Recovery Guides: step-by-step DiskPatch operations:
Disk to Disk clone.

A list of terms used in this page and their explanation can be found here.

This guide describes a DiskPatch function in condensed form: if you need additional information, read the corresponding part of the manual.

Situation disk has read problems, we need to recover data from the problem disk without making the situation worse
Symptoms N/A
Solution clone the disk (copy everything from the problem disk to a fresh disk. Cloning happens on a sector-by-sector basis)
Why do we need to do this?

Let's say you have a disk that has read problems that can't be fixed (bad areas, or 'bad sectors' as they are called). There's data on the disk but reading it is difficult (or impossible) because the bad sectors prohibit normal access to the disk. You could use a file-recovery based solution to lift the data from the disk, but since the disk is failing that's not the best way to do this: stressing the disk by using file recovery software could very well be the end of that disk. So, the solution in this case is to clone the disk: everything that can be read will be transferred to a fresh disk, and because the target disk is in good working order you can use file recovery software on it without having to worry that the disk will fail. Also, the target disk doesn't (shouldn't) have bad sectors, so the recovery operation will run much smoother and faster.

Another use for cloning is creating a safety net. If you have to perform a complicated repair operation, it may be handy to clone the disk and perform the repairs on the cloned disk. If that goes horribly wrong somehow, you still have the original disk.

Finally, consider this: your disk is fine except for the MBR; it can't be read from or written to. That will leave the entire disk inaccessible, and performing a repair is not possible because the MBR can't be recreated (the same could go for boot sectors, or other important sectors that partitions depend upon). Cloning the disk in this case will solve the problem; you can perform repairs on the clone and that should get you access to the disk again.

Keep in mind: cloning is not meant to replace tools like Symantec's (
) 'ghost' / 'drive image' or Paragon's () 'drive backup' or similar applications. Cloning is geared towards recovery (trying to read as much from the disk as possible, as accurately as possible) so cloning will always be slower than partition imaging tools. Also, partition imaging tools can't handle bad sectors, so they in turn should not be used for recovery purposes.
Things you need to know before we start:
  • In the world of disks and data recovery we start counting disks at 0 (zero). So the first disk is 'disk 0', the second disk is 'disk 1', etc.
  • If you use the bootable CD/DVD you will need to find a target location for the files that DiskPatch creates when it's running; they can't be saved to the CD/DVD. You will either need a FAT formatted partition somewhere that can hold the files, or you can use a FAT formatted USB stick/key or USB disk to receive the files (read more here on how to prepare a USB key). DiskPatch will ask you where to save the files if the files can not be saved to the current location.
  • Use the cursor keys to navigate the menus, use the <Enter> key to select an option, use the <Escape> key to abort or leave a menu.
  • When cloning, the problem disk is considered the 'source' disk, the disk that receives the clone is considered the 'target' disk.
    Selecting a disk to work with in DiskPatch also makes it the 'source' disk for a clone.
  • It may be wise to wipe the target disk before starting a clone: if the target disk is bigger than the source disk it's possible that left-over data on the target disk can impede the recovery. Another trick may be to wipe the area that follows the cloned area, after the clone has been completed.
  • A number of configuration settings change cloning behavior. Make sure to set them according to your preferences before starting the clone. For instance, setting the read error threshold may interrupt the clone process when a certain number of read errors were encountered. Generally speaking it's best to let the clone run to completion without interruptions, as the process takes enough time as it is.
    Read more here.
  • DiskPatch uses a proprietary 2 pass clone system where pass 1 will clone the disk as quickly as possible, and pass 2 will do the detail work that pass 1 has skipped. Before getting to work with cloning it would be much appreciated if you read a bit about how this works, read more here.

Here we go:

Start DiskPatch and select the disk.

example: your screen will differ. Find more information on how to select a disk here.

After selecting the disk, the menu will expand, showing actions that can be performed for the selected disk.
The selected disk will be marked in high intensity blue in the disk list (disk 2 in our example).
The disk we just selected will be the 'source' disk for the cloning operation.

Now select 'Disk related tasks', then 'Clone'.

You must now select the target disk for the clone operation. In our example we'll select disk 1. Obviously, whatever is on disk 1 will be overwritten with the contents of disk 2 (the disk we're cloning).
After having selected the target disk, you must select the type of clone operation:

To read more about the types of clone read the corresponding part of the manual.
For now, we'll select '2 pass (full)'. This option will always copy as much as possible, with the emphasis on accuracy. As such it's always a good choice, but may take a while to complete.
You must now select the range of sectors that need to be cloned. If you need to clone only a small portion of the disk, enter the correct numbers here. We'll leave the suggested values for now, which will clone the entire disk (recommended).

Next, a confirmation screen is displayed. Select 'Yes' to start the clone process.

During the cloning a progress screen is displayed:

If needed, the clone can be aborted by pressing <Escape>. Time remaining can fluctuate if bad areas are encountered.
When pass 1 has been completed (remember, we selected the 2 pass clone), the following screen will be displayed:

Pass 2 will start automatically, if it is needed, so you can leave DiskPatch to do its business; you don't have to keep a constant eye on the clone process. Wait for pass 2 to start automatically, or press <Escape> to abort now. Press any key to skip the wait and start pass 2.
In our case pass 2 is not needed (no bad sectors were encountered during pass 1, so no areas were skipped) as is displayed in the following screen:

If pass 2 is needed, it will display a progress screen similar to the progress screen of pass 1.
The clone is now complete, press any key to return to the menu.
How to handle the resulting disk after cloning is completed.
When the cloning procedure is complete you have a disk that should be the mirror image of the original disk. How you handle this disk (the clone) essentially depends on one thing: how well did the cloning go.

If there were many read errors and the original disk was having physical problems you should be careful when accessing the clone. If you decide to access the clone with Windows, the areas that were skipped because of read errors may cause Windows to initiate repairs (chkdsk) and that will ruin the work that the cloning procedure has done. Make sure nothing is changed on the clone, don't let chkdsk or any other generic repair tool access the disk. If normal access is not possible you should use a tool like iRecover to rescue files from the disk.

If the cloning went well and there were no read errors (for instance when you clone a disk because you want a backup of the problem disk before attempting a repair) you can now start working with the disk. You can work either on the clone or on the original disk, though usually it's best to work on the clone: when in a recovery situation you should always attempt to minimize access to the original problem disk, to make sure that things will not get worse. After all, if things go wrong when working with the clone, you can make a new clone.
In this case too you should be careful when accessing the clone with Windows; if volume damage exists Windows may initiate repairs and the clone will be ruined.