How to Recover Data From a Failed Hard Drive

By Christopher Capelle

  • Overview

    A hard drive isn't immune to failure, no matter how advanced the model. Whether you are looking to recover data from an internal drive on a desktop or laptop, or an external drive, there are tools and methods to recover any data. The price for this data recovery ranges from free software included with the computer to services that specialize in data recovery, and cost thousands of dollars.
    How to Recover Data From a Failed Hard Drive
    • Step 1

      Boot up the computer using the original OS CD or DVD. These disks contain built-in drive utilities, so by starting with the easiest and least expensive option, you may get lucky without investing too much time or money. If you are able to recover the data, then attach an external drive to the computer, and copy the data on to it.
      Data recovery software interface
    • Step 2

      Use a third-party data software utility to see if you are able to access the data. These packages are generally more hearty and powerful than the ones that are included for free with the computer.
      Symantec makes data recovery utilities


    • Step 3

      Remove the hard drive, and try booting it up in a different computer. If this works, repeat Steps 1 and 2.
      You may have to open your computer to remove the hard drive.
    • Step 4

      Call a computer expert. An expert may have access to more powerful, updated recovery software, or know some tricks of the trade that lay users don't.
    • Step 5

      Send the drive out for recovery. Just remember that these services aren't cheap, and the faster you want your data back, the more expensive the cost. Unless it is vital stuff, move on and consider it a lesson to implement more stringent data backup and archiving processes in the future.
    • Skill: Moderately Challenging
    • Ingredients:
    • External hard disk with cables
    • Drive utility software
    • Tip: Regularly back up your data to avoid this in the future

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