When your hard dies, the first thing that will probably go through your mind is that all your data is lost. Luckily there are several computer data recovery tricks that can be used to recover
Put the Drive in Another Computer
Just because your drive is bad enough that you can’t boot off of it any more doesn’t mean you won’t be able to pull your important files off of it. Pull the drive out of the computer and hook it up as a secondary drive in another machine. Computer stores sell USB hard drive adapters that can help you with this. If the drive is readable it should show up as another drive letter in My Computer. Copy your files onto the good drive as fast as you can in case the bad drive dies completely. You may need to use Windows to check for errors if the copy stops part-way.
Tip the Drive
Sometimes reorienting the drive itself will help it to work better. If it’s not working flat, try tipping it on its side or on end.
Chill the Drive
Many times a drive will work fine when you first power it up, but as it heats up things expand and problems start to develop. Place the drive in front of a fan or air-conditioner to prolong the amount of time you have to copy your data.
Whack the Drive on the Desk
When a drive won’t spin up at all it can sometimes be caused by a condition called “stiction”. The bearings in the drive are going bad and don’t move as freely as they should. Try giving the drive a gentle smack on the desk. Many times this can be enough to overcome the friction in the bearings and once the platters start spinning they keep going. Just make sure you copy all your data before you remove the power again.
Trade Boards With a Different Drive
Sometimes the drive and data are fine but the drive electronics have gone bad. If you can find a drive that is identical to the one you are trying to
Put the Drive in the Freezer
Now we’re starting to get in to the tricks you should try only if you are getting desperate with your computer data recovery efforts. Try sealing the drive in a plastic bag and putting it in the freezer for several hours. Remove the drive, power it up and see what you can get off of it. Act fast because you may only have until the drive warms up and the trick may only work once.
Transfer the Platter to a Different Drive
If you have another identical drive you can try opening up both drives and trading platters. Only try this with single-platter drives, though, because if there is more than one, you’ll never get them to line up right again. Also, only attempt this operation if you feel you have the technical skills to pull it off as the platters and heads in these drives are very easy to damage. Don’t worry about not having a cleanroom when you do this as you only need the drive to last long enough to
Enlist the Help of a Data Recovery Service
If your data is worth more than $1000 or so it might be time to bring in the pros. There are many data recovery services available that will be happy to try to save your data. They aren’t cheap, however, so you need to decide if it is worth the money. Also, if you think you might want to use a professional service, you should probably send them the drive before you try some of the more destructive tricks in this article (freezing, taking the drive apart, etc.).