How to recover from a HD crash for free. ~ Ask The Admin

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How to recover from a HD crash for free.

I Did something pretty cool the other day that I think AtA readers will appreciate.

I Had a hard drive die on a guy in the accounting department. Lets just say he does payroll for the company and I still want to get paid!

Cyclical redundancy check failed was the message. BSD on boot, all that jazz.


Used my Winternals recovery disc and tried to run a chkdsk on it to fix it. No joy.

Mounted the drive in an identical PC that was working and I found a tool online:

Used it to gain access to the partition and it has a utility to create a RAW image of the disc. Sucked up 36GB of NAS space, but c'est la vie.

Now WTF am I to do with a RAW drive image??? I figured I could ghost it elsewhere and hope to god the bad sectors do not kill the ghost.

Then I found this:

This tool took the RAW disc image and converted it(with the use of VMWare's VMount utility and Java to a bootable VMWare Virtual Machine. You can use their player or server product which is free to d/l to do so.

Booted the machine and installed the right tools and a network card into the VM...bang. PC was back and running in its previous state with some minor corruption of some stuff under the start menu, but pretty much all the data was there!

Made a backup of the data and pushed it to the network, booted the other machine that will replace this girl's box and restored all the data back where it belonged....voila!

Pretty nifty little way around a hard drive crash.

Now I realize all data should be stored on the network, with back up tapes/etc. But this is the way that management wants her to, it is how we have to do it. The machine in question was a P4 IBM desktop running 2000 Pro with NTFS drive.

Hope this is something you guys can add to your toolkits. Do you have another method to solve this madness? Leave it in the comments.