About Computer Hard Drive Recovery Tools

By Carol Luther

  • Overview

    Other than the Windows blue screen of death, few things give computer owners worse nightmares than the sound of a hard drive dying. Like the brakes on a car, the system provides a few warnings, like slow response times and longer boot times. Those warnings mean it's time to run a utility program to defragment your hard drive and back up important files. Without back ups, when your hard drive dies you will need special resources to recover your files.
  • Disaster Planning

    An ounce of prevention comes with every Windows operating system. You can and should make a System Recovery disk to boot up your computer in an emergency. On Windows computers, you can use the Systems Tools to create a boot disk. When your computer starts up, it first reads instructions from memory installed on the ROM chips. Then it starts looking for the operating system normally found on the hard drive. Depending on your setup, the computer will keep searching all your drives until it finds an operating system to load. When you put your System Recovery disk in an available drive, your computer will load the operating system files from that drive. You will be back in business, temporarily.
  • Backup Plan

    Currently available versions of Windows also copy several disk utilities to your boot disk. They give you the chance to copy important files from the hard drive to another form of media. However, you may need to use the utility program on the system recovery disk to inspect the hard drive and repair bad sectors first. If you are lucky, your trouble ends at this step.

  • Freeware Utilities

    For more serious problems, try a free hard drive recovery tool. Consult CNet and PC World to review the features and flaws of popular PC utility programs. Use their recommendations to select a program that runs on your operating system. It should allow you to troubleshoot your hard drive's symptoms and have the capability to fix the problem that you find. These sites often let you download the free utilities directly, or they have links that take you directly to the download site.
  • Data Recovery Software

    A free or open source utility may not solve your problem. Invest $30 to $50 in data recovery software from Symantec or Roxio. These companies have earned the reputation for reliable hard drive recovery tools that have a high success rate. Their software programs have emergency repair disks that will boot most systems after a hard drive crash. Once your hard drive is up and running, you can use these programs to make a customized recovery disk for future use.
  • Commercial Recovery Services

    Data retrieval companies offer you a last resort for recovering data from a failed hard drive. These services can cost as little as $200 or they can run into the thousands. If the data stored on a failed hard drive is vital, some users have no other choice. The best companies guarantee that you will not have to pay if they do not recover your data.
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