A good hard disk repair software?

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by Pigitus, Jul 30, 2014.

  1. Pigitus

    Pigitus Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Posts:
    97
    Location:
    USA
    I have a NTFS system disk with XP and installed software, 2 disks in RAID 0, and they are failing fast. The last time the machine completely booted, a monitoring software warned that one of the disks would soon fail.

    I scheduled CHKDSK with /F /V /R for the next boot. The first boot stage reported an unspecified error in each of the 2 RAID disks. But Windows XP proceeded to boot for about 20 seconds (with the XP logo showing). Then CHKDSK started. It reported no error in each of its 5 stages. (!?) Then the computer did not exit the CHKDSK screen and froze.

    Normally, CHKDSK should not have run in subsequent boots, but it keeps running again each time I reboot and also ends in a freeze. F8 + the last working system configuration make Windows boot for a few seconds, followed by a blue screen. F8 + Safe Mode result in a freeze after 30 seconds (but no BSOD).

    Acronis True Image 2014 reports a failure to read sector 1,936,254,345 and some 5 sectors after that. Such a high number suggests the errors are near the end of the logical disk (1TB). Interestingly, BootIt Bare Metal and Macrium each claimed to have "successfully" gotten an image. I am curious to see what the restoration will be like.

    But I'd like to give the RAID disks one last chance before I remove them, because I prefer an image with working partition sectors.

    Any recommendation for a competent disk repair software? That software should self-boot on a CD, DVD, etc., or it should launch from a Linux DVD. And it should be better than both CHKDSK and Gibson's Spinrite (in deep scan mode), which both reported no error.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2014
  2. subhrobhandari

    subhrobhandari Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2009
    Posts:
    708
    SpinRite, maybe?
     
  3. Pigitus

    Pigitus Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Posts:
    97
    Location:
    USA
    Spinrite also reported no error, as I said in the last line.

    Interestingly, Ubuntu loaded on a DVD did not see the RAID as 1 logical disk, but it reported each disk's health separately according to a dozen or so criteria (read errors, seek errors, etc). The report was either "old age" or "near-fail" on each criterion.

    All S.M.A.R.T.-type diagnostic software that I tried over the years read the RAID 0 as on logical disk and could not report on the health of the separate disks.
     
  4. Pigitus

    Pigitus Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Posts:
    97
    Location:
    USA
    I can't quite say Spinrite found nothing wrong with the disk.

    Partition C: ends at sector 1,939,254,282 (per SpinRite).
    The 6 damaged sectors start at 1,939,254,345 (per Acronis 2014 CD).

    So the damage is either in partition D: (recovery of OEM Windows), or in a small unpatitioned "GAP" area (SPINRITE term).

    The time before last, SPINRITE named that area "Item 3" (as in partition 3) and said it had problem reading this area and offered no option to fix it. But right now SPINRITE just shows the "GAP" as unpartitioned (no "Item 3" talk, no warning screen as before). Go figure.

    Acronis says that because of the damage, it needs to do a sector-by-sector image. To be done next. Macrium Reflect and BootIt (both from a CD) just imaged the DATA they found on C: and qualified their operation as successful. Really? While Windows can't even finish booting?

    I'll try one of more imaging software discussed in the 2012 poll on this site before I try to repair the sectors (if I can find a reapir program). Eventually, I'll replace the RAID with a new disk and look for a bootable restore out of all the images I am making out of those software trials.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2014
  5. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
    Posts:
    3,051
    Location:
    The Pond - USA
    Pigitus, imaging and BOOTing have really nothing to do with each other. A good imaging tool does nothing more than image, at the sector level, all the blocks on the partition/disk. If the partition/disk configuration information is correct, an imager will do its job.

    BOOTing on the other hand requires many specific structures in its BOOT path data to be successful.

    Many imagers will image the disk regardless of the block error level it may receive when imaging, others, like Acronis, have been known to complain about block level errors when doing their thing. Even Acronis will ignore the block error level info when its doing a RAW (All sector) image.

    If SpinRite and/or HDD Regenerator do no inform you of block level errors while they are processing, the disk(s) may be fine... the structures may be blown.
     
  6. Pigitus

    Pigitus Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Posts:
    97
    Location:
    USA
    First, thanks for mentioning HDD Regenerator. I'll look into it.

    It's interesting that Acronis wants to image the whole partition while the other two imagers just imaged the 100 GB of systems data, leaving 900 GB of free space alone. They seem to have different opinions / methodologies on what doing the imaging job is about. Acronis encouraged me to fix the sector problem first, but, short of that, seems to be OK with proceeding with a sector-by-sector image.

    Since two competent imagers (MR and BootIt BM) claimed to have done their job successfully, then the partition configuration information must be correct, if I can reverse your logic, "If the partition/disk configuration information is correct, an imager will do its job."

    More importantly, do you extend your confidence into predicting that since the imagers did their job that their restores will also be bootable? That is, succesfull imaging of a system means the restored system will boot?
     
  7. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
    Posts:
    3,051
    Location:
    The Pond - USA
    Not at all. Imagers can image any partition/disk data as long as the partition info is correct... and that has nothing to do with BOOTing except in the identification of the partition to BOOT from (where it physically begins on the HDD). You can have a completely scrogged SYSTEM BOOT partition and it will be imaged perfectly, so that when it's returned to service, it will be completely scrogged once again... that's what imaging is all about. They record images, regardless if they are good or bad as far as structures are concerned. On most Windows systems, they do use some of the Windows file structure information to determine "used" disk blocks but that's about it. Based on your "success" with Macrium and BIBM, those structures appear in tact... BUT, a lot more is needed to successfully BOOT a system.

    Imagers do not repair anything as far as the BOOT pathing is concerned. That's why many OSes contain BOOT repair mechanisms so that they can inspect BOOT paths and try and determine what is wrong with the BOOTing structure and try and repair it, if possible (many times it's not do to structure damage).

    Macrium and, I believe, BIBM, both default to partitions/disks as far as "used blocks" are concerned. But I believe they both have options to do RAW images (all blocks) as well.
     
  8. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
    Posts:
    3,051
    Location:
    The Pond - USA
    If your RAID system is hardware configured (rather than software), possibly a REPAIR of your XP OS may return it to some sort of operation. But I sure would image your important data using a tool that will allow you to extract data files from that image, and I would do that before I moved on with any recovery approach.
     
  9. Pigitus

    Pigitus Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Posts:
    97
    Location:
    USA
    My data are OK. They run on a separate disk, with multiple backups. This exercise is to save in an XP sysrtem several applications that can no longer run on 8.1.

    With a Microsoft XP disk at hand, there are other ways to keep them alive. But I am trying to solve the current problem through imaging-restoring and repairing.

    So, forgive me if I still find something slippery. I think you are saying that imaging needs some correct partition and booting information. So, if that boot/partition information is OK, why couldn't the restored image boot? What else is needed for the restored image to boot?
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2014
  10. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
    Posts:
    3,051
    Location:
    The Pond - USA
    All the Master Boot Record provides for BOOTing is which partition is the partition to BOOT from and where that partition is located (starting logical block #) on the HDD. The rest of the BOOTing process is handled by the PBR (Partitiion BOOT Record... located at the beginning of the SYSTEM partition) and certain files located in the ROOT System partition. If those files are compromised, the BOOT will not take place successfully but imaging will work just fine.

    There is a li'l program available (must be run via a WinPE environment) called BOOTice (x86 or x64). It is capable of rebuilding (and recording beforehand) both the MASTER BOOT RECORD and the PARTITION BOOT RECORD (if the problem is in those areas... it just may be in the follow on structure <NTLDR in the system partition>). This is probably a good place to start in getting that system to BOOT once again.
     
  11. TheRollbackFrog

    TheRollbackFrog Registered Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
    Posts:
    3,051
    Location:
    The Pond - USA
    The BOOTice M/PBR rebuilding process followed by the REPAIR procedure referenced previously should get your system as close to BOOTable as it probably can be... assuming your HDDs aren't trashing you constantly. Make sure BOOTice is run against your SYSTEM partition (it can modify any disk/partiton selected with its dropdown.

    Following the REPAIR (after it BOOTs once again, you will have to run the M$ Updates to get your system up to date once again.
     
  12. Keatah

    Keatah Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2011
    Posts:
    853
    Be aware that any file hosted by faulty sectors will be faulty itself. HDD regen or spin rite will not fix them.
     
  13. Keatah

    Keatah Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2011
    Posts:
    853

    Acronis is taking the correct approach. Be sure to kill or replace any file hosted by those sectors. While spin rite or similar will repair the sectors those sectors will not contain the original data.

    Spin rite, hdd regen, derevitalize.. They cannot possibly know what existed prior to corruption.


    Macrium and boot it, they are just grabbing the files in use. Acronis is seeing an issue with the disk by looking at flags and defaulting to sector by sector.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2014
  14. pajenn

    pajenn Registered Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Posts:
    930
    +1 for HDD Regenerator, although it can be slow so be prepared to leave it repairing over night.
     
  15. Pigitus

    Pigitus Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Posts:
    97
    Location:
    USA
    Keatha, common sense also tells me that restoring a bad sector does not mean restoring the data therein. If the sector became physically bad (typically, diminished magnetism due to one reason or another?), data integrity probably got impaired. Some government agencies reportedly can recover data even after insufficiently thorough data destruction, but sophisticated electronics is required. I don't think that consumer-level software can pick up weak differential signal patterns and boost them back to neat 0s and 1s. Nevertheless, HDD Regenerator's site, www.dposoft.net/hdd.html , makes the puzzling claim that:

    • No data losses in any mode!
    • Corrupted data recovery (making unreadable data readable)
    I bet that the small print will be more sober and will not guarantee successful DATA recovery.

    Anyway, Pajenn, thanks for raising my hope level about HDDR. But the man there requires payment first; no trial period. If the customer is not satified, he'll be refunded. There are so many free riders out there that I understand his approach, but I prefer trying first. So I'll try Frog's 2nd suggestion, Bootice first.

    In the meantime, two updates:

    1. I ignored Acronis True Image 2014's first bad sectors warning (which is not wise, but I am just experimenting). True Image started imaging. Then there came a second bad sector warning, which was not just 6 or 7 sectors, but hundreds of sectors at the end of the drive. (I tapped IGNORE hundreds of times). It's clearer now that the damaged sectors are toward the end of the disk, in Partition D: (about 10 GB), which is the OEM's Windows Recovery partition.

    Acronis TI has been the only software, so far, that revealed the specific sector numbers where there is damage. The data in partition C: (the first 990 GB) should not be affected directly. Of the 990, only 100 have XP and apps. 890 GB of "free" space between C: and D:.

    Because I suspected partition D: to be bad, I only requested an image of partition C:, but Acronis got to partition D: somehow. After I choose IGNORE ALL, Acronis continued for a few seconds and suddenly rebooted. No message. Experiment over. It did not want to make an image. (A reminder: BootIt Bare Metal and Macrium Reflect each claimed to have "succesfully" saved an image, even with the verification option on).

    2. Now I am trying imaging with R-Drive Image. I did NOT ask it to ignore errors. I asked it to copy data only. But since it did not offer the choice of just imaging C: data, I guess it will try imaging the data in D: as well. So it should fail wihen it gets to D:. It's been at it for an hour now with no message yet.


    Anyone knows another imaging software that specifically offers the choice to just copy data in one volume, not necessarily data in all partitions?
     
  16. Keatah

    Keatah Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2011
    Posts:
    853
    HDD regen doesn't cause data loss - true. But the data loss has already happened prior to running hdd regen.

    HDD regen can make corrupted data and sectors readable, but the content is not guaranteed to be accurate or what was there before.

    They are twisting and skirting the issue.
     
  17. Keatah

    Keatah Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2011
    Posts:
    853
    100% true across the board!

    HDD regen will not cause data loss. The loss and corruption have already occurred. HDD regen will not damage existing data - also true.

    I can have you rip out one page of a book and I can re-write it with my own interpretation based on the story I've read so far, but it won't read the same as the original author's page. BUT IT IS READABLE. And that's what hddregen, spinrite, derevitalize do.

    Corrupted data recovery - sometimes a disk drive will have an unreadable sector due to weak magnetism typically caused by interrupted writing operations. Think brownout and power failure. In this situation the drive reports an I/O error or similar error associated with being unable to read that sector. HDDregen, spinrite and derevitalize reformat and re-write that one sector.

    Be aware the original contents have been lost the instant the sector got damaged, perhaps days before running hddregen. Anyway, hddregen fixes that sector and the drive can now read it again. And the file that sector belongs to is readable too. It just doesn't have the exact original data. In a movie file, or mp3 or BMP it's no big deal, you might hear a tiny glitch or pop or see a few pixels out of place.

    But in an excel spreadsheet or compressed archive or .jpg, the results are disastrous. Those kinds of files are totally unusable.
     
  18. Pigitus

    Pigitus Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Posts:
    97
    Location:
    USA
    By the way, in the particular case discussed in this thread, I don't care whether HDD Regenerator restores the correct data after repair. The disk damage seems to be in partition D: where the Windows Recovery partition is. I don't care about keeping the OEM recovery partition, since I created 1 or 2 DVDs out of it years ago. The real information I wish to recover (an installed XP system with apps) is more toward the beginning of the disk where there is no physical damage. The plan is just to get the bad sectors -- especially the bad partition sectors -- repaired back to OK status to make Acronis happy. That is, just make the errors go away.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2014
  19. Pigitus

    Pigitus Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Posts:
    97
    Location:
    USA
    Update. R-Drive Image completed the image "succesfully" -- with verification! I am puzzled. (cf. my pernultimate post, point 2).

    R-D Image file size: 377 GB (so it did not go JUST after the C: data, and even the D: data, a total of about 100 GB, even though I specified data only.)
    Macrium Reflect: 83 GB.
    BootIt Bare Metal: 82 GB.

    (Win XP can't boot. Each backup software runs on a CD. Destination is a USB HDD.)
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2014
  20. ginzon

    ginzon Registered Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2009
    Posts:
    80
    SpinRite Level 4
     
  21. ArchiveX

    ArchiveX Registered Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2014
    Posts:
    1,016
    +1 for HDD Regenerator! :thumb:
     
  22. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2003
    Posts:
    17,048

    A word of caution. Don't assume because a disk imaged and the image verified that is is good. Only way to be really sure is to restore it. Also before I would continue using that disk, I would get everything of value off of it, and do a full fledged format, and make sure it is really good.

    Pete
     
  23. Pigitus

    Pigitus Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Posts:
    97
    Location:
    USA
    R-Drive's restored image did not work. Its image was huge and it could not restore while shrinking to a smaller disk. So I had to restore on a 1 TB HDD. After the restoration, a chkdsk on that HDD showed lots of errors. After repairing them, there was nothing useful left on the disk. Was that HDD bad to begin with? I may have to try again to be be sure of what happened.

    Macrium Reflect just imaged the data, not the whole partition like R-Drive did and like Acronis TI requested (but could not actually do). The image file was small: about 85 GB, even though the original disk was almost 1 TB large. MR shunk the partition to a destination 240 GB SSD. I CHKDSKed the restoration disk before booting. Minor errors found. The restoration SSD initially could not boot. Then booting got increasingly better. I could eventually got to the XP password window and got in, to be followed by BSOD immediately after. Now I can stay inside XP longer, but a BSOD eventually happens after a few minutes. Bad, but progress -- compared to the orignal RAID 0 HDD array that just could not go beyond the early stages of booting. Also, Safe Mode now works and does NOT BSOD. Before the restore, the original system would freeze before getting into Safe Mode. Going back to a few Restore points still does not solve the BSOD probblem in regular Windows sessions. (One other progress is that I got out of 6 year old progressively failing HDDs. At least the errors are no longer from physical sources and not getting worse.)

    I am not sure I got the most out of BOOTIce, but I uised it on the restoration SSD to "fix" the MBR PBR. No improvement.

    I will next restore BootIt Bare Metal's image to see if I can get better results than MR.


    [ginzon: as already mentioned above, SPINRTIE did not find any error even at its top level.
    Pete2150: as already mentioned above, personal data are not at issue here.
    ArchiveX: It looks like HDD Regen will be the nexrt step.]
     
  24. Pigitus

    Pigitus Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Posts:
    97
    Location:
    USA
    Frog, what did you mean by:

    "If SpinRite and/or HDD Regenerator do no inform you of block level errors while they are processing, the disk(s) may be fine... the structures may be blown."

    What do you mean by "the structures may be blown" ?
     
  25. Pigitus

    Pigitus Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Posts:
    97
    Location:
    USA
    HDD Regenerator versus DRevitalize?
     
Loading...