How to Access Hard Drive from Dead Computer: Full Guide

This article provides you with detailed methods on how to access hard drive from dead computer and provides detailed backup solution to protect your hard drive data.


By Miya Updated on October 9, 2023

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User Case: How Do I Get Files off a Hard Drive That Won’t Turn on?

“Hey folks, my old laptop just died on me, and I need to access the files on its hard drive. Any tips on how to do that? It's an HP Pavilion running Windows 10. I'm not a tech whiz, so please break it down for me in simple terms and let me know how to get data off hard drive from dead computer. Thanks a bunch.” 

If your computer is completely frozen or broken, and you want to access the hard drive to get the file data on it, but don’t know how to do it? Then you’ve come to the right place. This article will teach you the easiest way to do this.

Finally, in order to prevent such an accident from happening again, we recommend that you use professional backup software to back up your hard drive to protect your data and restore it anytime and anywhere. Let’s take a look at how to access hard drive from dead computer. Drive it!

How to Access Hard Drive from Dead Computer

To access the hard drive from a dead computer, you can follow these steps:

Step 1. Disconnect the power cable and any other peripherals from the dead computer.

Step 2. Open the computer case by removing the screws or latches that hold it together. Refer to the computer's user manual or online resources for specific instructions on how to open the case.

Step 3. Locate the hard drive inside the computer. It is typically a rectangular or square-shaped device mounted securely in a drive bay.

Step 4. Carefully disconnect the cables connected to the hard drive. There will be a power cable (usually with a wide, flat connector) and a data cable (typically a SATA cable with a small L-shaped connector). Unplug both cables from the hard drive.

Step 5. Once the cables are disconnected, remove the hard drive from the drive bay. This may involve unscrewing mounting brackets or sliding it out of a slot, depending on the computer's design.

✌Now, you can connect the removed hard drive to another functional computer. There are a couple of methods you can use:

  • a. External Enclosure: Insert the hard drive into an external hard drive enclosure or docking station that supports the appropriate connection type (e.g., USB, SATA, etc.). Then, connect the enclosure or docking station to a working computer using a compatible cable.
  • b. Direct Connection: If you have a desktop computer, you can connect the removed hard drive directly to an available SATA port inside the computer, using a SATA cable. For laptops, you can use a SATA-to-USB adapter to connect the hard drive to a USB port on another computer.

Once connected, the hard drive should appear as an additional drive on the functioning computer. You can access and retrieve the data stored on the hard drive through File Explorer or disk management tools.

◉Warning: Remember to handle the hard drive with care and avoid static electricity by grounding yourself before touching any components. If you are unsure about any step, it's best to consult a professional or seek assistance from someone experienced with computer hardware.

Reasons for Backing up Hard Drive

Now that you know how to access hard drive of dead laptop, I'm sure you don't want to have to go through such a bad experience again. Then it becomes crucial to back up your hard drive data. There are several important reasons for backing up your hard drive:

  • Data Protection: Backing up your hard drive ensures that your valuable data, such as documents, photos, videos, and personal files, are protected. In the event of hardware failure, accidental deletion, or malware attack, having a backup allows you to recover your data and prevent permanent loss.
  • System Recovery: Backing up your hard drive enables you to restore your operating system, applications, and settings to a previous working state. This is especially useful if your computer encounters issues or crashes, allowing you to quickly recover your system without reinstalling everything.
  • Easy Migration: When upgrading to a new computer or replacing a hard drive, having a backup simplifies the migration process. You can easily transfer your data, settings, and files to the new system, saving time and effort.

Remember, it's crucial to establish a backup routine and choose a backup method that suits your needs, whether it's using external hard drives, cloud storage, or dedicated backup software. But there is no need to worry. After testing, we found a really easy-to-use and professional hard drive backup software among many software - AOMEI Backupper. Below is detailed information about how to backup external hard drive using this freeware.

How to Backup Hard Drive via Professional Backup Freeware

After you know how to access hard drive from dead computer, we highly recommend using the free backup software, AOMEI Backupper, to safeguard your external hard drive. With just a few simple steps, you can easily back up your external hard drive.

★ It offers comprehensive backup solutions, including system backup, disk backup, partition backup, file backup, and even cloud backup.
★ The software features a convenient Schedule Backup function, allowing you to automatically back up your external hard drive on a daily, weekly, monthly, event triggers or USB plug in basis.
★This software also provides Backup Scheme function. You can choose different backup schemes, such as differential backup. And it can also automatically clean up old backups. (Modified functions are provided in the advanced version.)
★ This software supports a wide range of backup storage devices, including internal hard drives, other external hard drives, USB flash drives, and SSDs, among others.

By utilizing AOMEI Backupper, you can ensure the safety and accessibility of your external hard drive's data effortlessly. Here's how to use this software to back up your hard drive. First, you need to do some simple preparations.

✔Before proceeding with the backup, make sure you have your external hard drive ready. This storage device should have sufficient space to accommodate the image file of your external hard drive.
✔To get started, simply click on the download button below to obtain the free AOMEI Backupper software. Once downloaded, proceed with the installation on your PC or laptop.

Download FreewareWin11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Imagine you've decided to use another external hard drive as the backup destination. Here's how you can back up your external hard drive to another external hard drive:

Step 1. Connect both external hard drives to your computer. Launch the program and navigate to the Backup section. Select Disk Backup from the available options.

Disk Backup

Step 2. After clicking on Disk Backup, you'll be taken to the Disk Backup page. To differentiate this backup from others, feel free to customize the task name. Next, choose the source disk (your external hard drive) and specify the destination path (the other external hard drive) where you want the backup to be stored.

Add Disk

Step 3. Simply click on Start Backup to initiate the backup process. Once the backup is complete, click on Finish to exit the program.

Start Backup


If you have limited storage capacity on your device, consider adjusting the backup image compression level to High in the Options settings. This will help optimize the backup size and accommodate smaller storage devices.


If you're looking for a simpler method to create an image of your external HDD/SSD, give the Disk Clone feature a try. It offers a more straightforward approach to creating a mirror image of your external storage device.

Disk Clone


This article describes in detail how to access hard drive from dead computer. And provides a foolproof backup solution, which is to use AOMEI Backupper, a free backup software, to perform disk backup. This software is very powerful. In addition to backup, it also has sync Function, it can transfer files from old HP to new HP on Windows 11. Are you interested in downloading one now to explore its powerful features?

Miya · Editor
Miya has an excellent insight and receives professional and systematic technical training since joining AOMEI. She has a comprehensive understanding of computer issues, aiming at helping users troubleshoot all kinds of problems. A lot of computer users around the world have found her articles very helpful!