Friday, February 17, 2006

Another cool rescue tool ...

One very cool rescue tool that usually gets mentioned generally only at some point between 'late' and 'too late' is SpinRite - I have seen it first running on an old 286 PC quite a long time ago and yet a few versions and many, many years later the program is still here and can still 'save the day' (in some conditions).

What the program does is quite complex - apparently the current v6 still has inside the code to low-level format MFM/ESDI hard-drives - but I think that such disks are no longer produced since at least ten years ago - but on top of those original features that made it famous between old-time geeks SpinRite v6 can do two other things - in can 'refresh' the data written on your HDD (and in the process discover small parts of the disk that might be in danger of failing) or if the drive is already dying it can help recovering all or at least some of the data from that failing area and then eventually let the modern IDE drives relocate it to some other place !!!

The program is quite friendly - actually I would have liked a lot more advanced options for instance to test the surface with more than two patterns (a previous version was using 256 patterns or so, but that was a little overkill) and most important of all - I would like some way to control on what level of errors things get too dangerous plus an option to only try for a more limited amount of time to read certain bad sectors and just go ahead and relocate them - recently I have seen one case where it was 'locked' on a single sector for almost 8 hours - which is great if you had something very valuable there, but if you already have a backup it might be much nicer to quickly relocate that sector (and eventually some around it) and simply continue using that drive for non-important storage !!!

The only real drawback of the program is the price - at around 90 US$ it will be well-spent money for a company or anything business oriented but for a home user it might sometimes be cheaper to get a new HDD for a similar price ...

If you are on a very tight budget you might eventually look at some open-source projects - dd_recover and ddrecover (not the same thing), dd_rhelp (smart frontend for dd_recover), safecopy, recoverdm, cdrdao ... some of them can be added as a very small (670k) optional MyDSL packet and also KNOPPIX does have them - so booting from that live CD might be an alternative!!!

It is also nice how compact SpinRite is - in a world where most programs will come on a CD SpinRite can actually entirely fit on a 1.44 MB (freedos bootable) floppy !!!

Even nicer than a FDD might be some USB stick (or in my case the old shuffle) - if you already have a boot manager/loader like GRUB you will only need to add on the USB drive the 1.44 MB SPINRITE.IMG file (the 'image' of the boot floppy) and a 20k memdisk helper (which is part of the
SYSLINUX project - another very cool project related to booting computers in more or less exotic ways) and then place a few GRUB commands like:

title SpinRite6
root (hd0,0)
kernel /memdisk
initrd /SpinRite.img

and you will be able to boot to another great tool from your USB drive !!!

Obviously you will only be able to boot on a PC - so far it seems that ON PURPOSE the latest G4 notebooks from Apple can not boot from USB (while older G3 models could do that just fine) - as with most other Apple stupid choices the technical information is quite limited but I will still keep an eye on it ...

1 Comments:

Blogger KegRaider said...

Perfect mate, just the solution I was looking for to get SpinRite on my hard drive. Suse 11.1 now has an extra option for me to test my drives.

Thanks for the tip!

8:59 PM  

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