Data Recovery From a Crashed Hard Drive

By Erin McManaway

When your computer hard drive crashes, you can often recover the data from the hard drive as long as the crash wasn't caused by a major mechanical failure. You can install the crashed hard drive as a secondary drive on a different computer, allowing that computer to load the crashed hard drive under a working operating system. Once the drive is loaded, you can move the data to the other computer or a memory device for storage.

Things You'll Need

  • SATA or IDE data cable
  • Screwdriver
  • Tweezers

Installing the Crashed Hard Drive

Step 1

Turn off and unplug your computer's tower.

Step 2

Remove the left side panel of the tower using a screwdriver.

Step 3

Locate the hard drive jumper on the back of your hard drive. This will look like a section of silver pins with a small black jumper box.

Step 4

Read the jumper key on the hard drive surface. This will tell you how to position the hard drive jumper depending on the model and make of your hard drive.

Step 5

Move the jumper to the "Slave" or "Secondary" position, indicating that this drive is a secondary drive and the computer should not attempt to boot from it. You may need to use tweezers to remove the jumper from the hard drive.

Step 6

Locate the SATA or IDE connection ports on your computer's motherboard. Depending on the type of motherboard you have, you may find the hard drive ports near where your current hard drives are connect. IDE ports tend to be gray in color while SATA ports are often brightly colored such as orange, blue or red.

Step 7

Locate the SATA or IDE data port on the back of your crashed hard drive. This port will match the size of the SATA or IDE cable.

Step 8

Insert one end of the SATA or IDE data cable into hard drive's data port.

Step 9

Insert the opposite end of the data cable into the SATA or IDE port on your motherboard.

Step 10

Connect a power cable from your computer's power supply to the second port on your hard drive. Your hard drive will be connected to your motherboard and your power supply.

Recovering Data

Step 1

Replace your tower's side door, then plug in and turn on your computer, allowing Windows to boot.

Step 2

Double-click the "My Computer" shortcut from the desktop. If your computer can detect the crashed hard drive, it will be listed here.

Step 3

Double-click the crashed hard drive icon and navigate to the folder you would like to transfer.

Step 4

Right-click the folder and select "Copy."

Step 5

Navigate to the folder or memory device where you would like to save the data.

Step 6

Right-click inside the folder and select "Paste." This will make a copy of the data from the crashed hard drive to the new folder.

Step 7

Repeat the process until you have moved all the data you need from the crashed hard drive.

Tips & Warnings

  • It is possible that the data on a crashed hard drive will be damaged to the point that your computer can not read it. In this case, you may need to take your hard drive to a data specialist to recover the data.