How to Recover Data from Dead Hard Drives? (2023)

How to recover data from dead hard drive? Check out this article to perform dead hard drive recovery and get your files back.


By Lora / Updated on April 2, 2024

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Can I retrieve data from a dead hard drive?

Data loss caused by hard drive corruption is not seldom seen in life. Numerous users have met broken hard drives or tried to recover corrupted hard drives. They are anxious to know how to recover data from dead hard drives.

Recently, my Seagate 1 TB desktop HDD completely stopped working. It won't show in BIOS and no question of appearing on the Desktop. I had lots of important files, pictures, and projects in them. My question is, what do I do to recover files from that hard disk?

- Question from tom's HARDWARE


Don't be frustrated; this article will teach you how to get data off a bad hard drive. Before that, let's figure out how a hard drive corrupts or gets damaged. And is it possible to get the data back?

Why do hard drives get corrupted?

Hard disk damage is often classified into two types: physical damage and logical damage.

Physical damage is typically irreversible. If your hard drive got physically damaged, it is suggested to send it to the local hard drive repair service;

Logical damage, however, may get repaired by formatting, repartitioning, and other means; meanwhile, the data on the damaged hard drive can be somewhat recovered.

For example, some users will seek help to recover data from corrupted SD cards without formatting.

The following are the most prevalent causes of physical and logical hard disk damage.

Physical damage:

β—‚ Extreme temperature (overheating or too cold). Many applications will monitor the hard disk S.M.A.R.T. temperature and provide a high-temperature alert while monitoring computer hardware to help users understand the state of the hardware.

β—‚ Power failure during use. Power failure protection is nearly always included in enterprise-level solid-state drives to safeguard the data from loss in the case of a power outage.

β—‚ Humidity or liquid. Suppose the hard disk power supply plug becomes oxidized and corroded because of moisture. In that case, it may cause poor contact, resulting in the voltage supplied to the hard disk being too low, which may result in the hard disk failing to be recognized.

β—‚ Shake or bump. When the external hard disk is used, the internal head assembly and the platter spin at high speeds, and the disk is readily scratched if an external force strikes it.

β—‚ Wear and tear. Hard disks have a lifespan and will wear out over time; in general, the lifespan of a mechanical hard disk will not surpass ten years.

Logical damage:

β—‚ Virus invasion. For example, a boot sector virus infects a floppy disk's boot sector or a hard disk's master boot record (MBR). The boot sector virus may encrypt the boot sector, making removal difficult. And also makes it challenging to recover MBR partition table.

β—‚ File system corruption. During every write and data migration operation, the SSD will invariably modify the FTL (Flash Translation Layer). If the hard drive modifies the FTL when the power is turned off, and the change is not completed, the file system will become paralyzed.

β—‚ Bad sectors. Bad sectors are areas where data cannot be written on the computer hard drive. Due to improper read and write operations, such as forcibly switching the machine on and off, software running incorrectly, etc., it is possible to cause bad logical sectors.


What are the symptoms of a dead hard drive?

Then how can users find if their hard drives are on the edge of corruption? Here are some common symptoms.

⚠ Clicking sounds. When booting up your PC, you may hear weird clicking or whirling sounds caused by torn heads or platter scratches.

⚠ Files are missing or corrupted. If you find files inaccessible or unrecognizable, it may imply that your hard drive gets corrupted.

⚠ Black screen. If a dead hard drive occurs, you may fail to enter the desktop and get stuck on the black screen.

⚠ Unreadable hard drive. Hard disk bad sectors, the poor performance of heads, or firmware damage will prevent data from being read regularly and the disk from being recognized.

⚠ BSOD (Blue Screen of Death). Some bad sectors on the hard drive will likely arouse a blue screen, read errors, viruses, etc. Users will also meet similar errors: White Screen of Death, Black Screen of Death, etc.


So, how to get data off a bad hard drive? Check it out in the next part.

How to recover data from dead hard drive?

If the hard disk is physically damaged, the most common manifestation is that the hard disk cannot be recognized, which is generally irreversible and cannot be repaired by software.

It is difficult for ordinary users without troubleshooting experience and conditions to handle it alone. Please send the hard drive to a professional hard drive repair service asap.

If your hard disk is logically damaged and can still be recognized, you can use software or tools to recover and repair files. The data recovery chance relies heavily on the severity of the damage.

This article only provides instructions for data rescue.

Please follow the instructions below to recover files from dead hard disks.

Beforehand: preparation of data recovery from dead hard drive

Before we start to perform dead hard drive recovery, some preparation actions are needed.

1. Remove the drive and connect it to a bootable PC

If the affected drive is one of the data drives on your computer, you could directly move on to the solution part.

But if it is a system drive containing the Operating System, please disconnect and connect it to a working computer with a cable.


2. Check if you can access the data

With the affected drive connected to another machine, you could try accessing your data. If, fortunately, the files are accessible, make a disk backup to protect the data.

But unluckily, the data will more likely be inaccessible. But don't worry; it isn't irreversible. You need a dedicated Windows data recovery app to help you scan and recover the files.

Recover data from dead hard drives efficiently via MyRecover

When you are in trouble and are not able to recover data lost due to crashed system, virus attack, deletion, formatting, etc., a helpful and easy tool - MyRecover, could be utilized.

Supported by a sophisticated team, it is equipped with efficient and advanced techs and algorithms. It can scan and detect your deleted or lost data from NTFS/FAT32/exFAT/ReFS hard drives, etc.

As long as the computer can still recognize your hard drive, you can use this application to solve your problem.

MyRecover -make data recovery easier

Use the professional data recovery tool to save time and labor.

  • Restore deleted data while preserving all filenames, formats, and directories.
  • In just three steps, you can easily restore deleted and missing files.
  • Data recovery from HDD/SSD/USB/SD card, etc.
  • Recover lost or deleted data with high efficiency and speed.
  • Support Windows 11/10/8/7 SP1/Server. Windows Server users can also use it to recover data from Windows Server 2016, 2019, 2022, etc.
Download SoftwareWin 11/10/8/7/Server
Secure Download

Now follow the instructions below to get data back from dead hard drive effortlessly.

Step 1. Launch the program > hover the mouse over a partition to start data recovery > click Scan.


Step 2. Sort or search the wanted files by extension, Type, Size, Date modified, etc.


Step 3. You could go to Deleted files or Other missing files > select types of data you want > Recover x files.


You could also use this tool to recover deleted files from laptop hard disk

Other solutions worth trying to recover data from dead hard drive

Some other methods might be of some help.

As mentioned above, when connecting your damaged hard drive to another PC, if lucky enough, you may find the data in it accessible.

But some users may also find the files missing/invisible. In this case, we suppose the files were deleted/hidden due to deletion/disk formatting/virus/recycle bin emptying, etc.

Feasible methods are ready to help you.

Method 1. Recover deleted files from the recycle bin

The first action worth trying is to check the trash can. Removed files will be temporarily kept in the trash bin before emptying.

If you have accidentally emptied the recycle bin, you might need other solutions.

Go to Recycle Bin > find or search for your wanted files > right-click the files > click Restore.


Method 2. Restore from the File History

If you enable File History or restore points, the changes to the files/folders will be saved.

As a result, you may be able to recover deleted/lost/damaged/corrupted files by restoring precious versions of files/folders.

Step 1. Press on Win+E to open File Explorer > go to the folder where the deleted files were previously stored.

Step 2. Right-click the folder > Properties > Previous Versions > select a wanted version > Restore.


This can also help you recover previous versions of Word documents.

Method 3. Check if you have advanced Windows backups

If you fail to find your removed files using the above methods, you might also try restoring from the backups you made in advance.

Windows has offered a backup method for users. It allows users to choose what to back up and where to store.

Step 1. Start Control Panel > System and Security > Backup and Restore (Windows 7).


Step 2. Click Restore my files.


Step 3Browse for files/folders > select the deleted files from the specific backup files > Next. For instance, you may recover permanently deleted Excel files from Desktop by selecting the backup of Desktop.


Step 4. Select the preferred location to save the recovered files > click Restore.


Method 4. Perform dead hard drive recovery using commands

In 2020, Microsoft officially released a file rescue tool, Windows File Recovery. This command-line tool recovers deleted or lost files from healthy/damaged/formatted hard drives. 

Windows File Recovery does not have an intuitive graphical interface, and users need to use commands for recovery mode and switch parameters to perform file rescue. 

Get help to learn how to use Windows File Recovery better and for more detailed instructions on recovery modes and switches.

Firstly, Go to This PC by pressing Win+E > right-click on the drive that has lost files > Properties.


If your hard disk cannot be summoned, try re-plugging or using another cable/interface. If you use an external hard disk, you can try connecting the external hard disk to another computer.

It is likely to have been physically damaged if it still cannot be recognized. Please immediately send it to a professional repair service; if readable, refer to the table below to select the appropriate recovery mode.

File system Scenarios mode
NTFS Deleted recently Regular
NTFS Deleted for a while Extensive
NTFS Formatted disk Extensive
NTFS Corrupted disk Extensive
FAT and exFAT Any Extensive

Regular & Extensive are two basic modes; it also offers two advanced modes: Segment & Signature. Segment mode can be used with NTFS, while Signature can recover lost files under all File systems.

In addition, switches are available for narrowing the scanning range.

Switches Meaning Supported mode(s)
/n Filter the scan range: scans for a specific file with its file name/path/type, etc. All
/y: Recover specific extension groups. Signature
/k Recovers system files. NTFS
/u Recovers undeleted files, for example, from the Recycle Bin. NTFS

Please follow the tutorial to get data back from a dead hard drive using Windows File Recovery.

This tool only applies to Windows 10 2004 and above. The source and destination drives cannot be the same. If you run into the error "Windows File Recovery failed to create destination folder", please get help.

Step 1. Download Windows File Recovery from Microsoft Store.


Step 2. Start the program, and input the recovery command according to your specific situation. The command structure is:

winfr source-drive: destination-drive: [/mode] [/switches]

For instance, if you need to recover pdf files from a corrupted D: drive to E: drive, then you should use Extensive mode, and to filter the folder, use Segment. Then the command goes like this:

winfr D: E: /segment /n *.pdf


Step 3. Then after the recovery process, a folder named Recovery will be created in the destination.

Windows File Recovery could recover deleted/lost files, but it is tough to handle because of the complex commands, syntax, and parameters.

How to prevent a dead hard drive

Except for trying to get data back from a dead hard drive, some related suggestions are presented as follows for users to efficiently solve the question of "how to get data off a bad hard drive".

  • Please do not shut down suddenly while using the device.
  • Clean dust regularly to prevent dust from affecting the heat dissipation of electronic components.
  • Keep the disk from high heat. It is suggested to keep the disk running from 68°F to 77°F.
  • Create backups of your data and utilize antivirus software regularly.

To recover data from dead hard drives, users can get help from the method given in this post.

A dead hard drive recovery software can be at your help here. Last but not least, making backups regularly is always the best bet to prevent a future loss.

AOMEI Backupper could guard your data firmly with a lot of helpful backup features.

Lora Β· 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.