What is correct HDD problem & can OS be backed up?

By Debbie23
Aug 20, 2011
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  1. Main questions: 1) Has the disk already failed or "predicted" to fail?,

    2) Is it possible to Image / BU the OS or Applications partitions, given errors below, w/o getting so many possible errors (if selected "ignore bad sectors), that it might be easier to reinstall? Wouldn't chance of a restored image of OS / Applications working, depend entirely on # of bad sectors & content, or even drive's current ability to consistently read files - based on reported disk errors?...One error was "medium error (read test element failed)"

    BU of personal data files w/ some errors (that might be fixed later) is another matter.

    3) Given reported errors, would a complete disk format possibly solve the disk's reported problems? Some articles from HDD mfg's say "large % of bad disks aren't really bad." "Just need reformatting & possibly marking bad sectors." Don't know how accurate that is.

    Toshiba laptop has 2 - 120 GB Hitachi HDDs (1 for storage). No prior problems, but browser locked up, then Vista, & wouldn't reboot into normal, safe, last known good config., cmd prompt. Gives no err msgs - just hangs at wording near bottom, MS Windows.... (w/ scrolling dots).

    I tried Vista Recovery Console boot disk, but it never gets to repair options screen. Only past the "Windows is loading files," then stops.

    Ran latest Hitachi drive fitness tool. Short test said, "Defective device. Excessive shock.," (not "Predicted to fail", as mentioned below). Shock ? - maybe - drive's 4.5+ yrs old - not many hrs on it.
    Ran Hitachi's Advanced test. It returned "Defective device - SMART Failure." So, 2 diff errors. If it's SMART failure, seems could throw bogus codes.

    Next ran HDAT2 4.81 - several tests, including SMART.
    Main errors From Read Attributes Data were:
    05h (ID 5) Reallocated Sector Count Threshold 5, Value 1, Worst 1, Raw Val. 0.
    Under that, blinking red: "Disk failure is predicted, back up your data!" "Failed in the past."

    Other red errors listed:
    C4h (196) Reallocated Event Count.........Threshold 0, Value 100, Worst 100, Raw Val. 91.
    C5h (187) Current Pending Sector Count...Threshold 0, Value 1, Worst 1, Raw Val. 4919.

    In HDAT2, the (SMART) Short Self Test, stopped at 10%, w/ error: "medium error (read test element failed)" Failing LBA 175054017.
    HDAT2 reported several MBR errors - mostly about partitions not beginning / ending on cylinder / head. Doubt that has to do w/ boot problem.

  2. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 9,156   +598

    Doesn't look good.

    Here's what I would do it that's what I saw:

    1) start->run->cleanmgr to remove temp files (why waste time fixing & saving these?)

    2) Backup or COPY personal data to an external USB device;
    get a command prompt Start->Run->cmd to see the path and then CD to My Documents
    This is where the large proportion of your documents are located

    3) get the event viewer (start->run->eventvwr.msc)
    Open the system tab and scroll down looking for Warning(in yellow) DISK events.
    There should be one per real I/O error - - just count'm up. The more you find the worse the condition.

    Decision time: IF there's too many, plan on replacing the HD, else attempt step(4) to attempt to continue using the system as-is

    4) Boot into Safe Mode and use start->run->->CHKDSK /F /R which will take hours.
  3. Debbie23

    Debbie23 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 53

    1) Emphasizing, Vista won't boot in any mode - not even safe mode - command prompt.
    Vista doesn't have recov. console /w separate options, like XP to run chkdsk, etc. It may run them- auto, before it attempts repair. But, Recovery Disk won't run at all. After 2nd time rebooting/ trying Vista's recovery disk, before ANY files started loading, Recovery Disk or SMART - or something gave same notice, as from HDAT2:
    That was part of the question - I'm getting diff errors / codes. Don't know which is correct - maybe all. Can I trust the Hitachi diag. tool's (Quick Test)
    For the code, their manual says
    The Advanced Test gives another code:
    There are utilities that will fix bad sectors or mark "bad." If electronics / SMART is failing / failed, seems pointless.

    2) Given the error codes, and some reported "medium error - read test element failed," would it EVER be worth trying to image the OS & applications off problem disk onto another? (Assuming imaging prgm could read it)

    3) Running any prmgs (cleanup or other) will have to be done from boot disk w/ functions needed. Del temp files is good, but more concerned about the OS & Applications installed.

    4) I can use one of several prgms to copy personal files (IF - can still be read off problem disk). Not that much personal stuff.

    5) Vista won't boot - any mode, so can't access Event Viewer. Even if quickly changed boot order & drive attributes - Hide problem disk, do an OEM system recovery (image) to 2nd disk & make it active, system - I wouldn't be able to access windows progms on problem disk - if windows isn't running on that disk. I could possibly access some files / logs, if readable.

    6) May be OTHER HDD diag. prgms than I've used so far, that check & create log w/ bad sector count (remember, I can't access checkdisk from Windows on the prob. disk). However, IF there IS a SMART failure (As reported; electronics gone bad, etc.), counting bad sectors is pointless.
  4. Debbie23

    Debbie23 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 53

    Don't think there's a worry about whether to use the disk, image the OS, etc. Boot disks for prgms like Disk Director, BootIt Bare Metal (formerly NG), don't recognize the disk. I'm not sure what will retrieve data from it now. There may be one that's especially good at reading almost dead disks, that I'm not aware of.
  5. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,689   +395

    I'm a bit confused. Are you asking what is next? Or are you saying what one should do in these situations?
  6. Debbie23

    Debbie23 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 53

    Probably a bit of both. To clarify, did you mean, "are you SAYING (or ASKING?) what one should do..."
    I'm also giving general info about what I'm seeing - may / may not help others.

    One question: which prgms have others had success recovering data off disks w/ similar problems? There are many recovery pgrms - probably have strengths / weaknesses - based on exact circumstances. I've rarely used any - none in this situation.

    In this case, for a chance to recover data, seems will have to either use a boot disk w/ recovery prgm, or boot from another disk (w/ an OS) & make the problem disk secondary. Don't have a 2nd laptop to put the bad disk in, but it has 2 HDDs.

    It appears saving / imaging / cloning the OS is slim chance, based on disk errors reported. Ex: Disk Director boot disk didn't recognize the problem disk. It's possible some recovery prgms could recognize it. Suggestions on recovery prgms to try would be appreciated.
  7. WinXPert

    WinXPert TS Guru Posts: 445

    How to recover data using a live CD.

    You can use Linux Live CD. If it successfully boots and detects the defective HDD and able to read the files from it you can transfer all the data you want to recover on an external USB HDD. There is a guide here written by LookinAround about how to recover files when Windows wont boot using Knoffix.

    If you successfully retrieved all data, discard your faulty HDD, it's done for.

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