40: Free Hard Drive Data Recovery Tips

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Nobody is going to do a free hard drive data recovery. If you do this yourself, then there are a few free software tools that can help you. For the data to still be accessible, the hard drive must still power on and the disk must also spin. Also, the head must not  be completely failed and able to read disk initialization data.

A free tool that can be used is Recuva. This program is good, but needs a change in settings. By default, this software has a strange setting that makes it difficult to scan for data.

Go to Options -> General ->View Mode and then select Tree View.

In Actions tab tick Deep Scan and then Scan for non-deleted files.

In Recovery, tick Restore Folder Structure. Then click OK. Now, click the Scan button.

If the computer does not start

You can use another good computer and connect. Take out the hard drive as an external hard disk. Use Recuva to recover deleted files. Recuva does not have a feature to find a disk which windows can’t see. To find this disk, or the hard drive, you need to get File Scavenger which costs $79.
Usually, if the head is good but the hard drive is unstable or has many bad sectors, many companies are able to do hard disk imaging.

If the computer does not boot up and there is no good computer available to connect the hard drive, there is probably only one way to recover the data which uses bootable CDs such as Hiren’s boot CD or UBCD4WIN. UBCD4WIN has Recuva preinstalled. As mentioned above, go to the settings and then modify them since Recuva has strange default settings.

If an External Hard Disk Drive Has Failed

If this is an external hard drive, is not recognized by Windows, and seems to not be spinning, then I recommend disassembling it. On the external hard drive, the USB ports get damaged often. There are also problems due to enclosure electronic faults. Big external hard drives are usually normal, 3.5 desktop hard drives, placed in enclosures. They have SATA or IDE interfaces, and can be connected like an external hard drive with a USB adapter. Smaller external hard drives sometimes have standard SATA or an IDE interface. Sometimes, the USB connector is integrated on the hard drive PCB. In this case, there is not much you can do. If the socket is broken, give it to the electronics engineer to fix.

On external hard drives, the power supply can also fail, though this is very rare. We do not usually see any symptoms of a failing power supply. After some time, the hard drive gets damaged in the form of bad sectors located on the disk surface, or the hard drive electronics get damaged by the power fluctuations or spikes.

If Windows displays a message saying there is a CRC error and the hard disk can’t be read, most likely this has to do with the electronics, or if the contact pads that connect the PCB with the head, then assemble the ribbon cable. Taking out the PCB and cleaning should help in some cases as well.

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