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  1. #1
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    Bad Sectors on HDD - How to fix this?

    Greetings,
    I have a problem with “Bad Sectors” and would like to know if there is any software around that can fix that then make an exact copy of that disk to another blank one.

    The Situation:
    I am currently running form a good bootable “C” drive. The bad drive is currently “F” drive. “F” drive is visible in the directory and a listing of the files are also visible. “F” drive was originally the “C” bootable drive until failures were detected. “C” is an older drive with much the same data (but about 2 years out of date). “F” drive replaced it as it was larger. Both are partitioned into two parts at 50% each.

    What I want to do:
    I would like to find software that will copy data from one drive to another byte by byte (or sector by sector, including the MBR, i.e. an exact copy) and when it runs into a bad sector either fix it, or, after some reasonable amount of time, skip it and continue copying data to the new disk. The problem I run into with most software is that they will not copy if there is some error like “Bad Sectors” or that Chkdsk will not certify or they take forever on a trying to work on a given sector forever for which you do not have the option to skip..

    The reason for wanting to do this is that during normal operation I will continuously mirror the “C” drive to another drive. When “C” drive becomes defective I will just swap out the defective “C” drive for the back up drive. In this way I won’t have to deal with compressed volumes etc. Just plug and play. At least that’s the theory.

    I have tried a number of software products but virtually all of them want to make a compressed volume on another drive from which you can retrieve missing files. “Acronis” is an example of this (at least as far as I was able to determine).

    So far I have looked at:
    * Spin Rite (expended 145 hours running this one with no solution).
    * Stellar Phoenix Windows Data recovery (not complete after 24 hours. Needs a pause button or remember where it was when stopped as )
    * PC Inspector File Recovery
    * Acronis (Though previously noted, I sent a note to their help desk via their website last week. No reply to date)
    * Disk Doctor (Sent email to help desk 6 days ago. No reply to date)
    * Boomerang Data Recovery Software
    * Flobo Hard Disk Repair

    ...and others. No luck so far.

    If anyone has any suggestions for how to solve this type of problem I would appreciate your advice.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    5 Star Lounger RussB's Avatar
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    Get the byte by byte image uncompressed? I do not have it here but I am quite sure that it can be done with Acronis you just need to set it up correctly.
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  3. #3
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    If you run chkdsk /R the bad sectors will be marked and any possible info recovered. A subsequent image should get the best possible compromise for the disk data, no?

  4. #4
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    You will need drive cloning software and Acronis does have this.

  5. #5
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    Bad sectors usually mean the hard disk is on it's way out. I would download the disk manufacturers diag disk and run lots of tests.
    The same site should also have a free clone program.

    cheers, Paul

  6. #6
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    I recommend running any recovery from a boot disk or flash drive, because it means that you will almost certainly be using an O/S other than your Windows. You talk about Acronis, but do you mean Acronis Disk Director 11, or something else? I also recommend that you have a destination for recovered files that is genuinely free space on a different, and known good, drive, and that it not be 'compressed'. Just create an extra partition on your current boot drive and use that, if you like. It doesn't matter if it's small, because you can transfer files from that to an external drive as it fills up.

    I think you will find that the really serious recovery stuff is all available for Linux (of one variety or other), and you might find it profitable to do some searching there, where I suspect you will find any number of sources. One such source (in the relelvant forum here) recommended Puppy Linux to me, and a boot CD of that will do an excellent job of recovering files that Windows just can't see, but that is not the same as dealing with significantly corrupt data. How-To Geek has several columns on serious data recovery, but my (Ubuntu) skills are not up to running the applications he recommended yet. See, for example, THIS LINK and search the same source for others.
    Last edited by dogberry; 2012-01-20 at 06:02.

  7. #7
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    If Linux software seems a bit much, here are two sources of Windows free home software that may help you, but for any major work it won’t be free. One source is MiniTool, and the other is Easus, and I recommend that you explore the offerings at both sites.

    Both have completely free home user partitioning software, and both have full-featured data recovery software, which, for trial purposes, has a one GB recovery limit. I recommend that you run any such software from a boot disk if it is available (i.e. free).

    Such recovery applications may only allow you to recover one GB, but they will also allow you to see what may or may not be recoverable. In other words, you can see what it claims it will recover for you if you pay the price, which coincidentally gives you a good idea of what may be available if you use a Linux (open source) application which is (by definition) free of charge (e.g. Puppy Linux).

    The free partitioning software is a treasure in either case if you qualify as a home user, but one feature of it is especially interesting if your drive appears to be going, and that is the surface scan (Check Partition > Surface Test in Easus, and Surface Test in MiniTool). Running this has more than one benefit. It will scan the disk and give you a display of bad sectors. You read the diagram as you would a page of text – left to right and top to bottom. That means that you know where on the drive the bad sectors are located: the beginning, the middle, or the end. Express it as a fraction or as a percentage, and you know that if the error is at the mid-point, you can partition the drive at forty percent, format that partition, and you will have an available partition that is ready to use. (You could delete the remainder temporarily so that is ‘unallocated space’ and will not take a drive letter, but that may be premature.) On a 1T drive that is 400 GB of available storage, which is nothing to sneeze at.

    Assume that you have recovered 400GB of free space as easily as that (but only after you have recovered all the data there is to recover, and to a different drive, please). You will now find that the surface scan is still useful, and one benefit of recovering the 400 GB was to reduce the time it takes to scan the remainder.

    Magnetic media, such as your hard drive, can benefit from a surface scan. If you were mad enough to actually watch the scan run (hint: it takes a fairly long time) you will have noticed that from time to time it appeared to stall, and some parts of the drive took much longer to scan than others. When it has trouble reading a sector, it will try again, and again and again, to a certain number of times, before reporting it as good or bad. This process actually recovers bad sectors in a significant number of cases, and is a good argument for scanning all drives once or twice a year just to keep them healthy. By re-using the 400 GB that looks good, you have reduced the amount of space you need to re-scan. Incidentally, if it appeared that the top forty percent was also good, with the bad sectors somewhere in the middle, you could also recover that in the same way that you did the bottom forty percent.

    As for the twenty percent in the middle, you can either throw it away by leaving it as unallocated, now that you have won back eighty percent of your drive, or you can play all manner of fun and games with it, which is a topic for another day. (Hint: keep scanning.)

  8. #8
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    Magnetic media, such as your hard drive, can benefit from a surface scan.
    Not strictly true, modern hard disks have built-in self correction and will manage errors without notifying the operating system. If you modern hard disk starts to develop errors it is probably on it's way out and should be replaced. Go to the manufacturers web site, download their test software and test your drive.

    Performing a Windows "error check" should only be used to test for logical inconsistencies - errors in the file structure. Scanning for bad sectors is only useful if you think the disk is flakey and then you should use the manufacturers diagnostics.

    cheers, Paul

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul T View Post
    Not strictly true, modern hard disks have built-in self correction and will manage errors without notifying the operating system. If you modern hard disk starts to develop errors it is probably on it's way out and should be replaced. Go to the manufacturers web site, download their test software and test your drive.

    Performing a Windows "error check" should only be used to test for logical inconsistencies - errors in the file structure. Scanning for bad sectors is only useful if you think the disk is flakey and then you should use the manufacturers diagnostics.

    cheers, Paul
    'Modern' is a relative term, and some of us are running relics. I am very old-fashioned (to which you may reply 'Yes, you are') and some guidance as to what is 'modern' would help. I guess it is SMART, whatever that is - or maybe not.

    I think I did make or imply a distinction between testing for logical errors versus media errors, but from the sound of the very expensive software specified in the OP, I guess I was out of my depth before the thread began. All I can say in my defence is that I successfully recovered most of the data from a bad 500 GB drive, and it took about a week's work of a continuously running computer to do it.

  10. #10
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    A modern disk is almost everything with an IDE interface and everything with a SATA interface. If it's less than 10 years old it's a safe bet it's self correcting.

    As you have correctly pointed out, once you have bad sectors then you can, and should, use Windows to try to recover the data.

    cheers, Paul

  11. #11
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    Well, there you have it. SpinRite dates from 1988, Stellar Phoenix dates from 1993, PC Inspector dates from 2002 or earlier, Disk Doctor dates from 1991, Boomerang Data Recovery dates from 2005 or earlier, and Flobo Hard Disk Repair dates from 2004 or earlier. We still don’t know how old the drive is, and we don’t know which versions of the recovery software the OP is using.

    The ‘I’m very old-fashioned’ gag is from a ‘Beyond The Fringe’ skit, which dates from 1964 or earlier.

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