Can this HDD be imaged?

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JorgeA

Active member
Dec 4, 2023
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This week, my father brought me a Windows 7 PC of his that was acting up. Here are the symptoms:

After booting into Windows, in short order the PC would turn itself off. He says that this happened about twelve times until the boot finally "caught" and he was able to stay in Windows and use it.

Suspecting that the drive had developed a fault of some kind, I offered to run SpinRite 6.1 on it at Level 2. At the end of the scan, which ran overnight, near the right-hand end of the first line of white squares there is a white "U" inside a red square. (I would like to upload a photo of the Graphic Status Display here, but I keep running into an "Oops!" error.) The legend at the bottom of the screen says this U means that the information at that location was "unrecovered."

I asked my father if he has a recent backup of the HDD, and he said no. o_O So my question for you is: at this point, is it feasible to create a system image with Macrium Reflect (or any other drive imaging software), replace the HDD, and put the image back on the new drive?

Thanks in advance for any info/insights.
 
I asked my father if he has a recent backup of the HDD, and he said no. o_O So my question for you is: at this point, is it feasible to create a system image with Macrium Reflect (or any other drive imaging software), replace the HDD, and put the image back on the new drive?

Thanks in advance for any info/insights.
Even if you could, it sounds like there's a possibility that some of the files, including the system files, might be corrupted. You could try to take an image and then copy off the data that's valuable. Or pull the drive and connect to another system (either via SATA or put it in a SATA to USB adapter) and copy off whatever data you can, then just copy it back on to a new drive or new PC (and since this is Windows 7, your best bet is to move him to a supported version of Windows).
 
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Even if you could, it sounds like there's a possibility that some of the files, including the system files, might be corrupted. You could try to take an image and then copy off the data that's valuable. Or pull the drive and connect to another system (either via SATA or put it in a SATA to USB adapter) and copy off whatever data you can, then just copy it back on to a new drive or new PC (and since this is Windows 7, your best bet is to move him to a supported version of Windows).
Thanks, that's what I suspected too.

He got a Windows 10 machine a couple of years ago, but loathed the redesigned interface and went back to 7. If we can't fix his Win7 system, I may customize his Win10 PC with WindowBlinds, Windows Update Manager, and other tools to make it look and work as much as possible like Windows 7.
 
So many challenges and opportunities. You did not state if the PC was able to boot normally after running SR. If it did then an MR image would be a reasonable step in prep for replacement. There is also the possibility of doing a system repair (I assume Win 7 has this function) that should correct any system files.

If replacing the HDD this would be a good time to get an SSD as the performance improvement would be significant.

Finally, the rationale for creating an image and restoring to a new drive would be to save having to reinstall all the apps and retain configurations. But this could also be a good time for a clean install.
 
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So many challenges and opportunities. You did not state if the PC was able to boot normally after running SR. If it did then an MR image would be a reasonable step in prep for replacement. There is also the possibility of doing a system repair (I assume Win 7 has this function) that should correct any system files.

If replacing the HDD this would be a good time to get an SSD as the performance improvement would be significant.

Finally, the rationale for creating an image and restoring to a new drive would be to save having to reinstall all the apps and retain configurations. But this could also be a good time for a clean install.
At the time I wrote the previous post, I didn't know if the PC had booted successfully after running SR. Since then, I've learned that it did, so that's a good sign.

System repair is a great idea; Windows 7 does allow for this, so we will definitely try it before making the final image that's to be transferred over to the new drive. Myself, since system files may have been involved in the hiccup, I was thinking about running SFC /scannow on his computer.

I'll make the case for an SSD, but my father already saw a 2TB hard drive from WD selling for $65 at Staples and it's going to be an uphill battle to dissuade him from that. :)
 
One other option if he is set on a large HDD, if there is a slot available in the PC, is to get a small SSD to be used as the boot drive. The HDD would then be used for storing data and programs.

Many people drool at getting tons of cheap space but do not give any thought to backing it up. This should (must) be part of that upgrade plan.
 
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Maybe this experience with the failing HDD will show him that it's worth making backups.

According to the PC's specs (it's the SFF variety), there's only one internal drive bay, but two "external" drive bays. One of these bays has an optical drive, but I'm thinking that we might rig the other one to hold a data drive.
 
Maybe this experience with the failing HDD will show him that it's worth making backups.

According to the PC's specs (it's the SFF variety), there's only one internal drive bay, but two "external" drive bays. One of these bays has an optical drive, but I'm thinking that we might rig the other one to hold a data drive.
You could also use the PCIe x4 slot to add a PCIe to NVMe adapter and then get an NVMe drive

 
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According to the PC's specs (it's the SFF variety), there's only one internal drive bay, but two "external" drive bays. One of these bays has an optical drive, but I'm thinking that we might rig the other one to hold a data drive.
Before you buy, check the cables, you may only have cabling and SATA ports for any two out of three.
 
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Before you buy, check the cables, you may only have cabling and SATA ports for any two out of three.
Huh, I'd never heard of this happening. Next chance I get, I'll open up the case to make sure.

I have spare cables from other projects, so at least we would be covered there. Hopefully the mobo will have enough SATA ports and the PSU will have enough power connectors. But if not, we'd still have the PCIe-to-NVMe adapter alternative.
 
Huh, I'd never heard of this happening. Next chance I get, I'll open up the case to make sure.

I have spare cables from other projects, so at least we would be covered there. Hopefully the mobo will have enough SATA ports and the PSU will have enough power connectors. But if not, we'd still have the PCIe-to-NVMe adapter alternative.

Sorry if I am speaking out of context here, I didn't read the full thread.

See if you can find the user manual for your motherboard and review that. My board disables a couple of my SATA ports if I use my m.2 port or one of my other slots. So while I physically have the ports, they will not work.
 
Sorry if I am speaking out of context here, I didn't read the full thread.

See if you can find the user manual for your motherboard and review that. My board disables a couple of my SATA ports if I use my m.2 port or one of my other slots. So while I physically have the ports, they will not work.
I found several manuals online, here and here. It's not completely clear how many internal drives the PC can take, as one diagram shows four SATA ports on the motherboard while the other one shows three. (Of these totals, one SATA port would be used for the optical drive and another one for the card reader.) I'm probably missing some detail, otherwise we won't know what's up for sure until we crack the case open.
 
Update: We opened the case and took a look inside. As it turns out, the PC has the four SATA ports, one of which was in use by the boot drive and another by the ODD.

The problem came in with the power cables rather than the data cables. This machine's PSU has a dearth of power connectors, and in fact the only free one that I could find is on the same line as the power for the ODD... and it doesn't reach far enough to plug into the new HDD that we were going to put in as a data drive.

It's unclear if a complete disassembly of the innards might have allowed the power cable to roam more freely and reach the required length, but I didn't have the time and my father didn't have the inclination to carry out such major surgery. So we went with plan B, installing the new 512GB SSD as the boot drive. It would be easy to install a second SSD as a data drive, as we could physically turn that one over so that the power connector on it would be within reach of the power cable. (Not sure that this would be possible with the "tool-less" HDD that slips on rollers into a slot, I suppose we could verify next time.)

The Macrium Reflect imaging process went well and Windows 7 booted up fine on the SSD, but I have a standing request to keep me posted on any hiccups.
 
Update: We opened the case and took a look inside. As it turns out, the PC has the four SATA ports, one of which was in use by the boot drive and another by the ODD.

The problem came in with the power cables rather than the data cables. This machine's PSU has a dearth of power connectors, and in fact the only free one that I could find is on the same line as the power for the ODD... and it doesn't reach far enough to plug into the new HDD that we were going to put in as a data drive.
You can buy SATA power splitter leads cheaply. They will power 2 drives from a single source. They also have the advantage of being, typically, 4-5 inches long, so will reach a bit further.

An example https://www.amazon.co.uk/sata-power-splitter/s?k=sata+power+splitter
 
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