Computer Tips: Data Recovery after a Hard Drive Meltdown
Smart shopper Bruce M. shares tips on what to do if your computer hard drive has a melt down (like Anna's did recently)...
This is in response to Anna losing the contents of her computer hard drive to a hardware failure. Here are some ideas on what to do should it ever happen again.
Data Recovery Options
Unfortunately anyone can claim to be a “data recovery specialist”. If you absolutely want the data back and are willing to pay (lots), send it directly back to the manufacturer of the drive. They have clean rooms where they stock identical drives to your broken drive. They then take the platters out of your drive, install them in a new drive, backup the data onto another new drive and you are good to go. Hopefully.
If you are in the situation where your drive dies, first step is to NOT use the computer any more. Every write to the damaged drive makes it less likely you can get data back. Take the drive out, put it in an external enclosure or another computer and try to extract the data that way.
Next step would be to get a data recovery program (there are some good free ones) that you can run on the UNDAMAGED computer that may let you get the data off the bad drive.
If that does not work , you can try tapping the drive with a blunt object (handle of a screwdriver) and see if that will loosen it enough for you to extract data. You can also try freezing the drive in a ziplock bag in the freezer. Note that these last two steps are last ditch. If the data is critical and you really want it back, go back to tip one instead and send it to the drive manufacturer.
Backups are your best friend
Take the backup media, be it an external drive or DVD’s or memory stick, and store them somewhere away from the computer so if something catastrophic happens (theft, fire) there is a chance the backups will survive.
Dispose with Caution
Oh – when you dispose of an old computer or hard drive, do yourself a favor and thoroughly mangle the hard drive (think drilling through it or smashing it with a hammer) or get a special program to overwrite the data. Otherwise some miscreant could have a free window into your digital life.