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How to Recover Data from a Dead Hard Drive on Windows and Mac

Home > HowTos Updated by Amy on July 3, 2024 | Approved by William

Are you facing the dilemma of your hard drive stopping working and worrying that your important files are gone forever? Don't worry, there is still hope! This guide is here to help you recover data from dead hard drive on both Windows and Mac systems. Here, you can quickly locate the correct solution based on the symptoms of hard drive damage to help you rescue as many lost or inaccessible files as possible.

Causes, Symptoms, and Recovery Possibilities of Hard Disk Failure

Understanding these occurred can help you prevent such a disaster from happening again and choose the right recovery method.

  • Fault Type
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Possibility of Recovery
  • 💢 Logical Errors
  • It is one of the most common causes, and malware, improper removal, sudden power outages, or software bugs can cause it.
  • Error messages, the hard drive is not accessible, not showing, and the inability to boot.
  • Usually, when you encounter such failures, you can easily recover files from a corrupted hard drive.
  • 💽 Bad Sectors
  • Errors in the file system structure or firmware aging can cause this.
  • Performance degradation, data errors, hard drive crashes, freezes, strange noises, blue screen of death, etc.
  • Recover data from a failed hard drive is usually possible. However, sometimes, there may be situations where the recovered data is corrupted.
  • ⚙️ Mechanical Failures
  • This can result from issues like spindle motor problems or head crashes.
  • Unusual noises, the disk becoming unresponsive, or leading to significant data loss.
  • Data recovery from a damaged hard drive is a little more difficult than in the above situations, but it is still possible.
  • 🧩 Physical Damage
  • This can happen due to physical shock, power surges, overheating, magnetic interference, liquid damage, etc.
  • Your computer is not recognizing the disk.
  • Broken hard drive recovery must rely on professional services professional services, and the risk of permanent loss is high.

No matter what, don't give up! As long as you take action in time, there is still a chance.

What Should I Do Immediately After the HDD/SSD is Damaged, Dead, Corrupted, or Broken?

Preparing correctly to maximize your chances of success before jumping into the damaged hard drive recovery process is essential.

  1. Backup Existing Data

    If your disk is still accessible, back up any remaining data immediately to prevent losing them during the recovery process.

  2. Avoid Using the Affected Drive

    Minimize the use of your broken hard drive to prevent further damage. Every read/write operation will deteriorate the drive's state and may even cause files to be lost forever.

  3. Gather Necessary Tools

    Ensure you have the required tools for the recovery process, such as data recovery software for Mac or Windows PC, an external backup drive, and a reliable power source. Having these ready will streamline this process.

Recover Data from Dead Hard Drive with Software

Professional tools are read-only and will not further damage your files, making them the best choice. Here, you can check out these 3 reliable options for Windows 10/11 and Mac.

Option 1. iBeesoft Data Recovery

It is a user-friendly and efficient software solution for almost all data loss situations, even if your disk is not showing up in File Explorer due to corruption.

Here's how to recover data from a dead hard drive in Windows 10/11 and Mac:

  1. Visit the iBeesoft website to download and install it.

    Download for Windows Download for macOS
  2. Open the application and choose the failed hard drive to initiate a scan.

  3. After the scan, preview the found files and select those you lost.
  4. To avoid overwriting, click "Recover" to save them to a different location.

Option 2. R-Studio

R-Studio is a powerful disk recovery software suitable for advanced users who need robust features. Here is the guide:

  1. Download and install R-Studio on your computer.
  2. Launch it and select the damaged hard drive from the list of available disks.
  3. Click "Scan" in the top menu.

  4. After completing the drive analysis, click "Open Drive Files" to check the found data.
  5. Select the ones you need and click "Recover."

Option 3. TestDisk

This open-source program is not only suitable for dead HDD data recovery on Mac, Windows, and Linux but can also help you fix non-bootable drive failures.

  1. Download and extract the contents of this archive.
  2. Double-click the executable file to launch it.
  3. Choose "Create" to log and analyze the drive.

  4. Select the affected disk and proceed with the instructions to search for lost files.

Retrieve Files from Dead Hard Drive Without Software

Although software solutions are effective, there are ways to get your files back without relying on them, but it requires that you have a backup of the damaged hard drive in advance. If you have one, then you can try the following steps.

Steps for Windows 10/11:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Navigate to your damaged hard drive.
  3. Right-click and select "Restore Previous Versions."

  4. Select a recent one in the history and click "Restore."

Steps for Mac:

  1. Connect the external drive you are backing up to your Mac
  2. Open Time Machine by clicking the clock icon in the top menu.
  3. Browse the backups and restore the needed files by selecting them and clicking "Restore."

The Ultimate Way for Data Recovery from a Damaged Hard Drive

When all else fails, and the hard drive has physical damage, seeking professional data recovery services might be your best option. These services employ advanced techniques to retrieve your files.

Pros:

  • They have the expertise and dust-free lab to recover files from the damaged hard drive.
  • Even if your disk is severely dead, there is still a high chance of recovery.

Cons:

  • Professional recovery services can be expensive, especially for severe cases.
  • The process can take several days to weeks, depending on the extent of the damage.

Tips to Repair a Dead Disk

Once you have ensured that your data is safe, if you want to continue using it, then try the following solutions.

Method 1. Use Disk Management Tools

This can help you fix issues such as display problems and driver failure.

Steps for Windows:

  1. Right-click on "This PC" and select "Manage," then choose "Disk Management."

  2. Right-click the problematic drive and select "Properties." Use the "Tools" tab to check the disk.
  3. Scan and fix the broken hard drive using the "Check" button.

Steps for macOS:

  1. Go to Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.

  2. Choose the corrupted hard drive from the list.
  3. Click "First Aid > Run" to check and repair it.

Method 2. Use the Command Line (Windows Only)

When your hard disk is unreadable or crashes frequently due to file system errors or bad sectors, then the following commands can effectively help solve this problem.

  1. Press the "Win + X" keys and choose "Command Prompt (Admin)."
  2. Type the following corresponding commands according to your hard disk damage symptoms. However, please replace the "#" with the letter of your failed hard drive before you begin.

      "chkdsk #: /f" - The hard disk cannot be accessed, the file system is displayed as RAW, shows incorrect file sizes, or exhibits other unusual behaviors, etc.
      "chkdsk /r /f #:" - Slow performance, frequent crashes, freezing or failure to boot, etc.
      "sfc /scannow:" - Your computer has a blue screen, does not function properly, or reports other system errors.

Conclusion

Data recovery from a dead hard drive can seem daunting, but it is entirely possible if you identify the symptoms and choose the corresponding solution. Remember to back up your data regularly to avoid future losses and maintain your hardware to prevent failures.

FAQs

    1. The computer is not recognizing the disk.
    2. Unusual noises like clicking or grinding.
    3. Frequent crashes or blue screen errors.
    4. Extremely slow access times.
  • Yes, it's possible. You can usually use a tool like iBeesoft Data Recovery to get the data back. For disk physical damage, you must seek help from data recovery services.

  • Logical errors occur in the software or file system of the hard drive. Symptoms include:

    1. Corrupted Files: Files won't open or are missing.
    2. Error Messages: System prompts like "Drive not formatted."
    3. Not displayed: It only appears in Disk Management and not in File Explorer.

    In these cases, you can use free data recovery software by iBeesoft.

  • You can try DIY methods if you have some technical know-how and the necessary tools. However, be cautious. Incorrect attempts could further damage the drive, making broken hard drive data recovery more difficult.

  • Most software solutions are limited to logical failures (e.g., file corruption). For physically damaged drives, professional data recovery is usually necessary.

  • Yes, to minimize future risks:

    1. Regular Backups: Use cloud storage or an external drive.
    2. Surge Protector: Protects against electrical damage.
    3. Proper Handling: Avoid dropping or exposing the drive to extreme temperatures.