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Data Recovery Blog

Is it possible to recover data from a failed hard drive?

Aug 23, 2020

Are you wondering if it’s possible to recover data from a failed hard drive? If your hard drive has recently become inoperable, you’re probably frantically trying to find out how to recover your data.

Your hard drive crashing, getting damaged or becoming corrupt is your worst nightmare. However, there’s no need to despair just yet! It’s absolutely possible to recover your data from a hard drive. This blog post will explain all that you need to know.

Before we begin, the term ‘hard drive’ is generally used to refer to your computer’s storage device. However, what you may be referring to as a hard drive may actually be a Solid State Drive (SSD) or eMMC card, depending on what type of device you have.

Whether you’re using a spinning hard drive, a solid state drive, any type of external hard drive or a tiny SD card, this article still applies to you.

The purpose of your computer’s hard drive

The simple answer – your computer’s hard drive stores your data. All of your photos, documents, music, videos, games, work and other files are saved on the physical hard drive.

But, it can be more complicated than that…

Hard drives inside a computer are often a bootable device, especially if your computer only has one drive installed. That means that your operating system, such as Windows or Mac OS are also stored on your hard drive.

If your hard drive has a serious problem then your computer may not be able to boot at all. This is a nightmare scenario for both personal and business users.

It may sound extremely daunting to discover that your hard drive has failed, but it’s only one part of your computer and it can easily be replaced. However, replacing the hard drive will make it look and feel like a fresh computer, but sadly none of your files will be there.

Fortunately, it’s very easy to restore your settings back to what you’re used to. Operating systems like Windows and Mac OS make it easy for you to sign in and sync your settings if you have that option enabled. Your files, however, will need to be manually restored.

This means you either manually copy these files from a backup device or from an online file storage solution like Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive.

But what if you don’t have a backup? 😥

When it comes to creating backups, hindsight is a wonderful thing. However, we understand that backing up files can sometimes be overlooked.

Can data be recovered from a hard drive without a backup?

Don’t have a backup? There’s still no need to despair as the good news is that data can be recovered from a failed hard drive!

It’s important to note that if a hard drive has physically failed, it’s unlikely to be repairable.

Hard drives are manufactured to be fairly robust but they contain extremely sensitive components. Unfortunately makes hard drive repair less feasible than an outright replacement.

Your data however, is a different story. A new hard drive will replace your existing hardware but it won’t magically restore your lost data.

This is where we come in.

Damaged hard drives require specialist tools and expertise to examine; it’s not as straightforward as “plug it in and copy the files.” We wish it was that easy!

We are able to extract data from damaged hard drives using our specialist equipment. If your data is recoverable, we send the data back on a new hard drive. Better still, we will make sure the data is in the same folder structure so you can use it straight away.

Related: Hard drive noises and what they mean: scratching, ticking, grinding and beeping.

What to do if you think your hard drive has failed?

If you think you have a potentially failed hard drive, you should power off your computer immediately as you could actually be damaging it further by leaving it connected.

Leave your computer or device turned off completely and call us straight away.

The longer you leave the failed device, the more difficult it could be to recover your files, so swift action will lead to better results.

You can call us today for a no obligation chat about your failed hard drive. Our skilled technicians will happily talk you through the process and further put your mind at ease.

Why do hard drives fail?

a failed hard drive with a large crack through the casing

In the case of a hard drive – rather than a Solid State Drive or memory card – it has moving parts. In fact, a hard drive is the only moving part inside your computer, with the exception of the fans.

All machines with moving parts are susceptible to wear and tear, unfortunately your computer’s hard drive is no exception.

There are a number of reasons why hard drives become damaged or fail, these include:

  • Physical shock damage such as being dropped or knocked
  • Electrical faults on the hard drive’s circuit board
  • Damaged by a faulty power supply
  • Manufacturing faults and defects
  • General wear and tear over time
  • Accidental damage such as water spills

No matter the reason, data is still recoverable. If your hard drive is new and still under warranty, then you may be entitled to a replacement by the manufacturer but this won’t restore your files.

If you’re concerned about a damaged hard drive, call or email us right away. Remember, the longer you leave it, the more difficult it may be to access your lost files!

How to prevent hard drive failure and reduce the risk of data loss

Once you’ve experienced the trauma of having a failed hard drive, you certainly won’t want to repeat the experience any time soon.

It’s time to make backing up a priority now, right?

Best practices for backing up your data

In order for backups to be effective, you need to do them regularly. Daily, if possible, especially if you’re working on your computer every day! Imagine if your entire PC was restored to yesterday, you’d lose a day of work!

Here are some quick tips for backing up your data safely and effectively:

  • Use a free cloud service such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive. They’re free, cross-platform and incredibly easy to set up. If you do use your storage quota, they offer extra storage at very affordable prices.
  • Consider buying a dedicated external backup drive, or ask a network administrator to configure a Network Access Storage (NAS) drive for you.
  • Automate your backups, so they’re done in the background without you having to take any action
  • Don’t be complacent. Understand the risks of neglecting backups!
Someone backing up their data to a cloud service

Ah, backing up, a wonderful piece of hindsight.

If you’ve lost data or worried about a damaged/potentially failed hard drive – don’t delay, get in touch with us as soon as possible and one of our skilled data recovery technicians will be happy to help.

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