How to Get Data off an Old Hard Drive | Ultimate Solution

Read this extensive guide to learn how to get data off an old hard drive in different ways. It will help you get data from a broken, malfunctioning, or non-booting drive.

Wondershare Recoverit Authors

Apr 10, 2023 • Filed to: Answer Hard Drive Problems • Proven solutions

How do I access my old hard drive on Windows 10 PC? I have tried several ways but can't find a solution to get data off an old hard drive without causing any damage to it?

If a similar query about data extraction has brought you here, then this would be an ideal guide for you. A lot of times, when we switch from one computer to another, we forget to transfer our data. Chances are that your old hard drive might have some important files that you forgot to transfer initially. Don't worry – you can learn how to get data off an old hard drive in different ways. To help you do the same, I have come up with several solutions to recover hard disk files that you can't access as of now


  • Part1: How to Get Files off an Old Working Hard Drive
  • Part 2: How to Recover Hard Disk Files That Are Lost
  • Part 3: How to Get Data off an Old Broken Hard Drive
  • Part 4: How to Extract Files from a Hard Drive That Won't Boot
  • Part 5: How to Deal with an Old Hard Drive

Part1: How to Get Files off an Old Working Hard Drive

If your old hard drive is functioning properly, then you won't face any issue accessing its data. All you need to do is connect it to your new computer and access its storage. Though, certain conditions should be met:

Once you are ready, follow these simple steps to learn how to get files off an old hard drive that is already functioning

1. Firstly, remove the old hard disk from your computer safely. Make sure that you disconnect it in the right way, without damaging any port

2. Now, take the assistance of the USB adapter to connect the old hard drive to a new supported computer


3. If your system has all the needed drivers installed, then it would be able to detect the connected hard drive (as an external media). You can find its icon on My Computer's list of external devices


4. Simply visit the hard drive storage and browse the available data. When you would try to access its content, you will get a security alert like this


5. To get data off the old hard drive, click on the "Continue" button, and pass the security by entering the relevant account details. Once you have bypassed the authentication, you can access the stored content and maintain its second copy to any other location too

Part 2: How to Recover Hard Disk Files That Are Lost

There are times when users experience an unwanted loss of data on their hard drives. Even if you are not sure of the reasons, you can use a reliable data recovery tool to extract this inaccessible content. One of the most popular and trusted solutions out there is Wondershare Recoverit Data Recovery. Available for both, Windows and macOS, it provides extremely simple yet efficient recovery solutions. Since it supports every major type of hard drive and file system, you won't face any trouble to get data off hard drive even when it is lost or deleted

You can follow these steps to learn how to get data off a hard drive using Recoverit:

Step 1: Connect your hard drive

If the existing system is no longer working, then disconnect your hard drive from it and connect it to a new computer (using a USB adapter). Install and launch Recoverit Data Recovery on your PC once the connected hard drive is detected. On its home, you can view a dedicated option for the connected disk. Simply select it and click on the "Recover" button


Step 2: Scan your hard drive

Sit back and wait as Recoverit would try to recover hard disk files from the connected source. You can pause or stop the process in between and view the extracted files as well. Though, if you wish to recover all the stored content, then wait for the scan to be over


Step 3: Preview and save your files

Once the scan is over, you can view the extracted data under various categories. You can switch between different data types and folders from the left panel. Now, preview the data on the right and select the files you wish to get back. Click on the "Recover" button and save the selected data to the desired location


Part 3: How to Get Data off an Old Broken Hard Drive?

If the hard drive has been broken or is not functioning properly, then it can get a bit tricky to recover hard disk files. Though, there are some smart tricks that you can follow to get data off a hard drive that is broken or damaged

What happens when a hard drive fails and how to detect it?

When a hard drive fails, we can no longer access the stored content in it. Ideally, a hard drive can be damaged in two ways – physically or logically. When a drive is broken physically, it gets extremely tough to extract its content. The output would depend on the degree of the damage. A logical error occurs due to a damaged file system, driver, or any other software issue. Look for these signs to catch logical damage in advance

Fix 1: Use the CHKDSK Command

If you use a Windows system, then you can simply take the assistance of the CHKDSK (Check Disk) command. This will automatically check the malfunctioning disk of any damage and would try to rectify if. Therefore, if there is a logical error in your disk, then the command will resolve it most likely

Simply launch the Command Prompt window on the screen via the Start or the Run prompt. Now, just enter the command "Chkdsk" followed by the letter of the drive you wish to scan. For instance, to scan the C drive, you can write "CHKDSK C:"

You can also add some of these parameters after the drive letters as well:

/F: To fix the volume

/X: To dismount the volume before scanning

/R: To discover corrupt sectors and get readable data from it


Fix 2: Check for hard drive errors

Most of the operating systems like Windows and macOS also let us check for any hard drive errors. If you use a Mac, then you can take the assistance of Disk Utility to do the same. Windows users can launch the browser and select the volume they wish to scan. Now, go to its Properties > Tools and click on the "Check" button under the Error Checking option


Fix 3: Visit a professional

In case if the hard drive has been physically damaged and crushed, then you should consider visiting a professional instead. Although the chances of getting data recovered from a completely crashed drive are bleak, you can still give it a try

Get Data Off a Damaged Hard Drive Immediately

Once you can fix a broken or malfunctioning hard drive, take some immediate measures. Visit its file storage and manually copy your important files from it to another safe location. This will let you get data off old hard drives easily to the desired location. Though, in case if the data you want has been deleted or overwritten, then you can use a recovery tool like Recoverit to get it back

Part 4: How to Extract Files from a Hard Drive That Won't Boot

Sometimes, even when a hard drive is functioning, it fails to boot. This can happen due to a missing bootloader component, change in the BIOS settings, or any other issue. Firstly, you can try to identify the cause and later get data off a hard drive that can't boot

Fix 1: Use the System Recovery Options

If you own a Windows PC, then you can access a dedicated feature – System Recovery Options in this case. You can perform a system repair or launch Command Prompt to manually enter certain commands

1. Firstly, power on your system and enter the Advanced Boot Options by pressing the assigned key

2. This will launch the System Recovery Options (or the Startup Options in some versions). You can commence the system repair from here or just launch the Command Prompt


3. Once the Command Prompt is launched, enter the following commands to repair the booting problem on the disk

Fix 2: Create a Bootable Media

If the disk can't boot itself, then you can fix this by creating another bootable media. To do this, you can also take the assistance of Recoverit Data Recovery. The Ultimate version of the tool can be used to convert a supported USB/CD/DVD to a bootable media

1. Firstly, connect the USB drive, CD, or DVD to your system and launch Recoverit on it. From its home screen, click on the option to recover data from a crashed computer


2. To start the process, select the kind of media (USB or CD/DVD) that you have connected and click on the "Create" button


3. Needless to say, the process will format the media and delete its existing content. Confirm your choice by clicking on the "Format" button once you get the prompt


4. Sit back and wait for a while as the application would download the firmware, format the source, and converts it into a bootable media


5. Once it is done, you will be notified. You can now remove the bootable media and connect it to the malfunctioning system



Part 5: How to Deal with an Old Hard Drive

After learning how to get data off an old hard drive, you would be able to save your important files. Though, once it is done, you should be particular about the remaining lifespan of your hard drive. You can manage it by considering the following suggestions:

Now when you have already taken a backup of your data, it is time to get rid of it wisely. If you want to protect your private content and don't be a victim of identity theft, then this step is a must. To do this, you can use a readily available file shredder or erasing tool that will permanently wipe off your hard drive, beyond the scope of recovery

After deleting all the existing content, you can choose to either reuse or resell it. For instance, you can use it as an external or a backup disk pretty easily. If you want, you can even resell it to someone else as well

A lot of people prefer destroying their hard disks as it contains sensitive information. While there are all kinds of ways to destroy a hard disk, make sure that you follow proper safety measures. You can also use magnets to wipe their data beforehand. Also, try not to burn the disk or cause any unwanted harm. Destroying it with a hammer or any other tool would be the best option

I'm sure that after reading this informative guide, you would be able to get data off an old hard drive like a pro. To make things easier for you, the post has listed dedicated solutions to recover hard disk files from a working as well as a non-functioning source. If the old hard drive has lost some important data, then simply use Wondershare Recoverit. A freely available data recovery solution, it will let you extract your deleted content and even create a bootable media to retrieve data from a crashed system

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