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Cheap Ways to Recover Data from Damaged Hard Drive

Updated on July 20, 2014
cheap hard drive recovery
cheap hard drive recovery

Hard drive failure can happen to anyone’s computer at any time. There are certain ways to recover the lost date of a crashed hard drive. If you ever face with hard drive failure or any type of hard drive related problem in your computer then try to remember the following things.

  1. Do not try to write anything on the affected drive.
  2. Do not try to save anything
  3. Do not try to partition it.

Hard disk data recovery needs experts, yet there are a few things which you can do to get a fair idea about the nature of the hard disk problem. Moreover knowing exactly what happens to your hard drive can give you an comfortable position to bargain with data recovery experts in case you have no options rather than going to an experts.

What causes hard drive failure?

There can be broadly three reasons for hard disk failure-logical, electrical, physical/mechanical . In case of logical problem there is something wrong with the boot sector of the hard drive rendering it un-bootable. Hard disk failure due to electrical problem is more serious case than logical failure, where the circuit board on the hard disk has been damaged due to a higher than allowed electrical current passing through it. The worst type of hard disk failure is a physical problem where the head that reads the data stored on the different platters arranged inside a hard drive has been damaged or the alignment of the platters themselves could have been affected.

Whether your hard drive failure caused by logical, electrical or mechanical problem, you can always make a realistic assessment about the success chances of data recovery.

How to do the hard drive failure assessment

If you find that your hard drive is not functioning, no need to panic. Data recovery is possible in nearly all cases of failure except some severe cases like platter damage, magnetic degradation etc. Even the severe hard drive failure can be recovered my MFM photography if your data is valuable enough to justify huge expense for this process.

Your hard drive might have one partition and it’s damaged, you will not be able to boot your operation system normally. Then try to transfer you hard drive to another computer. If your operation system is damaged or erased ,but the partition information is still intact, your operating system will not boot. In this type of scenario you can read your hard drive from a different operating system.

Initial Steps in Hard Drive Recovery after the crash

If you are unable to boot your system and no longer can see your hard drive in the BIOS, then there is a high possibility that your hard drive has crashed. In this case at first you need to shut down the computer, because if there is any physical problem with the hard drive, keeping the power on will make the recovery process worse. In case the head stack inside your drive is damaged, trying to run it will cause more damage to the surfaces of the platters in the hard drive, and this is where the data you are wanting to recover is stored.

Try the following before going to a hard drive recovery expert

  • Boot your computer from a floppy and do a read only scan of the disk. This would tell you if it is a logical error in which case fixing the master boot record can solve your problem .If boot record is lost then you should be able to decide how to go about recovering the data. In case there are bad sectors in the master boot record, then connect the hard drive to another working computer as a secondary hard drive and try to recover data using data recovery software(you can use Ontrack easy recovery software).

  • If above procedure does not give you any result then open up your system's cabinet box, take out your hard drive, and closely examine the circuit board under the hard drive. Never touch the board as static discharge can damage the disk's head. If you find any signs of a burnt circuit board or burnt components, then you can decide for sure that its a board problem. This way you can know that it’s a serious type of problem and you must consult to your hardware supplier or recovery experts .

  • Clicking sound in your hard drive, when it is trying to spin up or spin down, indicates a mechanical problem. This click sound might coming inside the hard disk platter assembly. This, more often than not is beyond repair. If a hard disk recovery expert promise you the recovery of data then make sure that is a "no data, no pay" agreement

Restore factory Hard Drive Capacity When HDD Shows up as 32MB

A great number of PC users might have experienced that a new or existing large capacity hard drive suddenly looks to the computer like it's only 32MB, or 32GB in size. If your hard drive was previously filled with 1000GB worth of data ,you might be shocked to see it reduced to 32MB. Actually, the 32MB is a default size from the hard drives' onboard cache memory and you can easily fix this problem on your own.

To fix this problem follow the steps given below

1.At first connect the hard drive which has reduced to 32 MB, to a computer that works . If it's an IDE hard drive, just make sure it's the only hard drive on the IDE cable. Serial ATA hard drives don't require any special steps, just plug in the SATA data cable and make sure the computer isn't trying to boot of this drive.

2. Now go to and download a program called Atola Technology HDD Restore Capacity Tool.

3. Launch the newly downloaded recovery program and select the hard drive from the menu which is showing wrong capacity of hard drive, then confirm the correct hard drive has been selected and hit "Restore Capacity".

4. shut down and physically turn off the computer and wait about 10 seconds. Then power the PC back up.

If the recovery attempt is successful then your hard drive will be back to the original capacity.

Commercial Data Recovery Utilities

Restoration is simple and effective way to recover deleted files and formatted drives. Most of the recovery software available are easy to install and after installation you just have to select the drive you need to recover-that’s all. I personally use Ontrack easy recovery software to recover my deleted files or even recover formatted drive data.

Tips for Hard Drive Recovery after Corruption

  • If you have accidentally formatted your hard drive, or accidentally deleted a file or folder, the first thing you should keep in mind that you must not write any new information onto your drive. The files you have deleted are still intact somewhere on the drive. Deleting a file simply means removing the location tag for that file and nothing else.
  • If you guess that partition has corrupted somehow, it is very important not to try and re-install your operating system or add any new data to the drive.
  • In case of accidental deletion of a partition, attempting to restore it by formatting the drive will not recover any data, it will only result in the addition of an empty partition.
  • If you find that a single file is corrupted, any attempt to create a new file with the same name will partially over-write the file, highly decreasing your chances of a full recovery.
  • Remember you wrong attempt to recover data might even make a successful recovery impossible. If you have any doubts in our mind about which action is necessary to recover all the date , just decide that how important all the data are to you. Then apply you own knowledge. In case of too valuable data always consult an expert.

Commercial data recovery software site list

Software name
File Rescue
Norton Utilities/SystemWorks
Data Recovery
Ontrack Easy Recovery
Ontrack data recovery


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    • profile image 7 years ago from bear, de, 19701

      Thank you andromida for providing the such great information.In my opinion in most of the hard drive failures the data recovery process is a time taking and difficult process.So it is better to protect our hard drive from such attacks because PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE.

    • andromida profile image

      syras mamun 7 years ago

      Savymysystem-Thank you so much your comment. I like you hubs on data recovery :)

    • save my system profile image

      save my system 7 years ago from United Kingdom - London

      Thanks for this very good information. It simplified recovery to very great extent. All the tips are easy to use and any one can use it. However you can take safety precautions to avoid the mess of hard disc crash.

    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 7 years ago from US

      Thanks so much, I will bookmark this one!

    • sweetie1 profile image

      sweetie1 8 years ago from India

      Very informative and well written.. Thanks

    • andromida profile image

      syras mamun 8 years ago

      Dear lady_E thank you.For mechanical and physical hard drive problems it's always better to consult an expert.Finding deleted or formatted drive files can be easily done if you have any recovery software.I personally always use Ontrack easy recovery.thanks.

    • andromida profile image

      syras mamun 8 years ago

      Thank you dohn for your support and comments.You are always welcome and every time I publish a hub I eagerly wait for your comments.:)

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 8 years ago from London, UK

      Very important info. Thanks Andromida for taking the time to explain it in detail with pics. You are my IT Guru. :)

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      I really could have utilized this information 3 months ago when my PC crashed! Thank you again, Andromida! You write such helpful topics!

    • andromida profile image

      syras mamun 8 years ago

      Thanks Waren for stopping by.

    • Waren E profile image

      Waren E 8 years ago from HAS LEFT THE BUILDING............

      Thanks for sharing such important information andromida!