How to recover a dead drive

Recover photos, data files and emails from a dead hard drive using simple operating system tools or advanced data recovery software and a second computer. Any drive that powers up can have data recovered on the spot with tools available within hours, whether the computer you are on recognizes it or not. Even completely dead drives can be sent to specialized data recovery labs, where they can be disassembled and data can be read directly from the platters. Things You’ll Need
Computer Working
USB Hard Drive Adapter
Data Recovery Software
Storage Location for Recovered
Slit Files
anti-static wrist strap
Show more instructions
Preparing the Recovery Unit
Turn off the computer with the drive dead

Open the box lid and attach the antistatic strap.

Remove the hard drive by disconnecting the data and power cables and removing the screws holding the drive in place or from the bracket where the drive is mounted.


Connect the USB hard drive adapter to the work computer and follow the instructions to install the appropriate driver for the device.

Turn off the computer at work and attach the dead hard drive to the USB hard drive adapter and connect a power supply to the drive.

turn on the computer and allow the operating system to load. Allow the operating system to install drivers and recognize the drive, but cancel any attempts by the operating system to search for the drive’s content or to format or initialize the drive.


7 Recovery Techniques

Click “Start” and “Computer” to show the drives recognized in the system. If the failing hard drive is not listed in this window with a drive letter, usually then advanced techniques E or F should be used.

Double-click the drive failed to show a list of folders.

Copy the files by clicking once on the folder containing the data to select it. Hold “CTRL” and click additional folders to select them. Release “CTRL” and right click on one of the selected folders to open a context menu and click “Copy”. Navigate to a storage location that is not on the failed drive and right click to open a context menu. Click “New” and then “Folder” to create a new folder. Name the folder “Recovery” and double-click the “Recovery” folder. Right-click and click “Paste” in the context menu to copy the files to this location.

Launch the drive error checking utility, if the copy operation fails, by clicking “Start” and “Computer” and then right-clicking on the failed drive. Click “Properties” and then click the “Tools” tab on the disk properties menu. Click “Scan Now” under “Error Checking” and tick both checkboxes to have the utility automatically fix file system errors and also scan for and attempt to recover bad sectors. Allow the system to run the scan on the next boot and restart the computer to allow the scan to run. Repeat the simple recovery techniques after the process is complete,

Advanced Recovery Techniques


download and install a data recovery software package (see Resources) to get your computer running. Install the software on the working computer’s C drive, not the failed drive, to avoid overwriting data that could be recovered.

Launch data recovery software and scan your computer for dead hard drive.

Follow the instructions to recover data from the dead drive and save all recovered data to a storage location that is not on the dead drive.

Contact a professional data recovery lab (see Resources) if the dead drive cannot be located by the data recovery software or if the software fails to recover the files.

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