Problems copying (image) files from a seemingly malfunctioning Drive


I wasn’t sure where I could ask this. First of all not even sure in which forum. I chose the one of my favourite distro because here people use to be really helpful. Then also wasn’t sure which category was the right one so I chose this one.

Now to my question. About half a year ago I reinstalled my system completely. I saved everything I still needed and copied it over to my new system. Back then I also created a complete image of the drive. Just to be sure. Now I realised there is an program I need to start from that system with those settings and all the data there (complicated to explain why but I can if necessary). So I wanted to copy my saved image back to apply it to the drive (I am not sure if you really say it like that but you probably know what I mean). My problem is now that the drive I saved it on seems to not work well. If I plug it in I can mount it and scroll the files. But when I start copying something it always gives up at some point.

I tried to use rsync to copy it over. Since I thought it might handle that better than the file managers and has some abilities to continue partialy copied files. But it also always failed. When attempting copying that Image it always failed at the same point (very early too). And yeah, I am also not sure if the options I used are the most sensible ones. But here’s a screenshot of the point when it failed.
rsync-screenshot of the trial to copy it over

Anyway does anyone have any idea what I could do and if there’s a way to completely get that file back somehow? The drive I used is a WD Elements with 4TB (WDBHDW0040BBK-0A) bought 2019 but not used much, only for backups from time to time. File system is NTFS. As far as I saw those drives are build with an USB-Controller directly on the disk-circuit, so it would be no use to open it and to try plugging it in directly via SATA or something. Didn’t open it yet to check myself though because I really need those files (or that one (but relatively large) file) and I didn’t want to risk anything.

If you have any ideas how I could solve my problem, any tools, things to do, whatever, please help me. Sorry I wrote so much. I might have forgotten to mention some important bit of information nevertheless. If you need more information just ask. And thanks in advance.

And yes, I probably didn’t need sudo there. I also normally did it without that before. Just did it that time to be safe it doesn’t run into permission problems at one point. Because it said so at one point in an earlier attempt. I am pretty sure that time it was due to the disk I wanted to copy to which is somehow not writable for normal users if mounted automatically and I have to mount it manually if I want it to be writable not only from root.

Here’s also a screenshot of the drive viewed in Gnome Disks with properties and stuff:
Bildschirmaufnahme vom 2022-02-24 11:02:29

Oh and why NTFS. Yea I know, proprietary and stuff. But I wanted to be able to access it from Windows PCs sometimes.

Oh and it always failed at the same point 184,32MB if via USB 3 but a little bit less (I think it was 112 or 114 MB) if I connected the drive via USB 2. I didn’t try it too often, because I was afraid I might break more. At all I think six times, where two of those times over USB2.

If the disk has failed, has a bad sector, or the data is corrupt, then this will happen.

If the data is valuable then take the disk to a data recovery expert and let them deal with it. Anything you do to the disk will only make things worse.


Okay. Thank you! I was already thinking about doing that. I was just worried about how much it would cost me. Because I am relatively broke rn xD. But I’ll probably have to do that then. I’m going to call some of those services and check how much it’ll cost then. Thank you anyway!!


I know this is not helpful now, but for the future: you know what’s cheaper than data recovery? Backup hard drives.


@m4rv33n This is your best bet if you care very much about the data.
The error can be as trivial as corrupted journal table (if there is a backup on the same drive) or it can be a hardware malfunction which can make the data unrecoverable.

These devices have maybe one major disadvantage where the physical sectors on the hard drive slightly overlap (to give you larger data density for given physical size). That can prove problematic - a hardware issue.

You can check journalctl if there was some error when you mounted the drive. You may still have it in your computers history so you do not have to connect the device again. Just try journalctl | grep sdb and change sdb to sdc, sde, … depending on which letter represents the drive. If you are lucky you will see an error that can tell you what went wrong.

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Don’t do anything more until you read this.

If this data is really important to you …

If you have accidentally deleted or otherwise damaged your valuable and irreplaceable data and have no previous experience with data recovery, turn off your computer immediately (Just press and hold the off button or pull the plug; do not use the system shutdown function) and seek professional help.

Warning: It is quite possible and even probable that, if you follow any of the steps described below without fully understanding them, you will worsen your situation.

If you decide to do this yourself, the most imporant rule to remember …

In the area of data recovery, it is best to work on images of disks rather than physical disks themselves.

Do you have a backup of this important data?

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