We Know: Data Recovery: What you can do if your hard disk fails
In the best case scenario, you have a complete backup of your entire hard drive and all you need to do is swap out
the dead hard drive for a new one, then reinstall the backup files.
Assuming the above is not possible because you don't have a complete backup, the following will give you options that
may work to recover some or all of your data on the failed hard drive.
What causes a hard drive to fail?
There are many reasons, and each reason may have a different solution or fix. Sometimes, data on a hard drive is
unrecoverable, or some of the files are corrupted, but often a partial or full recovery of the hard disk's data is
Because it's often not possible to know the cause of the hard drive failure, different methods to recover the
data are tried one by one.
Recovery Methods for a Failed Hard Drive
Assuming that the failed hard drive contains the computer's Operating System software, try the following one step at a
time until you recover the data or conclude that the data is irretrievable:
- Emergency Boot Disk. Try booting up with an emergency boot disk floppy.
- Bypass the Operating System. If the failed hard drive is the drive that contains the Operating System, you
should move it to another computer using the same Operating System and set the damaged drive as the slave drive. This alone
may allow you to access the damaged drive and copy the files you want to the good drive.
- Try a file recovery utility. There are several on the market, including PC Inspector File Recovery, which is
freeware and is highly rated. Install this or another utility on the working hard drive and follow the instructions as it
attempts to recover data off your failed hard drive.
- Contact a professional data recovery specialist. These companies have sophisticated hardware and software to
recover data from failed hard drives. They use commercially available equipment but in some cases they also use
proprietary tools that aren't available to the general public. Data recovery specialists charge a lot of money for their services
but usually don't guarantee success. Use them as a last resort for the most valuable of data that must be recovered if