One of the most worrisome things that can happen to a computer, whether desktop or laptop, is that the hard drive gets damaged. When a hard drive is not recognized by our operating system, it makes strange noises or directly seems “dead”, it’s a necessity to manage to recover the information it contains, especially if it’s a personal and/or business hard disc and we don’t really have a backup.
What can be done to repair a damaged hard drive? Is there any way to recover the data? Do we have to resign ourselves to losing data? In this article, we talk about this serious problem and how it can be solved.
1. How can I determine the type of damage?
First of all – we must refine the diagnosis much more to know how we can act to try to recover the information. We say the information because the usual thing is that if a hard disk has been damaged, we’ll most likely be able to recover the data but not continue using that drive safely.
We will start analyzing the physical part and for this, if it’s an internal hard drive, the most comfortable option is to remove it from its usual place but keeping it connected, so that we can handle it. We mustn’t forget to discharge static electricity before any operation with it.
Once the hard disk is removed, we must check if the hard disk rotates or emits noises that we cannot associate with the usual after turning it on. If it doesn’t make noise or it seems that the discs rotate, it must be ensured that the power supply can be excluded as the main issue. It’s best to check that the cables are well connected and that there’s no damage there.
If we turn on the computer to see what happens and the hard disc doesn’t spin well (we’ll notice it because of the vibrations), it might be a mechanical problem. If it turns correctly and makes no noise, then it’s more likely that some internal circuit has failed or that an internal error has happened.
2. What can I do to save my data?
When trying to recover information from a damaged hard drive, the best situation is that the damage is not physical or this has only been caused by bad sectors. The reasons can be numerous: non-premeditated formatting, file corruption, deletion of certain documents or even a virus. In many of these cases, the user can retrieve all or part of the information with the help of specific software.
Starting from the situation in which the operating system starts up but either a partition, external hard drive or even internal zones are not accessible, there are a couple of different things that we can try in order to save the information.
– The first thing to do if the operating system starts up and we think that there are errors in any sectors would be a diagnosis of the hard disk, which we can perform with the function regularly included in Windows to check if there are disk errors or with some free tools that do it in a much more complete way.
– If we use the Windows tool from itself we can already apply solutions proposed by it. Among them is CHKDSK, which allows us to perform a disk scan and repair simply by commands. In the terminal, we should write chkdsk x:/f replacing the letter x with the drive that we want to repair. We can also use the r command instead of f to detect bad sectors and retrieve the information.
– If this problem is not solved with this action, we can use specialized software to repair damaged sectors. There are many program recommendations on the internet, but you should be extremely careful when it comes to this – not all of them are appropriate for each and every kind of system nor all of them work properly. Most commercial data recovery programs only offer solutions to very specific problems – we should make sure that the software we use fits our problem, and that we don’t perform other operations that may be harmful, making it difficult to recover our hard drive later.
– If these methods still don’t show any results, we must resort to more aggressive methods such as low-level formatting that provide tools such as HDD LLF or Lowveld. In these cases, the information will no longer be recoverable but we can obtain a disk drive where, by isolating the bad sectors in a partition, it can be used non-essentially since it will only be a matter of time before the disk can fail again.
– The most important thing when trying to recover information deleted from a hard disk is to do it as soon as possible. And why?
– Because both ourselves and the operating system itself could fill that space with new information at any time and make it more complex and expensive to try to recover it. When a file is deleted from a hard disk, what actually happens is that the operating system receives the information that that space that once occupied an image or document is again free to be used. Therefore the information is kept physically and there is a good chance that we can retrieve it easily.
– However, the best thing to do is always go to a company specialized in computer repair and maintenance, since it takes an experienced hardware technician to fix the problem.
Professionals like salvagedata.com and similar companies can be of paramount importance to us since in most cases they know the situation we face and they are more likely to act accordingly to recover the information lost on a disk. They even work with different kinds of devices – you can consult with them regarding all the other types of gadget issues, like the ones with your memory cards, flash drives or even tape recoveries.
3. Do you have any other useful tips for me?
– Please, keep calm. When a possible loss of data occurs, nervousness about the problem can cause decisions that can make it difficult to recover your data to be made. Calm down and follow some useful pieces of advice – they’ll help you not to take counterproductive steps that could have an impact on the process of your data recovery.
– Don’t restart your equipment. If the fault is of a physical nature, restarting your computer can aggravate the loss of data and even cause new failures, to the point of making any attempt to recover your data from the hard drive useless. So… just don’t do it.
– Don’t try to reinstall your operating system. In principle, the information is recoverable until it’s overwritten. The reinstallation of programs or the operating system is carried out on the hard disk itself, with the consequent risk of overwriting part or even all of the information to be recovered.
– Make a copy – right away! An important rule to comply with any hard disk failure is that, if we manage to recover it or that it works long enough, the first thing must be to make a copy of it and make sure that we don’t lose a base or act in a way that could cause a definite damage of the hard drive.
Sooner or later this can happen to everyone and one must be prepared for such situations. Knowing the possible causes of a hard disk failure, users can react on time, detect signs of their breakage and protect their data against irreversible loss.