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Safe to create an image of a failing SSD?

Posted on 2016-08-19
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Last Modified: 2016-10-27
Have a Windows 7 PC which has a failing SSD as the boot drive.
It is failing and I was planning to simply create an image with Windows Backup and Restore, pop in the new SSD and use a System Repair Disk to boot into recovery and copy the image onto the new SSD.

Is there a chance that some corrupt data from the old SSD will transfer over to the new SSD if I do this?
Will this work or am I missing any steps?
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Question by:SeeDk
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by:paulmacd
paulmacd earned 83 total points
ID: 41762987
There is a chance, but you know the alternative is 100% failure so why not give it a try?
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by:John Hurst
John Hurst earned 83 total points
ID: 41762993
I think your chance of success is at best 50:50 . As suggested above, give it a try, but be ready to do a fresh install for long term reliability.
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by:paulmacd
ID: 41762995
Also, what make/model is this drive?  How old is it?  I ask for my own statistical enlightenment...
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by:SeeDk
ID: 41763000
The old (about 5 years) SSD is a Samsung PM830.
Replacing with a Crucial MX300.

Is there a better option which will give me a a higher chance of success or is this simply one of the negative consequences of using SSDs?
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by:John Hurst
ID: 41763006
Newer SSD's have become more reliable especially the PCIe-NVMe drives (more advanced than SATA)
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by:paulmacd
ID: 41763011
On the contrary!  SSDs should be more reliable - they have no moving parts.

SSDs are the future - don't sweat it.
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by:SeeDk
ID: 41763012
I see, so it sounds like I will need to brace myself for the joys of a fresh install if this fails.
The SSD came with an Acronis True Image HD software key. I'll create an image with that as well and try that first.
Maybe Crucial has high confidence in that product (fingers crossed).

Correction: This software is meant to be used to clone the drive right away rather than restore from an image. Hopefully that works. Any idea how long this would take for a 256GB drive?
I need to do this on a remote site and I will be stuck there until this is done.
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by:paulmacd
ID: 41763029
Acronis True Image is a great product.  I think it will fit the bill for you.

How long it takes depends on how much data is on the drive, but expect to invest a few hours.
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rindi earned 251 total points
ID: 41763037
Imaging a bad disk you always have a big chance of carrying over bad data. It doesn't matter whether it is an SSD or conventional disk, it is the same for both. Personally I wouldn't recommend doing it, as it will be hard to know what data is good or not. A system repair would only be able to fix some OS issues, but not any other issues there may be. Just for the OS that wouldn't make sense, as an OS is installed quickly and should be the least of your problems. Important is your data (and that should already be on your regular backups).

What types of failure are you experiencing on the old SSD? Have you made sure it is current in it's firmware, as the newest firmware can often fix issues... Most SSD's include a utility you can install within Windows, and that utility can check it's health, and also checks online about firmware updates.
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by:SeeDk
ID: 41763062
All the data is actually installed on other drives, which are fine now and are being backup so data loss is not an issue.

The idea behind not doing a fresh install is there are so many programs installed on the PC it will be very time consuming to re-do it all.

I have Acronis Drive Monitor installed which is reporting it's Wear Leveling count Raw Value as 3266 and marks this as a fail

On your suggestion, I downloaded Samsung SSD software called 'Samsung Magician'.
It is instead reporting the 'Raw Data' is 3266 while the 'Current Value' is 10 and marks this as OK.

So maybe there is no problem with the SSD?

That would be great news...though I would do the cloning anyway before a failure does occur.
The new SSD is higher capacity anyway so it will be an upgrade.
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by:rindi
ID: 41763090
I would always rather believe what the manufacturer's tool reports than a 3rd party tool. But since there doesn't seem to be any issue with the SSD at the moment, imaging it now should be no problem.

On the other hand you should always ask yourself, is all that installed software really needed? 99% of the PC's I've seen had a lot of stuff installed that wasn't necessary, or no longer needed. a fresh installation along with just the needed software is often a very good idea.
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by:nobus
ID: 41763438
how did you know the SSD is failing?

what happens  exactly?  erors, messages?
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by:Scott Silva
ID: 41763729
Many times the SSD failure notices are warning you that the reserved space for failures is gone or near gone... SSD's  usually have about 10% reserved for failed sector replacement...
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by:dlethe
dlethe earned 83 total points
ID: 41763804
SSDs fail differently than mechanical drives.  They way it works is that you can only have so many write cycles until the cells just can't hold a charge any more.  As such, effectively the writes wear out, not the reads.   (I am not going to get into the deep engineering of wear leveling, & write amplification).  Suffice to say, use anything you want, it doesn't matter.  Just make darned sure the software isn't trying to write to the device ,or update any last-time-accessed type of things.

in order to do that, I would boot the system to LINUX and just use one of the freebie partition cloning packages, or even dd  (dd if=/dev/a, of=/dev/b, bs=4k  (substitute the a & b for right input / output paths).   If the dd command makes you go ????, then use clonezilla or the partition magic.

Do NOT use anything that mounts the filesystem or attempts any type of recovery. Those will write to the device.   You want a pure bit-level O/S agnostic copy at the physical drive level and/or partition level.
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by:dlethe
ID: 41763808
P.S.  The wear leveling percentage in, as of itself, is a fuzzy number.  There are a few other variables that come into play, which are vendor/product specific and only available under NDA to developers.  Reason is that the percentage can even go negative and be flat out wrong based on write amplification settings and how much of the device was provisioned for housekeeping.

Buy a decent replacement.   Don't use a RAID controller either or TRIM will not work, and the device will get used up much faster.  Make sure your O/S chooses optimal sectoring to eliminate read/modify/write cycles.
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by:Gary Patterson
ID: 41763988
SSDs fail differently than magnetic disks.  You don't explain what makes you think the drive is failing, but it is possible that is is perfectly readable.

Sounds like you have all your data.

Clone it, boot from the image, CHKDSK, and if CHKDSK comes up clean, you're probably good to go.
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by:SeeDk
ID: 41767671
Thank you everyone, very informative responses here. Learned more about SSDs than I knew before. :).
Will keep this all in mind when doing the cloning.
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