Guide: How to Recover Files from a Dead Computer?

Learn how to recover files from a dead computer using feasible fixes on this page. Besides, there’re related dead hard drive data recovery tips & data loss prevention tips.


By Penny / Updated on April 2, 2024

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How do I recover files from my computer that won’t turn on?


Help! My Win10 computer is dead because it fails to turn on. But I had many important working materials, pictures, and voice recordings on this computer. So how can I access data from a dead computer? Thanks in advance.

If you fail to boot your Windows after crashing, the data on your entire system is at risk. Several factors could cause system boot failure. This issue can be with Windows or the hardware of your PC.


For instance, the above user failed to boot PCs because he/she may accidentally deleted boot partition in Windows. Besides, OS malfunction, faulty BIOS settings, and malware attacks also have an effect.

Your top priority is to retrieve data from hard drive dead computers as soon as possible, whatever the reason is.

In conclusion, if there’s no deletion, you only need to refer to the first phase. If there’re deleted actions, please read further to recover deleted files from hard drives.

Phase 1. How to get files off an unbootable computer?

If you haven't deleted files from your bootable computer, you only need to follow the following methods to get files off an unbootable PC. 

Fix 1. Manually get files off of computers that won’t boot

If there’s something wrong with your PC or you accidentally deleted the boot partition, your PC definitely cannot boot. In this case, you can manually remove your dead hard drive and connect it to another working PC. 

Step 1. Turn off your computer and remove the battery. Then unplug your PC from the power outlet.  

Step 2. Locate your unbootable hard drive and disconnect its hard drive cables. After that, use a screwdriver to unscrew it and pull it out of the case.


Step 3. Connect this hard drive to a working PC via an external hard drive enclosure.


Step 4. Restart this working PC from its standard operating system. Then you can easily access the hard drive data if there's no data loss.

Step 5. Please copy files from the non-booting hard drive to another storage device.

Fix 2. Make a bootable USB media to boot your Windows PC

Although the above solution is useful, several users still want to boot their PCs. So you can consider utilizing this free AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard to make a bootable USB media. After changing the boot order to your bootable USB media, you can access your needed data.   

If the budget allows, you’d better use a new USB flash drive because the data saved on your USB flash drive will be formatted/erased.
Prepare another working PC.
Download Demo Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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Step 1. Please download and install this free AOMEI Partition Assistant demo version on another working PC. After connecting your USB stick to it, click Make bootable media > Next.


Step 2. Select “USB Boot Device” and click “Proceed” to begin the pending operation.


Step 3. Click the “Yes” button to begin the process.


Step 4. After connecting your bootable USB media to your unbootable computer, go to its BIOS.

Step 5. In BIOS, locate the Boot menu and look for the Boot Sequence.

Step 6. Change the bootable order from your connected bootable USB media.

Step 7. Press F10 to confirm that your PC will boot from the bootable USB media.


After fixing it, try to get your needed data from your hard drive.

Fix 3. Use the BIOS utility

Sometimes, your system is not entirely dead. It won’t boot because of corrupted or damaged file systems, program bugs, malware infections, or DLLs. At the moment, you can make good use of the BIOS utility to fix this issue. Let’s show how it works.

Step 1. Press Win + I” to open Windows Settings and click the “Update & Security” button.


Step 2. Click “Recovery” on the left. Then under the Advanced startup tab, click the “Restart now” button.


Step 3. Your PC will enter the winRE. Then click Troubleshoot > Advanced options.


Step 4. Click the “Command Prompt” button.


Step 5. Type “notepad.exe” in the command prompt window and hit “Enter” to go on.

Step 6. In the Notepad, click File > Open. Then locate the files you want to recover via File Explorer.


Step 7. Set the type of files as “All Files” from txt to access them.   


After that, right-click on your selected file and select Send to > another storage device like your USB drive. Then you can access your desired files.

Phase 2. How to recover deleted files from hard drives?

If you’re on this section, which suggests you’ve deleted files from your dead computer. There are two efficient ways for you when it comes to hard drive data recovery.

Option 1. Restore files from backups via Previous Versions

As the title implies, valuable backups are essential to the restoration process. Let’s take free Previous Versions as an example because this free Windows feature can offer you several earlier or older file versions according to the timeline. If you need, you can use it to recover overwritten Excel files.

Please ensure you’ve opened Control Panel > System and Security to enable File History or turned on the System Protection of the local disk that saves your desired files. Otherwise, Previous Versions is useless for you.


Step 1. Press “Win + E” to open Windows File Explorer.


Step 2. Please locate the folder that stores your desired files before overwriting. Then right-click on it and select the “Properties” option.


Step 3. Click “Previous Versions” to see all the recorded file versions. You can select your desired file version and “Restore” it to its original location.


If you want to set a new saved path, right-click on Restore and select Restore to.


Option 2. Recover deleted files from hard drives via data recovery software

Undoubtedly, the above solution is unsuitable for those users without valuable backups. So is it possible to recover deleted files from hard drives without backups? It turns out there is. You can seek help from professional Windows data recovery software.

There’s no need to restore files from backups because a powerful third party can exempt you from essential backups. And it could recover deleted files from hard drives as many as possible.

Supported by AOMEI Tech, highly-praised MyRecover could be your top choice.   

Highlights of MyRecover:   
Powerful features: Recover deleted & lost Word, Excel, PPT, folders, compressed files, photos, songs, videos, audio, websites, and other 200+ file types from HDD, USB, SSD, etc.
Easy-to-find: Quick Scan and Deep Scan can find your deleted & missing files as many as possible. You can also quickly locate your desired files by Filename, Path, Date, Size, etc.
Convenient: Get deleted files’ original Paths, Filenames, and Format after recovery.   
Excellent compatibility: Support NTFS, FAT32, exFAT, and ReFS file systems and be compatible with Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, or Windows Server.
Download Software Windows 11/10/8/7/Server
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Step 1. After running MyRecover on your Windows PC, hover the mouse over the hard drive that saves your desired files and click Scan.


Step 2. Filter your needed files according to Name, Date, Document Type, or Path.

  • Name: Type the filenames of your desired files to narrow the search area.
  • Date modified: Set the date (today, yesterday, last 7/30 days, and so on) according to your situation.
  • Size: Filter the file size (<128KB, 128KB~1MB, 1MB~ 512MB, etc) based on your needs.


Step 3. Go to the Deleted Files/Recycle Bin/Other Missing Files folder and select the files you want. Then click “Recover x files” to begin the hard drive data recovery process.


  • After recovery, please choose a new location to save your retrieved files.
  • To recover a large number of deleted or missing files from your hard drives with no effort, consider upgrading MyRecover to the Professional or Technician edition.

Relevant Q&A about dead hard drive data recovery

Wondering how to retrieve data from hard drive of dead computers? Please get feasible ways from the above content. And there’re related dead hard drive data recovery tips.

Penny · Editor
Penny works as an editor at AOMEI Technology, while she's a tester and editor for AOMEI Data Recovery Tools. She enjoys helping users with data recovery issues on Windows and iPhones using simple and practical solutions. Outside of work, she has a strong affection for pets, particularly giant pandas.