Problem while cloning a hard drive
I come here because I found no way, in 2 weeks' work now, to get around a problem that prevents me from cloning a hard drive.
I have an old laptop (acer travelmate 280 from 2003) which has a 30 GB 4200rpm internal IDE HDD as its main an only drive. It actually contains 3 partitions, two of them containing an OS: XP home on the first, XP pro on the second. The third one is tiny and only contains utilities. As expected, there is a dual boot home/pro.
The disk to which I want to move all these 3 partitions, is a samsung IDE HDD, 160GB, all stats identical (255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 512 byte sectors and blocks) except for the number of cylinders, of course the new one has a lot more of them. At first I planned to resize all partitions from the beginning, to have more space everywhere. When I saw it became troublesome I gave up on that and simply tried to clone the drive, keeping all partition sizes intact, having in mind to extend them afterwards, when I would see everything is working well.
So I placed the new hard disk in an external USB case, and tried several ways of cloning the drive. First: Acronis True Image, which can clone the disk during windows startup. It works for around a minute, then stops. Same if using the Acronis live CD, which contains only the utility to do the cloning.
Then I tried Drvcloner, a small utility for windows. Fast or slow mode, the same: it stops somewhere between 600MB and 1.1 GB, and either gives a "possible bad sector found while writing" message (in "fast" mode), or simply freezes (in slow mode, sector-by-sector copy). At that point I used another acronis utility to see the raw data on the new drive: it is strictly identical to the data of the old one, until a point beyond which there are only zeros everywhere, as should be expected. But no discrepancy in the last sectors, nothing
Then I moved to a linux live CD, the latest Ubuntu Version available on the net, and tried sudo dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb. Again, the same stop, this time either at 300MB of copied data or somewhere around 700 MB. And the "conv=noerror" won't bypass this: it is a WRITE error!
What is even more weird is that I tried HDD regenerator on this new disk: it did not find any bad sector in the first 7 GB! And I also tried the following: format the drive in NTFS, and copy a big 1.5GB movie to it: it worked, the file is not damaged, I did not watch it entierly to see wether there was a tiny fault indicating a bad sector, but still: the copy did not stop like that at 300 or 700 MB!
So, what the h*£$ is going on on that new drive? Is there a way, to bypass these write errors, just like dd can bypass read errors? I mean: see the problem, try to solve it, and if it fails, don't stop, continue with the next bolcks! 99% chance that this block falls somewhere not critical (I mean, a file that would prevent windows from running or something similar)!
A friend of mine suggested me to use "cat", or even "more" commands, to do an even lower level copy of the disk. I still haven't tried those. But I would like to know, what do you people think of that? What is it that freezes any (usefull) copy on my hard drive? Is there a way to bypass it?
Thank you very much for your help
PS: the reason why I want so badly to clone my drive, is that this laptop comes as a failsafe of another, newer, dead one, and because of that it has many old and valuable programs installed, many of which I do not have the installation CD anymore (lost it, or some friend lended it to me and I gave it back years ago etc). And besides, it contains a long history, that I wouldn't be able to reproduce exactly even if I wanted to. I still haven't tried to install an OS on the new drive to see if that fails too, maybe I will try. But still, maybe someone here knows why this new hard drive is causing so much complications...