How to clone Failing Laptop HDD

By Goldenbarstewart ·
A customer brought in a Gateway laptop complaining that it was behaving erratically - sometimes would not boot at all, sometimes a message appears indicating OS not found, sometimes boot normally. I suspected hard drive issues and after running chkdsk /f I attempted to create an image of the C drive with Norton Ghost 12 - but the image creation failed. A message appeared saying the the errors found on the drive precluded the creation of a successful image. I was able to create an image of the recovery partition, however, and also created a DVD with the apps and drivers. But apparently the OS recovery cannot happen without the OS running, and there does not seem to be an app to create a Recovery CD/DVD for the OS (Vista Home Premium.) Norton did allow me to create an image of the C drive if I checked off 'ignore bad sectors during copying,' but I don't know how valid that image would be when restored on a new HDD. So, to make a long story short, I'd like to try to clone the old hard drive onto a new one, while the old drive is still alive. Norton has a feature to clone a drive but I'm not sure how to use it. So how would you proceed? Your help, as always, is invaluable and very much appreciated.

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All Answers

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Bad sectors are usually unrecoverable

by devtrends.com In reply to How to clone Failing Lapt ...

Unfortunately, if there are bad sectors, the data that was stored in that area is likely lost. However, you might have better luck with another imaging tool, such as Acronis TrueImage


If I were in my lab, I would probably plug the failing laptop drive into an USB <-> SATA external adapter on my workstation and create an image from the drive.

Are you certain you cannot access the recovery partition software at boot time?


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Only 2 options at boot time

by Goldenbarstewart In reply to Bad sectors are usually u ...

I notice only 2 options at boot time - F2 to enter Setup and F10 to change boot sequence.

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The Recovery key-combination is usually hidden ...

by OldER Mycroft In reply to Only 2 options at boot ti ...

And wouldn't appear as an option at the boot menu.

Usually, recovery key-combinations are something like Alt+F9/F10 or something like that. Nowhere will that key-combination be offered visibly - it is taken as read that the User would know the combination and only ever invoke it when absolutely required.

It would be used IMMEDIATELY after power-on, preferably before the Splash Screen even appeared.

However, if the HDD is as badly damaged as you reported, it would be prudent to copy the Recovery Partition (which is most likely still intact due to inherent lack of use) onto another HDD before invoking it. There's absolutely no point in attempting to Recover onto a HDD with multiple bad sectors.

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Have Imaged Recovery Partition Successfully

by Goldenbarstewart In reply to The Recovery key-combinat ...

But how do I use it? Normally it is invoked from the OS. When I look at the contents of the image, I do not see an executable that would start the recovery process. So if I restored the Recovery Partition onto another say external)drive, I am at a loss as to how to use it to restore the Vista OS on the new raw drive in the laptop which replaced the faulty drive.

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Recovery is instigated by the BIOS ...

by OldER Mycroft In reply to Have Imaged Recovery Part ...

Where there is an option for the Recovery Partition function to be either Enabled or Disabled (for safety in case it is invoked in error).

Usually within the BIOS 'Boot' or 'Main' screens, there will an entry that caters for the Recovery Partition and whether it is LIVE or not. My ACER laptop has a BIOS entry called 'D2D' which controls the Norton Ghost capability.

Nowhere within my ACER's Recovery Partition is there any visible evidence of an executable file, but it still works whenever I hit Alt+F9 immediately after power-on.

I assume it is booted from the BIOS itself.

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Process, then?

by Goldenbarstewart In reply to Recovery is instigated by ...

So if I installed a new HDD in the Laptop and divided it into two partitions e.g. C: and , then restored the Recovery Partition to , you feel that the BIOS would start the recovery process onto C It is frustrating to have a viable Recovery Partition and not be able to use it to restore the OS onto a newly installed HDD!!

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I'd go for THREE partitions - not TWO ...

by OldER Mycroft In reply to Process, then?

But that's only because of the way that ACER handles their HDDs.

C is usually named 'System', \ is named 'Data', and the recovery partition which is usually hidden is another partition (in my case - P:\).

Now, as I recall, when I renewed my laptop HDD I needed to use a program called PARTEDIT32 ...

Here's the thread I started back at the end of 2007 when I was doing what you are attempting to do now - it'll open at the appropriate post.


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by ---TK--- In reply to How to clone Failing Lapt ...

I would back up all their data, take note of the programs that were installed, and extract the S/N's of the "paid for programs"...

Then look into DriveImage, it will allow you to create "Hot" images on the fly... then take the image and put it on a new drive.

Have you ran any HDD tests to see if there are bad sectors? Or if indeed the HDD is going bad? Corrupt sys files can cause a system to be unstable..

Just because it sometimes boots and sometimes doesn't (the user is saying) did they really wait or did they just get bored of waiting and kill the laptop b/c they didn't want to wait which = "sometimes it doesn't boot" which = to me that it might have just killed it. In turn will/can cause system files to become corrupt which will cause stability issues.

I would jump into the BIOS and see if there is a HDD tester and run it. Or look into Spinrite which will test for bad sectors... ect... Google "Hard Drive Diagnostics Tools and Utilities" and find some free utilities to find out if its really going out or just a messed up File System.

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The first thing I would be doing

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to First.....

Is testing the HDD with it's Makers Testing Utility.

If that tells you that the drive is going bad or is Bad you then remove the drive fit to another computer and retest. If it still shows up as Bad the HDD is bad but if it shown up as OK on the second Test either the M'Board, Power Supply or Data Lead is faulty and needs replacing/repairing.

You don't mess around with make do Testing Utilities use what the HDD Maker themselves would use and then you can give the Drive Maker the correct Error Messages that actually mean something.


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by ---TK--- In reply to The first thing I would b ...

you wouldn't back up thier data first, then do the necessary testing?

That would really suck if indeed the drive was bad, then completely died durring the test, without haveing their data backed up before hand...

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