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Thursday, 11 April 2013

OT radio wise but a common enough occurance for amateurs laptop or PC drive failure

Some of you probably know how to do this anyway… but I suspect a few will have a laptop or a PC in the shack and this might help you figure out options...

A friend's laptop runs windows 7 and it started alerting that the hard drive was going to fail so could I help? They brought it over and sure enough smartdrive reports failure imminent. So I bought a couple of new drives, same model and size off ebay, I knew what these were by going into the BIOS, no point trying for a system restore with restore DVD as 100% positive they will have installed stuff (SDR, HRD, Winlogger, Skype, Win-Test etc...) after they bought it that I know nothing about and I might spend endless hours trying to put it all back together again.....and as the system is working albeit a bit slow right now.

So first I shutdown and remove the 2.5" drive from the laptop and put it into a freezer bag and into our freezer over night. The following day then boot laptop using a damn small Linux live CD, with new drive in place did not format it or anything just take from static bag and fit it and put old one (it was at -18C initially) in an ebay cheap usb3 external enclosure with the cover off. The BIOS sees the new drive then booted into Linux and ran ‘dd if=/dev/sdb of=/dev/sda’ nice and simple one 320gb drive cloned to the other and they get old system back …. However this can take a while so how do you get feedback from dd?

If I run the dd command in one terminal then open a 2nd terminal and run ps -ef | grep dd and find the ..... then run 'watch -n 100 kill -USR1 ' and you get the progress. updating every 100 seconds in the first window.

I also wrote up instructions how once a month when there are a couple of hours when not using it insert the live cd and the usb drive with the second drive, reboot the system and run the dd command  and the feedback in two terminals so creating a clone of the original drive. As the clone drive is formatted as windows they also have the option of seeing the files they created by plugging the drive into the laptop, they can use it but it will be wipped every time they clone the drive in the laptop which is fine. At least if the drive fails again I’ll have a drive ready to go too.

The freezer bit… old habit if a drive was failing it often helps to hard freeze it (dry so have to protect from ice) before reading it one last time. It was still cold after 2 hours (which is about time it took to run the copy).
Smartdrive after the copy says it is due to fail so I'll scrub it.

1 comment:

M1KTA said...


Put the drive into a ziplock bag, wrapped it in cling film and makes sure no air will get to it as the condensation in a freezer can kill the drive.