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I recently went to Dell Service center and they tell that HDD is faulty and needs to be replaced. I have a Studio 1457 laptop with 500 GB HDD and don't want to lose the data(purchased in May 2010, still under warranty). I have searched a bit and I think it may be best to use a disk imaging software for this task. However, I don't know about a good software. I have following steps in mind:

  • Get a 1 TB External HDD.
  • Make an image of existing 500 GB HDD and store data on external disk.
  • Install new HDD and install a brand new Windows copy and then install the software on it.
  • Using the same software I used to make image, restore the old HDD image on new one.

However, I have some questions in mind.

First, is this possible?

Second, I live in a country where piracy is a big issue and I am sure the support executive who will come to change HDD will have a pirated copy. But I have genuine Windows 7 Pro and don't want to lose it. Now, Dell does not supply and OS disks, so I can't install it on new HDD! If I follow above steps, which version of Windows 7 will be retained? One in the image(authentic) or one in the new HDD(pirated).

I am ready to purchase a good software for this task and my budget is $50-60. Since laptop is under warranty, new HDD will be free.

One last thing, I have created a Windows Migration file whose size is 70 GB. Can it be used to move from Windows 7 Pro to Windows 7 Pro?(In case I get a genuine copy of Windows 7!)

Any other method to save all the data?

Thanks in advance.

share|improve this question
My daughter had a dell computer without OS discs and Dell had a program (at least in the US) where you could request a (free) set of discs from them. Also, Dell may have put a sticker on the bottom with your license key, which would /probably/ work with any OEM install disc. – horatio Jan 6 '11 at 16:28
They have a program here too and I will ask them soon for OS disk. Problem is that I will have to do lot of reinstall work that way. 300 out of my 500 GB HDD is full and it is with all the software I use and work files! – Ishan Jan 8 '11 at 6:03

Your best bet is Shadow Protect. Free trials are available. This will image your entire drive if it's possible.

The biggest problem is that it is already damaged. Backups really can be sensitive to disk errors and problems and it may be difficult to accrue a good backup.

You may need to manually pull data off.

If the drive is inaccessible then you would need to hire a data recovery service, and at that point, it is probably not worth it.

share|improve this answer
Thanks for answer. Well, drive is accessible. The only error I got in diagnostics was a "DST Logs Contain Previous Error(s)" but HDD works great! – Ishan Jan 8 '11 at 6:04

If Windows is still functioning, a good free product is Paragon Backup and Recovery Free.

If you cannot boot or install, you will need a product that comes with a rescue CD, such as:

Macrium Reflect Free
Clonezilla (can be complicated upon first use)

You may also try fixing your disk enough for booting using Paragon Rescue Kit 10 Free Edition.

share|improve this answer
Windows is working. I was thinking Macrium reflect sounds good. Just one question, does the rescue CD allow to write on a new HDD? – Ishan Jan 8 '11 at 6:06
It probably does (never used it - I use Acronis which is not free). Just to remark that Paragon has very good products. But nothing stops you from trying both. – harrymc Jan 8 '11 at 9:08

I've had great success with PartedMagic. You should give it a try.

share|improve this answer
For now, I am looking for a quick tool and want good support, so I am leaning more toward commercial software. – Ishan Jan 8 '11 at 6:09

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