They say your life flashes before your eyes before you (think you) die When I realized that my hard drive was failing, it was a bit like this. All I could think of were hundreds of photos of which I didn’t have a backup. I was determined to get them back, and I succeeded; like.

If your hard drive has failed, this guide will help you repair and restore your data. data corruption (If everything is fine with the device, these five methods will help you retrieve data from the hard drive.) Are you looking for help with a failed solid state drive? ? It is best to immediately contact a specialist.

My dead hard drive history

A few years ago I had a hard drive failure. My laptop was acting weird. When the problems persisted after a reboot, I realized that it was more than overloaded memory. I immediately started backing up the latest files. About half an hour later, the hard drive failed and the laptop would no longer boot.

I had backups, but not everything. Just a few weeks earlier, my backup drive had reached capacity. To back up important work files, I decided to delete my personal photos. Ironically, I already bought a new external drive, but I didn’t take the time to create a full backup. Now my photos were lost and I was devastated.

Over the next few weeks, I researched ways to recover data and thought about doing everything under the sun — and doing the most — to recover an old hard drive. This article is the result of those efforts.

External hard drive? Check case and cables

When your external hard drive fails, it can do so for the same reasons that an internal drive can fail. Sometimes, however, it’s not the drive that stops working, but the connection inside the case! And in this case, the disk is easy to recover.

Before opening any equipment, be sure to discharge your body’s static electricity, that is, ground yourself. Remove the hard drive from the case and use the IDE/SATA data cable and power connector to install the drive inside on a desktop computer. Alternatively, you can purchase an IDE/SATA to USB adapter or a new USB enclosure so you can connect the drive via USB.

SATA and IDE connecting cables.
Image Credit: ivonnewierink/DepositPhotos

The image above shows a SATA connector (front) and an IDE connector (rear).

Once you’ve reconnected the external drive to your computer, since an attachment was the culprit, Windows should recognize it and assign a drive letter. The disk should appear in File Explorer > This PC . You can also check under » Drives» in device manager (click Windows+X to find an option).

If the drive doesn’t show up anywhere, you can try to manually find the drive to further narrow down the problem; the process is described below.

Internal hard drive? Check all cable connections

Sometimes it was not the drive that failed, but the physical connection of the cables connecting the drive to the computer’s motherboard. You can only wish it was your problem! So before you hire anyone, make sure the data and power cables are securely connected at both ends.

This is an image of a SATA hard drive with a Molex connector and a SATA cable

To prevent danger to your health, it is important to turn off your computer and unplug the power cord. As mentioned above, you also need to discharge your body’s static electricity, i.e. ground yourself, before you start working on your computer’s internals. Then open the case and make sure all connections are good.

Our guide on how to physically install an internal hard drive shows which connections to watch out for.

Once you have verified that the connections are good, restart your computer. If you have a desktop computer, you can leave the case open, but avoid its interior .

Is your hard drive making sounds?

When you’re trying to get a hard drive to work, listen to the sound it makes. Is it completely dead? Or is it still spinning? How exactly does it sound? Compare your sound to the list of hard drive sounds provided by Data Cent. This will help you diagnose the type of damage.

This image shows the bare inner glass plate of a hard drive.
Image credit: andreyuu/DepositPhotos

Damage can be both internal and external. For example, a click sound suggests that the head may be malfunctioning, such as internal damage. On the other hand, a completely failed drive could be due to a faulty printed circuit board (PCB), which could result in external damage.

Does Windows recognize your hard drive?

Sometimes you can hear your disk spinning, but it never pops up. Or maybe he’s completely dead. To pinpoint the exact type of corruption, try manually checking if your computer recognizes the drive.

You can do this through the BIOS if it is the primary hard drive and your computer no longer boots. After turning on the computer, enter the BIOS by pressing the start button, which may be Del , Esc , F2 or F10 depending on the manufacturer.

In the BIOS, go to the available menus to find where it lists the types of drives connected to the computer. You should find this information in the menu » Additionally» but you can also find it indirectly in the settings downloads .

This image depicts the BIOS boot settings menu

If you connected the drive to another computer, you don’t need access to the BIOS at all. On Windows, press the key combination Windows+R to open the » Run» .

Enter cmd in the box and click Enter . This will open a command prompt. Enter here diskpart and press Enter to open the corresponding tool. In the diskpart window, enter list volume and press enter, to display all drives connected to your computer.

this image shows the disk partition list volume menu from the Windows executable file Diskpart.exe

If Windows recognizes your drive, meaning it shows up in the drive partition but doesn’t show up as an available drive, it’s likely that Windows only recognizes the circuit board, but the drive itself is damaged (internal damage). In other words, if the disc is recognized in one or different form, most likely the circuit board is working and replacing it will not fix the hard drive!

Circuit board broken?

Technically, the external board is relatively easy to replace. However, we strongly recommend that you do not replace the board yourself. It’s not as easy as finding the right model.

If your hard drive is not old, the circuit board and drive will use a unique microcode to communicate. If you replace the PCB of a drive that requires this firmware to boot, you could permanently damage your data.

Hard drive with printed circuit board removed
Image Credit: firstblood/DepositPhotos

According to, technicians can «copy, overwrite, or recover microcode using modern hardware.»

Sorcery and sorcery

When my hard drive failed, the circuit board was fine; the disk was still recognized and spinning, but it was not being detected in Windows, meaning I couldn’t access it, and no software recovery tool could help me either.

So I’m putting my last hope into some of those obscure tricks you’ll find online, like shaking the disc, hitting it on a hard surface, exposing it to dry heat in an oven, or sticking it in the freezer overnight. , If you have an idea of ​​how a hard drive works, then all of these methods should give you the shivers!

Frozen hard drive
Image credit: foxiedelmar/DepositPhotos

Well, I didn’t dare melt my drive, but I suspected my head was stuck. So I shook it; but to no avail. Since I could follow the reasoning, I also wrapped my drive in an airtight Ziploc and stuck it in the freezer overnight. The idea is that low temperatures cause metals to shrink and shrink.

So if the head is stuck, the cold might come off. Unfortunately, that didn’t work either. And I probably caused condensation to form on the hard drive drive, which could have done much more damage. I eventually gave in and saved the disk for a future where I hoped to afford professional data recovery.

Backup strategy advice

If you manage to use one of the questionable methods above, please note that the fix will be temporary! So get ready. Know exactly what you want to back up and how. Have the right backup software to quickly copy your data and have enough storage space.

If you want to copy files manually, copy only one set of files at a time! If you force the head to move back and forth between too many files by running multiple copy and paste processes, you slow down the entire backup process and increase the chance of a fatal head failure.

Consult a Professional Data Recovery Specialist

If you can afford professional help or just can’t wait for a miracle, consult a professional. My recommendation is to go with a reputable company.

They must work with professional technicians and tools, be able to open a hard drive in a clean or dust-free environment, follow industry standards, and have solid credentials as well as excellent references. After all, you will be trusting them with your personal details.

Kroll Ontrack, one of the most reputable companies on the market, offers a free consultation and cost estimate.

Before choosing a company, make sure you understand the terms and conditions! Most pay only to view the disc and make recommendations. They will charge extra for trying to recover data. Some charge full recovery fees even if they were unable to recover the data.

Revive your drive

Diagnosing and fixing a broken hard drive is serious business. Take it seriously, but also try to rule out some of the easier-to-fix culprits before shelling out hundreds of dollars for a specialist. The more you know, the better. How far you go in diagnosing and repairing your hard drive will depend on how important the data is to you.

You are probably wondering what happened to my hard drive. Well, one day when I was disbanding my apartment, I decided to give her one last chance and then let her go. More than two years after trying everything I dared to make it work over and over for weeks, I just plugged it in and it just worked.

I have recovered all my data. The disk actually continued to work for many more years. Call me lucky!

Even if you managed to fix your drive and recover all your data, I wouldn’t trust this hard drive again. Here’s What You Can Do With Your Old Hard Drive And Here’s What You Should Know When Buying A New Hard Drive

And as far as data recovery is concerned, it is a good idea to learn how to rescue your data from a malware-infected system.

Image Credit: Dead HDD via Flickr

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