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.
In this article
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Step 2: Remove the hard drive and replace it with another storage device. It can be a pen drive or an external HDD.
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.
Step 2: Browse to the file location that contains the latest backup.
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?
For Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10/11
For macOS X 10.10 - macOS 13
Step 1: Visit the official website to download and install the required installer package for your computer.
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.
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.
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.
For Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10/11
For macOS X 10.10 - macOS 13
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you revive a dead hard drive?
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.
How do I know if my hard drive died?
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.
How long do hard drives last?
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.
Which lasts longer: SSD or HDD?
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.
Does a hard drive store data permanently?
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.