Hard Drive Data Recovery: Get Your Data Back

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OK, So Your Hard Drive Crashed. Now What?

Your hard drive just crashed eh? Well this is the place for help. I once owned an IBM Deskstar 75GXP aka the "Deathstar", and I was able to get my data back. With the steps below hopefully you can too.

Also, there is a section on what you can do to make sure you are never at risk of losing your data again.


This may not be for you.


There are many data recovery companies that will get your data back guaranteed. However, these companies cost a lot of money. For me, I wanted my files back, but I did not want to pay a company $500 to do it (may be cheaper now). In other words, $500 was more important to me than my files, so I went with the free approach.

If you can afford to have a professional get your data back, then do it, and don't attempt this first. Sometimes this method can further damage your hard drive to the point where even the pros can't get the data off it.

Now if you have decided your files are not worth that kind of money, then please proceed.

Oh, also, read the whole instructions before beginning. There are a few notes that could be important to you along the way.

Let's Get That Data Back

The Steps

1. Remove the old drive from the system.
To do this just disconnect the power and ide cables from your hard drive. You can leave your drive in the pc case if you have space. Here are some nice pics of a hard drive and it's cables.

2. Get a new hard drive.
You are going to need to put your reclaimed data on it. Make sure it is at least 2 times the size of that old drive, or 2 times the size of the amount of data you had saved.

3. Install and Format your new hard drive.
The recovery software only saves to FAT32. You will be able to change to NTFS after you have gotten all your files back. So, make 2 partitions on your new drive, one for NTFS and one for FAT32. Make sure the FAT32 is large enough to handle all of your old files. Here are windows xp instructions for partioning your hard drive.

4. Re-install windows xp

5. Make a Boot Disk
You will need to make a MS-DOS boot disk on a floppy or CD to install the recovery software.

6. Get the Data Recovery Software
Go to ntfs.com and download their NTFS Reader software. (They have other software for hard drive recovery, but this is free.) If you want to get your long file names back, then you could try their other software, but you may want to try this before buying.

7. Install NTFS Reader
You simply need to follow their instructions for the install of the NTFS reader to your floppy disk or CD.

8. Re-install your old broken drive
Go back and hook up your old drive (and make sure your new drive is still installed).

8. Get your files back
Now you are ready to reboot your pc from your new boot disk. (You may have to change a setting in your bios to boot from your cd or floppy.) Once you boot just follow the on screen instructions to copy your files from the old drive to the new drive. The process can take a long time, but it eventually got all my files back. (I think it took about a week to get only my important files off my hard drive). I hope it does the same for you.

9. Make sure this never happens again
You know you needed to back up your files, but now you really know. Below are some options for how to back up your new hard drive so you don't ever have to do a data recovery again.

Picture of NTFS Reader Screen

A Few Other Notes:

*I have only tried this for windows xp.
*This method is only for the ntfs file system. If you use fat then there are many more options for software.
*You will lose your long file names with this method. Basically all the file names will be trimmed down to 8 characters, but your files will be back. I believe ntfs.com has other software that you can buy that will give you the full filename back.
*As mentioned before, this will not work for every type of hard drive crash. Only use this method if you don't want to spend the money on professionals.

Make Sure This Never Happens Again

The best ways to back up your data.

OK. Hopefully you have your data back now. It is time to make sure you never lose your data again. You will need to start backing up your data.

You could choose to backup with an extra hard drive or cds or dvds, but the easiest way to keep up with your backups is to use an online solution.

I personally use crashplan.

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Was This Helpful? 2 comments

jabelufiroz profile image

jabelufiroz 3 years ago from India

Great article on Hard Drive Data Recovery. Voted up.

Susan Hirst 20 months ago

Thank you for this advice on data recovery. The hard drive on my laptop just crashed and I lost a lot of work files. I'll be sure to make two partitions on my new hard drive, like you said.


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