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Best and cheapest way to clone a drive on a system that's not bootable

Posted on 2012-04-12
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Last Modified: 2016-10-27
I have a system whose HD I think is going to die.  It's a new drive and took hours to install all the software.  I want to clone the drive so I don't have to reinstall all the software.  Any suggestions on cloning software for a drive connected to a system via USB?
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Question by:CraigSNYC
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TheAvenger earned 500 total points
ID: 37840186
Acronis True Image works great for such situations. It supports USB attached HDDs, just get the newest version. You can then boot from a CD (a bootable CD comes with True Image) and make the copy of the currently installed drive to the new USB attached one. If you are on a laptop without a CD, you can create a bootable USB stick with True Image, boot from it and make the copy.

The link is: http://www.acronis.com/homecomputing/products/trueimage/
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by:TheAvenger
ID: 37840189
Oh, there is a 30 day free trial. If you need it just for one operation, maybe that would work for you as well: http://download.cnet.com/Acronis-True-Image-Home-2012/3000-2242_4-10168093.html
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by:snoopscratchy
ID: 37840192
Hello,

1/Download any Linux live cd, ie: http://www.knopper.net/knoppix/index-en.html

2/ Boot on the live CD

3/ at the command prompt, run the following command to clone the disk:
dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb bs=10M

Open in new window

(assuming that /dev/sda is the disk you want to clone and /dev/sdb the destination disk)

Note 1 : to check which disk is your source, you can try to mount it with
mount /dev/sda /mnt

Open in new window


and try to browse it for known files
Note 2 : your live cd may automatically mount the drive's partitions
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by:TheAvenger
ID: 37840218
If you want to use the solution of snoopscratchy, use this command to list the drives:

fdisk -l

You will need to recognize which drive is the current one and which is the new one. Note that if you mistake them, you current disk will be lost.

Also you might need to precede every command with the word sudo to run it as admin, so it would be:

sudo fdisk -l
sudo dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb bs=10M

By the way, block sizes of more than 1K do not change speed, so you can use just bs=1024.

And finally I personally find ubuntu a good distribution for such things: http://www.ubuntu.com/download. You can however take a distribution of your choice.
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by:CraigSNYC
ID: 37840275
What i'm looking for is a way to do a USB to USB copy.  (using a usb to 40 pin ata adapter) Will Acronis do this?

Thanks
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by:TheAvenger
ID: 37840287
Yes. Acronis will show you all hard drives connected to the system, let you choose one as source, another one as destination. They can even be different sizes and it will ask you what to do with the partitions: leave them as they are, resize them automatically or let you do it manually. After the process is finished you can boot from the new disk, it will be checked for errors by Windows (assuming you are running Windows) and you are up and running.

Just to avoid confusion, when you boot from the CD, read carefully what it tells you and select to boot Acronis (not the OS from the HDD). Then the main menu in Acronis has options for backup and restore. You don't need that. Instead go to tools and there you will have clone disk as an option. From there on it's just reading carefully and following the wizard.
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by:CraigSNYC
ID: 37840303
in other words: two drives (Drive A and Drive B) connected to a system via usb to 40 pin ide adapter.  image from drive a is copied to drive b.
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by:TheAvenger
ID: 37840306
Yes. They have to be connected at the same time though.
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by:TheAvenger
ID: 37840313
Here is a review with step by step description but under Windows (i.e. you have a third disk to boot from). It looks almost the same from the bootable CD however, so you can choose either option: http://www.whatsabyte.com/P1/Acronis_Cloning_Review.html
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by:CraigSNYC
ID: 37840317
Avenger: do drives have to be the same capacity?
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by:TheAvenger
ID: 37840329
No (that's what I meant with my post ID: 37840287). If you have a smaller new drive, it has to have enough space to fit all your files. If the new drive is the same size as the old one or bigger, it's no problem. You can copy the disk one to one (which means the new bigger drive will have some unused space) or tell True Image to resize your partition (if you are not familiar with partitions, that's the space you use on the drive). So after resize you will be able to use the whole new drive.
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by:shahzoor
ID: 37840394
I would go with TheAvenger suggesting a solution to use Acronis
Its more professional and will solve the problem
if you are looking for a cheap rather FREE solution then you can try

Paragon Backup & Recovery
http://www.paragon-software.com/home/br-free/
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by:asher-is-me
ID: 37840996
I've used Acronis TrueImage for years and have always loved it.  If the HDD is dying, though, you may have to transfer the data file-by-file, it totally depends on the HDD health.  Acronis or another imaging solution doesn't work, I'd recommend using SyncBack and transferring the files.  You would have to reinstall the OS and software, but it'd be better than losing all of the data.
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by:nobus
ID: 37841373
i've used Acronis also - but now i use the FREE Paragon software (faster) : http://www.paragon-software.com/home/db-express/      
making a normal backup of the files is a good idea, since you don't know the state the OS is in...
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by:noxcho
ID: 37841454
Much depends on the origin of the HDD damage. It could happen that all the tools listed above would fail depending on the type of the problem your HDD has. Does it have bad sectors?
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by:TheAvenger
ID: 37841459
The author wrote "I think is going to die". This suggests something like the disk makes strange sounds. It does not suggest that the disk is already damaged, so there is a good chance that one more read works just fine to copy the data.
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by:noxcho
ID: 37841467
=))) there are different ways to understand "I think it is going to die" - currently it in water, or in oven, or I am going to shoot it, or I am going to sell/present it to someone for use as foot for furniture, or it is making funny sounds, or it is too hot during work etc etc.
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by:TheAvenger
ID: 37841471
:D However all of those suggest that it is "still" ok and will die soon (except the water/oven one). I think we should wait till the author tells us what he meant exactly.
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by:nobus
ID: 37841725
also - note that cloning a disk that is going to die, and UNABLE to boot  - may have a corrupt OS, so there is always a possibility that:
1-cloning is no more possible
2-if cloning still works, the OS may not boot also

so i suggest :
1-backup your data, and make an image
2-run diags on the dying disk  -to know it's status
3-if possible, repair the OS, so you can boot again (depends on the OS)
4-after cloning, a repair may still be needed

here my article on how to handle this situation : http://www.experts-exchange.com/Storage/Hard_Drives/A_3000-The-bad-hard-disk-problem.html
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by:CraigSNYC
ID: 37842176
nobus: this is actually contingency planning for this question:

http://www.experts-exchange.com/OS/Microsoft_Operating_Systems/Windows/XP/Q_27673051.html

just set the system up a month ago.  the software that the client uses took hours to install. HOURS!  so, i want to avoid that if possible.  i figured i'd try the acronis migration sw.  can't hurt.
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by:CraigSNYC
ID: 37842236
Since first posting I've run diags on the drive and it's fine.  I pulled the drive and getting data off it isn't a problem.  

The system the HD is attached to won't boot past the dash after the Dell splash.  In place install/repair install won't work so I don't think cloing the drive will fix the problem but i figured it can't hurt.  

As I posted above, the system was setup a month ago.  The client uses software that took hours to setup and I'd rather use that time this weekend to do my taxes.
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by:noxcho
ID: 37842826
Ok, that makes sense. Sure taking clone image of the drive is a good step.
As for non bootable system. Download trial version of Paragon Backup & Recovery Home and install it on any working machine. Then run it - select Full Scale Mode (or Advanced) and there Tools - recovery media builder.
Create a CD.
Then boot from this CD your problem machine with the drive inside and on the first screen you see select Find OS on local drive. It is right at bottom if I am not mistaken. Does it find any OS? If it finds Windows - select it and press Enter. Does it boot into Windows? If not what error does it give you?
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by:nobus
ID: 37842946
test if you can clone the drive when you connect it to a working pc - it may be something els thatn the drive that locks up the pc
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by:CraigSNYC
ID: 37843844
Pulling the drive later today to test it on another system.  I think it's going to be okay.  

Stay tuned.
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by:CraigSNYC
ID: 37845421
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