Hard drives, just like all electronic and mechanical devices, can die for many reasons. Unless you are a hardware engineer or a tech-obsessed geek, you probably mostly care about how to get your precious files back, instead of figuring out the exact cause of your hard drive’s demise. That’s exactly what this guide will help you with. We will walk you through a hypothetical recovery scenario of a dead hard drive and show you in detail what you need to do.

dead hard drive recovery

Steps on How to Recover Deleted Files from Dead Hard Drive

Step 1: Connect your dead hard drive to a PC

If you have two hard drives in your laptop or computer — perhaps one for your operating system and one for your files — you can safely skip this step. However, if the dead hard drive contains your operating system or it was given to you by a friend or relative, you need to connect it to a working computer.external hard drive recovery

Owners of desktop PCs can open the case and connect the corrupted hard drive using a SATA cable, which is a computer bus interface that connects host bus adapters to mass storage devices. You can buy a SATA cable either online or in your local hardware store. One end of the cable goes to the hard drive and the other goes to the motherboard. There’s really no way how you can connect it in a wrong way, so don’t worry.

Laptop owners can purchase an external USB cradle designed to accept all commonly used types of hard drives. The advantage of a cradle like this is its convenience. The hard drive simply slides in and the cradle itself connects to your laptop via a regular USB cable.

Step 2: Assessing the Damage

With the malfunctioning disk connected to a working computer, you have everything you need to evaluate the scope of the damage. In some cases, the hard drive will show up as another storage device, and you will be able to transfer all files from it.

That could happen because it’s not the hard drive that’s faulty but the operating system installed on it. Unfortunately, most data recovery cases are not that simple. The content of the hard drive is often visible, but Windows or Mac OS X is unable to transfer data from it. Even worse, the disk might appear to be empty. What you need, then, is a data recovery software solution designed to deal with scenarios like this.

Step 3: Recover Files from Dead Hard Drive Using Disk Drill

When everything else fails, Disk Drill comes to the rescue. In the large sea of file recovery programs and apps, Disk Drill stands out with its polished user interface that allows anyone to recover files from external hard drives or SD cards or just about any other storage device in just a few minutes.

Disk Drill
Data recovery for free
Your Companion for Deleted Files Recovery

To Recover Deleted Data from a Damaged Hard Drive:

  1. Download & Install Disk Drill on your computer.
  2. Select your hard drive & click the ‘Recover’ button.
  3. Preview files.
  4. Select & save your files.

recover deleted files from hard drive

In fact, it takes just a few seconds to tell Disk Drill what to do, followed by a short wait while the program applies its advanced data recovery algorithms to restore over 400 file types, allowing you to select what you want to recover and what you don’t need.


Arthur Cole

Arthur Cole is a freelance content creator. He also has a more than 10-year experience in program development for macOS, Windows, iOS, Android. Arthur Cole is a writer with deep expertise in programming, who can easily...

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Approved by
Brett Johnson

This article has been approved by Brett Johnson, Data Recovery Engineer at ACE Data Recovery. Brett has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Systems and Network, 12 years of experience.