I experienced my first crashed Hard Drive a few days back, luckily it was not the primary disk and was just full of software which I could reinstall on.

I tried several utilities like

To try and save my hard drive partition however they could not fix it.

I had to reformat the disk as the MFT (Master File Table) got corrupted and Windows chkdsk could not find the backup for it.

I was wondering how I can locate this MFT and back it up on a seperate location, say one of my other hard drives.

I am not using RAID

Disks are SATAII

Is it possible, how can I prevent a crashed disk in future?

Thanks for your time!

  • 2
    Windows backs up the mft automatically, its called the $mftmirror, but won't help if the drive dies or both the mft and mirror are overwritten or corrupted somehow, so a full disk backup as suggested by others is the best solution....whereismydata.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/…
    – Moab
    Feb 9 '12 at 17:15
  • 1
    @Moab It's not exactly a "backup" of the MFT since it only contains the first four records. See $MftMirr @ ntfs.com/ntfs-system-files.htm
    – user193130
    Jul 20 '14 at 4:30
  • 1
    As Moab and others suggested merely backing up the MFT is quite useless. Here are other reasons 1) It reflects the current state of the filesystem such as the physical locations of files which can change over time. It'll probably be considered corrupted by the OS if it doesn't accurately depict the current state. 2) The whole idea of backing up the MFT is to guard against MFT corruption, but what if the actual file data become corrupted? Then a perfect MFT is useless since ultimately, the files are what's important. Much better just to backup the files.
    – user193130
    Jul 20 '14 at 4:37
  • With over 1 year of delay: The thing to keep in mind here is that the MTF is like the index of a book, but one in tree structure. And to make things worse, really small files are also stored in the MTF. While the idea may sound interesting and practically can help recover old files, it may not have the same effect on new files. I don't think, it is a practical solution to reconstruct software corruption as reported by @dtawom. Just think of the trouble one gets merging two directories with files of different age. Now scale that up to an MTF with 200'000 and more entries.... Dec 17 '18 at 21:44

Not really an answer to your question, but NTFSInfo can at least tell you the clusters where the MFT is located:

NTFSInfo output

Maybe that's a start. But even if you extract the MFT, I have a hard time coming up with an idea on how to make use of it at a later time. I agree with jdh that a full backup would most likely be the best solution as that will make it a lot easier to recover from a failure.

  • alternatively fsutil fsinfo ntfsinfo x: - too bad it's localized.
    – n611x007
    Jan 12 '13 at 11:25

A full disk imaging tool would be a better solution for this situation. Tools like Acronois, Symantec Ghost or System Restore in Windows 7. These tools make a compressed image of the entire partition and/or drive, which can be restored from a bootable CD if the entire original drive is lost. Depending on the tool, they have the ability to backup deltas (and I think limited individual file restore?). Having a regular schedule to make backup images and store a copy remotely, is a great plan.

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