Hard drive recovery utilities: when you can't afford to lose that data
Just imagine this: you've been working on that important paper for the past 2 weeks, and you are just about to finish it. The deadline is in a few days. You save your document, go for a coffee and when you get back, your screen is black. Your computer rebooted itself automatically and is now stuck in the bootup process with a message similar to this: No boot device, please insert a bootable media. You try to restart your computer a few times, but it does not fix your problem. At this point, it's important do stay calm, don't PANIC! There may hope yet!
If after trying this, you still are unable to recover your data, you can always ask experts to do the job for you. The folks at DTI Data and at the Hard Drive Repair Group can probably help you get your data back, no matter how damaged your drive is. Here are the specific pages on their sites concerning hard drive data recovery solutions: Here are 2 great articles about hard drive recovery. Read them!
First, you'll have to make sure that your problem isn't related to something else then the hard drive. The failure of your hard disk controller may also be causing this. You could always try to switch your hard drive from IDE1 to IDE2 and see if it fixes your problem. If it's not, remove the hard drive from your system, and bring it with you to a friend's house. If it still doesn't work over there, then you know what the problem is.
The only solution to your problem now is to use a data recovery software, like PC Inspector File recovery. This application is completely free, and it works beautifully. It helped me once or twice in the past few years. Don't make yourself any illusion, it's not perfect, and doesn't work all the time (Like any other hard drive recovery utility). Sometimes, data cannot be recovered out of a broken hard drive, unless you are ready to take your disk to a specialized recovery shop and pay 1000's of dollars to have your data recovered.
While being at your friend's house, install your HD as a secondary device and start the computer. Be sure that the drive is seen in the startup process, because PCinspector will not work if you are having mechanical problems with the disk drive or If it is no longer recognized by the BIOS. Head over to pcinspector.de and download the utility. The software supports the most popular file systems on the market: FAT 12, 16, 32 and NTFS. To be able to use PC INSPECTOR File Recovery you will need a working Windows System. Never install it on the drive from which you intend to recover data! The software must be installed and run on a second, independent drive (Amazon.com has many affordable hard drivesif you need one!). When you are done, the utility is very easy to use. Just let the application extensive HTML tutorial guide you through all the steps. I hope this little hard drive recovery how-to could help you. Hopefully, the application will let you recover your data.
If after trying this, you still are unable to recover your data, you can always ask experts to do the job for you. The folks at DTI Data and at the Hard Drive Repair Group can probably help you get your data back, no matter how damaged your drive is. Here are the specific pages on their sites concerning hard drive data recovery solutions:
Here are 2 great articles about hard drive recovery. Read them!
Edit: After writing this article, several readers wrote to me about the knoppix Linux distribution CD. This bootable CD has the ability to mount and read FAT, FAT32 and NTFS partitions, even damaged ones. So after your HD crashed, you can always use this to recover your data and back it up on a USB key or second HD.
Knoppix can be downloaded via This location.
This site has some VERY complete instructions about how to use Knoppix to recover your lost data, so I won't have to write about it.
Some people seem to think that if your hard drive has some mechanical problems, you can try putting it in the freezer for a few hours. Check out the discussion here, I'd like to know what you guys think about this. There are already ALOT of comments over there, so if you guys are curious about this solution, check it out!
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