Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I do a lot of tech support for family and friends (and of course their friends) on the side and I am looking for software with the following characteristics:

  • Runs on as many hardware configurations as possible (since everyone's computer is different)
  • Doesn't choke on dying hard drives or drives with errors
  • Bootable would be a plus (I wouldn't have to remove a laptop hard drive to make a backup)

I have been using a bootable CD from my own Acronis TrueImage but it unfortunately isn't compatible with some computers and struggles with bad drives

share|improve this question
This is a dupe many times over. Anyone answering is part of the problem. – random Jan 19 '10 at 4:52
I wouldn't say an exact dupe, but rather a poor title. The other answers all mention Acronis as the solution which doesn't address his problem at all if you read his full question. He needs software that will work regardless of errors and on a multitude of different hardware configurations. – John T Jan 19 '10 at 4:54
I edited the title. Those "similar" questions are very, very generic while I'm trying to be specific. Given no constraints, I too would recommend Acronis, but it just doesn't cut it for me. – PressAnyKey Jan 19 '10 at 4:57
Maybe something along the lines of "bootable, multi-architecture imaging software with error correction." - or a different combination of those words would be most suitable. – John T Jan 19 '10 at 4:59
up vote 1 down vote accepted

ddrescue was built for this and fulfills the requirements, but not all by itself. You can get it as part of the SystemRescueCD, which is a bootable CD that contains this tool and many other system rescue tools.

The CD is available for i486/amd64, SPARC, and PPC. If you don't want to use a CD, there are instructions available for installing to a USB stick.

In case of read errors, it will try it's best to rescue the data rather than just choking:

ddrescue is a raw disk imaging tool that "copies data from one file or block device to another, trying hard to rescue data in case of read errors." The application is developed as part of the GNU project and has written with UNIX/Linux in mind.

share|improve this answer
Wow, this looks promising! Is it safe to assume that SystemRescueCD should run on just about any computer? I never used it. – PressAnyKey Jan 19 '10 at 5:00
Not any computer, but most household desktops like you are working on, yes. The supported hardware platforms are listed above. – John T Jan 19 '10 at 5:02
Does the SystemRescueCD require any tweaking? Hopefully it's not as complicated as working with BartPE – Ivo Flipse Jan 19 '10 at 7:10
@Ivo nope, definitely not like BartPE. – John T Jan 19 '10 at 13:21

You must log in to answer this question.