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I have a bad 500GB drive that has important data on it. The drive gives loads of Error 51 warning messages in the XP event logs but in disk management the drive shows as healthy. I'm wondering if I can "clone" the drive to a new, known good, drive and possibly recover the data on the drive. Does anyone know if that would or has worked? If I can provide further details to help please ask.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Stop writing to the drive immediately.

Cloning is certainly possible, but unless you want to do some file recovery or have an operating system on there, you may as well just copy the files via the operating system.

If you want to clone, I'd recommend Norton Ghost.

For file recovery on NTFS, I'd recommend findntfs or "HandyRecovery" if you prefer a GUI app.

Once you have a backup, you can investigate further to see if the drive really is failing. The best way is to read the "SMART" attributes of the drive. There are a number of free apps that do this. I'd recommend Seagate's "Seatools". (Your manufacturer likely has something equivalent, but this should work with any drive anyway)

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Thanks for the info. The drive is a Seagate so I'll check out Seatools. It's a data only drive, no OS. I should be able to try this all tomorrow, I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks again! – Mitch Nov 19 '10 at 0:42
Unfortunately the drive was too far gone and was not detected by any of the tools today when I attempted to get the data off. – Mitch Nov 19 '10 at 17:55
In that case you may want to consider a more low-level tool such as SpinRite. Certainly try cloning the drive first, as per jason404's answer. – RJFalconer Nov 19 '10 at 22:20

It's best to clone the drive as soon as possible and then recover any data from the image you make from it.

I have recovered data from drives that were so corrupted that Windows would freeze or crash. After trying out some boot discs, I found EASEUS Disk Copy, which is a free boot disc that raw copies the disk sector-by-sector, outside of Windows. I think it must be Linux-based.

You can then try recovering corrupted data from the fresh drive that you copied the data over to.

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We use Acronis True Image software, which we've found to do a stand-up job of cloning drives, but it doesn't like bad sectors, so perhaps EASEUS Disk Copy as jason404 recommended. – user3463 Nov 19 '10 at 4:05

Can you access your files on the drive currently?

I haven't used any clone softwares, but you can 'clone' two drives (the entire disk or any partition) using dd utility in Linux.

You may also want to check the SMART statistics on your drive, to check if there is anything physical damage.

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No access to the files unfortunately. I have access to assorted hardware to hook it up to for rescue purposes. – Mitch Nov 19 '10 at 1:09

If you have access to Linux or a Mac, you can try ddrescue, which is specifically intended to recover damaged volumes.

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Thanks, but no Macs or Linux at the moment. – Mitch Nov 19 '10 at 1:09
You can boot from any Linux Live CD such as System rescue CD. It won't write to your HD (OS or Data) – RedGrittyBrick Nov 19 '10 at 10:47

Get the information off ASAP any way you can. If the info can be copied, it's probably okay.

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