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Thread: Replacing a failing Harrd Drive

  1. #1
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    Mar 2011
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    Xubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot

    Replacing a failing Harrd Drive

    Hello folks,

    I am hoping someone here can give me some advice. I have a badly failing Hard Drive on my laptop. I am now having to run badblocks every two days (yes it is bad). So before it dies for good I want to replace it. It is a Western Digital WD2500BEVS-60UST0 SATA 2.5" 250GB.

    Two critical questions:

    1.If I am going to replace it I might as well replace it with one of more capacity? I am triple booting Win Vista, Xubuntu, Mint so one with more capacity would be great. My fear though is will my laptop support a different hard drive or will I have to replace it with the same type and model that is there now?

    2. How do I transfer all my files to the new hard drive without having to re-install my OS's primarily Windows Vista as I don't have a disk for it only the system recovery partition that comes with the laptop. My linux partitions I am not worried about since it is easy to install a fresh copy.

    Any advice and help would be greatly appreciated, as you can see I am not that tech smart.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail

    Re: Replacing a failing Harrd Drive

    Hi

    I would recommend buying a new hard drive such as this one

    http://www.ebuyer.com/255282-wd-500g...ive-wd5000bpkt

    its made by the same company as your current one and normally hard drives are fairly interchangeable, in the old days compatibility issue could happen but very rarely in recent years will a hard drive be totally incompatible. It's also a 500Gb hdd rather than a 250Gb one which isn't massive these days and the price difference between the two really isnt that large. As for copying the OSes from one drive to the other you can use a program called clonezilla http://clonezilla.org/ to backup your hard drive and restore it to the new one although you will need some form of external storage for that and I strongly recommend reading about clonezilla a lot and maybe watching a few youtube videos of people using it so you get a feel for what you're doing.

    Hope this helps!

    Barry
    Desktop: Z77X-UD5H, Intel i7 3770k, NVidia GeForce 660 Ti Sli 16GB DDR3 RAM 2TB HDD
    OSes: Mint 14 x64 Windows 7 Ultimate x64
    Laptop: Dell Latitude E6430
    OSes: Ubuntu 13.04 x64, Backtrack 5 R3

  3. #3
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    Xubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot

    Re: Replacing a failing Harrd Drive

    Thanks for your reply Barry. When you talk about incompatibility with older systems, how old do you mean? My laptop is 4 years old now and I know I should replace the thing however at the moment it is much easier for me to afford 60$ - 100$ on a hard drive than spend 4 times as much on a new computer so I will try and get as much life out this poor laptop as I can.

  4. #4
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    Re: Replacing a failing Harrd Drive

    I would recommend a complete backup of all your data, before your drive fails completely. If you don't already have a system restore disk for your vista, then make
    one .
    As to the hard drive, a new replacement obviously has to be compatible with your
    computer, however you can probably find one with a lot more storage space than
    you have now. I would recommend ebay { yep good ol ebay }. I have purchased new
    hard drives on ebay from this seller memorylabs, try that or memory labs {46654 .
    I have no complaints about this seller, replaced my 240 gb. drive with 350, they also had
    500 gb available.

  5. #5
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    Lubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr

    Re: Replacing a failing Harrd Drive

    Get a drive that is the same size or larger AND matches with 512b or 4K sector sizes.
    Then use a liveCD to boot with both the old and new disk connected.
    The use dd or dd_rescue to mirror the entire disk device exactly. Do this at the HDD level (/dev/sda), not the partition (/dev/sda1) level.

    That will mirror, bit for bit, everything on the source HDD, including grub, vista, and any other OS on the disk.

    Then swap the new drive into the laptop and boot each OS. I doubt any of them will notice a difference, except perhaps Vista. You might need to let it fix the broken install, but that should be it.

    If you got a larger HDD, now you can move the partitions around and increase or add any more storage where you like. For Windows, it is best to use Window partition tools to touch it. For all other OSes, use gparted - including moving the Linux partitions out of the way so that Window partition manager can be used later.

    Badblocks are ... er ... bad. I hope you have a great backup strategy that works and does daily, versioned, backups. Something will help fight corrupt files.

  6. #6
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    Re: Replacing a failing Harrd Drive

    Thanks for all the replies guys. @TheFu, how do I know if a drive matches with 512b or 4K sector sizes? I have been looking at the one recommended by Barry WD Scorpio Black 500 GB SATA 7200 RPM 16 MB Cache Bulk/OEM 2.5" Mobile Hard Drive (WD5000BPKT) it is only $60 on Amazon so that's not bad, and I like the fact it says it is good for power computing.

    As for a backup I have an old 160GB HD on an enclosure USB Kit I use for saving all my important files. My Win Vista stuff like downloads, documents, pics, etc. are saved automatically to it and not the internal HD. And on my Linux partitions I make periodic backups as well. My only concern is the OSes themselves but from what I am reading it should be easy clone the drive.

    About badblocks, no kidding, I am running the test right now and already found 32 errors, so my guess is this hard drive has only hours to live.

    Question to all since you all seem knowledgeable on the topic. Why do you think I only keep getting problems with my main Linux partition with 60GB? My Windows partition with 150GB or so boots fine (although slow) and seems to have no problems. My third and smaller partition which I use for testing distros is only 10GB and I also don't seem to have much of a problem with badblocks.

  7. #7
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    Re: Replacing a failing Harrd Drive

    No need to get one of the same size and manufacturer. Get any drive that's compatible and fits.

    However, your existing drive does use 512b sectors ("old style"), and most new laptop drives are "advanced format" 4K byte sector drives as mentioned earlier. An advanced format drive should actually work fine, except that you would need to align all of the partitions to 4K sector boundaries to achieve the best performance. This is pretty easy to do if you do it right.

    Here's how: clone each partition one at a time using gparted by first creating new partitions on the new drive; Ubuntu starting with 11.04 should automatically created aligned partitions. (Use a live CD 11.04 or newer to clone, anyway.) Gparted allowed copying/pasting of partitions individually - even Windows partitions - and it worked well for me recently when I cloned my XP + Ubuntu drive to a larger one.

    However, I would be much more worried about failed sectors causing errors in the copy. In that case, you should probably use ddrescue to copy each partition, but you can still create the new partitions first with Gparted with Ubuntu 11.04 or newer so the partitions are aligned.

  8. #8
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    Re: Replacing a failing Harrd Drive

    Quote Originally Posted by gorellana09 View Post
    Question to all since you all seem knowledgeable on the topic. Why do you think I only keep getting problems with my main Linux partition with 60GB? My Windows partition with 150GB or so boots fine (although slow) and seems to have no problems. My third and smaller partition which I use for testing distros is only 10GB and I also don't seem to have much of a problem with badblocks.
    Bad sectors may be on one part of the drive and not the others, causing you more problems with one OS than another. The drive surface may be failing just on one part of the drive, and that could cause some sectors to fail completely, others to be very slow to access.

  9. #9
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    Re: Replacing a failing Harrd Drive

    Quote Originally Posted by gorellana09 View Post
    As for a backup I have an old 160GB HD on an enclosure USB Kit I use for saving all my important files. My Win Vista stuff like downloads, documents, pics, etc. are saved automatically to it and not the internal HD. And on my Linux partitions I make periodic backups as well.
    I need to point out that a "backup" means you have the data in at least 2 places. That external drive you are using for "backups" can also fail at any time. Having 5+ copies of really important data is a good idea.

    All hard disks will fail. All of them. The goal is to have them fail either when you don't care anymore or when you stopped using it. A HDD failing is like death - you and I will eventually die. That is 100% certain. Your HDDs will fail. That too, is 100% certain.

    I see that someone else addressed the 4K sectors. I have a few drives with 4K sectors, but I have not cloned data, boot sectors, partitions onto them. I used rsync to mirror data over. This is a much higher level process than dd, so I don't trust it to place critical files in exactly the needed locations requirement for booting.

  10. #10
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    Re: Replacing a failing Harrd Drive

    Hello guys quick update to this thread and more help needed. I finally got around to getting my new Hard Drive (it came in the mail today at a great time as my preset hard drive didn't let me boot this morning again!). I got the one suggested by PowerBarry43 on the second post.

    @Ahallubuntu, my question. You say to copy each individual partition in gparted? I checked and yes gparted does seem to have a copy and paste feature.

    Here is the output of fdisk -l:

    Code:
    geo@geo:~$ sudo fdisk -l
    [sudo] password for geo: 
    
    Disk /dev/sda: 250.1 GB, 250059350016 bytes
    255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 30401 cylinders, total 488397168 sectors
    Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
    Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
    I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
    Disk identifier: 0xb53a46d5
    
       Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
    /dev/sda1   *          63   308254719   154127328+   7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
    /dev/sda2       468482048   488390655     9954304    7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
    /dev/sda3       308256766   468482047    80112641    5  Extended
    /dev/sda5       308256768   436248575    63995904   83  Linux
    /dev/sda6       464347136   468482047     2067456   82  Linux swap / Solaris
    /dev/sda7       436250624   458582655    11166016   83  Linux
    /dev/sda8       458584064   464343039     2879488   82  Linux swap / Solaris
    
    Partition table entries are not in disk order
    
    Disk /dev/sdb: 500.1 GB, 500107862016 bytes
    255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 60801 cylinders, total 976773168 sectors
    Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
    Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
    I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
    Disk identifier: 0x00000000
    
    Disk /dev/sdb doesn't contain a valid partition table
    geo@geo:~$
    As you can see my present HD is very messy. I have 2 swaps (no idea why) and also 2 unallocated partitions which are not showing there which are less than 1GB each.

    - The second reading is my new hard drive. Everything seems to be identical but why is Disk identifier showing nothing?

    - What is a partition table? and how do I create one? Gparted has a thing that says create a partition table.

    - If I copy each partition one at a time can I copy only 1 swap and have my two Ubuntus share the same sawp?

    Any help and advice will be great before I attempt to do anything that may break my system for good.

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