General Computers

Hard Drive Crash Recovery

It starts with a clicking sound. Why is my hard drive clicking? Next, your system might get a little sluggish or you might hear a grinding sound coming from your hard drive. Finally, it happens. Your laptop won’t boot. You might hear a clicking sound at bootup, or might hear nothing at all except the dreaded beeps from your computer. You’ll get mad at yourself – why didn’t I back up my computer?

Hard drive data recovery service companies have been around for a long time and kept prices very high for much of that time (over $1,000 in many instances). Now, you can find a hard drive crash recovery company which will recover your crashed, damaged, or otherwise inoperable hard drive for several hundred dollars. Many of them even offer a guarantee that if they cannot recover your hard disk data, you won’t have to pay anything.

Crashes are too frequent – but the causes are fairly well known. Many laptop computers suffer from overheating which over time can cause a degradation in your hard drive. Additionally, if you drop your laptop computer, you may cause damage to the hard disk requiring it to be recovered. Some desktop hard drives just suffer from overuse – if you leave your computer on 24 hours a day for years, the hard drive may just wear out. In the case of a mechanical hard drive failure, you are likely going to have to send it to a professional hard drive disk recovery company. If you don’t believe your hard drive has failed mechanically, you may want to try to recover some of the harddrive data yourself – this tutorial shows you how to recover data from your harddisk (and removable media such as memory sticks or USB thumb drives).

Please note: if your data is valuable and extremely important and you have any doubts at all, send it to a professional harddrive recovery service company. If the problem is mechanical (if you hear clicking sounds or scraping sounds) or your suspect it’s mechanical, continuing to try to recover the hard disk data yourself could cause further damage and data loss.

Mount Your Drive as a Second Hard Disk

This requires some technical knowledge and skills to pull off. The hard drive mounted inside your laptop or desktop PC is not hardwired into your system (if you’re using a Mac, skip down to the next section of this data recovery tutorial). The hard drive is a removable component and the easiest way to attempt to recover data from it is to remove the drive and mount it in an external USB adapter. This allows you to connect the hard drive to a second computer to attempt to recover its data.

There are many USB adapters for hard drives available, we’ve found a few on, but don’t have a specific recommendation for one. It depends on the type and size of your hard drive as to what adapter you purchase (we told you this would be a little technical!) These usually cost between $30 and $60.

Cirago 2.5″ & 3.5″ USB Hard Drive dock for SATA drives

Thermaltake BlacX External Hard Drive SATA Enclosure 2.5″ & 3.5″

Masscool 2.5″ & 3.5″ SATA Docking Station

Once you connect the hard drive, it may mount indicating an operating system failure on your PC instead of a hard drive failure. Nonetheless, you will want to backup your data and replace the hard drive to be safe. If it does not mount or it does and you do not see any data, you still have options to recover your crashed hard drive.

There are several hard disk and removable media data recovery software solutions available. We don’t have a particular recommendation, but we have used the tools from Prosoft Engineering – they have tools for both Macs and PCs – who offer a free trial download to see if the software can recover anything before you make a purchase. The demo will show you what can be recovered, but will not actually recover your data until you purchase the full version. The demo for their Data Rescue PC program is available here.

These data recovery software programs can often recover a lot of data from your crashed hard drive. Unfortunately, the file names are not always retained and you often get a dump of files into a folder named jpg0001.jpg, jpg0002.jpg, and so on. You will spend some good quality time going through your files and figuring out what is what.

Recovering Data on a Mac

Apple has provided a simple process to “target boot” a second computer so you can try to access data on the hard drive. Connect two Macs together using a Firewire cable and hold down the T key while you power on the broken Mac. You may see the computer boot up and be able to access the crashed hard drive.

If you cannot access the hard drive, Prosoft Engineering has a Mac version of their Data Rescue software program – a demo is available here.

When to Call for a Professional Hard Disk Recovery Company

If you tried these harddrive access methods for your crashed drive and still cannot recover your data, it may be time to call a professional hard disk recovery company. There are so many hard disk recovery service providers available that it might be hard to pick the right specialist. We recommend pursuing a company which has a “no-charge” guarantee if your hard drive is unrecoverable. The company should do the work at their own facility and have been in business for several years. Contact the Better Business Bureau to ensure the company has a clean record.

Find a Backup Solution

Now that you’ve learned your lesson with a crashed hard drive, find a quality backup solution for your computer. We use online backups and local USB hard drive backups for our data. Make sure this does not happen again!