Will Testdisk create a drive image?

How to use TestDisk to recover lost partition
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Posts: 54
Joined: 15 Apr 2012, 06:15

Will Testdisk create a drive image?

#1 Post by AndyII »

My control board went bad so I'm trying to get my operating system off the drive intact. I can get it to run for periods of time before it fails. In the menus in Testdisk, is a command [image]. Is that for making a disk image? I find nothing on the site about it. If it is, how is that image created, file by file, sector by sector, or byte by byte?

Posts: 67
Joined: 14 Sep 2012, 20:51

Re: Will Testdisk create a drive image?

#2 Post by dragonfly41 »

I've not used the testdisk command Advanced > Image which is your question.

This article might help .. if you can burn a linux live CD using some other working computer ..


I use Ubuntu live CD .. or other .. then use ddrescue command.


Or you can use a GUI utility such as clonezilla (on windows or linux) to clone your disk.

Posts: 54
Joined: 15 Apr 2012, 06:15

Re: Will Testdisk create a drive image?

#3 Post by AndyII »

Wow! Those were a little beyond my understanding. Maybe you can answer a couple of questions about Knoppix, DDRescue, and LiveCD for me. When I get the drive running, I can access it normally. When the component gets too warm, the drive drops out of Windows. Will these programs go back and continue from where they left off or will I have to begin again? My biggest problem is trying to keep it running continuously without a dropoff.

Another question is, do I have to boot to a LiveCD if I'm able to connect the drive to a working Windows XP computer and boot from that? If I boot to a LiveCD, will it matter if the drive momentarily stops functioning?

Posts: 67
Joined: 14 Sep 2012, 20:51

Re: Will Testdisk create a drive image?

#4 Post by dragonfly41 »

It's not clear from your writing if your fault is your motherboard or your internal hard drive.
You start by saying that the motherboard is at fault. But now it is the hard drive which is failing. Which is it?

To pin this down you would have to physically remove the hard drive and place it in a USB enclosure which you'll have to buy at a local store and then try to view the file structure with the USB drive connected to a working PC (which also has testdisk installed).

If the hard drive (now in an external USB enclosure) still fails after a period of warming up there is an old trick which is reported by others to work in an emergency.

The theory goes .. wrap the USB enclosure in a waterproof plastic bag and put it in the freezer for a while. Then - when it is cooled down - quickly recover files by plugging the USB container into your working PC.

Make sure that you are ready to launch a copy or cloning program (such as ddrescue or clonezilla) to as soon as possible clone your cooled down drive into some empty drive or partition at least as large as your drive. Set this up first - not some time after you've pulled the drive from the freezer. It is written that you can only try this option as a last resort a one or two times before the drive totally fails.

Then you can apply testdisk to the cloned disk.

Hopefully you'll find from this exercise that it is the motherboard at fault (as you first wrote) and you might be able to recover files from your external USB drive connected to another PC without resorting to these options.

WARNING .. these are "last resort" options to try and the hard drive is likely to fail completely after ONE TRY. So try other options first.


http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/267 ... rage-drive



An after thought. There is another option you can try if your drive does work for a period (how long?) before dropping out from Windows.

Your problem seems to be that you are starting from the beginning each time the disk drops out.
Why can't you copy directories one at a time into a good hard drive space?

e.g. In windows you might start by copying only "Users" directory to copy your User profiles and data.

Then go on to copy critical directories .. one at a time .. until the drive drops out and you have to wait for it to cool down.
Make a list of the directories to be copied in order of priority and if you are interrupted just repeat the last directory copy and keep going.
Next time you boot up you don't have to start at the begining but just repeat the copying of any interrupted last directory.

This way you are copying Windows root directory by root directory .. not the entire content each time the drive fails.
This is what you would do if you get testdisk working.

Posts: 54
Joined: 15 Apr 2012, 06:15

Re: Will Testdisk create a drive image?

#5 Post by AndyII »

I appreciate the time it took to type all that out. Thank you very much. But I have to say that I was clear on what I wanted to do. I said it was the control board and not the motherboard. The control board is what controls the hard disk. I apologize if I was not clear on that. I also said I wanted to create an image of the disk and not just get the files. I've gotten several of the files. Supposedly, I've kept the drive running enough to get 231Gb of files which took over 12 hours, so freezing is out. I'm trying to retain all of my settings instead of reinstalling all the programs. I do not have the install files for some of the programs. They were downloaded and installed directly from the web and some may no longer be around.

How long does it take to do a full disk image of a 500Gb drive? I really only need partitions 1 and 2. Partition 3 was all data and I've gotten that copied to another disk. Partition 1 is only 15Gb and Partition 2 was 350Gb with only 264Gb used. It was only 250Gb used space until the drive started doing a chkdsk every time I ran it. If I can keep the sense to make a recovery disk, I should only need Partition 2. That's the one with the operating system and registry settings.

Do you know of a way that I can keep the control board cool for 12 hours without condensation or short circuit?

Posts: 67
Joined: 14 Sep 2012, 20:51

Re: Will Testdisk create a drive image?

#6 Post by dragonfly41 »

I misread control board as mother board. My mistake. However the same principles apply.

To revisit your opening post ..
My control board went bad so I'm trying to get my operating system off the drive intact.
You can achieve this either by
(a) cloning an entire disk image
(b) copying parts of the image folder by folder, file by file.

Apparently you haven't enough time to clone before your control board conks out. That is why I suggested incremental cloning .. directory by directory. But it could also be partition by partition.

If you clone Windows folders in the entire Windows partition (every folder and the hidden files in the root directory) you have a fair chance of rebooting Windows even if you don't have the original installation programs. But you must copy everything .. registry and profiles .. for this to work incrementally. Do watch out for hidden files.

However from your explanation you only need to copy partition 1 (Windows) as 15 GB and partition 2 as 264 GB. And you have a limited time (12 hours?) for each phase of copying. But using clonezilla to clone partitions will take much less than 12 hours .. 30 minutes is my guess per partition.

I would approach this by having a fresh disk drive 500 GB which exactly reflects the partition structure of your failing drive. I would use a linux live CD (I use ubuntu) and create partitions in your new drive using gparted partition manager.
Then it becomes a matter of cloning individual partitions (such as Windows partition 1) rather than the entire 500 GB drive image.

http://cdonner.com/partition-cloning-wi ... ezilla.htm

This approach avoids cloning folder by folder recursively (you might miss an important file such as registry).

You then have the problem of booting up Windows from that cloned partition (which must by default be the first primary partition). Ensure that in gparted the windows partition (NTFS format) is marked as bootable.

Attached as example is a gparted screenshot of a 500 GB drive I am currently setting up as dual boot - Windows + Ubuntu. See the boot flag marked.

Re: your last question on keeping the control board cooled down you could research trying a can of aerosol freeze spray (CO2). But this might accelerate failure so do this at your own risk. This approach should not be necessary unless you are running testdisk for 12+ hours. clonezilla might work .. or ddrescue in linux.
screenshot of linux gparted - partition editor - with Windows Vista in primary partition /dev/sda1
screenshot of linux gparted - partition editor - with Windows Vista in primary partition /dev/sda1
gparted.png (75.51 KiB) Viewed 11067 times

Posts: 83
Joined: 08 Sep 2012, 06:58

Re: Will Testdisk create a drive image?

#7 Post by Lito »

Perhaps downloading and burning Parted Magic, could be a good option.
You would then have all different tools under one roof: Clonezilla, Gparted, ddrescue, TestDisk, etc.
As far as I understand it you are dependent on the control board keeping cool.
Your chances of getting an image also depend on how much data each of the partitions hold.
There is a small difference in taken an image (a photo of the disk if you like) that you can reproduce or reprint if you like (if you did have the necessary disks) time and time again. If you are cloning the disk or coping the partitions, you do it one time, but the next time besides having to repeat the process , there is a risk that something might have changed in the disk that you are trying to salvage. If you have an image instead , you can get the same result everytime by burning the image to an empty hard disk. The choices are many. Acronis is a commercial option. Do not install. Simply boot the CD and start Acronis. You can burn your image to DVDs. This is what i have done for a Windows XP box, with a fairly clean installation. Every so often, i make another up to date image. It takes about ten minutes to have everything back should it go awry. It does work everytime as long as the disk where you are placing the image is clean.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Acronis-True-Im ... 730&sr=8-1

A free imaging alternative is Redo Backup and Recovery
You would need somewhere whrere to store your images. They will be store in the format of the software you are using.
They might be considerably smaller than the nominal size of your disk. They probably save only tha actual data and not the space marked as unallocated. Some can use compression.
The time they will take also depends on the perfomance of your system, especially your hard disk with a lame control board.
As you can see, even the humbler Gparted could be call into action to copy partitions to unallocated space:

Best of luck

Posts: 54
Joined: 15 Apr 2012, 06:15

Re: Will Testdisk create a drive image?

#8 Post by AndyII »

Thank you for responding. I tried today to create an image both with Testdisk and Acronis. The drive wouldn't stay mounted for more than a minute. I couldn't keep the control board functioning longer than that using the same method that got me the 12 hours last week. My last hope is to change the control board if I can find one. And from what I've read, it may not work unless I transfer the adaptive settings from the EEPROM. I found a company in Ohio that has the board and includes the transfer for about $55 plus $15 shipping. Two day shipping and 10 day turnaround unless I pay extra for 2-day.

I think they have a separate fee for the transfer service if I find my own board, but it's not on their website. Another website suggested it may be $10. I just don't know how to find a board that matches. I really need that information that's on it but can't afford data recovery. Maybe a data recovery company locally has the same service. That's something I'll look into.

Anyway, thanks for the information. If they can get the disk working again, I'll come back and use the information you've provided to make my image and transfer it to the new drive.

Posts: 67
Joined: 14 Sep 2012, 20:51

Re: Will Testdisk create a drive image?

#9 Post by dragonfly41 »

Sounds like you're not going to try the deep freeze tip.


Posts: 54
Joined: 15 Apr 2012, 06:15

Re: Will Testdisk create a drive image?

#10 Post by AndyII »

Absolutely not. That's a one-shot deal. It kills the drive by letting condensation accumulate where it shouldn't. If it doesn't work, you've screwed yourself. Not everyone has luck with that and it certainly won't stay frozen for 12 hours under power. The trick also only works by shrinking the metal of the platters. It has no effect on circuit boards other than to short them once they start to thaw and collect condensation.