How To Recover Data From Dead Hard Drive (Dead Computer)

If your hard drive stops working, whether it is after a gradual performance decrease, or after leaving it unused for a long time, the device is likely dead. The actual reasons for this situation include logical corruption, firmware problems, or damaged hardware. 

Logical corruptions occur due to system issues or power failure while formatting. As such, you can recover the data by accessing the drive and using some recovery software. However, in other situations, it is a lot more difficult to recover the contents of the HDD. So, seeking help from professional data recovery specialists is the best option.

Possible Scenario of Dead Hard Drive

  • If the partition information and drive sectors are heavily corrupted, your computer can still detect the hard drive. However, your system will prevent any access to the drive in order to prevent further corruption. Here, a good recovery application should be able to pull the data in the drive bit by bit.
  • If the SATA/power connector is damaged or any circuit component gets burned, the system won’t detect the hard drive and it won’t produce any noises. Here, the solution is to replace the circuit with that from a functional hard drive with the same drive model and PCB revision.
    Also, hard drives contain an 8-pin ROM chip that stores calibration configurations unique to the device. So, it is necessary to replace the chip on the new PCB circuit with the old one. This replacement process requires good soldering equipment and a heat gun.
  • If the hard drive is beeping, it indicates that the actuator arm is stuck and as such, it can’t read the data from the platters. You can try performing a temporary solution to recover data from it.
    The process is to open the drive, move the actuator arm to the parking zone, and then reassemble the hard drive to stop the beeping. Then, you may be able to access it by connecting to the PC. However, this process is delicate and if you are not careful, you may destroy the data inside.
  • If the device produces a clicking sound, its internal components are broken. You shouldn’t even handle the hard drive roughly, let alone try opening it in this case. The only solution is to carefully open the drive and replace all broken components.

One thing you should know is that all the processes that require fiddling with the hardware do not actually fix the drive and it will still be dead. So, you still need recovery software or a specialist to pull data from the drive in all situations.

How to Recover Data from Dead Hard Disk?

Since hardware-level troubleshooting requires sophisticated tools, we absolutely recommend you get the help of a professional. But before that, try using recovery software in case the hard disk is only dead due to logical corruption.

Use Recovery Software

The first thing you should do is try connecting the hard drive to your PC. You can recover most of the data in such situations by using recovery software if the computer can still detect the drive.

First, you need to connect it to the PC as an external drive. Devices such as SATA to USB adapters or hard drive docking stations are necessary to connect the internal drive to your computer.

  1. Connect the hard drive to the PC through the adapter or USB dock.
    SATA adapter hard drive
  2. Open the File Explorer and try opening the hard drive partition.
  3. If you can enter the drive, back up its data by using the normal copy/paste process.
  4. If you encounter the following situations, you need to use recovery software.
    • The drive/partition does not show up.
    • Trying to open the drive pops up a prompt that you need to format the drive (make sure to click Cancel on the prompt).
    • Copy/paste takes way longer than expected.
  5. You can use any recovery system you want. Make sure to check its reviews and find its reliability first. Also, keep in mind that free software may not be that successful at recovering everything.
  6. If your system starts to freeze due to read instability while the computer is mounting the drive, you can prevent this automatic mounting from your Diskpart Command-line Interface (CLI).
    • Open Run by pressing Win + R.
    • Type diskpart and press Enter to open this CLI.
    • Type the following commands one at a time and press Enter after each:
      automount disable
      automount scrub
  7. Even if the hard drive is not mounted (i.e., you don’t see it on the File Explorer), the recovery software should still be able to access it.

If the recovery software takes too long to discover each sector or back up the data, it indicates multiple sectors are heavily corrupted. As such, your system is spending a lot of time trying to rediscover the sectors. You need to use a data recovery device in such cases. While they are also expensive, they are usually cheaper than recovery specialists. 

The recovery device cuts off the rediscovery attempts after a certain time, as it is nearly impossible to recover data from these corrupted sectors. You will not get all the data from the hard drive, but you would not have that anyway even if you didn’t use the device.

Seek Help From a Recovery Specialist

There may be rare situations where you might be able to recover the contents of the dead drive despite the hardware failure. However, it’s always best to seek help from professional recovery specialists regardless of the nature of the drive failure.

The person performing these hardware operations must be dexterous enough and familiar with the process. Also, data recovery specialists have recovery laboratories and proper equipment. With such tools and a clean lab environment, they can swap the damaged components of the failed drive with functional ones. This way, there will be a higher chance of recovering the data.

Recover From Backup

If your hard drive is heavily damaged, even a professional may not be able to recover data from it. Additionally, the data you recover won’t be complete in most situations even with low or medium-level damage.

Most systems allow creating a backup external hard drive or syncing to cloud storage. So if you had created such backups previously, you can retrieve the data from such backups. To access the cloud data, you need to go to its website and log in to your account.

How to Recover Data from Dead Computer?

If your PC fails to boot, there may be underlining issues with hardware components, such as RAM, CPU, or motherboard. However, your hard drive might still be intact. So, there’s still a possibility of recovering data from it.

  1. Unplug the power cable and all other cables/peripherals from the PC.
  2. Lay it on its side while exposing its side panel upwards. The side panel usually shows screws on the back.
  3. Unscrew them and then slide out the side panel. This process may be different for some CPU cases, so we recommend checking the official sources if you encounter any trouble.
  4. Look for the hard drive and disconnect the cables connecting it to the motherboard.
  5. Remove all the screws connecting it to the motherboard case and then take out the drive carefully. Depending on your setup, you may also be able to unscrew the drive before unplugging its cables.
  6. If the hard drive is enclosed in a metal bracket, you can take it out after removing the screws on the bracket.
  7. Then, use a SATA-to-USB adapter or USB disk hub to connect it to a functioning PC.
  8. Back up data to the PC or an external media. If you can’t access the drive or recover data, the drive is likely dead and you need to use recovery software or hire a recovery specialist.

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