4 Ways To Do Hard Disk Crash Data Recovery

by Rod Dunne on November 5, 2010

in Data Recovery, Hardware

4 Ways To Do Hard Disk Crash Data Recovery
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Computers can crash due to a variety of software and hardware issues. If you haven’t been keeping up with doing backups as part of your regular PC maintenance and repair activities then you may need to resort to hard disk crash data recovery techniques. In this article, we’ll go through four different approaches to hard drive data recovery that you can consider.

Note that our article on hard drive repair techniques covers some of the mechanical and software checks you can make to try and rectify faults with the disk, which are not covered as part of this article on data recovery.

1. Use hard disk crash data recovery software

Most users will already have hard disk data recovery software installed on their PC so this will be a logical first approach to take if you are able to log back into the computer. If you don’t have one of these programs installed then it is recommended to install it in a secondary partition so that the install files do not overwrite any lost documents on the disk.

Pros:

  • Does not require opening up the PC.
  • Cost of data recovery software is relatively cheap and the tools can be reused for retrieving deleted/corrupted/formatted data.

Cons:

  • It may not be able to find all your data. If the hard disk crash occurred as a result of bad sectors or other disk memory faults then these tools will be incapable of reading the bad sectors. These software utilities can only complete data file recovery when the drive is in a healthy working condition.

Suggested Tools:

  • Remo Undelete: FAT/NTFS support, All Windows OS; Free trial scan.
  • HDD Regenerator: This is a disk memory repair tool for rectifying bad sectors and similar faults that can lead to crashes. Note however that it may reorder data clusters which would make subsequent hard disk data recovery more difficult, so only run it after first using file retrieval software.

2. Use a hard drive enclosure to transform the hard disk into an external HDD

The idea with this approach is to remove the internal hard drive, place it carefully inside a hard drive enclosure case (widely available online and from computer shops) and then connect it to a second PC using a USB cable in order to copy its contents onto the secondary computer.

Pros:

  • The internal drive can be reused as an external memory device (i.e. an external HDD).

Cons:

  • Not everybody will be comfortable with opening up the PC and removing internal hard drives.

3. Boot the PC from a LINUX live CD and then clone the disks contents

With this approach, you can complete a hard disk crash data recovery by running the computer under the LINUX operating systems straight off of a CD. This allows you to start up the PC and copy the disk contents to an external drive.

The process is done as follows:

  1. Use a second PC to download and burn a LINUX live ISO CD (suggested tools details below).
  2. Place the Linux CD into the CD drive of the faulty computer.
  3. Restart the crashed PC and hit F2 as it boots to enter the BIOS mode. Change the boot sequence so that the computer starts from the CD drive first. Save your changes and reboot.
  4. The computer will start-up the LINUX operating system and should detect your hard drive (you may have to remove the password protection on it).
  5. Connect an external storage device to a USB port and copy the disk contents onto the external drive.

Pros:

  • This is an effective workaround if the computer will not start up correctly.
  • No damage is done to the Windows operating system during the hard disk data recovery. LINUX is not actually installed; it runs direct from the CD.
  • No need to open up the PC case.

Cons:

  • Requires access to a second PC in order to get the LINUX CD.

Suggested Tools:

4. Call upon data recovery services

The final approach to consider is to contact data recovery experts who will have access to forensic grade hard disk data recovery software and disk reading harnesses for accessing your data.

Pros:

  • There are now plenty of these services available locally.
  • Increased chance of these experts being able to find a greater quantity of your data.
  • Possibility that they will be able to complete a PC maintenance and repair of the damaged machine and return it to a working condition.

Cons:

  • This can be expensive if they need to do a mechanical recovery of your data, that is, if the disk has developed faults which require using hardware tools to read the disk platters directly in order to complete a hard drive data recovery.

Related posts
Seven main issues that crash PC computers.

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