By Cherry / Last Updated June 6, 2018

Need to recover files from a dead desktop

Oops, the computer isn’t booting anymore. And this would be the very worse thing when you have important data on the hard drive and you do not have backed them up in advance. If you don’t want to lose those data you need to figure out a way to recover files from a dead computer.

Computer dead may because of Windows problems, or the computer hard drive is damaged. Well, here provides you some ways to help you recover them.

How to recover files from a dead computer?

It is possible to recover files from a dead computer. But there’s no guarantee your data is recoverable. For example, if your computer isn’t working because the hard drive died (scratch on hard drive or short circuit), there may be no recovering the files - not without some sort of expensive professional data recovery service, at least. If you did a regular file backup in the past, you can restore files from the backup image after computer died. If not, you can try the following methods to see if it can be recovered from the hard drive of a dead desktop/laptop.

1. Boot computer with Windows installation disc

Computer dead doesn’t mean the computer’s hardware died. If your Windows installation is damaged, you can recover files by a Windows installation disc.

1>. Insert the Windows installation disc into your boot failure computer, and start it up with the Power button. If everything is working properly, you will see a “Press any key to boot from CD or DVD” message. Press a key to enter the installer.

Press Any Key

*You may need to change the boot setting in your computer’s BIOS if you do not see this screen.

2>. Click the Next option and select Repair your computer in the pop up window.

3>. If you are using Windows 8/10 installation disc, here you need to click Troubleshoot -> Advanced Options -> Command Prompt.

Command Prompt

4>. It will open a Command Prompt, type notepad and press Enter to launch a Notepad window. Click File and select Open in the Notepad window.


5>. Ensure you select the All Files option at the bottom of the window, and then click the Computer option.

6>. You can use this Open dialog as if it were a Windows Explorer window - select files and you’ll be able to copy and paste them to a USB drive or removable hard drive you connected to your computer.

All Files

* Do not double-click any files or Notepad will try to open them, possibly freezing.

Once you are done recovering files from a dead computer, you can close the windows and shut down your computer. After that, you can reinstall Windows to get your Windows back.

If you do not have a Windows installation disc, you can try to use a third party software like AOMEI Backupper to create a bootable media to boot your computer so that you can access to your computer and transfer files out.

1>. Free download AOMEI Backupper, install it to a normal Windows PC.

2>. Then, use AOMEI Backupper to create a bootable USB drive, or CD/DVD.

3>. Insert the bootable USB to the broken computer, and boot from it.

4>. It will show you the main interface of AOMEI Backupper if it is working fine. When you see its main interface, click File Backup under Backup tab to recover files from the broken computer.

File Backup

2. Connect the hard drive to another computer

You can also take off the dead computer’s hard drive off and connect it to another working computer for recovering data from the hard drive of dead desktop.

First, ensure the main power switch at the back of the computer’s case is shut off. Open the computer’s case and locate the hard drive. Disconnect its cables, unscrew it, and pull it out of the case.

Unscrew Hard Drive

Then, connect the hard drive to another computer. Here you need a SATA cable. One side connect to the hard drive, and connect the power cable to the hard drive.

Power Cable

On the another side of SATA cable, it is connect to the desktop.

Connect Hard Drive

After the connection work, you can power the computer, and start the computer.

Then you can copy and paste files from the hard drive of dead computer to another external hard drive or cloud drive, or local hard drive.

If you think that copy and paste is waste time and have a lot of work. You can use the software AOMEI Backupper (we have mentioned before) to help you backup files or clone entire hard drive to make things easier.


There are many reasons would cause computer dead problem. The system failures, software failures, improper BIOS settings, hardware failures, system resource exhaustion, poor heat dissipation inside the computer, or wrong operations, etc. No matter what’s the reason, if you have backed up before, you will not need to worry about that your data would be safe. Thus, backup is a good habit that you should own. By the way, the AOMEI Backupper should be the best data protection software. You can upgrade to its Professional edition to unlock more advanced features.