When a good hard drive goes bad

My old Raptor C: drive started failing (up to 52k in bad sectors, wouldn’t boot).

So, I swapped in a SATA 1TB drive to serve as my boot drive until I decide to splurge on another Raptor, and then I loaded Vista back on it (I’ve got a full retail version, so no issues with licensing there). Everything runs smoothly, except for the fact that the registry isn’t paying any attention to the 300+ games that are sitting on my D: drive and of course I’ve got my MS Office installation sitting on the old drive (student version - I absolutely LOVE MSNote).

I could just reinstall everything (they’re all bought legally, afterall), but that’s one of the biggest conceiveable pains in the rear and it would also burn up the last of the three installs I get for MS Office, something I was trying to save for a new PC I’d be putting together for my son in the next few months.

I’m left with a few possible solutions, but I’m not sure what the best one is:

[ul]
[li]I have my “Complete PC Backup” (imaged drives) stashed on my new C: drive. This seemed to be the easiest, but unfortunately it requires placement on an exernal drive (or a third, properly working internal drive that’s big enough) to work properly. I don’t have one that’s big enough, and if I’m going to drop that much cash (around $200) then I’d just as soon get another PC. Furthermore, I don’t know how solid that image is because I got an error message about the bad sectors when that was done, and shortly after it went toes-up.[/li][li]I have the old failing drive loaded up as a third drive on my PC. Just doing a cut & paste seemed like the second easiestway to go, but it presents a few issues: primarily, just copying directly over from a faulty hard drive that wouldn’t boot anymore will cause my new hard drive to likely be unbootable. The old “easy trasfer cable” approach via a caddy for my old drive strikes me as having similar issues.[/li][li]Another possibility I can figure is to find my old registry and swap it out for the new one, while cut & pasting the MS Office files over. That seems like an okay approach, but it also has a few problems: I don’t know if that will pass licensing muster, and I don’t know how the various DRM’s installed on my old PC will now behave - SecuROM, Tages, StarFarce, etc. will need to somehow be reinstalled. Furthermore, all the “good” files are enmeshed with the other stuff, so I don’t know how to just pull what I need (cutting and pasting directories with replacement seems an option, but that seems to inevitably lead to files that can’t be transferred and again I may unknowingly pull a damaged file over).[/li][/ul]

So, any thoughts? I have options, but none of them seem terribly appealing.I keep thinking there has to be a cheap, easy way to do this.

Acronis has an excellent “clone disk” feature that can handle this for you if the files for Windows and your programs are intact. Run a chkdsk /p first to clean it up as much as possible.

Shall do - I’ve never used Acronis before, but anything is better than manually installing all the stuff all over again. Thanks for the tip!

BTW for a more long term solution, I highly recommend getting a Windows Home Server on your network. It makes it really easy to completely rebuild your system from scratch, backed up daily.

Not a bad idea as the complete PC Backup thing didn’t really help in my case. It’s been a long time since a boot drive failed on me, but I guess my luck was bound to run out one of these times, lol. Ah, well - such is life. I just hope this works!

Just wanted to follow up and say thanks for the tips - I finally got it working, although after the clone I had to mess ever so slightly with the registry.

For the curious: my new C: drive was being treated as the F: drive by Vista no matter what I did in the BIOS, and my old drive was still being treated as the C: drive, even when removed from the PC (it would boot fine, but the user profiles couldn’t be loaded and left me with a blue screen - actually a nice cornflower blue, not the infamous BSOD). I plugged the old drive back in, booted from the “F” drive which in turn pulled the profile info from the “C” drive, went into regedit and swapped out the data that it held for “C” with “F” and then deleted the F: key. Shut down, removed the old drive, and started up again - both BIOS and Vista now recognized my new C: drive as the actual C: drive.