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Hard Disk is failing. How do I save my windows install?

by Dubious Drewski / November 16, 2008 8:24 AM PST

The title says it all. I've got a 'modern' pc with Windows XP home installed, but my C drive is 16 years old(Don't ask how that happened). Just yesterday it has started making noises and will only boot half of the time. I almost always get the Bios message "Boot disk failure" when starting up the machine.

I no longer have my Windows XP "companion disk" that was purchased with this machine. How do I save my installation of windows? Can I make a cd/dvd boot disk or something and transfer my Windows over to a new Drive?

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Why not clone the drive?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 16, 2008 8:37 AM PST

And armed with G4U (or Acronis if that's too hard to use) why can't we save an image of that drive to something else like an external USB hard disk?

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by Dubious Drewski / November 16, 2008 8:41 AM PST

Really? Will cloning the whole drive work? I do have a few external drives that have lots of space. Will my Bios boot from an external drive automatically if windows is installed on it or do I have to change some settings or variables first?

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Sorry. XP does not support USB as the boot drive.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 16, 2008 9:07 AM PST
In reply to: hmm

We can however clone an image to that drive either as a file to be put back on the new hard disk or clone the entire drive with the next step to put the clone into the machine and boot from that.

As to booting from USB, no.

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PS. Clone software is free to plentiful.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 16, 2008 9:26 AM PST

The drive maker supplies such. Research the maker's web site as "you can do that without asking me."

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by Dubious Drewski / November 16, 2008 8:50 AM PST

Alright, I copied everything on my C drive over to an external drive except for \documents and settings\. For some reason, it won't let me copy that.

Is this good? Can I boot from this? I want to be sure before I restart my machine, this hard disk could fail permanently at any given moment here.

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How did you copy this?
by Steven Haninger / November 16, 2008 9:06 AM PST
In reply to: .

If you used copy/paste from explorer, no it won't boot. And if you clone to the external, it's not going to boot unless you remove it from the external case and put it into your PC. You're definitely going to want your documents folder if that's the only place your saved files are. If your HD isn't physically corrupt, cloning/imaging software could allow you to make a compressed image of your entire hard drive and place that on your external drive if it's large enough. From there, you'd get a new drive and put it in your PC. You'd use the same software to restore the image from the external to the new HD. If all goes well, it boots up fine. If not, you're next option would be to remove the old drive, install a new drive and re-install Windows. You might then be able to reattach the old drive and copy data from it onto the new one.

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by Dubious Drewski / November 16, 2008 9:24 AM PST
In reply to: How did you copy this?

Ah, alright then. Thanks for that. I'll go out and buy a new internal drive. Do they all have imaging software included? I don't want to pay $30 to $70 for essentially a single-use utility when I can get such a program with a new HD.

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Boxed retail drives should have this
by Steven Haninger / November 16, 2008 9:40 AM PST
In reply to: hh

OEM bare drives do not. One other thought about your very old drive. I had one that started acting similarly to your description. It would not always boot the first thing in the day. This got worse as winter came and the room was colder. I could tell it wasn't spinning up as quickly as when it was younger. What I eventually had to do was turn on the PC and get things warming up and just let the POST screen sit there with the boot failure message. I could wait a few minutes, do Ctrl-Alt-Del and it would fire up fine. This could be part of your problem as well.

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