Nelson's log

Windows: backing up a failing disk

Ken’s Windows 7 machine has a hard drive failing. Some errors, a few corrupted / lost files. We’ve already bought a replacement drive but are having a seriously hard time getting useful data off the old disk. The disk mostly works; he runs it with Windows for hours at a time (I know, bad idea). But it has some bad sectors.

Simple task: just make a backup. Copy all the files off of it. Windows Backup doesn’t seem to work with no useful feedback why. Casper, a third party disk imaging tool, gives up the moment it encounters a read error. Acronis True Image, another cloner, is free for Western Digital drive owners but the installer doesn’t even run. PCmover isn’t really a backup tool and isn’t backing up complete data. It’s a fucking clown show. I’m about to bust out a Linux system just to run ddrescue. I did find a suggestion that HDD Raw Copy Tool might work.

Hard task: set up the new PC. Ken would very reasonably like to migrate his own data and settings from Windows 7 to a new Windows 10 install on a new disk. This proves to be very difficult from a working disk and nearly impossible from a failing machine. Windows 10 abandoned Easy Transfer. Microsoft did a deal with PCmover but the software is a joke, most of what it moved doesn’t work on the new system. A specific problem is his username changed on the new Windows system and everything seems to have hardcoded the pathname of his old username, not just %user%.

Windows is such garbage.