10 Ways to Recover Data Off a Crashed Hard Disk

Losing precious data to a crashed hard drive is our worst nightmare. Having the shortest life expectancy of all computer components, it can cause irreparable damage to the user. But luckily there exist numerous methods of data retrieval from a crashed hard disk. Here we have brought together ten methods of data rescue.

Get Help From a Pro

This is the simplest but probably the most costly method to get you hard disk up and running. There are a lot of experts who know each and every trick to revive a dead HDD. If you are a novice user then this method is your best shot to save that beloved data. Inexperienced users are likely to cause further damage to the HDD in a bid to sort the mess themselves. So simply remove the disk from your PC and take it to a pro.

Online Backup

This is a great online service offered my many different companies on the internet. The idea is to save your precious files in an online storage which you can retrieve in case of hard disk crash. Creating backup is the most foolproof system to prevent damage from a crash. You can also create backup CDs of your hard drive as a preventive measure. Those of you having backups of their data are invincible to HDD crashes.


PC Inspector

This is a very handy freeware which can help you retrieve data from your disk. PC inspector is designed to supports the FAT 12/16/32 and NTFS file systems. This software is capable of finding partitions even if even if the boot sector or FAT has been erased or damaged. Other cool features include recovery of original time and date stamp of files and saving of recovered files on network drives. For installing PC inspector remove the problematic hard disk from your system and attach it to another system as a secondary drive. Now install the software on primary disk. Installing PC inspector on the crashed disk could overwrite the data you want to recover.


SpinRite is a stand-alone DOS program designed to refurbish hard drives, floppy disks and recover data from marginally or completely unreadable hard drives and floppy disks and from partitions and folders which have become unreadable. Unlike PC inspector , Spinrite will cost you around $29.00—$69.00 depending upon the type of upgrade. Spinrite has been known to perform better than PC inspector and can retrieve data from disks which are unreadable by the PC inspector. The DOS environment of SpinRite allows great flexibility and control to the user. SpinRite interacts directly with magnetic storage media at a level below any installed operating system. This version is able to operate on all Windows XP NTFS formats in addition to all DOS FAT, all Linux file systems, Novell, Macintosh (if temporarily moved into a PC) or anything else.


Ultimate boot CD (UBCD) allows you to boot into Windows from a CD and run diagnostic utilities on your problematic drive. PC Inspector File Recovery is one of the utilities that come bundled with UBCD for Windows so you can run it right from the CD. You will need a computer with Windows XP and possibly a Windows XP installation CD to create the UBCD for Windows. This is also a freeware which can be downloaded or bought for a small fee. The cd includes many diagnostic utilities and can also be used to provide shared internet access or browse the web. No operating system is required to run floppy-based diagnostic tools from most CDROM drives on Intel-compatible machines.

Head Replacement

Many crashed hard disks can be recovered by replacing the head. Such a fault is accompanied with a unique clicking noise emanating from the disk at start up. But there are a lot of sensitivities attached with this method. Such a repair must be performed by seasoned experts in proper isolated room to avoid dust setting on the disk. So a home procedure for head replacement is out of question. The video below will give you a complete idea of head replacement.


Circuit Replacement

A clicking hard disk is sometimes the result of a circuit problem. The Printed Circuit Board controls many functions to operate the hard disk drive. The solution in this case is the replacement of the circuit board of the hard disk. The important point is to find a compatible circuit board since an incompatible circuit can cause further damage to the hard disk.


This is another technique which can sometimes revive a crashed hard disk. As lame it may sound, freezing the disks has an extremely high rate of success for many. The idea is that freezing it will constrict loose parts long enough for the drive to work properly. Make sure you have a computer ready to plug the drive into and an external case. Place the hard drive into a baggy, seal it tightly, and put it in the freezer overnight. The next day, remove it from the baggy and put it in the external drive case. Transfer the data from the drive before it warms too much and crashes again.

Live CD

This method is suitable for people who don’t have access to another PC to perform repair works on their disk. For a live CD you will need temporary access to another PC with an internet connection. Download a Linux LiveCD – Damn Small Linux is the smallest, but also has issues mounting hard drives. The most simple for an average computer user would be Puppy Linux. It has a larger file size, but should recognize your drive. Burn the Live CD ISO to a CD and insert it into your computer (the one with the crashed hard drive). Restart the computer and when it the computer logo appears, press F2 (or whatever key for your system) to enter BIOS. Change the boot sequence to CD first, Save and then Exit. The Live CD will start, simply follow the directions on the screen–don’t worry, nothing is being done to your hard drive. The OS will start, and you should see your hard drive mounted on the desktop–something like “60GB”, etc. Plug in a second drive and copy and paste the folders over.

External Case

This is the most simple and time tested method for hard disk data retrieval. An external case allows you connect your hard disk to another computer via USB port. All you need to do is purchase an external case. Place your hard disk into the case, beware of a static shock. Now connect the problematic hard disk to another PC, chances are that you will be able to access your data.

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