This note will attempt to provide some help on how to recover data from a failed hard drive, what initial steps to take if your computer does not boot up and where to get professional data recovery services if you hard drive has failed and made your data inaccessible.
How To Recover Data From A Failed Hard Drive
If you see the dreaded “Boot Disk Failure” message in a PC or “?” in your Mac, Then most probably you have a disk failure which may have resulted to the loss of your data. The first step will be not to panic and have a cool head. Secondly check if a USB hard disk, CD/DVD ROM or memory stick is not the primary boot disk as this may be the source of the problem if you are lucky. This is because the boot order or “boot sequence” as it is sometimes called, has changed for some reason. You will be lucky if this is the problem because by fixing the boot order in the BIOS or pressing “F8” in a PC and holding down the “Option” button in your Mac, you can correct the problem and your computer will be working again.
If the same problem happens again or the computer boots up very slowly, there is a good chance that the internal hard drive has failed or is about to fail. At this point, you do need to replace the hard disk and reload the OS and the applications but KEEP the old hard disk intact and safe for data recovery. The next step is to buy a USB caddy or enclosure (You need a 2.5″ for alptop hard drive and 3.5″ for a desktop hard drive) and connect the hard drive to another computer to see if your data is accessible. If so, just copy all the user data which is normally in “\users\” directory at the root of the hard drive to another hard disk or location on the other computer. Make sure you have enough space in the destination disk.
Problem 1: Copying data is very slow
When a hard disk begins to slow down and your computer takes a very long time to boot up, it means your hard disk has failed. In such circumstances, the best course of action is consult a data recovery professional if you have critical business or private data that you cannot afford to lose. This is because the situation will rapidly deteriorate and your data may become completely inaccessible. Some hard drives will start to make clicking or ticking noises which is a sign of serious failure. If this happens, do not attempt to operate the hard drive, copy data or use data recovery software as you will damage your hard disk more and make data recovery more difficult and more expensive.
Problem 2: Hard drive does not show up
If the hard drive is not recognised by the computer or prompts you for “format” or “initialise” your disk, it means multiple sectors of the hard drive have become inaccessible as a result of mild head failure or platter surface damage. Don NOT format or initialise the disk as it will NOT work and secondly you may damage the hard drive file system and catalogue file. If one of the read/write heads has failed, then by doing so you may damage the surface of the platters by scratching them. Seek immediate help from a data recovery technician. An computer technician cannot help you with data recovery as he is not a data recovery specialist but he can refer you to a specialist data recovery company who can help you recover your lost data.
Problem 3: Hard drive makes a strange noise
When you connect your hard disk to the computer you may notice that the hard drive does not show up and starts making weird noises like clicking or ticking. In such circumstances, you must immediately unplug the hard drive from the computer, ensure it is powered off and consult a data recovery company. Clicking and ticking noises do have an internal physical failure and there nothing you can do to fix it and any action you take may seriously jeopardise a successful data recovery by a professional data recovery company. Call 0207 516 1077 for FREE advice discuss your option to recover data from your failed hard drive.
For more information see Data Recovery Advice.