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Thread: Cloning a failing drive

  1. #1
    Storage? I am Storage! time's Avatar
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    Cloning a failing drive

    We have a drive that is dying but still works. Already seen a no-drive-found error or similar after having to reboot the PC. Unfortunately, it's a single disk setup and I really would prefer to salvage the Windows 7 installation with its installed apps in particular. Much of the drive is taken up with huge files I don't really care about.

    SMART is now reporting various things, ranging from 19 errors to several hundred - depending on which parameter you want to believe. Macrium Reflect (free disk cloner) chokes at about 90% of the way through with a read I/O error. Although oddly, when I try to copy all the files individually (except for all the system files that you can't), I don't see a failure.

    So I need clone software that will keep going after encountering a bad block. EaseUS locked the whole PC solid. Anyone know of anything that actually works? I'm considering Aomei Backupper. I suspect other products like HDDGuru's HDD Raw Copy don't use Windows Volume Shadow Copy, so that's probably more reboots and downtime than we can bear. Actually, maybe VSS is the problem?

  2. #2
    Wotty wot wot. Storage Is My Life Chewy509's Avatar
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    Hi time,

    In the forensics' world there are a number of tools to clone drives, the most common no-cost tool that handles bad-sectors with ease is ddrescue. ( https://www.gnu.org/software/ddrescue/ ).

    All the other tools that work all cost $$$$$.

    Also IIRC Symantec Ghost does a decent job with IO Errors as well (There are options during clone to ignore IO errors and keep going), but I don't know how well it handles modern non-spinning disks.
    I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

  3. #3
    Storage? I am Storage! blakerwry's Avatar
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    I've found the -rescue option under the advanced clonezilla parameters to be of assistance with source disk errors. It sounds like your errors are not in any important user data. If the errors are in any system files, you can likely run the sfc to resolve any corruption after cloning to a working disk.

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    Storage? I am Storage! Howell's Avatar
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    Windows soft raid?

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    I can't believe I'm a Fixture LunarMist's Avatar
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    Can you send it out or is data recovery part of the core business?
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  6. #6
    Storage? I am Storage! time's Avatar
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    We ended up backing up the huge files I don't really care about to a couple of external drives, then deleting them from the original drive. That reduced the data size from 900GB to 200GB, and hopefully took potentially troublesome blocks out of the equation. Rather than use clone software that relied on VSS, we booted the PC from a Paragon CD and used a very old version (2006) of their Drive Copy. Afterwards, we had to fix the BCD and drive mappings with Paragon Rescue Kit.

    The PC is now running much better and noticeably quieter. It has gone from a 5-year-old Seagate 7200rpm drive to a Toshiba 7200rpm drive (old HGST design, AFAIK). No SSD because it doesn't get restarted very often and we want something more in keeping with what customers have.

    CloneZilla was next on the list, but I wasn't sure how old my CD copy was. Interestingly, one SMART parameter said that there were 19 errors (probably blocks), but another reported more than a thousand (probably accesses). We never did narrow it down to specific files ...

    The hassles were because we have a highly obstructive internal IT division that thinks we should be 100% cloud-based. If we asked them for help on this, they would try to take the machine away. In any case, this little fix that cost $65 (for the new drive) is most likely beyond their technical capabilities.

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