Reader Jerry wrote about a problem he was having when he tried to make a backup image using Acronis True Image…
I want to make a hard drive image for a backup so that when I have to reinstall my windows and programs all I have to do is copy the image to the drive I want to use, what is a good program to use I tried Acronis and I couldn’t make it work.
It kept saying that certain sectors could not be read so I told it to ignore them (else it would not continue) and when it finished I tried using the drive and it would not boot. I’m using XP.
I wrote to Jerry to tell him that if certain sectors of a hard drive can not be read, it sounds like the hard drive is failing.
IDE and SATA hard drives have a number of spare sectors. When the drive’s built-in controller recognizes that a sector is going bad, it automatically moves the data from the failing sector to a spare sector. Then, it re-maps its internal tables to point the "sector" to the new, real location on the hard drive.
Based on the error he is seeing, he is not likely to find any image program that will be able to read your bad sectors on the hard drive. The hard drive problem will have to be solved first.
At this point, Jerry had three basic choices:
- get a new hard drive and reinstall everything,
- use Windows own Error-Checking program, which may work, and
- use a program like Steve Gibson’s Spinrite 6, which will take hours and hours, but is your best bet for recovering the data in those sectors.
After options 2 or 3, he should be able to back up SOMETHING using Acronis True Image; however, if the recovery program did not recover usable data but did make the sectors readable, then the image will have bad data. In other words, the sector may now be readable, but the data values that are readable may be different than those originally stored there.
If the data values are readable but are different than those originally stored in the sector, that may be a noticeable problem or it may not be. If the data happened to be part of a .jpg image file, you’d probably never notice. Similarly, if it was part of a .wav or .mp3 file.
However, it the "data" stored there was really part of a program, the program is likely to crash or hang — ultimately requiring reinstallation in order to work properly.
Windows’ Error Checking is found by Start > My Computer > Select the drive you want > Right-click on the drive > Properties > Error-Checking
Spinrite 6 is available at www.spinrite.com . You purchase it, download it, and burn it to a CD or write it to a floppy, then boot the CD or floppy.
Jerry wrote back to say:
Thanks Terry for your reply I used the windows error checking program and it fixed the bad sectors and then I was abe to make a image of my hard drive. Should I be concerned about these bad sectors and get a new hard drive?
I wrote back to Jerry to tell him that I would get a new drive at that point. Windows probably marked the sectors as unusable, but that’s just the start of issues. There will be more – and they might have important data in them.
Jerry wrote back one more time…
Thanks a lot. I enjoy your news letter