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Hard drive about to die

COKEDUDE

Member
I have a hard drive that is about to die. It is the hard drive for my OS. It has given me 7 good years so I think I got my moneys worth. I obviously want to get my data off of it. So what is the best way to do this with hopefully as little strain as possible on it? Do I want to just load the OS then straight copy and paste to an external HD or a big flash drive? I have a couple of massive flash drives. I usually use my external HD's just trying to think of all my options. Do I want to load up a live cd and copy and paste that way so there is less OS strain on the HD? Use another computer to create an image? Is there some better option I am not thinking of?
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8

strollin

Old Guys Rule!
VIP Member
Pro User
Use backup software such as the free Macrium Reflect to backup/clone your existing drive, then buy a replacement drive and restore the backup to the new dive.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    W10 Pro (desktop), W10 (laptop), W10 Pro (tablet)
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Home built i7-8700K, Hp Envy x360 EVO Laptop, MS Surface Pro 7
    CPU
    3.7Ghz Core i7-8700K, 11th Gen Core i7-1165G7 4.7Ghz, 10th Gen Core™ i5-1035G4 1.1Ghz
    Motherboard
    ASUS TUF Z370-Pro Gaming, HP, MS
    Memory
    16G, 8G, 8G
    Graphics Card(s)
    AMD Radeon RX580, Intel Iris X Graphics, Intel Iris Plus Graphics G4
    Sound Card
    ATI High Definition Audio (Built-in to mobo)
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    Dual Samsung U32J59 32 inch monitors, 13.3" display, 12.3" display
    Screen Resolution
    3840x2160 (Desktop), 1920x1080 (laptop), 2736x1824 Pro 7
    Hard Drives
    500GB ssd boot drive with 2 & 10TB Data (Desktop), 512GB ssd (laptop), 128GB SSD (tablet)
    PSU
    Corsair CX 750M
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    Antec 100
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    Coolermaster CM 212+
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    IBM Model M - used continuously since 1986
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    Microsoft IntelliMouse
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    Defender on all
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    Retired in 2015 after working in the tech industry for 41 years. First 10 years as a Technician, the rest as a programmer/software engineer. After 1 year of retirement, I was bored so went back to work as a Robotic Process Automation Consultant. Retired for 3rd (and final) time in 2019.

MGhee

Member
Member
7 years and you don't have a backup in place, hmm.

strollin offers good advice but... depending on how frail your drive is, how long a backup will take and the stress backing up or cloning could put on the drive, it may fail during the process and your data is gonzo.

You have to make a decision - backup the drive and replace it with a new one or, yank the drive now, set it aside, install a new drive, start fresh. Put your old drive in an enclosure and grab what you can get. Using an SSD is nice, no enclosure needed just a sata-to-usb cable.

What ever you do once you get your system up and running (I'm sure you will) -> do a system-wide (full) backup strait away. Windows can do it, Macrium Reflect can do it, etc, for free. Backup atleast a few times a year, a full system backup -> not to a drive in your system -> something outside your system, an external SSD is handy.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1 x64
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Lenovo G50-45
    CPU
    AMD A6-6310
    Memory
    12GB
    Monitor(s) Displays
    15" Laptop Display, 32" Samsung HDTV
    Internet Speed
    SLOW (4 Mbps)
So it's been 7 years. You never made any backups. Your drive is dying.

I recommend a fresh install on a new hard drive.

First, get a drive that has enough capacity to hold all your personal files. Make sure you also have a second, new and healthy drive for a new operating system to be installed and your Windows activation key handy as well.

Make sure your PC is completely shut off and power cord unplugged from it. Remove side panel to the case and plug in that drive that has all that capacity to hold your personal files. (Might be a good time to vacuum out your case with a non-metallic nozzle.) After you have connected the data cable and power cable to your "new" drive plug that PC back in and turn it on. Don't bother to put the side panel back on yet. You're doing stuff.

Once you've booted up right click the "PC" icon and click on "manage". Find "Disk Management" and click on it. Once your virtual disc service window opens look for the data drive you just installed. Right click on it and click on format. You will want an NTFS file system so make sure it is formatted for that. Once you're done doing this, close out of that Window to avoid any future confusion.

Now click on the PC icon on your desktop again and open it. Your personal files are your documents, your music, videos, downloads, pictures, and desktop. Look on this page for the drive you just formatted and open that drive. The window should be blank. Copy all your personal files (you can use drag and drop) to the new hard drive. Please note that I stress the word "copy". After this you will have a copy of all your personal files on hand, on your newly installed data drive. If you have any other personal files you may have generated elsewhere this is a good time to copy those as well. If you did it right you will have copied from one window (Your PC) to another window (Your data, or storage drive).

Next step. Turn off the PC again. Pull power cord again. This might be a good time to pull the battery and check to see if it has a full charge. Go make a coffee or something to give this a little time. You could even push the power button while your PC is unplugged to discharge any capacitors that may or may not still be holding a charge. Now disconnect your drive with the operating system on it. Put it in a nice, cool, dry, dark place. This is called "cold storage". It's your back up for just in case something goes wrong and you need to get to your o/s. That drive may be on it's last legs but it still has personal data on it that may prove useful in the event of an emergency.

Now put in a nice, new drive to install your fresh operating system on. Connect it to where your old operating system drive was connected. Plug your PC back in and replace the battery if you removed it. With the side panel off this is a perfect time to do this sort of maintenance. You will need to format the NEW drive. You will be able to do this when you install your operating system. Usually the installation process will give you the option of formatting your new drive. I highly recommend a new drive for your operating system.

Insert your installation media and reboot your PC. Install the operating system to that nice, new drive once it has been formatted. Of course you will have your activation key available to type in if and when it is requested. Make sure you get all your Windows updates and your driver updates fresh. It's amazing how much space you will save yourself on your drive doing it this way. All those old updates no longer needed, old drivers, old maintenance files, old and useless files you don't need will no longer be in your registry because it is a fresh installation.

Once this is done you can use the same method you used previously for accessing your data/storage drive to open it and literally drag and drop the contents of each file into the new prospective folders i.e. Desktop, Documents, Downloads, etc. If you choose to copy them you'll already have backed up copies of your personal files on your data/storage drive and because they are on a separate drive there will be no conflict of duplicate files. Bear in mind that this does not constitute a full backup.

Further advice: Make sure your System Restore is functioning properly. Make sure your File History is working. And most importantly, make sure you setup a backup drive for Windows backup and make at least one backup to that drive. Making a system image can't hurt either. You could even make a partition for this on your Data Drive where you kept your personal files. I hope this helps. There are short cuts and ways of approaching this quicker but seven years is a long time. Best to start fresh, with a fresh o/s IMO.
 
Last edited:

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 10, Linux Mint and more
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    ASUS
    CPU
    AMD 3800X, Intel 6900K
    Motherboard
    X99 E-WS USB 3.1, CROSSHAIR HERO VIII
    Memory
    128 GB CORSAIR DOMINATOR, 32 GB TEAM GROUP T FORCE
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVIDIA 1070, SAPPHIRE RX 590 NITRO+
    Sound Card
    ONBOARD
    Monitor(s) Displays
    SAMSUNG 32"
    Screen Resolution
    4K
    Hard Drives
    :::GRINS::: SERIOUSLY?
    PSU
    CORSAIR 1000 W PLATINUM
    Case
    THERMAL TAKE / AZZA
    Cooling
    NOCTUA / CM
    Keyboard
    LOGITECH PRODIGY
    Mouse
    LOGITECH
    Internet Speed
    1 GBs
    Browser
    FIREFOX
    Antivirus
    KASPERSKY
    Other Info
    PC builder. Own a dozen PCs / built hundreds. All of us have a lot to learn. Some of us stand to learn more than others and those who think they know the most generally know the least. I'm here to learn and pass on what little I know.

TechnoMage

Active Member
Power User
I'm not seeing anything to tell me why you think your HD is failing. ??? What are the symptoms?

If it's truly failing, I'd get my data off of it first, which will work the drive a minimum. Just copy it to a flash drive.
Then if it's still running ok, do a clone of the drive to a new drive.

There is a failure mode, with the older spinners, that makes the drive run really S....L....O....W. A boot-up could take ten minutes or more.
I once cloned one of those drives, and got every bit of the OS and data, but it took two days.
I added a two fan drive cooler to the drive to keep it cool during the process.

Good Luck,
TM :cool:
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Win-8.1/Pro/64
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Home Made
    CPU
    AMD 8 Core
    Motherboard
    Gigabyte, Ultra Durable, GA-970A-DSP3
    Memory
    Crucial, 8GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    AMD Radeon HD 5450 (2 GB)
    Sound Card
    On Board
    Monitor(s) Displays
    24" LG
    Hard Drives
    Sandisk, SSD 120GB, 8TB Seagate backup drive
    PSU
    Antec Earthwatts, 650
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    Pac-Man Case
    Keyboard
    HP Professional
    Mouse
    GearHead Wireless
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    5 Meg
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    Firefox
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    Using Classic Shell on Win-8.1 /pro/64
There is a failure mode, with the older spinners, that makes the drive run really S....L....O....W. A boot-up could take ten minutes or more.
I once cloned one of those drives, and got every bit of the OS and data, but it took two days.
I added a two fan drive cooler to the drive to keep it cool during the process.
It really depends on how big the drive is and he didn't give us much info to go on, as you pointed out. I find the paid version of Mini Tool Partition Wizard Pro Ultimate does a pretty quick job of cloning even the larger old mechanical "Klunk drives". R drive image works in a pinch too. It prob wouldn't hurt to play around with the old drive after getting the personal data off of it and cloning it to an SSD. (I can't imagine why anyone would clone an operating system to another mechanical drive these days.) Unless SMART errors are popping up the drive probably only needs reformatting. It could be used for archives or in a nice little RAID 1 configuration as a secondary until it burns out completely. Or, as I stated earlier, a cold storage drive with o/s intact as an original image back up in case the clone acts up. (I have drawer full of those). At any rate we got no response to our suggestions but this thread might be of some use to others looking for ideas.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 10, Linux Mint and more
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    ASUS
    CPU
    AMD 3800X, Intel 6900K
    Motherboard
    X99 E-WS USB 3.1, CROSSHAIR HERO VIII
    Memory
    128 GB CORSAIR DOMINATOR, 32 GB TEAM GROUP T FORCE
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVIDIA 1070, SAPPHIRE RX 590 NITRO+
    Sound Card
    ONBOARD
    Monitor(s) Displays
    SAMSUNG 32"
    Screen Resolution
    4K
    Hard Drives
    :::GRINS::: SERIOUSLY?
    PSU
    CORSAIR 1000 W PLATINUM
    Case
    THERMAL TAKE / AZZA
    Cooling
    NOCTUA / CM
    Keyboard
    LOGITECH PRODIGY
    Mouse
    LOGITECH
    Internet Speed
    1 GBs
    Browser
    FIREFOX
    Antivirus
    KASPERSKY
    Other Info
    PC builder. Own a dozen PCs / built hundreds. All of us have a lot to learn. Some of us stand to learn more than others and those who think they know the most generally know the least. I'm here to learn and pass on what little I know.

strollin

Old Guys Rule!
VIP Member
Pro User
Looks like the OP hasn't been back so we may have lost him.

One reason why I don't recommend a clean install on a new drive in this type of situation is because, if someone hasn't backed up their drive/data in 7 years, it's usually a safe bet that they also don't have the installation files/disks to reinstall all of their software. At best they may have a recovery partition on the drive itself that would allow recovery to factory condition.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    W10 Pro (desktop), W10 (laptop), W10 Pro (tablet)
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Home built i7-8700K, Hp Envy x360 EVO Laptop, MS Surface Pro 7
    CPU
    3.7Ghz Core i7-8700K, 11th Gen Core i7-1165G7 4.7Ghz, 10th Gen Core™ i5-1035G4 1.1Ghz
    Motherboard
    ASUS TUF Z370-Pro Gaming, HP, MS
    Memory
    16G, 8G, 8G
    Graphics Card(s)
    AMD Radeon RX580, Intel Iris X Graphics, Intel Iris Plus Graphics G4
    Sound Card
    ATI High Definition Audio (Built-in to mobo)
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Dual Samsung U32J59 32 inch monitors, 13.3" display, 12.3" display
    Screen Resolution
    3840x2160 (Desktop), 1920x1080 (laptop), 2736x1824 Pro 7
    Hard Drives
    500GB ssd boot drive with 2 & 10TB Data (Desktop), 512GB ssd (laptop), 128GB SSD (tablet)
    PSU
    Corsair CX 750M
    Case
    Antec 100
    Cooling
    Coolermaster CM 212+
    Keyboard
    IBM Model M - used continuously since 1986
    Mouse
    Microsoft IntelliMouse
    Internet Speed
    665Mbps/15Mbps down/up
    Browser
    FireFox, MS Edge
    Antivirus
    Defender on all
    Other Info
    Retired in 2015 after working in the tech industry for 41 years. First 10 years as a Technician, the rest as a programmer/software engineer. After 1 year of retirement, I was bored so went back to work as a Robotic Process Automation Consultant. Retired for 3rd (and final) time in 2019.
I absolutely recommend a clean install on a new drive in situations like this because if they haven't made any backups by then, they had better get started on saving their personal data first. If their 3rd party software is so old they can't retrieve it online it's probably defunct already or even worse.. causing them to think their hard drive is on its way out because it was not updated. We can speculate all we wish but I took the poster at their word, that is to say, the hard drive is on it's last legs. If that was indeed the case there really is no avoiding getting a new drive and first priority is to save the data before it craters onto a new drive.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 10, Linux Mint and more
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    ASUS
    CPU
    AMD 3800X, Intel 6900K
    Motherboard
    X99 E-WS USB 3.1, CROSSHAIR HERO VIII
    Memory
    128 GB CORSAIR DOMINATOR, 32 GB TEAM GROUP T FORCE
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVIDIA 1070, SAPPHIRE RX 590 NITRO+
    Sound Card
    ONBOARD
    Monitor(s) Displays
    SAMSUNG 32"
    Screen Resolution
    4K
    Hard Drives
    :::GRINS::: SERIOUSLY?
    PSU
    CORSAIR 1000 W PLATINUM
    Case
    THERMAL TAKE / AZZA
    Cooling
    NOCTUA / CM
    Keyboard
    LOGITECH PRODIGY
    Mouse
    LOGITECH
    Internet Speed
    1 GBs
    Browser
    FIREFOX
    Antivirus
    KASPERSKY
    Other Info
    PC builder. Own a dozen PCs / built hundreds. All of us have a lot to learn. Some of us stand to learn more than others and those who think they know the most generally know the least. I'm here to learn and pass on what little I know.

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