If your computer is broken, or you just don’t have time to fix it, there are some simple steps you can take to recover data from your broken hard drive or laptop. All you need is a USB drive and a few simple software tools.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps, and show you how easy it is to recover your data without having to spend hours recovering it from an inaccessible hard drive.
What to Do When Your Computer Breaks
If your computer has broken, you have one chance to get your data. Before you do anything else, you need to protect your data and create a backup. If you’re lucky, your data is on another device (a backup). If not, you’ll need to try to recover it from your hard drive.
Turn off your computer and unplug the power from the wall. Remove your computer’s drives, one at a time, to avoid pulling the cables with you. Use a screwdriver to pry open the case and remove the motherboard. You can now remove the hard drive.
Recover Data From a Broken Hard Drive
One of the most effective ways to recover data from a broken hard drive is with a physical link. If your drive is broken and you can get ahold of its cables, you can connect them to your computer (not the power supply) and use a program like SpinRite to read the drive. If your drive is broken, and you don’t have access to its cables, you can attempt to use a link adapter to read the drive.
If you’re lucky enough to have a physical link to your drive, simply connect your drive to a working computer and open the drive using a program like Paragon’s NTFS for Mac.
If you have a link adapter, connect your drive to the link adapter and then connect the link adapter to a working computer.
If you can read the drive, it’s likely you have a few bad sectors and can recover a significant amount of data.
Recover Data From a Dead or Dying Laptop
While physical drives are easy to recover data from, they’re also slow and take up a lot of room. If you have multiple computers, this can be a pain. You may also have a laptop that’s dying.
As the power source inside the laptop dies, the computer may become completely unresponsive. When this happens, there’s no way to get at your data—you might ask yourself, “How much data am I going to lose?” If you have this problem with a dying laptop, your best bet is a flash drive. Simply connect the drive to your laptop and carefully copy your data onto it.
If you have a dead laptop, you can recover data from the laptop’s internal drive with a data recovery program like Stellar Phoenix’s Hard Drive Recovery for Mac.
Install and Use the Software Tools
Now that you know what to do when your computer breaks, let’s look at the tools you can use to recover data.
- Physical Link: If you have access to your drive’s cables, you can read the drive with a program like Paragon’s NTFS for Mac. Link adapters are another way to connect drives out of their cases.
- Physical Links: If your drive is broken and you don’t have access to its cables, you can attempt to use a link adapter to read the drive.
- Physical Links: If your drive is dead and you don’t have access to its cables, you can connect the drive to a working computer and copy the data onto a flash drive with software like Stellar Phoenix’s Hard Drive Recovery for Mac.
- Physical Links: If your laptop is broken and you don’t have access to its cables, you can install a data recovery program like Stellar Phoenix’s Hard Drive Recovery for Mac.
Other Ways to Recover Data
Now that you know how to recover data from a broken hard drive or broken laptop, let’s look at some other methods.
- Create a Clone: If your laptop is broken and you don’t have time to recover your data, you can clone your hard drive to a new drive and keep your data safe. For this, you’ll need a hard drive cloning program like CloneZilla or CloneZilla for Mac.
2. Install a New OS: If you have a broken computer, you may just be interested in installing another operating system and keeping your data on an external drive. This isn’t an ideal solution, but it’s a way to get at your data if you can’t access your broken computer.