot and everything looks fine with the exception that I know the drive is going out.  The problem I'm having is that I can't get an image or backup to work.  Everything I've tried so far has failed due to 'corrupt files' or ' I/O errors' or 'Bad Block'.

I've used each of these below without luck...
iOmega automatic backup (has worked for me in the past but failing now)
windows xp built-in backup (ntbackup)
clonezilla - i even tried the advanced mode to continue on error -resecue
MDT capture

I can easily get a data backup, but every time I attempt a full backup, I get errors.  The laptop is for a friend so the last thing I want to do is reload the OS and programs for them.  

Is there a program out there (cheap/free) that will backup the pc as it is and let me restore to a new hard drive?  All programs are working and I can fix any issues after the restore.  Thanks!
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Question by:cewi
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by:cewi
ID: 33684498
I forgot to note that all the attempts I've made have been with the original HDD in the laptop.  I do have a external enclosure so I can try that if it helps.
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by:d_willia
ID: 33684508
Ghost will do this.  You can even tell it to ignore bad blocks.
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Dave Baldwin earned 250 total points
ID: 33684515
Try xxclone.  It copies the files and not the blocks in between.  http://www.xxclone.com/
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by:nobus
ID: 33689213
run hdd regenerator free trial, and see if it fixes one sector - then run the complete : http://www.dposoft.net/
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by:ocanada_techguy
ocanada_techguy earned 250 total points
ID: 33692428
Yeah, I've seen where telling clonezilla to continue on error seems to have its limits.  Same with gHost, I have personally encountered cases where even with the options set in gHost to ignore errors, it seems excessive errors can still cause it to fail out.  R-studio seems to try ad-infenitum, but personally I don't think it's particularly useful for you to spend three days waiting for a copy of the drive that is repleat with gaps.  So...if you can't get a low-level clone of the drive done because the drive is failing faster than you can copy it...
I would proceed to using SpinRite 6 (or HDDRegenerator, a Russian programmer's copy of the same idea) to try heroic measures for it to try as best as possible to read the data off the bad sectors before it sets them aside forever.  Whenever it encounters bad spots, the estimated time to completion will be way off, so just know if it estimates 3 hours, it might take way way longer.  It's estimate is based on "no more errors" and has no way to predict if there will be no more or a thousand more bad blocks to deal with before it is done.  So anyway, unlike chkdsk with /R which does a LOWSY job of trying to recover data off bad sectors, SpinRite retries lieterally hundreds of times to read the data and uses scientific statistical data sampling comparison and signal level analysis to reconstruct most if not all the data from bad blocks before remapping them to spare sectors.  I prefer SpinRite over HDDRegenerator because of better logging capability and better information on-screen.  http://www.grc.com  http://www.spinrite.com

After one pass with SpinRite, you THEN try to clone the drive with the cloning system set to ignore errors.  If it still errors out, you might try a second or third pass with SpinRite and then try cloning.

Also NOTE there are two ways to clone drive partitions, logical cloning tries to copy just the files just the data, whilst low-level cloning will take a block by block sector by sector copy of the entire partitions beginning to end.  Some cloning programs will error out if the filesystem is dirty or corrupt but that's usually only if you're trying a logical copy, so instead use raw low-level copy mode.
After SpinRite (HDDRegenerator) have done their thing the drive IS dirty, that is to say autochkdsk and/or chkdsk /F will be required on the next use, ditto on the clone you make.

Lastly, on the original and on the clone there may still be some corruption or data loss, specifically files/folders that had blocks that SpinRite reported as "UNrecoverable", those blocks were still set aside forever but not "all" the data on the bad spots could be copied to the replacement spare sectors.

Oh, and before you go trying to use the drive as a boot drive in a system and see if Windows will run correctly, you should first ensure you've got a backup of all the important irreplaceable user-files, and the best way to do that is to have been usig the sick patient drive and the transplant replacement drive as auxillary secondary/slave drives to a different working system.  Just attempting to boot from a drive involves some writing and changes to the disk you don't want to attempt util after you're satisfied with recovery and backup.  Then later you can repair in-place reinstall windows to rectify any corruption to it, and likewise repair reinstall Office or applications that may have a corrupt or missing DLL or what have you.  Hopefully 99% if not 100% of the user files will be sucessfully recovered.

Don't use USB external attachment, it's like pushing a bowling ball through a straw, since this requires translation through the old scsi command set and middle-man electronics so many low-level operations are lost in translation, not to mention direct IDE/SATA is considerably faster.  You CAN find an adapter for about $15 that will let you attach a 2.5" laptop drive to a desktop's internal ribbon and power connector, you might need two.  Either old-style pata EIDE or else SATA, depending on the drive.  You may have to juggle a bit figure out how to jumper the 2.5" drive to be slave as you can't have three master drives, but if in a pickle you could clone with 2.5  as primary master, 2.5 and secondary master, CD you're booting from as primary slave and drive to save the logfile to as secondary slave.

Oh and HP ProBook 4710 should not have a problem recognizing a larger capacity drive.  When cloning, you can tell clonezilla, gHost, what have you, to clone proportionately or keep same sizes and then create an additional partition out of the spare space.
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by:SnowWolf
ID: 33692530
acronis may also skip bad blocks if you tell it. Have you tried running chkdsk /f first?
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by:ocanada_techguy
ID: 33692556
I should also mention, that while you are trying to fix the drive with SpinRite (or HDDRegen) or while cloning the drive, you should NOT leave it UNATTENDED.
You need to be aware of the fact that the drive could be crashing, so, if there is SEVERE grinding or scraping noises you need to STOP immediately and turn off.
If the heads collide with the surface they can scrape and shave off the ferro-magnetic brown material on the surface and the subsurface of the platters, rendering those spots useless, but what's worse is the filings and shavings now inside are like huge boulders compared to the microscopic gap between head and platter, and if they jam up against the heads, more scraping and more damage, like a boulder against the bumper of a sports car.
If the drive is really that bad a shape, then you weigh the value of what is on the drive versus the cost of sending it to a reputable data recovery lab, such as ontrack or gillware.
Now, I have had cases where I was able to "press my luck" and despite "some" small scraping noise was able to get through the bad sectors enough so as to get a badsectoring and cloning done.  While off, turn the drives sideways, and tap repeatedly or strike the side of the drive, the idea being to get the shavings and filings all "off to the side" and then keep them there by keeping and operating the drive in a sideways oerientation.  It took several passes of many many hours,all in all about a week, and got most all the user data.
Some clicking or cachunking noise is to be expected, when the drive fails to read data from a track it's logic thinks perhaps the alignment is a problem so it parks the heads, swings them all the way across and back, and tries again.

Good luck.
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by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 33712021
Glad you got it done and thanks for the note about 'safeboot.sys'.
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