Ddrescue is a recovery tool for rescuing data from drives that have suffered damaged blocks or sectors. Ddrescue is used to create an image of a failing hard drive. Normal disk imaging tools stop when they reach a corrupt portion of a hard drive. Ddrescue, on the other hand, will try multiple times to read the damaged area and then continue on regardless of whether or not it successfully read the damaged portion.
Ddrescue only runs in the Linux environment, however, this will not likely prohibit you from using it to image a Windows computer. In order to image a drive, you must not be relying on the operating system found on it. The easiest way to image a drive is via a live CD. Live CD’s are similar to boot disks (remember those?) Live CD’s do not rely on a computer’s hard drive, but instead run off of the operating system found on the CD.
To image a Windows computer, all you need to do is boot the computer from a Linux Live CD and run ddrescue. Later on in this post I will discus how to access the image file that you create from inside Windows.
Using ddrescue can be difficult for those who are new to Linux. Linux gives paths to drives in a much different way than Windows does. In Windows drives are give a letter, such as C: or D:; in Linux they are found at a path, such as /dev/sda. If this lingo is new to you, you may want to follow one of these tutorials.
BootMed Plus is premium live CD that automates drive imaging, making it a matter of pointing and clicking. BootMed Plus also comes with built in video tutorials. Just click here to see the BootMed Plus video about drive imaging.
If you are brave and would like to type out a command in the command line interface, BootMed can guide you through it. BootMed comes with online text based tutorials and step by step instructions. Click here to see how to image a drive with BootMed.
Once you have created an image with ddrescue you can open it in Windows and (hopefully) recover files from it. The video below will show you how to connect to the image and access it as if it were a physical hard drive. From there you should be able to access the files on it. To follow the video tutorial, you will need OSFMount, a free tool that mounts raw drive images.