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Imaging a Laptop Hard drive

Imaging a laptop hard drive is a task that you end up doing in the event you need to take a snapshot of a drive to use as a backup of that drive. I prefer to create a disk image instead of using the traditional backup software. The reason is because if you backup a drive with special commercial off the shelf backup software, you have to use that same software to restore the files you backed up. I prefer to create an image of the drive so that in the event of the hard drive failing or a client requesting to transfer their data to a new machine, the drive image is the best way to insure you have a valid workable backup that does not require a unique software package to restore your data. This image can also be converted to a VHD (Virtual Hard Drive), which allows you to load it into a Virtual Machine and used as if it was a working physical machine. The only down-side is when you restore your files from the image back onto the drive, you are restoring everything as it was since that image was created. Any new data since that point would not exist.

I recently worked with a client that had a laptop fail due to a bad motherboard. The laptop would not power on at all and the client needed some files pulled off of the laptop in order to continue with their normal business flow. The first thing i had to do in order to image the laptop hard drive is to remove it from the laptop.

Once i removed the laptop drive, i had to determine what kind of hard drive it was. Most of the older laptop models such as a Dell C600 Latitude have a mini-IDE connectors for their 3.5 inch drives.

The newer laptop devices contain 2.5 inch dive’s which use a SATA connector. Once you identify what kind of laptop hard drive you are working with, use the proper USB ->SATA  cable connector or USB -> mini-IDE case to connect the laptop hard drive to your computer.

Once you connect the laptop hard drive to your workstation via the USB cable, you should see the drive appear in the Computer panel, listed under Removable Storage. Use a program such as Macrium Reflect to create an image of the partition which resides on the laptop hard drive. I like to take both the restore partition ( most Dell laptops have those factory restore partitions ) and the Operating System partition ( the partition that you would normally work with). Once you have an image of the drive, you can use that image to load into a virtual machine or use to move existing programs & data to a new machine.


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