Disk Cloning


I suspect my hard disk may be about to fail, so I want to copy everything to a new hard disk as soon as possible.

So I've bought another hard disk and have plugged it into the second SATA port on my motherboard.

Now I want to copy the hard disk exactly, so I can just go on using the new hard disk as if it was my old one.

What free utility tool should I use? Will HDClone (http://www.miray.de/products/sat.hdclone.html#free) do the job?

Many, many thanks,

9 answers Last reply
More about disk cloning
  1. Hi
    If you go to your hard drive manufacturer they should have a free program that should do what you are asking.
    Ref.: Western Digital has "Acronis True Image WD Edition" find this in their downloads section.
    Best Regards
  2. Thanks very much for the reply.

    Sorry, I left some info out originally. The hard disk is in such a state that I can't actually boot into Windows so will need to do it from a boot disk. So is there a boot disk that will do what I am asking?

    I have two partitions, dual booting XP and slackware.

    This has happened just 6 weeks before my next build :(

    Many thanks again,

  3. Acronis can make a recovery disk. Install Acronis and follow the instructions to make a recovery disk. Then boot from the recovery disk and follow instructions.
  4. By the way, Seagate's version of this is "Disk Wizard". BUT Seagate's free utility will only make a clone copy TO a Seagate drive, and WD's utility has a similar restriction. Who made your new drive?

    However, your second post makes me worry. You can't boot into Windows from your existing HDD. Do you know why? If that HDD is damaged in some manner so it cannot access its files, you can't access them to make a clone! Or, if you've been attacked by a virus that has disabled your drive, making a clone of that gets you the same problem. You need to know more about what your problem really is before proceeding. For example, it there is data corruption in key areas that prevent all file accesses, you may need to get a file recovery software tool that would allow you to recover (by copying to a new empty drive that has been Partitioned and Formatted, possibly with a new Install of your OS) as many files as possible. Can you provide more info on the symptoms that have led to this situation?
  5. Hi Paperdoc,

    Thanks for your reply - it was really helpful.

    My original problem was that Windows wasn't booting. I dual boot Windows and Slackware. I got to LILO and then when I selected Windows I got the options:
    Start in Safe Mode
    Start using last settings that worked
    Start Windows normally

    Safe mode just BSODed straight away
    Last settings that worked displayed the loading screen and then BSODed
    Start Windows normally displayed the loading screen for about 10 minutes with the blue bar going across and then BSODed.

    The BSODs all went too quickly to notice and I haven't yet been able to access Windows\Minidump\ as the recovery console couldn't find the C drive. It didn't recognize it was there.

    This led me to believe one of three things:

    The hard disk was failing.
    The installation was really, really screwed.
    Some other piece of hardware was malfunctioning, but I can't think what would give these symptoms.

    I've now thoroughly tested the hard disk and it is fine.

    However, now LILO won't even give me the option to boot into Windows or Linux. It just says 'no entries found in the boot menu' or something like that.

    Please help! I really need my computer back as soon as possible. I haven't done a backup for quite a while and I was looking into new backup options when this happened. tbh, I don't really get why something like this would happen just overnight?

    Ideally, I'd like to fix my Windows installation somehow.

    I never use Slackware any more, so if it means deleting my Linux partition, somehow getting rid of LILO and booting straight into Windows then that's fine.

    Please help though!

    Many thanks,

  6. Well, I was going to suggest that there are some simple hardware problems of loose or dirty cable connections you could try to fix. BUT you say, "I've now thoroughly tested the hard disk and it is fine." How did you do this? Did you remove the HDD, install it in another machine and test it there? Did you run some diagnostic software package from a bootable medium on your machine? If you are sure you do not have a hardware problem, we concentrate on software.

    I'm not clear how you set up a dual-boot feature with Windows and Slackware. If you installed Windows first, then Slackware and had the latter do the dual-boot creation, I would suggest looking at the Slackware documentation to see if the installation can be "repaired". Or, at least, could you UNinstall the Slackware AND the dual-boot feature, leaving only Windows available?
  7. Thanks again for the reply and sorry to mess you about again.

    I took the hard disk out of my machine, put it in another desktop, and ran 'Drive Fitness Test' from a boot disk. Obviously I could not boot into Windows to run HD Tune or something because the hardware configurations on the two machines are very different.

    When I made my last post, I ran a standard test which came up with no faults. However now I've run the 'Advanced Test' which took around 2 hours and has come up with the result that 'One or more corrupted sectors found.'

    So my hard disk is not fine, as it appeared to be when I first tested it.

    Drive Fitness Test (DFT) is now giving me two options - Erase Disk and Sector Repair.

    Erase Disk is not an option as there is a lot of data on there that I cannot afford to lose.

    Sector Repair is described by saying that 'Corrupted sectors are rewritten. Sector Repair will cause data loss in the repaired file.'

    So unlike I thought after the initial test, the drive is not fine. Apparently my test was not as thorough as I thought it was. I was wrong.

    Not sure what the best cause of action at this point is now. Would a corrupted sector really cause so many problems and Windows not to boot? Do you reckon there are additional problems? Would Sector Repair really mess up the Windows installation? Please advise.

    RE how I dual boot: First I partitioned the disk: 450GB to Windows, I think about 200GB to Slackware and the rest free (disk is 750GB). I first installed Windows, then Slackware and LILO boot loader.

    Many, many thanks for your help so far. It is very much appreciated.

  8. I fully agree you do NOT want to use Erase Disk. Sector Repair is MUCH safer and may get you really close to a solution, depending on where the problem is. The things to know is that a Sector Repair may simply replace the sector that is corrupted with a blank new sector, OR it might even manage to collect good data from the "bad" sector and restore it to the substitute one. The problem here is that you won't know until it's done. Unless you get lucky and can get good data out of it, that one file that uses that sector will be corrupted and pretty much junk - you would need to replace that file once you can figure out which one it is.

    Now, one corrupted file, even if it cannot be recovered, might not be a huge loss. BUT it could be: suppose that the bad sector is involved in the Directory and file tracking systems on the HDD. Its loss or corruption might prevent access to a whole lot of files. On the other hand, the file could be one of the Windows system files, and you might be able to restore it with utilities on the Windows Install disk. Or, it could even be a user data file you could live without. What worries me is that its corruption somehow stops any part of the dual-boot functions from working, so the corrupt sector MAY be in a system file. For that reason I'd be reluctant to run
    even the Sector Repair operation unless you run out of options.

    So, what to do? You could try making a clone of your old HDD to the new one, anyway. If it will make the clone, first thing to try then would be to remove the old HDD, install the new one bearing the clone as the only HDD in the system, and try to boot from it. Maybe you are lucky enough to be able to boot into one of the two OS's. If not, at least you have a full copy of everything on the old HDD, unfortunately including one sector containing corrupt data.

    Now you could go two ways. First might be, try to repair the corrupted file on that new-drive clone. Or, as I suggested earlier, maybe try to UNinstall the Slackware and its Dual Boot feature, in case that is where the corrupted file is. You could try several fixes on the clone copy. At worst it will not work, and you'll have to wipe out the new drive and re-make the clone copy to it before proceeeding on the other path.

    With the clone copy on the new drive as your backup, you then might consider putting the old HDD back in, removing the new one, and running the Advanced Test again and letting it do the Sector Repair. If that gets you a working old HDD, hurray! You could re-make the clone to the new HDD and switch units as planned. BUT if that gets you an old HDD that has no hardware errors but still a corrupt file that prevents booting properly, you could try to track down exactly which file and see if it can be replaced from another known-good source.

    In the worst case you might end up with two drives that cannot boot, but each has good copies of every file except one. In that situation you could do a two-stage process. First you would have to do a new Install of Windows on the new drive (wipe it clean first so you lose your clone copy), then use a data recovery utility to copy all the rest of the files on the old drive to the new one. Check something like GetDataBackNTFS. It is NOT free - you can trial it for free but must pay to get it to actually do your job. It won't fix your old disk. It will allow you to copy every good file it can find to another disk (your new one).
  9. Many, many thanks for your detailed in depth reply. It is very, very much appreciated.

    I'll do the first step, cloning the hard disk to the new drive, and let you know how I get on with the rest.

    Thanks so much again.
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