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How to Recover Data from a Failed Hard Drive
Category : IT Infrastructure Setup 05 Aug 2009 09:40 AM
The single most problematic fault you can get on a computer is when the hard-drive fails, if a graphics card fails it is easily replaced, even if the motherboard fails creating a potentially expensive and time consuming repair - it can be done. But, if your hard-drive fails it's not just the cost of the repair or the down-time whilst its being repaired by your IT support provider - what you have to contend with is the fact that all the data on that hard-drive has been permanently lost, or has it?
Was it backed-up?
Taking a PC with a failed hard-drive to any Hong Kong IT services provider the very first question they'll ask you is - have you got a back-up of the data? If you have a data back-up or if the data that was on the hard-drive is no longer needed, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the low cost they can quote you to fix a new hard-drive and, depending on the model required, how quickly they can do it. However, if the data on the hard-drive isn't backed-up and has to be recovered, this will complicate the process of replacing the hard-drive. When the PC has been repaired, do ask the PC support company for advice on back-up routines.
Freeze it!
Not that any of the reputable Hong Kong IT services would use this as a data recovery technique, but it is not a 'web myth' that sometimes hard-drive data can be recovered by freezing the hard-drive. Simply putting it in a sealed freezer bag and leaving it inside a freezer for an hour or so can, sometimes, mean you can boot the hard-drive and at least copy some of the data from it. However, be warned that this is not a reliable method and although the hard-drive might well boot-up - it could 'die' again within minutes.
Data recovery the professional way
Professional data recovery by a competent and reliable computer support company will require the use of sophisticated software tools. However, you may well wonder how software tools can be of any use on a hard-drive that won't work. The answer to this is that the PC support company will not try and boot the computer from the damaged hard-drive, but will connect the damaged/failed hard-drive to another computer and then access the failed hard-drive by using it as what is technically referred to as a 'slave drive'. The software tools are actually loaded on to the hard-drive of the 'working' computer, so that it can then start to interrogate the failed hard-drive. A failed hard-drive can easily be connected by experts such as Dual Layer IT support providers to a working one. A favorite method these days is to hot plug it to a USB caddy, meaning that the failed hard-drive can even be left inside the failed PC; a FireWire caddy can be similarly used. However, for PCs the traditional method for an IDE drive is to place it inside another computer, connecting it to a working drive via a spare connector on the working hard-drives ribbon.
Beware of a failing hard-drive!
Grinding, clicking or indeed just about any noise from your hard-drive could be a sign that it's about to fail. If you also start getting file errors, let alone the Windows dreaded 'blue screen of death', then run the disk check utility to see if there's anything that the operating system itself can rectify, rather than waiting for a catastrophic hard-drive failure.