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After a windows crash a friends hard-drive starts saying "no operating system found", he had hard-drive issues for a while now, and I instructed him to buy a new one. Now I want to recover his data.

But before using my usual recovery tools I would like to make a byte by byte image of that hard-drive, so I could restore it if something goes wrong.

Some hdd imaging tools I've tried can only do this if the hdd shows up with a letter aka gets mounted.

P.S. I'm running Windows 7 x64 ...

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

This would be quite easy to do in Linux (you could grab a "live CD" of Ubuntu or something if you don't want to actually set up a linux installation). However it requires a little knowledge of your way around Linux/UNIX (its not as difficult as you may think though).

To make the image, you'd run

# dd if=/dev/sda of=/mnt/old-drive-backup

assuming the drive you want to back up is the device /dev/sda and you have a larger drive mounted on /mnt (which is empty or has enough space for the image on it).

dd is short for disk dump and simply copies one disk/file/block device to another. The if key stands for the 'input file' and the of key stands for the output file.

To restore, if you screw things up, it would be the reverse:

# dd if=/mnt/old-drive-backup of=/dev/sda

You'll want to be very careful about checking which drive is which in the device list of course, to make sure you don't overwrite the wrong drive.

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+1, i'll look into it – Jakob Cosoroaba Aug 16 '10 at 7:54

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