Best method/tool for cloning a failing HDD for Data Recovery?

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  1. Posts : 7,024
    Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit
       #1

    Best method/tool for cloning a failing HDD for Data Recovery?


    I have been brooding over this subject "Which method/tool is best for cloning a failing HDD - including the system drive - for data recovery from the clone.

    Has anyone tried cloning for this specific purpose and achieved any results?

    I would be interested if they can share their experience or even air their views on the subject.
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  2. Posts : 8,137
    Windows 10 64 bit
       #2

    I use Macrium Reflect to backup my drives (all partitions). I use the paid version, but there is a free version that will probably do what you want. Acronis True Image will also do that but I dont' think there is a free version.

    Macrium is a popular backup/clone program.

    I use the backup feature, not the clone. If I restore a drive, with all the partitions, that is equivalent to cloning.

    Macrium Reflect FREE Edition - Information and download
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  3. Posts : 17,796
    Windows 10, Home Clean Install
       #3

    I must agree with the above. I have been saved several times using the free Macrium, which is all that is really needed. I was hit with a virus could not boot, but with Macrium, I was saved. I could have kicked, myself, however, since I was lazy and did not back up for a couple of months.
    Image your system with free Macrium
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  4. Posts : 7,024
    Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit
    Thread Starter
       #4

    The point one should note here is that here we are interested in cloning a failing hard drive and not a conventional imaging software for backing up a normally working HDD or cloning to transfer the OS from a platter drive to SSD or another HDD.

    In most cases where we notice or suspect the rot has set in and the HDD is failing fast, it is recommended that use of the HDD be stopped forthwith and any data recovery be attempted on a cloned drive the intention being that taxing a failing HDD for data recovery may only invite further detrioration resulting in data loss.( We very well know that this does not apply to those users who routinely back up their drives but there are countless many who don't backup and then come up with pleas for data recovery on a failing hard drive.)

    The question is has any one tried data recovery on a cloned drive of a failing HDD. And if so what tool they used to clone such a failing HDD at that moment or what tool they would suggest for cloning under such circumstances.

    My own impression is that conventional imaging software may fumble and tumble in the case of a HDD with large number of bad sectors and may even refuse to image the drive. I have personally experienced that Paragon Imaging software refused to image my drive unless the errors were corrected.In my case these were non-fatal errors which were then corrected. I am sure that if these errors were fatal and non-correctable it wouldn't have imaged the drive or cloned the drive. The vendors' image :) is at stake.More of a safety mechanism is in action not to image or clone a bad disk.
    Last edited by jumanji; 18 May 2014 at 12:13.
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  5. Posts : 562
    Windows 7 Ultimate x64
       #5

    Hi

    Macrium is indeed a very good program and can image a drive with only a few bad sectors. However it is not designed to rescue data from failing drive and using a regular disk imaging software may cause more issues. In my experience the best tool to clone or image a failing drive is Linux command line tool "DDRescue". When it came to image a failing drive, "DDRescue" is the best as it is specifically designed for data recovery from drive with bad sectors.

    Guide to using ddrescue - Technibble Forums
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  6. Posts : 7,024
    Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit
    Thread Starter
       #6

    Anshad Edavana said:
    Hi

    Macrium is indeed a very good program and can image a drive with only a few bad sectors. However it is not designed to rescue data from failing drive and using a regular disk imaging software may cause more issues. In my experience the best tool to clone or image a failing drive is Linux command line tool "DDRescue". When it came to image a failing drive, "DDRescue" is the best as it is specifically designed for data recovery from drive with bad sectors.

    Guide to using ddrescue - Technibble Forums
    Inline with my thinking.
    Needless to say that I had already seen and read that reference but the author seems to have gone about in a seemingly complicated way on using it that would make it look like best suited for Linux Geeks.( Atleast I felt so.)

    Nonetheless I had already come to that conclusion that ddrescue may be the best tool but wanted to feel the pulse of the clan here to ascertain whether there can be a better alternative (without getting biosed with my thinking..) So I shall wait for some more time for some more alternatives before I dish out what I have already cooked with ddrescue or still cooking - in spite of my limited Linux touch.

    You said "in my experience". Do I take that you had actually used it to clone a failing drive based on the procedure laid out in that article? Or is it only in your perception as it is in my perception?
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  7. Posts : 562
    Windows 7 Ultimate x64
       #7

    You said "in my experience". Do I take that you had actually used it to clone a failing drive based on the procedure laid out in that article? Or is it only in your perception as it is in my perception?
    Strictly speaking, "DDrescue" helped me cloning partitions of two failing hard drives and i must say i am impressed with it. Since i am also not a Linux geek, i did some searching over internet to know whether there is an alternative ( preferably GUI based ) which can do the same job. Here is my conclusion.

    1. Windows will always try to mount drives connected to the system. If we connect a failing HDD as a slave drive, most times Windows will stuck forever in the splash screen. This behavior also present in "WinPE" so using either a Windows based or "WinPE" based tool is out of question.

    2. Some Linux distros like "Ubuntu" live CD may also may not boot if it encounter a failing HDD. On the other hand "Parted Magic" will boot most times. It is the tool i used to copy data from failing drives when Windows and live discs like Hiren's refuses to boot. There is also a "DDrescue GUI" in "Parted Magic".

    3. While most Linux command line tools are very hard to use, "DDRescue" is comparatively simple to use.
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  8. Posts : 562
    Windows 7 Ultimate x64
       #8

    Before "DDrescue" cam to my attention, "Acronis" Linux CD was my tool of choice for cloning hard drives with bad sectors. If the number of bad sectors are low ( two or three), "Acronis" may clone the disk successfully. When i tried to clone a failing drive with "Macrium", it showed an error message and stopped the cloning process when it encountered the bad sector. Then i used "Acronis" Linux CD which also showed an error message but prompted for an option to skip cloning bad sectors. When i used that option, Acronis managed to clone the drive successfully ( i think it will write zeros when it counters a bad sector ). After that i used "Acronis" successfully quiet a number of times but i don't think it can clone a drive with large number of bad sectors.
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  9. Posts : 7,024
    Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit
    Thread Starter
       #9

    Good inputs @ Ansad Edavana in your post #7.

    Your point #1: agreed.

    Your point #2: A live Linux CD or bootable USB may also not boot.

    Have you actually tried a live Linux distro that has ddrescue inside? Forget about Hiren's boot CD. Somehow I am averse to it.

    Only yesterday I downloaded Slacko Puppy with the intention of trying the ddrescue in it. Of course I do not have a failing HDD and so I have to try it on a normally working HDD only.:)

    As far as Parted Magic is concerned, it is no longer a freeware and has gone commercial since August 2013 though the pre-commercial free versions may still be downloaded. I have just downloaded one such free version.

    For the small bit of experiments I carried out, I used ddrescue in SystemRescueCD SystemRescueCd

    Your point #3: Agreed.

    And that should perhaps make it eminently suitable for even ordinary users to blindly follow a given set of instructions in trying to clone a failing HDD successfully. And that is what I am actually aiming at.

    EDIT: I just saw your post #8. Call it personal prejudice I don't touch Acronis.
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  10. Posts : 562
    Windows 7 Ultimate x64
       #10


    Have you actually tried a live Linux distro that has ddrescue inside? Forget about Hiren's boot CD. Somehow I am averse to it.
    No, i didn't tired a full blown Linux distro which came with "DDRescue". All i can say is "Ubuntu" is not suitable for the job as it may fail to boot in to the "Desktop" ( my personal experience ). There is "Ubuntu Rescue Remix" but i never tried it personally.

    Ubuntu Rescue Remix | The Rescue Remix provides a Free-Libre Open-Source data recovery software toolkit based on Ubuntu

    As far as Parted Magic is concerned, it is no longer a freeware and has gone commercial since August 2013 though the pre-commercial free versions may still be downloaded. I have just downloaded one such free version.
    "Parted magic" is till based on Linux Kernel and the use of which requires GNU/GPL licence. Although you may need to pay for the download, GNU licence grant you the right to study, redistribute and modify the software. Basically you can download latest version of "Parted Magic" from any other site or torrent and you are not committing piracy.

    The same applies to "Redhat" Linux. They are charging you for technical support. If you copied "RedHat" and installed in your server or PC, you are not committing piracy but rather you won't get any support from the company.


    If your moral side is against downloading "Parted Magic" from torrents, either use the old free version or use an alternative like "System Rescue CD" or "Trinity Rescue Kit"

    Trinity Rescue Kit | CPR for your computer

    I have a copy of "Trinity Rescue Kit" but never got a chance to test "DDrescue" from it.


    One of the biggest advantage of "DDrescue" is that it doesn't require the file system to be recognizable. It can image RAW type partition and the resulting image file can be used for data recovery. Almost all major data recovery tools like "R-Studio" , "PhotoRec" etc support working with "DDrescue" images.
    Last edited by Anshad Edavana; 19 May 2014 at 04:19.
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