How I handled a faulty hard drive

It happened, it just had to happen. Darn it! My laptop hard drive started having problems. At boot it reported the hard drive needed checking and chkdsk found files, too many. Then again a day later. The writing was on the wall and to help matters I had made a serious mistake……

I’m very good at backing up important files, especially so when work is involved, but this was my personal laptop. Where I tinker about with personal projects and I hadn’t backed those files up for a while. I had neglected my laptop. Darn it where was my automation this time?!

Worse yet I had installed some Give Away of the Day software that you can only install on the day given away. So installing on a new hard drive with a clean operating system was out of the question. Where was my partition image backup to help in such matters? Ah yes again personal computer and hadn’t done it. Bollox.

So did I throw a tantrum, no. Did I sob quietly in the corner, thumb firmly in mouth, holding a blanket for comfort… possible. Okay that’s a no as well (close though), instead I wrote a short action plan. Here is what is what I did.

Recovering files

I knew the amount of times I wrote to the hard drive was important from previous experience. Less is better. So I took the hard drive out, put it in a 2.5 eide hard drive caddy and connected to another computer via usb. I copied the important files over to another computer and then backed them up to cd as I should of done already.

Backup of a partition (Windows operating system and applications)

I decided to assess whether I could rescue the installed operating system and not have to deal with a fresh install on a new hard drive. I placed the hard drive back into the laptop and it promptly told me there was no boot record. Ah things had got worse, lovely. So I put in my Windows XP install cd and booted into recovery mode. I then typed fixmbr and repaired the boot record and rebooted. It found more errors, but booted into the operating system. I then shutdown.

I connected another usb hard drive to the laptop and booted the laptop using a Ping cd. Ping stands for ‘Partimage Is Not a Ghost’ and is a free nifty linux based partition clone and restoration suite.

So I decided to risk cloning the hard drive and hoped not too many other errors developed. All so I could use the installed Give Away of the Day software still or hopefully some. Any other circumstance if no previous partition image was available, I would of done a clean install. Anyhow I cloned the faulty hard drive, then put a new hard drive in the laptop and restored the image to the new hard drive.

Et volia it booted. I uninstalled the antivirus and firewall (paranoid of issues) and reinstalled. I’ve not bothered to install XP over XP and no need to reinstall other packages…yet. I placed my project files back on the laptop (and automated a regular backup). I’m sure there could be some issues, but lesson learned and a lucky escape.

Be it personal or business use, make sure your on the ball, have backup procedures in place.

I had neglected my personal laptop. I was lucky this time, next time I will be prepared.

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