Cloning an important drive that has some bad sectors

Posted on 2014-03-21
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2014-04-15
One of our old workstations has some software that is not replaceable.  I have a new drive and I am using HDClone to clone it.  We're talking about 30GB of data.  The OS is Win XP Pro SP3.  This morning I connected both old and new drives to another machine using USB ports and booted up with HDClone's bootable CD.  HDClone found all drives OK.  It went ahead and did the clone which took 3 hours.  It found 13 bad sectors, presumably in the original drive.  The OS and the software of concern have been working OK, so I suppose the bad sectors are either at data that's not being used or where there never has been data.  After the clone run finished, I found that Windows Explorer recognized the clone with a drive letter, but it would not allow access and says that there is corruption.  The original IS accessible by Windows Explorer.  I went ahead and Formatted the new drive, and as expected, now it is accessible, but of course with no data.  At this point I ran CHKDSK as Read-Only on the original and it found 8K in bad sectors.  What should be my next move?...

1. Run CHKDSK /f on the original, check it, especially the valuable software, for validity, then run the clone process again and hope for the best?

2. Run the clone process again, assuming that the clone will again be inaccessible but maybe CHKDSK /f can fix the clone.  (I should have at least tried that before the format.)

3. HDClone has an option to copy data sectors only rather than a simple sector for sector.  Maybe I should try that.  Would that copy the Registry data OK, so that the software app would work?

4. Other?

I understand that there is significant risk in running CHKDSK /f as this is more concerned about only healthy sectors being addressible than it is about preserving existing data.  Is that true?  

What should be my next move?
Question by:Josh Christie
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 39946436
If the disk is on its way out then the more you try to fix it the more likely you are to cause irreparable damage.
If the software on it is vitally important then I recommend you send the disk to a professional recovery laboratory and have them clone it for you. This will cost a few hundred dollars but they have the greatest chance of recovering it intact.
LVL 26

Assisted Solution

by:Fred Marshall
Fred Marshall earned 501 total points
ID: 39946510
I've done just this process quite a number of times and (so far) have been lucky enough to preserve the system, programs and data.

Consider this (in a very simplistic form):
- a program like HDD Regenerator works to "bring back" the data.
- a program like chkdsk works to fix the file structure.

So, I look at the hierarchy of operations like this:
1) If you believe there is little risk in using the HD to be replaced, then run HDD Regenerator.  If you believe this is risky then skip it or see below.
2) Clone the disk / make an image of it.
3) Put the image on a new hard drive.
4) Run chkdsk on the new hard drive.

Or you might do this:
1) Clone the disk / make an image of it if you're nervous.
2) Put the image on a new hard drive.
3) Run chkdsk on the new hard drive.
4) Run HDD Regenerator on the old hard drive now that you've done "phase 1" as best possible.
5) Image the old hard drive once again.
Now you have 2 images of the old hard drive: 1 "before" and 1 "after".  Use what makes best sense.

As you have already assessed:
The probability that destroyed files are in the OS is small and might even be repairable with sfc, etc.
The probability that destroyed files are in the programs is also small and programs can be reinstalled.
The probability that destroyed or corrupted files are in data and image files is similarly small and maybe not detectable.

Of course, if you can start from scratch, that's always better as you have greater assurance.  But I've saved quite a few "failing" hard drive situations this way without a single problem.  Risky?  Sure.  Useful?  It appears so.

If professional data recovery were is deemed affordable then by all means.
LVL 92

Assisted Solution

nobus earned 999 total points
ID: 39947412
i advise not to run chkdsk on a suspect bad drive; as said - it tries to fix the File Structure, so you can easily imagine what happens on a bad drive : it makes things worse.
so my suggestion is :
1-if the data is very valuable - use a recovery service
2-if you want to try your self, use Getdataback to get the Data
2a-if you can make an image - DO THAT first - if possible
2b-run HDDRegenerator and check if it fixes the first sector; chances are it can fix the drive ( i'v' had several "bad" drives  recovered this way -  and i never saw any drive come back again - nor did i loose any data by using this program
http://www.dposoft.net/hdd.html                  HDD Regenerator

if it can fix your drive - make another image (from the good one, so you have 2 images to return to, if anything goes wrong.
3-run the HDD diagnostic - long test, to verify if your drive is healthy; personally, i use the UBCD  for this :
Hardware diagnostic CD    UBCD

go to the download page, scroll down to the mirror section, and  click on a mirror to start the download
Download the UBCD and make the cd   <<==on a WORKING PC, and boot the problem PC from it
Here 2 links, one to the general site, and a direct link to the download

since the downloaded file is an ISO file, eg ubcd527.iso - so you need to use an ISO burning tool
if you don't have that software, install cdburnerXP : http://cdburnerxp.se/

If you want also the Ram tested - run memtest86+ at least 1 full pass,  - you should have NO errors!
For disk Diagnostics run the disk diag for your disk brand (eg seagate diag for seagate drive)  from the HDD section -  long or advanced diag !  (runs at least for30 minutes)

http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/                        ultimate boot cd
http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/download.html             download page
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Author Comment

by:Josh Christie
ID: 39960158
I tried creating an image using HDClone, but it required that I buy at least the Basic edition in order to restore the image on the new drive.  I did that.  Then I tried to run CHKDSK on the restored image.  CHKDSK knows that it's an NTFS system, but it cannot do anything with it and it aborts.  

At the moment I am trying the route of creating a virtual machine.  That seems to be working.  We might go that route, though I'd still prefer to end up with a bootable hard drive.  

I think I might try another run with my new HDClone Basic which includes a Safe Rescue feature for the clone mode.
LVL 92

Expert Comment

ID: 39960919
did you try hddregenerator yet?  it fixed several drives for me

Author Comment

by:Josh Christie
ID: 39969267
Well, the HDClone Basic > Safe Rescue did not work.  So at this point we're pursuing the route of the virtual machine.

After we get weaned off of the old HDD, I'm thinking of maybe trying hddregenerator.
LVL 92

Expert Comment

ID: 39969415
as a matter of fact, it cured a drive just yesterday (a 500 Gb laptop one)

Author Comment

by:Josh Christie
ID: 39975643
The virtual machine seems to be working.  So I will just close this question
LVL 26

Expert Comment

by:Fred Marshall
ID: 39975772
HDD Regenerator is a great tool. But, you have to figure if a hard drive is bad then maybe HDD Regenerator is but a Band-Aid.  If it can get you through a bump in the road then great!  It's never failed to do that on hard drives that at least still work - but there's always a first time of course.
Right now I'm repairing a hard drive for the 2nd time.  So I suspect (as one should) that this hard drive is somehow flaky.  Why would one not if HDD Regenerator is needed in the first place?  
So, it's not a long-term panacea.  But, it may keep things going for the remaining life of the computer (?).
This is the only system that I've seen that came back (after a long number of months) after repairing with HDD Regenerator.  
I'll probably replace the HD this time.

Author Comment

by:Josh Christie
ID: 39975794
I'd like to give my VM solution a good heat run and prove it out, then have a go with HDD Regenerator on the original HDD.
LVL 92

Accepted Solution

nobus earned 999 total points
ID: 39977332
btw - i use mostly th e paragon software for imaging, and disk handling; here the free imaging tool : http://www.paragon-software.com/free/

Author Comment

by:Josh Christie
ID: 39977890
So, nobus, do you cure it with HDD Regenerator and then clone it with Paragon?
LVL 92

Expert Comment

ID: 39978246
sure; they are very handy tools - and disk manager 14 is even better (more possibilities)
but in general - i don't even need to clone it, after the repair (i do it only as precaution)

Author Closing Comment

by:Josh Christie
ID: 40001505
Thanks for the help.  I'm choosing to grade this with a B.  It might be an A answer; I suspect it is, but for the present, I'm going down a different road, so I am tucking these tips into my toolbox for the future.

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