Use Bad Block Copy to recover data from damaged media

Learn why with Bad Block Copy, Windows admins no longer have to worry about failed attempts to copy files from damaged media.

When you attempt to copy files from damaged media, the copying process often fails and the files in question aren't written out in a useful form.

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Bad Block Copy is a Windows command-line tool for recovering data from media that is exhibiting read errors. The tool attempts to copy such files by aggressively attempting to retry bad blocks, and tries to write out as complete a file as possible regardless of the original's condition.

A particularly interesting aspect of Bad Block Copy is its ability to make composite copies. If you have multiple copies of the same file and each one is damaged in a different place, you can use the program to scan each one and write out a fixed composite version of the entire file. This is useful if you have multiple copies of the same file on two different backup media, both of which are damaged in some way.

Three other functions in Bad Block Copy gear it to expert-level recovery work.

  • You can set the block size for the media you're attempting to recover from. The default is 512, but if the media you're reading has a different block size, you can set it manually. Since the right block size allows for better zeroing-in on the problem data, this may make the recovery process that much more effective.
  • You can manually set the starting point in a given file, as well as the amount of bytes to recover from a given file. This way you can skip to a specific point in a file and attempt a recovery from that point. (Per the tool's documentation, you could use this feature to recover a damaged piece of a large video file without having to recover the whole thing.)
  • The program can generate a log of all the erroneous blocks encountered during the recovery operation.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Insight, (formerly the Windows Power Users Newsletter), a blog site devoted to hints, tips, tricks and news for users and administrators of Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Vista. He has more than 12 years of Windows experience under his belt, and contributes regularly to SearchWinComputing.com and SearchSQLServer.com.

This was first published in July 2007

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