How to Get Data Off an Old Hard Drive? Ultimate Solutions to Get Files from Old HDD

How to get data off an old hard drive? Get different effective solutions to access files on an old HDD whether the PC can boot or not.


By Lora / Updated on April 2, 2024

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Can data on an old hard drive be recovered?

“My old hard drive crashed and deleted all of my pics and files on it, I bought a new one and installed it. Now I have the old one in a box looking at me every day! How do I retrieve the pics and files from the one I took out? I am not very computer smart, so please help me out. I keep hearing it is easy to do, but have no idea how to do it! Please Help Me!”

If you have the same situation with data extraction from an old hard drive, you come to the right place. When users change a new PC or the computer won’t boot, they want to get data off the old hard drive. Don’t worry! There are several solutions for getting data off an old hard drive.


Generally, there are four different scenarios in that you want to get files off an old hard drive. You could choose the methods in your need.

Case 1. Get data off an old hard drive without putting it on a PC

It’s simpler than you think to get data off an old hard drive. If the old hard drive has been disconnected from the PC, the data on the hard drive can be got easily. If your old computer is dead but the hard drive is working normally, you could remove the hard drive to a new PC. Alternatively, you could find an external dock or adapter to access the disk data.

Find an external adapter

The old hard drive can be connected directly to computers via a USB HDD adapter. You can make it be a permanently external hard drive. Generally, the external adapter includes SATA and IDE/PATA drive connections.


SATA connections are currently used by hard drives, which consist of a small "L" shaped connector and a thin, flat cable. These drives are powered by a Molex four-pin connector or a slightly wider "L" connector. Alternatively, you can also buy a bull enclosure. Purchasing a full drive enclosure cost as little as $10.

Case 2. How to get data off an old hard drive to a new PC

Sometimes, because your old computer runs slow, you want to use a new computer but keep the same operating system, settings, and personal data as the old one. How to transfer data from the old hard drive to the new one quickly and easily? The easiest way is to clone the old hard drive so that the new PC can have everything. A third-party tool is recommended to complete-AOMEI Partition Assistant.

As a partition manager, it also can be used as a perfect hard drive clone tool for all Windows operating systems.

You can easily clone the old hard drive to the disk on your new computer using its Disk Clone Wizard. Everything, including Windows OS, settings, and apps, is accessible.

Tips before cloning the old hard drive:
All data on the target disk will be deleted. If you have, you’d better make a backup.
The target disk's capacity should be larger than the used space of the old hard drive.
Connect the new SSD or HDD to your computer and verify that it can be detected. If your laptop does not have an extra drive bay, you can connect the new drive using a SATA-to-USB or adapter.
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Step 1. Install and run AOMEI Partition Assistant. In the main interface, go to “All Tools” and select “Disk Clone Wizard”.


Step 2. There are two methods to clone the old hard drive. Choose one according to your needs. It’s recommended to use “Clone Disk Quickly”.


Step 3. After selecting the way to clone a hard drive, you need to choose your source disk and destination disk. If the target disk is SSD, check "Optimize the performance of SSD...”.


Step 4. You can resize the partitions on the target disk or not. A Note will pop up about how to boot the computer from the destination disk. And then click “Finish”.


Step 5. Go back to the main interface and click “Apply” and “Proceed” to confirm this operation.


Case 3. How to get data off an old hard drive that won’t boot

In addition to the aforementioned scenarios, there is one more: Windows cannot boot from the old hard drive. So, how do you get files off an unbootable old computer? You could back up files if the Windows won't boot, or make a bootable USB drive to boot the Windows normally. It’s simple to copy data from the old hard drive with the help of AOMEI Partition Assistant. You could create a bootable media and then clone all data on the old disk to the new one.

Step 1. Run AOMEI Partition Assistant on a bootable computer > connect a USB stick > “Make Bootable Media” > “Next”.


Step 2. Choose “USB Boot Device” > “Proceed”.


Step 3. Click “Yes”. After that, you could get available bootable media to boot the computer that won’t boot.


Step 4. Connect a target disk to save all the data on the old hard drive via a SATA-to-USB or adapter to the PC that can’t boot normally.

Step 5. Insert the bootable USB into the computer and press “Del” to change the boot order to boot from the USB. Preinstalled AOMEI Partition Assistant will lead you to the user interface. And then follow the steps in Case 2 to clone the old hard drive to the new one.

Case 4. Recover deleted/lost data from an old hard drive

If you accidentally deleted or lost data on an old hard drive and there is no available backup file to use, the data recovery software-MyRecover is designed to recover data from HDDs, SSDs, SD cards, external hard drives, etc. It can easily restore the deleted files and folders in Windows 7/8/10/11 and Windows Server.

MyRecover can help users to recover hundreds of file types, including photos, videos, Microsoft documents, emails, etc. Within three simple steps, users can get the deleted files back.

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Step 1. Download and launch MyRecover on your computer. Hover the mouse over the drive and click Scan to scan.


Step 2. The software runs the scanning process from quick scan to deep scan and finds deleted files and other missing files on this partition.


Step 3. During scanning, you could recover any file you want. Select the file or the folder that you want to recover and click "Recover files".


FAQ about how to get data off an old hard drive

Can an old hard drive be plugged into a new computer?

Yes, there are three options available to you:

- Use a USB hard drive enclosure, inserting the old drive and connecting it to your new computer.

- Connect the old disk to your new computer via a USB hard drive adapter.

- If the new computer is a desktop, connect the old disk as a secondary internal drive.

Can I use my old laptop hard drive as an external storage device?

Yes, you can. Same as the old internal hard drive, you could install it in an external enclosure to use it as an external hard drive for data storage. If you accidentally deleted data on an external hard drive, MyRecover can perform external hard drive recovery perfectly. 

What happens if you remove the hard drive?    

The hard drive contains the operating system and all personal files. Moreover, the computer will boot from the hard drive. If you remove the hard drive, your computer won’t boot normally and all data will disappear.

Lora · Editor
Lora is an editor of AOMEI Technology. She is also a tester and editor of AOMEI Data Recovery Tools. -- "Keep testing, write the most useful tutorials for helping people recover the lost data for Windows and phones" is the most meaningful thing for her. Dedicated to creating helpful tutorials, she hopes her tutorial can assist users to effortlessly solve data loss problems on their personal computers and mobile phones.