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I have a drive that is failing. Lots of bad sectors and the OS crashed.

1) Can I clone the drive and hope it boots up or is it a lost cause?

2) And what is a good way to clone it? I know people use Linux and dd to clone but are there more ideal ways?

I have already been able to access the disk via a USB interface. Now do I also need to use another USB interface to be able to clone the OLD laptop drive to the NEW drive?

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You can probably clone it. Lets of reference on how to do that on this site (use search in the upper right corner). As to how well it works: That depends on how broken the original drive is and how much can be succesfully read. – Hennes Oct 16 '12 at 20:42
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Most cloning tools do not recommend (or in some cases will not even allow) cloning of a drive with bad sectors, and even if you could, the data from those sectors would be corrupted and you would experience the same problems (without the drive going bad that is).

I wouldn't recommend dd, but ddrescue works along the same lines with a focus on reducing drive stress and recovering all the data possible. I would look into that.

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You might try to repair as many bad sectors as possible before trying to clone the drive. There are a ton of DOS-based low level repair tools available free of change. The only reason I would do this first is programs like Acronis might refuse to copy the drive, or halt in the middle of it due to bad sectors. If you can migrate the data off of bad sectors and onto 'good' ones, the clone process has a better chance of succeeding. I've had luck doing this in the past with drives that would otherwise be considered a lost cause.

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Sometimes it seems that you need to decide, try to mark bads or just use cloning software that knows what to do. ddrescue is good general for really bad situations (if you need to disconnect HDD in middle of process), there is also clonezilla which can clone bad disks and is pretty fast. Good commercial is ghost which handles pretty well bad disks but can be extremely slow if there is lot of bad sectors. – Sampo Sarrala Oct 16 '12 at 20:59

If you suspect this disk is on it's way out, your first priority should be to get the most important data off it imediatly, NOT trying to repair it. Don't try to clone it, but strategically attempt to move the most important data somehwere safe first, then go after the less important data later.

Attempting to clone the drive could not only result in catastrophic failure, but if the disk fails 99% of the way in duriong a clone attempt, not only is the disk now dead, but your image of the disc will most likley be worthless.

If this is a system drive, you're stuck using a boot CD if you don't have a USB / SATA adaptor.

If you lack a USB / SATA adaptor you'll need a good boot disk. One could use Hiren's which I don't recomend, BartPE might work, and WinPE is okay, but I recomend getting your hands on a good MSDaRT boot disk.

You would build a MSDaRT boot disk from the MSDOP if you can find it. The only two ways I know of getting MSDOP is either from a technet sub. or an enterprise licence agreement with Microsoft.

From the boot disk see if you can use a very handy utility called unstopbale file copier. Load the stand alone version to a UFD and try to copy the data.

The beauty of this tool is that if there is a file on a bad sector, it'll keep on truckin' and not abort the whole process. Windows has a bad habit of aborting the whole operation if a file half way can't be read.

This way you can get the most important data first, and then get the other stuff. If by some miracle the disk survives this, try using imagex to capture an image, it's a filesystem based imaging tool, not a sector based imaging tool, you may have some luck.

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