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Author Topic: In search of ... Disk Doctor equivalent & image analyzer/verifier ...  (Read 6990 times)

barney

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Folk,

I'm trying to find a couple of things:
  • A reasonably recent equivalent to the old Norton Disk Doctor - you know, the one before Symantec hosed the Norton Utilities
  • Something to check a disk image and verify its - validity?  wholeness? - anyway, verify that it is functional

A recent effort on another's machine convinced me to get off my ass and do something I've been putting off for a couple-two-t'ree years, i.e., reorganize this beast I call a server.  I has to HDs, a 1T and a 250G.  The 1T disk has a couple of bootable partitions, and the 250G a couple more.  What I wanted to do was to move the Win7 partition over to the 250G disk, then move or install - prolly install - a Linux distro on the other half of the 250G.  Then wipe the 1T drive and use it to serve files & local Web stuff.

Been backing up with Paragon v9, so it seemed simple ... just restore one of those images to the 250G.  Do any of you remember the early MS DOS days?  From v2.1 (where I started with DOS) there was a backup program ... it apparently worked ... but 'twas v3.x before they got the restore to work.  I had a serious case of deja vu ... none of the Paragon images would restore ... they kept complaining of cross-linked files - after, of course, running the job to completion :o.

So I decided to install Acronis True Image 2011, get the job done.  Yeah, right  :tellme:!.  Acronis couldn't even finish creating the image before choking!

OK, CloneZilla Live to the rescue, right :huh:?  CloneZilla did - I discovered later - transfer the files.  It did not transfer the MBR, nor did it install a Grub equivalent ... it too complained of errors, but they were different - and many.  After it finished, I rebooted the machine, got an MS message to the effect that I was hosed and should use the original CD/DVD.  I did that, clicked the Repair link, and voila, I had two bootable Win7 partitions.

So now I'm trying to find something that will let me examine HDs for errors, and something that can, somehow, verify that a disk image is good - if that's even extant.  I've looked for the Disk Doctor replacement for several years, now, but nothing found quite measured up :huh:.

And I don't know where to start looking for an image verification tool - 3rd party, that is, cause I've already seen the the built in tools are not reliable.

So, once more, I'm standing here, hat in hand, feet shuffling, asking for help .

JavaJones

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Re: In search of ... Disk Doctor equivalent & image analyzer/verifier ...
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2011, 10:56:24 PM »
Something that can check and possibly repair a disk's "integrity" better (and less destructively) than chkdsk would be very welcome!

- Oshyan

f0dder

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Re: In search of ... Disk Doctor equivalent & image analyzer/verifier ...
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2011, 03:57:42 AM »
chkdsk is for repairing a partition - and I don't see an alternative that would do a better job at that task.

If you have a seriously screwed up partition, you don't want to repair it - you want to salvage it's contents to a separate location.
- carpe noctem

barney

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Re: In search of ... Disk Doctor equivalent & image analyzer/verifier ...
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2011, 08:25:43 AM »
Well ... yeah ... but ...  :o

Chkdsk, run weekly, produced a few fragments over time - which, by the way, Win7 makes extremely difficult to remove - but it never gives me the reporting, especially the visual cues, that Disk Doctor did.  

Tried several different defrag tools - currently checking Defraggler - and none of them gave me any negative feedback on HDs.  

There are some S.M.A.R.T. tools that kinda/sorta help tell what's going on - at least the ones I've tried over the years - but that information tends to be esoteric, and varies by manufacturer, sometimes by drive, to the point that it's damned near useless.

Then, there's still the matter of validating a newly created drive/partition image.

As mentioned initially, the images from the tools I had - fairly well respected tools, I'm told - all failed because of I/O errors of one sort or another.  But, there was no way to identify the error cause, thus no way to address ways and means of recovery.

That's the conundrum ... I'm left distrusting the tools currently available to me  :'(.

[Addendum:  how to discern
Quote
a seriously screwed up partition
?]
« Last Edit: February 10, 2011, 08:28:36 AM by barney »

f0dder

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Re: In search of ... Disk Doctor equivalent & image analyzer/verifier ...
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2011, 12:01:59 PM »
You do not want to run a defragmenting tool on a volume you suspect has errors - that's about as helpful as trying to cure a mosquite bite by putting a shotgun to your face, after pouring gasoline all over yourself and setting it on fire.

S.M.A.R.T tools can only comment on the data returned from the harddrive about it's self-test data, which is all mechanical and has nothing to do with filesystem health.

Fairly screwed up partition? If explorer.exe hangs when you try to browse the drive is one sign. But there can be other types of corruption that doesn't really show any symptoms. I'm always pretty surprised when I see corrupted NTFS partitions, since it's pretty resilient to damage... but if you pull the power plug (or force a shutdown, or get a BSOD, or...) in the middle of doing disk I/O, nasty things can happen.
- carpe noctem

barney

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Re: In search of ... Disk Doctor equivalent & image analyzer/verifier ...
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2011, 05:32:39 PM »
You do not want to run a defragmenting tool on a volume you suspect has errors
Yeah, that's understood.  The quest is for a tool that can identify, yeah or nay, whether the disk does indeed have errors.  (I/O error is a development cop-out, covering a plethora of sins, many of which are not hardware related.)  What I'd like to find is something that can specifically pinpoint bad spots, then report them.  Chkdsk does not fit that bill.  Oh, it works well enough within certain limits, but it does not perform the function(s) I seek  :(.

As well, the i/o errors were reported by software images that I have no way to validate.  If every backup I make is suspect, there's little point to making a backup  :huh:

I do not know at this point, nor do I have any way to determine, whether the reported i/o errors are HD related, software related, or non-HD hardware related.  Until I can somehow narrow that field, I have no way of addressing the issue(s).  I simply do not like using shotgun methods on PC problems - even when all I have is a shotgun  :P.

4wd

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Re: In search of ... Disk Doctor equivalent & image analyzer/verifier ...
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2011, 06:56:04 PM »
You haven't mentioned which ones you have tried, so:

HDDScan - Windows executable, reports S.M.A.R.T. and can do surface tests and S.M.A.R.T. tests.
MHDD - DOS, bootable images on site.
Victoria - Russian website, DOS version on site, Windows version available from MajorGeeks.  As well as normal surface tests in can start S.M.A.R.T. tests.
DiskTool - DOS, need to put on bootable media (from Bart, creator of PEbuilder).

For backup images, couldn't you mount them and then run a Windows based tester on them?
Or, generate a list of files with MD5 hashes and compare to live system file hashes?

barney

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Re: In search of ... Disk Doctor equivalent & image analyzer/verifier ...
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2011, 07:42:34 PM »
I've tried so many over the years ... can't recall them all :-\.

HDDScan sounds familiar ... if I tried it, 'twas prolly an earlier version, so I'll check it - if it's the one I recall, I didn't like the reporting it did.

MHDD is not familiar at all, so that'll be one to check.

Victoria sounds familiar, 'cause of the Russian - naturally I downloaded the wrong one  ;D, but I'll check it again.

DiskTool I was never able to try, couldn't seem to build the bootable part.

As for the images, I've not found - prolly just me  :-[ - anything not vendor-specific.  If I get some mounting software, the MD5 thing sounds good, but a bit labour intensive?  I really don't know, as that one never occurred to me :-[.

I was able to use your AutoIT script to identify/fix a friends problem ... that's what got me started on my own stuff.  See?  It's all your fault  >:( :P :-*.

I'll pull down your suggestions, give them a try ... I can see this happening again in the future  :o.

Just a vagrant thought:  why is it we - OK, maybe it's just me  :( - can fix other peoples problems, but not our own  :P?

4wd

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Re: In search of ... Disk Doctor equivalent & image analyzer/verifier ...
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2011, 09:52:31 PM »
As for the images, I've not found - prolly just me  :-[ - anything not vendor-specific.  If I get some mounting software, the MD5 thing sounds good, but a bit labour intensive?  I really don't know, as that one never occurred to me :-[.

AFAICT, mounting the images using the vendors own software shouldn't be a problem since you're mainly interested in the file integrity within the image.

It should be relatively easy to create a script to recurse the directories in the mounted image providing a list of files with MD5 values, (there's probably a program that will do it already), let it run overnight.  Then take the same list of files, change the drive letter, (directory structure should be the same), and generate MD5 values for those.

An alternative is just mount the image and use Beyond Compare or WinMerge to do live comparison - which will take just as long but skips the intermediate creating MD5 hash step.

There is no quick way to do it unfortunately.

Quote
See?  It's all your fault  >:( :P :-*.

I'll expect your MD5 comparison script shortly then :D

Shades

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Re: In search of ... Disk Doctor equivalent & image analyzer/verifier ...
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2011, 01:56:24 PM »
+1 for MHDD

A bootable CD/DVD which interface will take time to get through, that takes it time checking a disc, that is brutally honest about the state of your hard drive. A no-nonsense piece of software that will tell you exactly what is wrong, what is (too) slow etc.

A brilliant tool that you actually never should lay your eyes on, but are glad that you did in case of troubles.

f0dder

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Re: In search of ... Disk Doctor equivalent & image analyzer/verifier ...
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2011, 01:58:04 PM »
shades: but does MHDD do logical consistency checks, or is it "only" a hardware diag tool?
- carpe noctem

barney

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Re: In search of ... Disk Doctor equivalent & image analyzer/verifier ...
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2011, 02:49:56 PM »
... but does MHDD do logical consistency checks ...?
Hm-m-m ... would you define logical consistency?  There are multiple defines for that term.  I have my own concept of it, of course, but that concept may not resemble yours  :o.  A quick search revealed more confusion than clarification  :P.

f0dder

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Re: In search of ... Disk Doctor equivalent & image analyzer/verifier ...
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2011, 03:00:12 PM »
barney: there's two major things you'd want to check for:

1) hardware failures (things like S.M.A.R.T or "drives that go clunk in the evening")
2) filesystem corruption - a "logical" (as opposed to hardware) issue
- carpe noctem

Shades

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Re: In search of ... Disk Doctor equivalent & image analyzer/verifier ...
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2011, 04:57:43 PM »
@f0dder:
MHDD checks the hardware, but shows you the bits of the hard drive that are (too) slow and/or have a hardware problem. And there are a lot of those...which Windows and SMART just report as "bad".

barney

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Re: In search of ... Disk Doctor equivalent & image analyzer/verifier ...
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2011, 05:57:39 PM »
Finally got MHDD downloaded - what can I say, I'm slow  :tellme:.

I like the idea that it is a live product, so the OS isn't interfering with the testing.  I'm going to try it out as soon as I can get everything set up.

But I'm still having trouble with the corruption part.  I know of three (3) different [software/activity] causes for that - likely there are more -
  • there's activity from other software while files are being written
    which could be from any number of TSRs/services that I wot not of
  • there's OS activity while files are being written
    maybe preventable, maybe not
  • there're memory/cpu issues while files are being written - hardware related, but not HD related
    (and could include cables & transfer speeds).
 
(There's also the possibility of brown power or power fluctuations, but that/those can be filtered with a decent UPS.)  But I don't know of anything, or any group(s) of things, that could truly check that - methinks Heisenberg would step in  ;D.  So I'm looking for - analytic? - software that can, at least semi-reliably, point to such issues.  I'm just having a damnably difficult time finding such  :P.

Granted, I'm probably being overly picky in the latter respect, but there seems to be cause:  three (3) different, widely - and successfully - used software packages seemed to fail me.  Under other circumstances, I'd be inclined to suspect hardware, but pending further investigation, other circumstance has pretty well obviated that element.  So I'm back to trying to check image validity <sigh />.  I feel as though I'm trying to hold back the surf with a broom  :P :P.

4wd

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Re: In search of ... Disk Doctor equivalent & image analyzer/verifier ...
« Reply #15 on: February 11, 2011, 06:38:21 PM »
But I'm still having trouble with the corruption part.  I know of three (3) different [software/activity] causes for that - likely there are more -
  • there's activity from other software while files are being written which could be from any number of TSRs/services that I wot not of
  • there's OS activity while files are being written maybe preventable, maybe not

If it's consistant, (ie. you can reliably recreate the problem), then running the system in Safe Mode should enable you to prove it into third party software or the OS by preventing almost all third party stuff from running - especially stuff that uses a driver.

Quote
  • there're memory/cpu issues while files are being written - hardware related, but not HD related
    (and could include cables & transfer speeds).

You can use memtest86+ to check for RAM problems, and 'burn in' software to highlight possible CPU faults, (SiSoft Sandra, etc).

But if I was having this many problems, I'd go:
1) check the Event Log for Delayed Write Fail and similar problems;
2) power down and check all cable connections, (IMO, SATA connectors are one of the worst designed around), power, SATA, etc, (I'd replace any SATA cables also at this point);
3) reseat RAM by removing/replacing;
4) clean out the interior using a vacuum, (hold any fan blades so they don't spin), just in case it's an airflow problem;
5) check the fans are spinning freely, (power it up, don't happily spin them by hand), you should be able to spot any problem ones.

The above should take about 30 minutes or less and is a lot easier to start with than trying to isolate software related problems.

Quote
(There's also the possibility of brown power or power fluctuations, but that/those can be filtered with a decent UPS.)

Hopefully any decent UPS would record power flucuations, since most have a USB connection these days the software might allow for such things.

Quote
Granted, I'm probably being overly picky in the latter respect, but there seems to be cause:  three (3) different, widely - and successfully - used software packages seemed to fail me.  Under other circumstances, I'd be inclined to suspect hardware, but pending further investigation, other circumstance has pretty well obviated that element.

If it were my machine, I'd definitely be suspecting a hardware fault but one thing: are you only having problems to the one HDD?

If so, plug it into another SATA/IDE interface using a different interface cable and see what happens.

barney

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Re: In search of ... Disk Doctor equivalent & image analyzer/verifier ...
« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2011, 08:13:23 PM »
If it's consistant, (ie. you can reliably recreate the problem), then running the system in Safe Mode should enable you to prove it into third party software or the OS by preventing almost all third party stuff from running - especially stuff that uses a driver.
On that, I didn't know it was a problem 'til I tried an image restore  :(.

You can use memtest86+ to check for RAM problems, and 'burn in' software to highlight possible CPU faults, (SiSoft Sandra, etc).
Yep.  Apologies as required, but most of this I've already done ... had I listed it all, assuming I could have remembered it all, the OP would have been a novel  :D.

Please note that the original problem arose only when I tried to restore an image to a different partition - and the error messages were, to my mind, {bland|inconclusive|misleading|non-informational|choose your own adjective/adverb}.  The analytics I sought were for foreseeable future instances, and something better than I currently have (Sandra, Memtest86, et. al. - for instance, this has yet to be done on another of my boxes.  I've had such software in the past - with, of course, more primitive OSes & file systems - just wondered if there was anything extant that could deal with current OS/file systems.  I didn't mean to lead anyone on a wild-goose chase.  The box & drives in question seem fully functional:  I've reinstalled Win7, installed Kubuntu 10.4 - although that latter may be changed - and everything seems to function in exemplary normal fashion.

I apologize if I've led anyone down the garden path  :(.  I'm just trying to find tools that I know I'll need in the [perhaps immediate, perhaps not so immediate] future, preferably ones that others had used and could recommend.

4wd

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Re: In search of ... Disk Doctor equivalent & image analyzer/verifier ...
« Reply #17 on: February 12, 2011, 12:39:44 AM »
Ah, I see, more a prophylactic measure then :)

Forgot to mention the most obvious tools:
1) UBCD4Win
2) UBCD - seems to have a much better array than UBCD4Win
3) the various tools available on the HDD manufacturers sites, (pretty much all of which are on UBCD)

Stoic Joker

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Re: In search of ... Disk Doctor equivalent & image analyzer/verifier ...
« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2011, 12:25:38 PM »
3) the various tools available on the HDD manufacturers sites, (pretty much all of which are on UBCD)

Given the tendance of the various manufacturers to get cute with how what error is reported. I generally tent to stick with this option. Boot to the manufacturers Diagnostic CD and let it sort out the drives "health" (Else they tend to miss...). Only one I've see that does well a giving a (/an acurate) conclusive yes/no answer is the Hitachi diagnostic disk.