This blog article is a part 2 for hard drive data recovery where your hard drive will no longer boot into Windows. See part 1 here.

If the situation is serious, you may need to use a data recovery service. They are expensive, however if recovering the data is uber important, you may have no choice. It is best to not attempt any form of data recovery yourself and you increase the chance of causing more damage or losing more data. You increase the likelihood of being able to recover your data if you don’t do anything.

If the loss of the data isn’t super critical, you could try some of the software solutions below on your own.

One free piece of software you should have in your toolkit for just such a situation is Parted Magic. This particular piece of software you need to burn the image you download (an ISO file) to a CD and then you would boot your computer from that. This is very helpful to have in those situations where your computer can’t boot into Windows. Also it is always good to shutdown your computer if you are really concerned about recovering a file as it minimizes the chance that anything overwrites it. So using something like Parted Magic to boot into an alternate operating system to recover your files is more ideal.

Burning ISO files to an optical disc (CD/DVD) is quite easy. One nice free program you can use is CDBurnerXP. It is very simple to use for burning files or entire images (ISO files) to a disc.

Parted Magic has it’s own file manager view and you can copy files from the corrupted hard drive to another drive. Never copy files to the same drive that is having problems as you might overwrite what you are trying to recover.

Another idea is to take the bad drive and connect it to another computer. If the drive does spin up and shows up in the drive manager, but you cannot see any of the files, then you could look at some commercial programs. One program is R-Studio which has 3 flavours all under $100 and is generally successful at recovering files. It supports a large number of file systems (including Windows, Linux, and BSD variants).

7 Comments
  1. I wish there was a way to recover files from my crashed harddrive. There were so many important pictures on it.

    • Probably. But it can be really expensive as David said. A problem I’ve encountered before was having my files on a USB flash disk disappear because the flash disk itself got messed up. It was totally dead, didn’t show up on the computer at all. Professional file recovery services might still get the files but at the cost, I didn’t bother. It’s also why I make several back ups of my important files.

  2. I recently got infected with a deadly virus on my PC and I thought all my stuff was done.I just recently followed these steps and they saved my PC from dying and losing all my data from work and school.

  3. Thanks for the artcile. Both parts were very useful and informative. I wish I had read them some time ago when I had an accident with my laptop. But probably I would have still used data recovery service as I did back then. Almost all of my information was saved and I am so glad they did.

  4. This is extremely helpful. And the fact that these options are free is all the more amazing. I’ve learned a lot from this article.

    I have not had a major problem with a hard drive on my laptop, but it’s good to know what the options are should that happen. It eases that sense of dread of losing crucial files or of incurring the expense of a data recovery service.

    It also serves as a reminder of how important it is to back up files — on an external hard drive, a USB drive and/or online — which I also do. Replacing a computer is one thing but losing files would be very upsetting.

  5. Thank you for part two. I originally missed this after reading part 1. I had never heard of Parted Magic but will bookmark their site. I’m sure I’ll need to use it at some point. I like the tip about connecting the bad drive to another computer to see if it spins and shows the drive manager. I have heard that R-studio is worth the $100 from various friends who have tried it out.

    • Another trick clients of mine have used is CloneZilla. When used in expert mode, it can attempt to recover bad sectors and rebuild partition tables. It has been very successful for them.

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