How To Recover Data From Dead Hard Drive?

Do you want to recover data from dead hard drive? Then this is just the guide for you!

you can use several ways to recover essential data from a dead hard drive

Much like any machine, hard drives are prone to reach the end of a usage cycle and die out for various reasons. However, you may still need to recover data from dead hard drive that remains vital for specific purposes. If you’ve encountered such a scenario, then this is the perfect guide for you. Give it a light reading, and you’ll learn a few proven ways how to recover data from a dead hard drive.

Part 1. What Is Dead Hard Drive?

A hard drive can be deemed as ‘dead’ if you are no longer able to read or write data from it, either due to a significant software or hardware malfunction. A dead hard drive can usually affect other parts of a motherboard. So, it is best to remove it as swiftly as possible.

a dead hard drive usually requires complete replacement of all disks

Symptoms of Dead Hard Drive

Several telltale signs signify that your hard drive is either dead or about to go that way soon. Some of them include the following:

  • Hard drive heating up more than usual
  • Grinding or whistling noises when the hard drive is in use
  • It takes much longer to read/write data
  • Corrupted files, folders, or partitions
  • Stuck spindle motor
  • Frequent system errors or crashes when using the drive

Part 2. What Causes Hard Drive Dead?

There are several reasons why a hard drive may become dead. Some of the most recurrent ones are:

Physical Damage

The storage disks on the hard drive may encounter physical damage from writing/rewriting the data too often. In the case of laptops, moving the device while using the hard drive or subjecting it to frequent shocks and vibrations can scratch the disk surface.

Data Corruption

Hard disks record data in the form of magnetic poles (0's and 1's) that are etched on the disk surface. Over time, it can lose its effectiveness and cause multiple sectors or even the entire drive to become corrupt. That data corruption prevents you from reading or writing data to the disk.

Malware Attack

Sometimes, an external virus can infect the hard drive, rendering it useless. It can be a worm that multiplies exponentially to occupy storage space or a trojan that corrupts the drive's file system.


Reading/writing data on the hard disk can make it overheat, melting a few vital components. If left unchecked, it can make the drive dead, as you're unable to use the drive. In the worst-case scenario, the disk can explode, sending shards of sharp metal flying in every direction.

Part 3. How to Recover Data from Dead Hard Drive

Even though all might seem lost, you can still recover data from a dead hard drive. A few proven ways are mentioned below.

Method #1: Check the Recycle Bin

If you're used to deleting the files using the 'Delete' button on the keyboard, your files are still preserved. You can recover any accidentally deleted files from the Recycle Bin, which is usually located on the Desktop.

You can use it to retrieve files that would otherwise be unreadable from the hard disk. You need to follow a simple process for it.

Step 1: Select all the files from the hard drive and hit the 'Delete' key on your keyboard. Ensure that the hard drive is not the one with your OS installed.

your deleted files are stored in the recycle bin

Step 2: Remove the hard drive and replace it with another storage device. It can be a pen drive or an external HDD.

you can restore the required files back into a fresh hard drive

Step 3: Restore the items in the Recycle Bin to the new device.


The fastest method to recover data from dead hard drive

No additional software or command required

Easy to perform as all actions occur within the file browser

A quick way to back up data locally if you suspect that the drive may become dead


Success rate is pretty low

You need an extra storage drive to retrieve data

Not recommended for hard drives infected with malware

Method #2: Restore from a Backup

Instead of relying on offline solutions, you can use a cloud backup that syncs all the data from your hard drive. So, recovering data from a dead hard drive is redundant even if your local drive fails. You can restore the required files using the following method.

Step 1: In the case of your hard drive failing, go to the cloud backup you enabled and log into your account.

you can sign into your backup cloud from a windows or mac pc

Step 2: Browse to the file location that contains the latest backup.

you can save your cloud files on a location of your choice

Step 3: Download the required files to a usable drive on your system. You can choose to switch the data backup to the new location as well.


Allows a consistent backup to exist, even if you change systems

It enables you to recover files in the case of a malware attack

Most online cloud storages have highly secure encryption

Changes on the drive reflect on the cloud and vice versa


A robust cloud backup can often cost you substantially in subscription fees

You need a high-speed internet connection, especially for larger files

Method #3: Use Software - Wondershare Recoverit

If you ever Googled the term 'how to recover data from a dead hard drive,' there might have encountered several third-party software being part of the search results. However, filtering the most efficient one can be a chore, but you can't go wrong with Wondershare Recoverit. It is a robust option that's quite convenient to use. All you need is to follow the process below.

Video tutorial on How to Recover Data from Damaged/Failed/Crashed Hard Drive?

Free Download

For Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10/11

Free Download

For macOS X 10.10 - macOS 13

Step 1: Visit the official website to download and install the required installer package for your computer.

wondershare has different versions for windows and mac

Step 2: Launch Recoverit with the required hard drive connected to your system.

Step 3: Use the browser to locate the hard drive on Recoverit.

recoverit’s intuitive interface lets you easily locate the recovery location

Step 4: Click the Scan button. It will show all the recoverable files.

Step 5: Go through the files and choose those that you wish to retrieve. You can use the Preview button to ensure you got the right one.

you can choose where to save the recovered files on your system

Step 6: Click the Recover button. You can also change the path to save files from the top pane.


Works with more than 1000 file formats and almost any file system

Designed for more than 500 data loss scenarios

An intuitive interface that's easy to follow, even for the most casual users

Allows you to preview files before recovery

Various pocket-friendly premium subscription options

The premium variant grants access to enhanced recovery


The free version can only recover 100 MB


No matter how well you care for your storage device, there comes a time when it ceases to function. We hope this guide gave you valuable tips to recover data from dead hard drive. Stay tuned for more relevant topics like this.

Free Download

For Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10/11

Free Download

For macOS X 10.10 - macOS 13

Frequently Asked Questions

Usually, a dead hard drive can only be revived by replacing the storage disks. That calls for a visit to a specialist and can cost upwards of $800. Thus, it is often best to replace it for your PC.

Try connecting your drive to another computer and see whether you can read or write files. You can also use the chkdsk function on the command prompt to verify the integrity of a hard drive.

A regular hard drive can last three to five years with everyday use. Typically, the higher the capacity of the disk, the longer its lifespan.

A Solid-State Drive (SSD) lasts much longer than HDD as it can resist physical impacts and stores data in the form of electrical signals rather than magnetic poles.

A hard drive can store data for up to 20 years before running into reading issues. That period can be shorter if the disk is subjected to physical damage or shocks.

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