Question Recovery Methods On A Dual Boot Computer

michael diemer

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Specs: Dell Inspiron laptop, 64 bit; 6 GB ram; Seagate 1 TB HDD; Windows 7 HP and Linux (Zorin) on separate partitions.

Windows has become slow and hangs on this computer, Zorin runs fine. Hard drive rated "Caution" by Crystal Disc for reallocated sectors. HDD is about 5 years old. I would like to either do a system restore; reinstall Windows using the non-destructive method (where you pretend it's an upgrade); use a system image; or do a fresh install of Windows. I could also divide the partition and install a new copy of Windows on the new partition.

So far, I have had no luck using system restore. I suspect that's because originally Windows was installed to the entire 1 TB disk, and now it's on a smaller partition. An image restore would probably run into the same problem, most likely (although the paid version of Macrium may allow you to do this).

Currently, I have Windows set to boot in safe mode with networking, although it can't connect to the web, which may be due to wireless issues. I haven't tried using a wired connection; hopefully that would work. If I could get it to work with wireless, that could also be a solution to the problem, if my wife doesn't mind the funky VGA display (although it looks pretty good actually at top resolution, thanks to the laptop's 17" screen).
 

USAFRet

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Reinstall/Recovery/whatever does not fix a physical drive issue.
Said issue as reported by CrystalDiskInfo.

Recover whatever personal data you can, replace the physical drive, and reinstall everything.
 

michael diemer

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The whole reallocated sectors thing is really confusing. I see people who say as long as the count is holding, not increasing steadily, it can go a long time. I've even heard that some drives ship with bad sectors. Then there are those, such as yourself, who say once you get the bad sectors showing up, it's time to get a new drive.

I have found that Linux will work indefinitely on such drives. I even have one over 10 years old that I have installed several Linuxes on, and it's rated BAD by Crystal Disc. I'm between a rock and a hard place. Replace drives frequently (when they may have lasted several years more, especially with Linux), or lose your drive suddenly in a catastrophic failure. Personally, I think Windows eats hard drives. Linux is much easier on them.
 

USAFRet

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Linux, Windows, Apple, whatever....physical drive fail is fail.

I have some well over a decade old. Others that have died a month out of the box.
I have a 22 year old Dell laptop I cranked up a few months ago, still works. 2x 2GB drives, one with puppyLinux, one with Win2000.

Personally, I don't care one whit about the physical drive. That is trivially replaced if and as necessary.
Any data you care about should be on more than one storage device.
 

michael diemer

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Personally, I save important stuff on an external drive, plus thumb drives, as well as online storage, so I'm covered. My wife relies more on backups. I have finally convinced her to save really important stuff on a thumb drive, every time she saves.

For the moment, her computer is working better, but I don't know why. It may have been something I did, who knows. Maybe the whole episode was caused by out ISP's crappy service. Or the battery which is going and needs to be replaced. Fortunately, she does have a new laptop (unfortunately with Windows 10, which I would have immediately overwritten with Linux, but that's her decision).
 

howtobeironic

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Now, Linux has a bit more resilience against drive failures because of the way it saves data, or the steps it takes when it detects a bad mount/unmount. (Even though it'd be expected to be more vulnerable to drive failure because of the scattered storage system, it does surprisingly well) However, this difference is not much seen and it's more of a luck situation. Sometimes a "Bad" drive keeps up for 10 years, sometimes an "Excellent" drive screws up before a year, regardless of whatever OS it's on. Can't %100 agree with drives eating the OS or not.

For Macrium, you're able to do image backups/restores or exact clonings in the free version (you can even choose which partitions do you want to restore, or in which order, the only time you'd want a paid version is when you are restoring to some else computer or when you want to restore about 50 computers) though dualboots are a bit in the sloppy side of the iceberg. Depending on the complexity your setup you might not be able to boot at all after restoring (if that happens you can still restore only one OS and/or pull data from it as it was a hard drive if you had imaged the backup.) However most of the times it's restoring the whole drive and rebuilding the boot sectors with rescue disks. Macrium also has a forensic block to block imaging option which will take every single bit of data to the image.

Here's the deal: Get all the things backed up, get a new drive, put things back up. Even though the bad sectors are present in even the freshest of the drives, and sometimes they are caused by disconnectins and can be fixed by zerobombing the drive, the drive is giving the flags of doomsday, therefore you shouldn't entrust it with data you would care about if it was gone.

Side note: Don't use chkdsk on the drive before backing up, you might deal the final blow unknowingly.
 

michael diemer

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To wrap this up, I decided to get a SSD and reinstall Windows and Linux, migrating all her data. Windows 7 is thus now a fresh install and completely up to date, all ready for EOL (which happens to be today). I used Windows' Easy Transfer, it still works great. Also, I put the old drive in Diagnostic mode, which allows it to be fairly functional, in case we need to get something from it. I plan to get a caddy so that old drive can be hooked up to my desktop.

Thanks for that great tip on backing up and checkdisk, howtobeironic. I'll keep that in mind.
 

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