Reviving a Clickfree backup drive with dd

Visiting family over the holidays of course means tuning up various computers; converting one over to linux, and doing standard OS maintenance on another. While cleaning up the system on my mothers computer, she explained that she missed her clickfree backup; following a report of disk errors, it had requested retirement, and so it was replaced by a MyPassport drive. However, it was not as simple to use as the old clickfree drive it had replaced; a common complaint from former owners of clickfree drives.

First I looked at the S.M.A.R.T. data, it showed a few signs of ageing, a few historically bad tests, but the last test showed everything OK. It seemed like the drive was beginning to fail, but there were no read-errors, and there was data on the drive that was perfectly accessible. I figured it would be fairly simple to replace the 1TB HD, but looking around, nobody seems to have ever tried it.

When plugged in, the clickfree drive appears as both a virtual CD-ROM drive and a storage drive. The VCD contains the software that runs the backups; if configured to autorun, it is indeed a “click free” backup, just plug it in and it runs. However, removing the drive from its enclosure and installing it into a computer reveals an unknown partition scheme, the OS simply ignores the drive, although disk utilities can see it, they can’t do anything constructive with the drive. I had hopped to partition a new drive and copy the software over to the appropriate location, but the drive can’t be read at the file system level. Luckily dd doesn’t care about filesystems or partitions :

dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb bs=1M conv=noerror

… And ~4 hours later it was done!

Although the drive was only 3.5% full, there was no way to access the data at the file system level, instead I had to copy every bit (free or used) from the original  1TB drive to the replacement drive. Rebooting into windows for a test revealed that the operation had succeeded –all the data and the software was there, which is lucky, since Storage Appliance Corporation seems to have abandoned the technology and ceased to produce these backup drives.

Linux to the rescue!

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