How to Recover Data From Broken Hard Drive

Written by zakiya lathan
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Sometimes hard drives die, and when they're gone, the data they contain may be gone for good, so backing up your precious information is critical. But there are times when your hard drive isn't really dead. Sometimes a hard drive is just sick and will recover with a quick fix, or you can manage to squeeze just enough life out of it to extract your data and save it to another location.

You may want to hire a professional data-recovery specialist. This is a pricey route that is not guaranteed to deliver results, but if the lost data is valuable, it may be a better option than tooling around with the hard drive yourself. If you do go the do-it-yourself route, you will probably void any warranties, and you should never attempt to open the hard drive's casing because exposing it to air causes irreparable damage.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Resealable freezer bag

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    Check for Other Problems

  1. 1

    Remove the hard drive from your PC.

  2. 2

    Plug the hard drive into a different computer that you know is working properly.

  3. 3

    Check to see if the motherboard is causing the hard drive works as it should, the motherboard could be causing similar problems. If so, use this as a lesson and backup your data.

    Freeze the Hard Drive

  1. 1

    Put the hard drive in a plastic bag appropriate for the freezer. Freezing sometimes works to revive a stalling hard drive, at least for a short time, but be certain that the bag is sealed tightly so that condensation and ice crystals don't form.

  2. 2

    Stick the bagged hard drive in your freezer for a few hours. Usually 1 to 3 hours will do the trick.

  3. 3

    Plug the cold hard drive back into your computer. In order to keep the hard drive cooler longer, you can place dry ice near the chilled hard drive. Do not put the dry ice directly on the computer, though, and make sure that the dry ice is wrapped in something.

  4. 4

    Check to see if the hard drive shows up. If it does, quickly go to where your data is stored and transfer it over to your external hard drive or USB flash drive. Once the chilled hard drive warms up, you may be unable to access your data again.

  5. 5

    Use this as a lesson and back up your data to an external hard drive or USB flash drive.

Tips and warnings

  • You should be certain that you are grounded whenever you are working with any electrical equipment.
  • There is no guarantee that any of these methods will work. You may still lose your data. The only way to prevent data loss when dealing with computers is to make copies of important data and store the copies in a separate location, such as on a flash drive or on an external hard drive.
  • When dealing with dry ice, follow the appropriate safety precautions. Serious bodily injury can result from improper handling.

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