6 Tips to Recover Data from a Badly Broken Hard Drive

Hard drives fail all the time. Even the most reliable drives can occasionally encounter errors or physical damage. If you’ve accidentally destroyed your drive, don’t panic. There are plenty of things you can do to get your data back. Follow these 6 tips to recover data from a badly broken hard drive.

What to Do if Your Hard Drive Breaks

If your hard drive breaks, there are a few things you can do to safely recover the data on the drive. First, turn off your computers immediately. Fire alarms and other electronic devices can cause enough damage to make a safe recovery impossible.

Next, back up your data. You can take a backup of the data on the drive, or you can make an off-site backup. Off-site backups are always the best option because you can store them in a fire or flood-proof location.

If your drive is still broken, remove the screws around the edges of the drive. You can then remove the drive from the computer, but be careful not to touch the platter or any parts that are still attached to it. If your drive is broken in such a way that the data is unrecoverable, wipe the drive and reload fresh data onto the drive. Some data recovery programs can retrieve data from broken drives.

Don’t Switch to an SSD

Some people switch their computer’s hard drives to an SSD (solid-state drive). While this is a great way to increase performance, you should never switch to an SSD after your hard drive has failed. Doing so puts all your data at risk.

Only switch your SSD to your computer. Leave your old hard drive in your laptop or external drive. Usually, the data on an SSD is a lot less likely to get damaged than the spinning magnetic platters of a hard drive.

You should also keep in mind that all computers have a limited amount of power, and switching to an SSD uses up a lot of it. If your computer is less powerful than it was before, you may experience slower performance. That’s why it’s important to have a backup plan for your data.

Install a new hard drive

If your old hard drive is still functioning, you can install it on a new computer. This gives you an extra drive that you can fill with data, or use as a backup. It’s often easiest to install the drive in a computer that’s the same make and model as the one it came from.

Make sure to keep the old drive in your main computer. If the old drive is broken, you can use a data recovery program to retrieve the data. You can also keep the old drive around and have the file system mounted when a new computer comes into the house.

Check your connections

If you have a desktop computer, you should make sure there aren’t any obstructions in the SATA or IDE ports on the motherboard. You should also make sure the connectors on the cable are securely connected to the drive and motherboard.

You should also check your cable’s connectors on both ends. A loose connector can cause an error on the drive, even if the cable is connected to the motherboard correctly.  A weak pull on the cable can also cause damage to the connectors.

A good tug on the cable should cause the connector to make a popping sound, but a weak pull should cause no noise at all. If your cables are loose or damaged, take the drive apart and fix the problem.

Use a data recovery program

If your data is safe and sound on your backup drive, you can skip this section. A data recovery program can retrieve data from a broken hard drive.  There are a few free data recovery programs available, but most of them are commercial products.

The best one is probably Alcohol 120% because it can help recover a variety of different types of data, and it’s completely free.  If your data isn’t on your backup drive, you need to use a data recovery program. These programs can retrieve data from a broken drive, even if the drive is badly damaged.

They can also identify bad sectors on the drive, and display error codes so you can figure out why the drive is broken.

Encrypt your data

To get your data back from a broken drive, you need to use a data recovery program. These programs let you identify where the data is located on the drive, then they can recover the data.  If the drive is bad enough that it can’t be used again, you should encrypt the drive. This protects your data from people who may try to steal it.

There are several different encryption methods to choose from. You should try to choose a method that’s relatively fast and easy to use.  For example, a method like Windows’ BitLocker can be enabled or disabled easily. You can also recover a BitLocker drive if it gets broken or stolen.