Can I image a hard drive?

Dell 1420
March 2, 2009 at 06:48:09
Specs: Windows XP, 2/2
I dropped my laptop about a week ago and cracked the screen. Other than that I'm not sure what else is broken. Things seem a little slower so I'm wondering if I damaged the hard drive. The system passes all diagnostics so I can't have dell send me a new hard drive. I feel like the hard drive might be damaged and thats why it's sluggish. I was thinking of just making an Acronis/Ghost image of the hard drive and then getting a new hard drive and slapping the image on. Will this work? Do the hard-drives have to be the exact same kind?

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#1
March 2, 2009 at 07:13:28
Your idea is sound. You should always maintain backups anyway.

Either of those programs will work. Burn your image to DVDR media and you can boot directly to the first disk to restore. Both those programs allow you to span multiple disks when using optical media. The data is also compressed. The typical compression rate is about 2/3 the starting size. So, 30GB of data may only require 20GB of disk space.

Of course mp3 and jpg files are already compressed. I don't even recommend you bother with imaging those type files. Just copy them to DVDR.

The drive can be any hard drive that is compatible with your laptop.

I wouldn't change the drive unless it quits working or becomes erratic/undependable.

On another note, your slowness could be due to a number of possible issues.

Do you have an extended warranty that covers the screen? Normal warranty would not cover accidental damage.


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#2
March 2, 2009 at 07:13:36
No they don't have to be identical drives. You can make an image of one drive and restore it onto a completely different type of drive. The only thing you need worry about is size.

It is possible that you have damaged the hard disk in some way that is making the computer slow so making an image would be a good precaution to take in any case.

You should be able to get a drive diagnostic from the drive manufactures web site. That should give the drive a thorough test and let you know if there are any problems.

Stuart


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#3
March 2, 2009 at 07:35:24
Thanks for the help. I have accidental coverage so thats no problem. I'm running the Dell diagnostics and they don't report any problems for the hard drive, but I just get a little feeling that something is running a bit sluggish that shouldn't be.

If I image the drive, and put it on a new one, the new one won't be slower because of the old one right? Any physical damage to the drive that makes it slow won't manifest itself in an image on a new drive right?


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Related Solutions

#4
March 2, 2009 at 08:11:24
To answer your last question. If the computer was shut off at the time the files shouldn't have been affected.

I would also recommend using a drive fitness test from the drive manufacturer. Virtually all but one maker has such a test.

If you don't know what brand drive just watch the POST screens at startup for the model number and Google it. If that dowsn 't help then download a utility called SIW.exe. SIW may be able to show the brand and model of the drive along with more other information about your computer than you knew existed. Get SIW at the link below.

http://www.gtopala.com/siw-download...


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#5
March 2, 2009 at 10:13:31
The computer was in standby when it dropped. Could this have corrupted the files beyond the physical disk? If I imaged the disk, is there a chance that the new disk would have slowness problems?

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#6
March 2, 2009 at 10:41:27
"is there a chance that the new disk would have slowness problems?"

If it's a hardware problem, it's not likely. But if it's corrupted files, that's a different matter.


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#7
March 2, 2009 at 10:50:30
Try running chkdsk from safe mode.

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#8
March 2, 2009 at 11:18:00
Running chkdsk now. Probably not safe to do an image I guess...I guess I'll just not be lazy and actually do a clean install of everything.

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#9
March 2, 2009 at 11:55:13
What type of hard drive is inside? IDE ATA or SATA. If IDE the drive may not be running is a DMA mode. That doesn't necessarily mean there is any thing wrong with the drive. DMA stands for Direct Memory Access. This mode makes the drive functions much faster. You can check that in Device Manager.

If the drive is a SATA drive there is a way to check the speed. In Device Manager look for the Sata Controllers. May be a subheading under IDE ATA ATAPI controllers. Doubleclick on the SATA line and somewhere there should be a speed test.

I can't be more specific because you have a laptop and I am not sure how the controller is setup when only one drive is installed.

You should see sustained speeds of about 60 with burst speed of about 145.


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#10
March 2, 2009 at 14:44:56
I'm not seeing any "speed test". I see IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers and underneath it I see SATA AHCI Controller, Ultra ATA Storage Controllers, Primary IDE Channel. I also see SCSI and RAID controllers but my HD is mk1637gsx which is a SATA II drive not a SCSI drive.

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#11
March 2, 2009 at 15:55:30
You don't have any manufacturer specific SATA controllers installed and that is why you are not seeing the speed test.

The SATA AHCI is a generic SATA driver that runs the SATA drives at IDE speeds.

I suppose with a laptop it isn't important that the drive run at SATA II speeds.

Download SIW.exe and go to storage devices. All the SMART values should show there.

All you are trying to do is determine if the drive is damaged.

Get SIW at the link below.

http://www.gtopala.com/siw-download...

For an actual speed test download the utility below.

http://www.softpedia.com/get/System...


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#12
March 2, 2009 at 18:24:40
I don't really know what I'm supposed to be looking for in SIW. I see SMART Support with a bunch of things listed.

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#13
March 2, 2009 at 18:34:23
I'm using DiskBench to read a file (approx 600mb). The settings are "Read file in blocks of 32 MB" and I got a transfer rate of 33.143MB/s. This seems slow I suppose.

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#14
March 2, 2009 at 18:57:52
SIW> hardware> storage devices> your hard drive. SMART values are listed and your drives equivivent are there too. The numbers are supposed to be the same of close to it.

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#15
March 2, 2009 at 19:09:22
There's a column for attribute value, worst value, and threshold value. Most of the threshold values are at 000 except for Raw Read Error Rate (at 050) Spin Up Time (at 001) and Reallocated Sector Count ( at 050). In attribute value, most of the numbers are at or around 100. Spin Retry Count is at 160, Load/unload cycle count is 87, Ultra ATA CRC Error Rate is at 200, Loaded at 089, rest at 100.

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#16
March 3, 2009 at 05:21:20
Below is a link that can be used as a primer on SMART values.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-M...


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#17
March 3, 2009 at 07:11:35
Perhaps its a good thing I ordered a spare hard drive then.

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#18
March 4, 2009 at 06:16:58
If my drive is damaged and I swap it out with a new drive, is there a chance that my new drive could be screwed up by some other damaged system component? My new drive is coming today and I'd like to install it in my system and load it up with everything to save some time before I send my system off to be fixed (obviously I'd keep the drive with me).

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#19
March 4, 2009 at 06:19:44
Do NOT install the new hard drive before sending your laptop in. You may not even get the same laptop back. Wait until it comes back.

Be sure to backup ALL your person files. There is a good chance they won't be there when the unit is returned. It may be returned to factory new state.


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#20
March 4, 2009 at 06:26:01
I wasn't going to send it in WITH the new drive. I'd remove the drive before sending it in. Even if they didn't send me my laptop back, they'd send me the same model back so I could still just pop in the hard drive right?

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#21
March 4, 2009 at 06:34:00
Why bother right now. If you want to do anything why not image the entire drive to a different location.?
Like an external or DVDR disks.

As far as getting the same model back I don't know. I would guess that depends on availability. If you read the fine print for your extended warranty it should spell out the terms. I know this, when your RMA a hard drive you may get a certified remanufactured drive of the same model, a new drive of the same model or a new drive of a newer model.

Those determinations are based on factors beyond your control.


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#22
March 4, 2009 at 06:36:15
Because I'm worried about the files being corrupted. I suppose I'll just wait until the unit comes back and see what's what.

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#23
March 4, 2009 at 06:45:43
Still image the drive. You can always discard later.

I think you are worried too much about this. Is you extended warranty directly with Dell?


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