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My dad’s hard drive corrupted which was a result of many bad sectors. Anyway, I made a clone of the drive and have now repaired it totally (recreating the MBR and MFT) and doing a series of ChkDsk's on it. I can now see all the files and folder on it and it is all intact. I currently have it as a slave in my computer (where I was doing all the repairs).

When putting it back into the computer, it comes up with "A disk read error occurred: Press Ctrl + Alt + Del to Restart". I don’t know why this is happening but think it might have something to do with file permissions. I have tried a start-up recovery on the Vista boot CD and it found no problems.

When trying to apply file permissions (and creating file perms for the SYSTEM group (as it didn’t have any for SYSTEM group)) it couldn't apply them for some of the System32 folder files. I have tried applying them as admin and with as powerful privileges I can get. All to no avail.

When it is in my PC I can boot it up (I added it into my bootloader) and it boots up fine except when it logs in it comes up with the error - "Rundll32.exe - Windows cannot access the specified device, path or file. You may not have the appropriate permissions to access the item" This message keeps coming back and nothing loads at all.

Any help would be greatly received as I have got so far with the data recovery and want to avoid a reformat at all costs due to the vast number of programs installed and I don’t have much time on my hands!


EDIT: when booting off the Vista Disc and going into CMD, I tried "bootrec /ScanOS" and it returns "Total identified Windows Installations:0" This is a lie because the Boot CD itself found the drive with the installation on it! But when the Boot Disc finds the drive before you go through to repair windows it says OS version of it is "Microsoft Windows Vista (TM) ULTIMATE (RECOVERED)" What is the significance of the (recovered) at the end? Thanks

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What software/procedure did you use to make the clone? – rob May 3 '10 at 21:04
I used HDClone 3.8 free edition - I would highly recommend it, although it was slow it did a great job! – Atom Computing May 4 '10 at 7:29
up vote 3 down vote accepted

You really should re-install and just use your clone of the old drive to read of what old data that you can. There is likely to be corrupt data in the cloned image, as a result of a block not being reliably readable when you took the clone, that could be in significant OS and program files and key filesystem structures. There may be nothing of significance affected but you just can't tell for sure and may experience seemingly random problems down the line.

Also to double check: I assume by "have now repaired it totally" you mean think you have repaired the filesystems on a clone of the drive? Because if you mean that you think you have fixed the bad-sectors problem on the original drive then I recommend you do not proceed any further down this course. Bad sectors can not be "repaired" and even if the drive or the OS's filesystem checkers have now remapped all the current bad sectors so that they do not affect current operation it is likely that more will develop later - backup the old drive and ditch it if you have not already.

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Is there a way I can just re-install the windows folder? You can't do an upgrade from the Vista disc but is there another way to do it? I did mean I had repaired the cloned drive. The corrupt drive is waiting to be sent back to WD as it is 2 years into its 5 year warranty! Thanks for your reply. – Atom Computing May 4 '10 at 7:36
If you have a proper Vista install disc I think there is a "repair install" option when you boot from the disc which may work. If you have a manufacturer's disc then you may not have this (they tend to only off wipe+reinstall). You could try the recovery disc from if your current Vista media does not have the option. As usual, backup everything you can first just in case this process makes things worse. – David Spillett May 4 '10 at 10:19
If you manage to repair Windows the the recovery disc, remember that your apps may need the same treatment as they could have been sat over bad blocks on the damages drive too. – David Spillett May 4 '10 at 10:22
If I delete say the System32 folder, will the recovery disc replace it? The corrupt sectors were probably in the Sys32 folder as most files in there seem to be corrupt (opening the filex with a hex editor and all I see is zeros!). Thanks – Atom Computing May 4 '10 at 19:11
My understanding is that the repair process will rplace damaged files or deleted ones the same but it won't have the latest versions of the file if it has been updated by service pack or other patch as the patched copies kept by the update process may also be corrupt. It also can't repair driver files and such that came from elsewhere. You really do need to backup what you can and reinstall at this point, trying to repair the damage is likely to be wasted time. – David Spillett May 5 '10 at 9:37

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