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    New Lounger allman71's Avatar
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    My brother has a Dell computer with a hard drive going bad. Dell put the image restore on the hard drive and did not provide the Vista operating system disk. Is there a way I can copy off the hard drive the restore image and make some type of install disk for the new hard drive?

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    No, you will need to order the CDs from Dell for this model.

    Most of time, if you buy a replacement drive from the OEM's they will include the OS for the required model.

    Now running HP Pavilion a6528p, with Win7 64 Bit OS.

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    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Hartness View Post
    My brother has a Dell computer with a hard drive going bad. Dell put the image restore on the hard drive and did not provide the Vista operating system disk. Is there a way I can copy off the hard drive the restore image and make some type of install disk for the new hard drive?
    How bad is it? I recently posted a thread about cloning a hard drive to a new one using Acronis Migrate Easy. This copies over both your active partitions and Dell's hidden partitions. Perhaps that would avoid the need to rebuild the system?? See [topic='768520']Upgrading laptop hard drive[/topic].

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    New Lounger allman71's Avatar
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    The hard drive is still running, but it gets a S.M.A.R.T. error message at start up and a diagnostic program I ran gave the same type error message.

    I went to the Dell site and filled out a form to hopefully get a CD with the original stuff. If that doesn't work, I will try to clone the drive. The link for the laptop hard drive gave great step by step. I actually already have a the cable if I can remember where I put it. Thanks so much for the replies.

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    1 - REINSTALL DISKS: Does Dell permit making your own reinstall CD/DVDs from the Dell recovery partition or from within a working operating system? (I don't know because I've rebuilt Dell's from their master CDs anyway, not from any hidden recovery partition on any hard drive.) I've seen copies of recovery disks available over the web for a price for each computer model, so web search for your exact model number and add the words "recovery disk set", or call Dell (or upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows XP).

    2 - REINSTALL FROM HARD DRIVE: Any total drive copy utility should also copy the hidden Dell recovery partition as mentioned -- then hit the appropriate function key during POST power on self test to access the recovery partition and programs before allowing the computer to self-boot into the main operating system -- if you can start this way, it will probably only offer to erase the main data and refresh the PC to look like factory new out-of-the-box, then you must reinstall all your additional programs and patches and restore your backed up data if you have any, otherwise,leave the drive data intact and try alternate means of data recovery. Though, if you can copy the drive, the new drive may work well without needing to run reinstall from the hidden partition anyway -- just use it.

    3 - FIXING THE HARD DRIVE: I've found SMART errors are as meaningless as other error messages. The "HDD Regenerator" program from Dmitriy Primochenko at DPOSoft.com has "rebuilt" the drive surface and reset SMART data for me (where SMART no longer says "imminent failure" at boot, but an internal read of SMART data now says failure "sometime in the past"!), and Steve Gibson's Spinrite.com program has recovered hard to read data. The challenge I've seen is keeping the drives at operating temperature, not too cold nor to hot, so install supplemental cooling fans, let the drive reach 85 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit, then I run Spinrite first for most accurate recovery, then HDD Regenerator to reset SMART if possible (or run HDD Regenerator first to bulldoze any sector read glitches), then the drives seem fine forever IF they stay at operating temperature. Bad things for any electronics, especially motors, are frequent on / off cycles, cooling down overnight or over the weekend, then busy startup the next day or the Monday morning cold re-startup failure crash, and especially overheating due to a dusty cabinet on the floor and inadequate cooling fans -- the killer of PC parts. Google runs their systems at operating temp with one on cycle for life, and their drives last (they do not bother to analyze and revive drive failures, so they have no service advice to offer other than to replace failed parts because all their data is redundent and self regenerating, but I suspect their removed hard drives are recoverable, it's just cheaper for them to replace 'em and move on).

    Let us know how you resolve your challenge.

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    New Lounger allman71's Avatar
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    I ended up buying the cd's from Dell and installing a new hard drive. I was going to try to clone his drive, but it would not start up.

    When I called the place he had purchased the computer from, they told me he should have made a restore disk. It seems that is what you should do even though my brother does not remember them telling him he needed to do this.

    I have his old hard drive, but he had nothing on it that he couldn't lose. I might trying somethings to retrieve the data just to learn how to do this. You never know when that might come in handy.

    I just made a restore disk for a friend's HP computer and the message told me I could do this only once. I guess some people make copies and sell them.

    I would advise all to make a copy if they didn't receive any system disk with their computer.

    What has been your experience with the SpinRite program? Have you used it and do you think it is worth the price? I have read about it and considered buying it. It would be nice to hear from someone who has used the program.

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    Steve Gibson's Spinrite.com program is appropriate for many situations and is unique in data recovery capability accuracy. However, it won't spin up a drive that's dead, nor can it compensate for bad electronics, or reconstruct truly gone and missing user or operating system data, such as overwritten or blank data from directories or partition tables, nor will it retrieve erased files or perform any other expanded data recovery tasks.

    Spinrite "merely" fixes the magnetic surface to be readable. Spinrite calculates what each sector should contain, including index headers and trailing ecc error correction codes (about 160 additional bytes per 512 bytes of your data per sector), and rewrites each unreadable sector to be readable, even if the user-contents of the recovered sector are garbage. Spinrite can build an immense database in it's "head" while analyzing each sector, re-reading each damaged sector up to 2,048 times, and doing a best statistical guess while recalculating what the 0 and 1 pattern is most likely to be when confronted with missing data or with in between recorded information like 0.3 to 0.7 signals instead of pure 0 or 1, hence the incredible accuracy of Spinrite's "guesses" as to what should be in each sector.

    Spinrite also provides an attentive user with a vast array of information about the drive -- temperature, real access responsiveness, real data transfer rate, and more -- and if run frequently before problems happen, the user can learn and become familiar with what's right, and more readily understand what is the impact of something going wrong.

    Spinrite will not reset the drive's on-board SMART failure database even after recovering all bad sectors and returning them to use. Spinrite will not identify how many sectors are still relocated or not, so a drive's SMART data may still imply that some sectors are relocated even after Spinrite says it's 100% okay.

    Although Dmitriy Primochenko's HDD Regenerator does not explicitly state that they reset SMART data failure codes, that is what happened to at least one failing drive for me, and the drive has been reliable since. I presume the drive had one incident where it overheated and recorded massive errors all at once. But after cooling down and then being "rebuilt" at room temperature, the drive appears to be able to run reliably and error free. So, nullifying the SMART failure history makes sense, as long as the drive in it's new environment is kept at room temperature. I have supplemental cooling fas on each component in tower computers -- one for each drive, one for memory, one for each accessory card especially video, and so on -- and I use external fans for display screens, external drives, and laptops, especially the after-market laptop platforms that include air circulation fans. Electronics kept at room temperature will last 20 years or more.

    And don't forget to apply supplemental cooling fans especially during intensive continuous data recovery. I've had drives run constantly for 2 weeks or longer during magnetic surface data reconstruction, and they quickly wanted to exceed 120 degrees before I put additional fans on them. I suggest keeping all computer component temperatures below 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but over 80 degrees is probably acceptable (that is, if you're too hot and uncomfortable around your computer's heat, then the computer is too hot and uncomfortable, too).

    Regardless, after low-level magnetic surface data reconstruction using Spinrite, or HDD Regenerator, or both, there is still the need to do high level data recovery using programs like Scan Disk, Check Disk, Check NTFS, Norton Disk Doctor, or equivalent programs to repair the drive's logical data structure itself, and or programs like Zero Assumption Recovery, Recuva, and so on, to find and copy data to another drive.

    Also, when I said SMART errors are as meaningless as any other error codes, what I mean is that some drives fail with no SMART warnings or errors in their SMART log, and some drives with "eminent failure" SMART messages not only continue to run forever, but are recoverable using Spinrite and HDD Regenerator. So, drives without SMART error messages need inspection as well as drives with SMART error messages.

    The penultimate need is to not only backup your data, but to make complete external copies of all installation master source data so you can reinstall on demand, including an inventory of web-downloaded utilities. And, off-site web-backup services like Mozy are useless for reinstallation, as they can only be accessed from an already working computer. They are no help making a crashed computer work again, so Mozy and other web-based backup services are most appropriate for self-created user data only, certainly not for primary installation program masters! :-(

    Bottom line? Get Spinrite and run it on every drive you own (including floppies if you still have any, it'll keep 'em readable) and learn and take notes. You'll start to understand good from bad, and maybe see danger coming, and be better prepared, maybe even ward it off altogether. And, if your drive does not report SMART temperature (no USB drives do), then also pickup a small hand-held IR non-contact temperature reader thermometer and make sure everything's running at room temperature all the time. The drive maker may say it works at 200 degrees, but it not only fries itself, but it cooks every other component nearby!

    Keep it cool, baby!

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    New Lounger allman71's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the great info. I learned several things reading your reply. I will definitely get a copy of SpinRite in the near future.

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    Here are some screen shots from a recent Spinrite session -- I forgot that Spinrite will turn SMART on if the drive has had it turned off! (Many duplicate shots here as my camera was on continuous drive -- oops):

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/peterbl...13922272/show/

    This drive was just slow (by age of design) and has been developing seek errors, which are hidden from Windows -- the drive retries and relocates sectors and Windows waits without comment or error! This drive had no data read errors -- nothing was lost, just s-l-o-w. Note the real data transfer rate has nothing to do with RPM revolutions per minute, and I've never seen a drive take advantage of even half the data transfer bandwidth of the connection hardware. Who knew that promised peak potential specifications are not even close to what we get in real life?

    This drive is set for ATA-3 (33 mb/s) DMA 5 (100 mb/s) 16- to 32-bit transfers (can't tell which), yet actually hooks up to UDMA-3 (33 mb/s not 100 mb/s) and PIO (16 mb/s), and actually delivers a real data transfer rate from only 6 to 11 megabytes per second! Note that this drive hid 3.4 million errors from the operating system during a test from end to end. No wonder our systems feel slow and lethargic -- how many errors is your hard drive hiding from your operating system right now as you read this? ;-). Compare performance using Spinrite's screen as shown here, for example:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/peterbl...7612113922272/

    See other drive connections specifications at search results like:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parallel_ATA

    I'll find some additional shots I took of Spinrite error recovery, and of HDD Regenerator, and other data recovery stuff.

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    Most of the drive manufacturers provide free cloning software that can be used if the new drive is by that manufacturer. (Seagate/Maxtor have DiskWizard.)

    cheers, Paul

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