How To Recover a Crashed Hard Drive

hard drive

Successful recovery of crashed hard drives depends on making the correct diagnosis and following hard drive recovery techniques.

The computer is today an indispensable part of life and a hard drive crash that causes loss of precious data wreck the individual’s life. The hard drive contains many small spinning discs that wear out, but invariably when people least expect it to do so.

Knee jerk reactions to avoid

Even with the best of precautions, hard discs do crash. Most people make knee jerk reactions in an attempt to effect a hard drive crash recovery, but doing so, actually accentuates the problem.

  1. Pressing the start button repeatedly to boot a computer is a fatal mistake that might kill a damaged drive. The drive might have suffered a head crash with the read-write head touching the rotating platter and causing damage to the magnetic media in the platter surface. Repeated attempts to start the disk result in increasing the damage to the platter surface.
  2. Pulling out the hard drive or hitting the computer in a hope to jerk it to recovery can cause damage to the many minuscule magnetized pieces of the drive, making a damaged disk inoperative.

Computer users need to avoid these knee jerk reactions and take recourse to hard drive recovery tools and techniques.


The problem of the hard disc not booting need not always relate to a crashed hard drive. The diagnosis of a hard drive not booting needs to follow the sequence listed below

  1. If the hard drive does not spin or make any noise, the hard drive might be dead. The problem could however also pertain to either faulty cables or power supply. If the hard drive spins or makes a sound, the problem is either a damaged BIOS or a partially damaged hard drive.
  2. Replacing all data and power cables help identify whether faulty cables causes the problem. If the hard drive does not spin or make any sound even with the cables replaced, the hard drive is probably dead.
  3. If the hard drive does not boot even with replaced cables, but still makes some sound or spins, a BIOS check is in order. Most computers allow entry to the BIOS through ESC, F1, F2, F10 or Delete key at startup, without waiting for the hard drive to boot. Once inside the BIOS, check to see if the hard drive shows up in the appropriate place. Try to change the boot sequence to another drive, and set to Auto-Detect for the damaged drive. Failure to boot the hard drive after the BIOS check means damage to the hard drive.

Hard Drive Recovery Software

Much commercial software makes the claim of retrieving data from crashed hard drives. A few of them are genuine, some do retrieve much data at a high cost, and some are outright scams that produce a list of affected data but retrieve only bits and pieces of “garbage” data. Such hard drive recovery software rewrites information to damaged files and folders and causes endless problems.

Freeware such as cgsecurity provide good alternatives to commercial software but needs to be used with caution. If such freeware software requires installation, the installation of the recovery software on the damaged drive erases data that need recovery, defeating the very purpose of installing the software!

An IO error, “Do Not Proceed” is the sign to stop using data recovery software. This error indicates hardware failure that data recovery software cannot fix.

Recovery Boot CD

A better alternative to purchasing Data Recovery Software is connecting the damaged Hard Drive as an external device or set it up as a slave drive in another computer, and attempting to transfer the data to the local drive of that computer.

A “live” Linux CD allows booting into a Linux operating system bypassing the damaged hard drive that contains the operating system. This live version of the Linux OS allows mounting and browsing the ‘crashed’ drive and copying files from it to another drive such as a USB memory stick, or a second CD/DVD drive.

Hard Drive Data Recovery Specialist

If the drive is completely dead or indicates hardware error, then neither any data recovery software nor making use of alternative booting techniques will work, and the only hope for hard drive file recovery is are hard drive data recovery services who physically repair the hard disc by removing the platters in a sterile environment. This is an expensive proposition and usually replicating the data would work out much cheaper.

The best way to deal with a hard drive crash is by taking regular backups. While a new hard disc drive to replace a damaged drive is inexpensive, retrieval of data is a damaged drive is a difficult and expensive proposition.

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