How to Transfer Files From a Hard Drive With Bad Sectors to Another

By John Papiewski

Data recovery utilities retrieve information from bad hard drive sectors.
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When sectors on a hard drive go bad, the information stored in those sectors is at risk. Bad sectors are areas where the magnetic recording on the hard drive has become distorted. Although some recovery of bad sectors is possible, such errors are a warning sign that the drive may soon develop other problems or fail completely. Transferring the files to a new drive helps protect your important data.

Chkdsk Sector Repair

Before proceeding to the file transfer, first run the Microsoft “chkdsk” utility on the drive that’s had problems. You can do this by opening a command-prompt window and typing the “chkdsk” command using the following format:

chkdsk c: /f /x /r

You need to run the “chkdsk” program once for every logical drive on the physical hard drive. For most PC users, this is simply the “c:” drive, but if you have other letters assigned to the drive, they should all receive the same treatment. Although chkdsk does an excellent job of repairing bad sectors, it may not be able to fix every sector in badly corrupted drive.

Other Recovery Tools

Programs such as EaseUs Disk Copy, EasyRecovery Professional and RecoverMyFiles offer hard drive recovery capabilities. Some have a built-in copier that automatically transfers recovered files to a new drive or clones the old drive’s entire contents to the new one.

Preparing the New Drive

If the method you choose does not automatically copy files to the second drive, you may have to prepare it in advance of copying files. If the drive is only a data repository and doesn’t require programs or Microsoft Windows, you can simply format the new drive with the “format” command if you haven’t performed this step already. For a completely bootable system, you need to install Windows to the new drive.

Xcopy Utility

The xcopy file copy utility is included with Windows; it is a fast and flexible way to transfer files between drives, and you can configure it to continue copying despite any data errors it encounters as a result of bad sectors. You can use xcopy if your sector-recovery utility does not provide a file transfer facility of its own. To run the xcopy program, open a command prompt window and type the command using the following general format:

xcopy source destination /e /v /c

“Source” refers to the directory or drive letter from which you are copying files, “destination” is the destination directory or drive, and “/e /v /c” are switches that instruct xcopy to create new directories as needed in the destination, verify the files after they’ve been copied, and continue copying even when the program encounters errors. Note that although xcopy will copy files, you cannot use it to clone the Windows operating system or installed programs. Use xcopy only to transfer your documents, media and other data files.