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When I run the following command:

dd if=/dev/sda of=output bs=512 count=1

In the middle of the output, I see this text:

GRUB ^@Geom^@Hard Disk^@Read^@ Error^M

What does it mean?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Those are just strings that GRUB has in its bootloader. This doesn't mean that you have a hard disk read error, just that GRUB has some text in its bootloader that will be displayed if you do.

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You will see more scary messages fly by as dd stumbles on other programs ;-) – vonbrand Jan 30 '13 at 1:56

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