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Harddrive questions

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June 22, 2010 11:16:48 PM

Hello,
I have two questions about my internal HDD that is damaged (I am mildly computer literate). First, when I buy a new HDD what are the things I have to know (I know my old one is SATA, 7200 rpm & 300MBps)? Secondly, is there any way I can copy everything from my old HDD to my new one (including OS and Files)? I know about the Linus method of copying individual files, but I was wondering if I could, in anyway, skip the setup process (format, install OS etc.) for my new HDD. Keep in mind, that while my PC does boot up, it crashes within a minute or so of windows starting up so I can't actually run anything, I'll have to do the copying before windows boots up.

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June 22, 2010 11:50:43 PM

You *might* want to look out for cache (like 32mb/64mb?) and latency/ms (the lower the better). However, the biggest upgrade over a traditional hard drive would still be a SSD (Solid State Drive), so if you're on an ageing HD and you're seriously thinking about whipping out some more cash, then you might want to check them out. (search for Intel X-25M 80GB)

As for copying files, I'm not too sure about how Linus handles it all in the transition between different operating systems, but if you copy all your files on to seperate hard drive that doesn't have your OS on it, then you should be able to access all its contents after the installation on your new HD.
June 23, 2010 12:11:56 AM

thanks for the response...SSDs mite be out of my price range for now.

As for the copying of files, my main goal is to get my new HDD to have all the files that my old one has, I don't want to forget anything in the copying process. Aside from my docs, music, videos...i also want my drivers, bookmarks and anything else I might be forgetting. My ideal scenario, is to make a exact copy of my HDD to another HDD, if that is not possible then I have to copy individual files (if this is the case can someone point out the stuff that my new HDD mite need other than the files I have pointed out)
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June 23, 2010 12:29:55 AM

ok, i know i am answering my own question here but I read up on this problem a little more, which lead me to a new question.

My windows xp disc offers a back-up wizard in the system tools, does this do the same thing as Norton Ghost. I have an external Hdd on hand and want to back things up before my internal HDD gets any worse.
a c 328 G Storage
June 23, 2010 12:36:57 AM

What you're really looking for is a cloning utility. In fact, many hard drive manufacturers will let you download one for free as a helper so you will buy one of their new drives to replace your old one. Seagate has Disk Wizard. WD has Acronis True Image WS Edition. These packages actually have a LOT more in them than merely cloning.

However, you have a real problem to deal with. You say you cannot run your machine for more than about one minute. Now, if that is because your old HDD has bad errors on it or some sort of virus, you can't run long enough to make a clone. and you might not want to, if the errors could cause the clone to misbehave also (as a virus would do).

BUT maybe your problem is not your hard drive. What you describe could be many things, and a bad hard drive is not the most likely. Look through the forums here at the very top for a "sticky" about how to systematically diagnose a failed computer. For example, you might find that your problems all are caused by a failing PSU.

Check near the end of the first post in this thread:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/261145-31-perform-ste...

June 23, 2010 2:43:09 AM

thnx, alot of my pc problems are inconsistent...I have tried most of the things in the sticky but I don't feel comfortable messing with the motherboard because I don't want to mess things up further.
my pc does freeze alot...the chronology goes something like this...
1. two weeks ago it began to freeze on occasion
2. then it gave me this message one day when I tried booting it up "windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt <windows root>\system32\hal.dll.
---> I fixed this by booting from my windows xp CD and typing in ... /bootcfg/rebuild
3. After this my pc began booting up like before but freezing again.
4. I tried booting it up today, and it has been running for 4 hrs without freezing, but I have not done anything except copying files.

I have scanned my pc recently with norton, ad-aware and Malwarebytes Anti-malware (all separately, of course) which is why i don't think it is a virus although I could be wrong.
The reason I think it is the HDD is because I tried running the diagnostics test (PC is a dell) before windows booted up and it said "HDD - Fail - Return Code: 7" which according to my forum readings means there is something wrong with the HDD. Oddly enough, the failed diagnostics test happened before step 4 mentioned above.
a c 328 G Storage
June 24, 2010 7:00:47 PM

So it appears your problem is not malware, but it is inconsistent. It MAY be the HDD. But it also could be something as simple as a bad cable connection. I've seen this many times - an older machine develops oxidation in the contact surfaces in some connector, and the data signals become inconsistent. IF that is your problem, there is a simple fix you can do, just with a little care.

Disconnect your power cord and open the case. Carefully go through the entire system. At every point where a cable is plugged in somewhere, disconnect it and plug it back in again, 2 or 3 times. Do this ONE connector at a time if at all possible so you don't mix things up. The "Careful' is: make sure you don't bump something else and break it or even loosen a good connection. Doing this will cause a sort of "scrubbing" action on the contacting surfaces and clean off any thin oxidation layer. When you're done, look over the system again to be sure everything is still connected where it should be. Then close up, reconnect power and reboot.

IF this eliminates the problem you've found a solution - at least, until the next time it happens. If it does not change anything, you have to look for another cause. One thing it could be is a failing power supply OR a similar failure on the mobo itself. I don't know how old your system is. Back a few years ago there was a rash of problems with PSU's that failed early in their lifetime, and it was traced to certain batches of poor capacitors in their filter circuits. What many don't realize is that the same components and problems also showed up on mobos themselves. The symptom is bulged tops on the cylindrical capacitor cases in the PSU or in the power regulation area of the mobo.

I don't know what "disk test" system you used. Among the best, though, are ones provided free by HDD manufacturers. Most are specific to their own products. So if your HDD was made by Seagate or Maxtor, you get Seagate's Seatools for DOS; if it's WD, get their Data Lifeguard. Other makers have their own. Personally I prefer the "for DOS" versions. With them you actually write your own bootable floppy diskette or burn (from an .iso image) your own bootable CD-R disk, then you boot the machine from that. The system loads a mini-DOS into RAM and you run from there, entirely independent of the OS on your HDD, so this works even if the HDD itself is troublesome. They have a bunch of tests you can run from a menu system. Most will do NO damage to the data on your HDD, but some of the utilities included that will FIX problems for you will actually write new data, or even wipe out your whole disk! Those that are dangerous to old data will warn you fully first, so pay attention to the messages. If these utilities tell you your HDD has no hardware problems, you don't. If they say you have problems, write down the info and consult the HDD maker's Tech Support people for guidance. If there are no hardware issues but your machine still malfunctions, either you have an intermittent hardware issue that may not be disk-related, or you have a software problem.
!