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Hard Drive Problems/System image of failing hard drive?

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QUESTION: I have a Dell Studio 1749 laptop, three years old, that has a hard drive getting ready to fail (a 640GB Samsung HM641JI).  My question is whether I should make and use a system image of this failing hard drive to use for my replacement hard drive - or whether using such an image would be risky for the new drive.
It seems a bit suspect to me, like it might just transfer problems to the new drive. On the other hand, I really don't want to go through the headache of reinstalling every little thing again.

ANSWER: Hi Alison!

"it might just transfer problems to the new drive"

Yes, this can happen.  Any corrupt data as a result of normal use or from a bad hard drive can and will be replicated to the new drive.  This may not be an issue, but it can be.  If you know for sure the drive is bad, then you risk corrupt areas of the drive being replicated - I would recommend running CHKDSK /R before the backup.  If you only suspect the drive is bad, based on issues you are having, then there may simply be corruption in your OS (which can happen even on a good disk), in which case, the problems will be replicated to the new drive.

A "clean install" is always better, but a backup/restore is a legitimate way to go as well.  I would recommend an "image" backup or even a "clone", but also backup your important files/folders (including Program Data and App Data folders) in the event it does not work like you want, then you can do a clean install while restoring some of the time-consuming stuff like program settings, preferences, and data.

Feel free to contact me with any other questions you have.

Good luck!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your very prompt response.
I did do a chkdsk /r and it indicated one problem that was fixed... but then I downloaded Dell's ePSA diagnostics and it so many errors on the hard drive test so many times that I aborted testing... and this was after "fixing" problems through chkdsk.
I have done a full backup in addition to a system image and I do have my original software discs. Sounds like I'm in for a few days of fun.

Answer
"I downloaded Dell's ePSA diagnostics and it so many errors on the hard drive test so many times that I aborted testing... and this was after "fixing" problems through chkdsk"

The diagnostics is a reliable indicator if the drive's health, as it is independent of the data on the disk.  CHKDSK can only fix DATA that is stored on corrupt areas of the disk, it cannot repair a disk.

"Sounds like I'm in for a few days of fun."

Yes, you are.  As long as the image is good and the restore goes well, you could be back up in a matter of hours though.

Good luck!

Hard Drive Problems

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I can answer questions about server hardware RAID and general storage for servers and PC's - hard drive issues, troubleshooting, advice, specs, and information. While some apparent drive/RAID array failures can be recovered, I can only provide advice/recommendations in the event of catastrophic data loss. I don't assist in actually recovering from this type of data loss on this forum.

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I worked as an analyst in Dell server support for 2 years, and have since worked with many Dell PowerEdge servers. I am currently employed as IT Manager. I am currently ranked in the top 5 All-Time in Server Hardware and Hard Drives in a very popular and large forum similar to AllExperts.

Education/Credentials
I have a BS in Computer Science and have earned the following certifications: CompTIA Security+, A+, Project+; CIW Web Design, Database Specialist; Microsoft Windows 7; Dell DCSE Server. I am also an expert in Windows 7, Servers, and Hard Drives (I don't normally do XP - not because I don't know it inside and out, but because I have "retired" personal support for XP, and I want to see it die :)).

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