Three Actions to take after your Hard Drive Crashes


There is a big difference between a hard drive crash and an operating system crash. If your operating system crashes then that is a logical failure. However, if your hard drive crashes or malfunctions then that is a physical failure. You may not be able to readily retrieve your data but it is still there. You should always have an image of your computer or a backup plan just in case your hard drive malfunctions but if you don’t have them, all is not lost and there is still hope to recover your precious data that you had stored on your hard drive through data recovery.

What To Do After Your Drive Crashes

Diagnose Your Hard Drive

“The first thing after you suspect that your drive has failed or malfunctioned is to do an inspection of your computer to make sure that your drive is damaged,” said ACS Data Recovery. Here are four ways to inspect your PC;

  • Confirm that the data cable is connected properly to your drive.
  • Check and make sure that the power cable is also connected properly to the hard drive.
  • The master/ slave assignment should be correctly set if you are using an IDE drive.
  • For IDE drives, ensure that the ribbon cable is also aligned properly. The red edge of the cable should be aligned to pin 1 of the drive connector. Pin 1 is also closer to the power plug.

Once you have verified all the physical connections, proceed to check whether your computer can detect your drive at all. In case you are using an IDE drive, go to your computer’s BIOS and change it to auto-detect your drive. If the drive is detected, then the connection is solid. However, this does not necessarily mean that your drive is in a good condition. It is just that the BIOS has detected a connection.

You can also consider using an anti-virus program in a bootable diskette. Reboot your PC and then scan the drive. Your anti-virus software will scan the drive and the boot partitions for any viruses. If anything is found let it complete the process. In case the scan is completed successfully you are lucky that the drive is still working. Proceed and use a third-party drive management software to view the partitions on your drive. If you cannot find any active partitions it means that your partitions have been damaged completely which is bad news. You can still try to recover your data but you will have to re-partition your drive which can cause loss of data during the process.

It can also be a good thing to run the Check Disk or Scan Disk feature on your computer. This can be done if your disk is partially functional. However, if you have a complete mechanical failure, your disk will not work at all. But, if some data can be retrieved it means your disk has partially failed to function. When this happens, solve the problem by running Check Disk or Scan Disk to scan your drive and detect any problems. After it has performed a full scan fix any problems that are identified.

Create A Master And Slave Drive

First purchase a new hard disk after you experience a hard drive crash. Although it can be possible to get a hard drive working again, it is advisable to use a new and more reliable drive. After you have installed your new drive install the operating system onto it. Proceed and install your new hard drive as your primary or master drive and install your original drive as the secondary or slave drive. This will enable you to run the operating system on your new drive and still have access to your damaged drive. This can be risky in some cases because a faulty drive can compromise the performance of your new drive. The objective here is to identify what caused your drive to crash.

Recover Your Lost Data

You can attempt to recover your lost data from your original hard drive by using data recovery software. This software is intended for data recovery in case data was deleted during a drive failure or crash, or data that was stored in bad sectors of a hard drive that has been damaged. However, you will only be able to recover your data if it is still recoverable. If your hard drive is damaged completely, your data can still be recovered by a professional. According to Wikipedia, the price range is between $350 and $400 for this service. Therefore, you will have to weigh the cost of the service and the cost of losing your data.

Data recovery will mostly depend on the nature of the hard drive failure. For instance, if the electronics part of the drive got damaged but the mechanical parts are fine, then a professional will replace the electronics part to repair the drive and revive it. The first thing you should do if you are unable to recover your data is to have your drive evaluated by a professional data recovery technician. This is because data is very custom depending on the nature of the failure.