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Copying data from a failing hard drive


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#1 DnDer

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 05:12 PM

I have a client's machine who hard drive is making nasty, nasty noises that signal an impending failure. SeaTools confirmed it, actually crashing halfway through the Long Test, noting, "Sector Repair Failure."

 

Usually, when a machine won't boot, and the hard drive shows signs of failure, I spin up a copy of an live Linux distro (in this case, Mint 13 was laying around on my bench) in order to copy things over, and I'm receiving all sorts of errors on this hard drive, prompting me to skip certain folders and files. Certain folders and files that user will need, actually.

 

Then the weird thing happens. Mint tells me "preparing to copy" and the number of files, and size of those total files... is adding up to more than the size of the actual hard drive that's failing.

 

Is there anything you guys can recommend (pref. on the free side) that might be able to clone any of that over before the hard drive gives up completely? Just copying files over via distro isn't apparently a viable solution this time...



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#2 JohnC_21

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 05:28 PM

Doing the following may or may not work as the drive is failing. And doing the following will put more stress on the drive. Use Parted Magic. The last free version is here.

 

What you want to do is to use ddrescue to create a image file and use a file carver like PhotoRec on the image file to hopefully recover any files. Once the image is created you could use the Windows version of PhotoRec on the image. You would be able to right click the img file and select open with then browse to the PhotoRec windows file. Here is an excellent guide on the use of PartedMagic and dd-rescue. Because of the failing hard drive, I would doubt you could mount the image, only try to recover any files using PhotoRec on the image.

 

A thing to note is you will need free disk space larger on the recovery drive than the drive you are recovering.



#3 Frozwire

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Posted 13 November 2014 - 01:53 AM

 

Is there anything you guys can recommend (pref. on the free side) that might be able to clone any of that over before the hard drive gives up completely? Just copying files over via distro isn't apparently a viable solution this time...

 

+1 on ddrescue and Testdisk/Photorec both are totally free and useful for your needs.


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