Copying a Dying Hard Drive

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Thread Starter
Jan 26, 2005
Okay, here is the situation. My HD is dying, I recently received the "4th master hard disk SMART error, status: BAD" and am not able to get into Windows. I just picked up an external HD (a LaCie 160 gig to be exact) and I need to get files off of the dying 30 gig HD. I was just going to take out the dying HD and slave it to my girlfriends PC (it's fast) and then hook up my new external drive (USB) and transfer the files. My question is this, what is the easiest and safest way to do this? (I don't need all 30 gigs of info on the dying HD, just a little over 15 gigs: my audio projects, artwork, music, installation programs, etc.)

Should I just copy and paste the folders I need from the dying hard drive to the external drive? Or should I install a ghost and hard drive cloning program on my girlfriend's PC and copy the dying HD that way? Please let me know what is the most efficient and safe way to get the files I need. Thanks in advance!


Jan 23, 2003
If I were going to do this I would just transfer the data files you want to save. you are obviously going to need a new hard drive. You will be installing windows new again. That means that you will also need ot reinstall any programs fresh as well. Once you have the new hard drive up and running with all the programs you can then transfer your data files bak to where you want them. Ghosting does not always work successfully when it comes to OS's especially if I am guessing that you would want to ghost your drive to the external then to your new drive again. This could be asking for problems.
Apr 18, 2004
`You'll be buying a new hard drive anyway so pull your's out. Install the new drive, format and load your OS and all your OS updates, SP's, whatever. Then install all your programs as before. Shut down and have a beer or a toke or two!

Now put your old drive back in as a Master on the secondary channel. Power up your system, I am assuming the BIOS is set to AUTO recognize the hard drives, if not catch it at this first boot and do it.

When your system boots up you will find two hard drives. It's a simple (yeah right!) operation to copy all your data files over to their new locations. You may have to copy some individual files over every now and again if the multiple copy fails.

Good luck!
Jul 19, 2005
Personally, I would just copy and paste the files rather than imaging the drive. With a USB 2.0 connection it shouldn't take too long to make the transfer.
Jun 20, 2006
Just an added may be something haywire about my system, but I have had problems with copying and pasting large directories from one drive to another. It is more time consuming, but it is best to do this one file at a time, or in small chunks, so that you can see that each copy/paste is working properly.
Jul 28, 2006

In my (limited) knowledge this SMART error indicates bad sectors, lots of them. In this case you won't be able to just copy your files, even if you boot your system from a new hard disk drive. But bad sectors can be recovered in some cases. Check out these two softwares:

SpinRite by Gibson Research
HDD Regenerator by Dmitriy Primochenko

If other solutions don't work, these may still be able to recover your data. But after a succesful data recovery operation, you should still replace your HDD anyway...
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