How to Recover Files from Dead Laptop Hard Drive in Windows
A “Dead Laptop” can mean many things. It could be a laptop that doesn’t power on, or such that doesn’t boot an OS. It can also mean a laptop with a bad monitor (nothing shows up on the screen) or a laptop that seems to be putting out way too many issues than you ever expected.
Simply said, a "Dead Laptop" is a laptop with major issues that shouts "data loss," "data loss." Don't panic, though, if your laptop dies; there are still ways to remove your files from the system and perhaps transfer them to a new laptop system.
How Can You Fix a Dead Laptop?
As mentioned earlier, a dead laptop could mean differently to different people. If you consider your laptop dead because the primary storage is now inaccessible or the system can’t boot the OS in the primary drive, these are relatable problems and not so difficult to handle. Hereunder are some quick fixes to revive your “dead laptop.”
0. Check the connections
Examining the connections between your laptop's hard drive and motherboard is a crucial step when diagnosing issues with a non-functional laptop hard drive. Over time, these connections can become loose or sustain damage, leading to hard drive malfunction.
To inspect these connections, you'll need to open your laptop's casing and identify the location of the hard drive. The steps for doing this can vary based on your laptop model and may involve either removing a specific panel or unscrewing the case itself.
After locating the hard drive, scrutinize the cables connecting it to the motherboard. Ensure they are securely attached and free from any damage. If you find any loose or damaged cables, either reconnect them or replace them as needed.
Take extra care when handling the hard drive during this process; any additional damage could complicate or even prevent future data recovery efforts. If you're not confident in dealing with hardware, or if any step seems unclear, it's advisable to consult a professional for assistance.
1. Check the power supply
Checking the power supply is another important step in troubleshooting a dead laptop hard drive. If the laptop isn't receiving enough power, the hard drive won't work properly.
Here are a few things you can check to make sure your laptop is receiving enough power:
- 1. Check the battery: If your laptop has a battery, make sure it is charged and properly inserted. If the battery is old or damaged, it may need to be replaced.
- 2. Check the power cord: Make sure the power cord is properly connected to both the laptop and the power outlet. Check the cord for any signs of damage, such as frayed wires or cracks.
- 3. Try a different outlet: Sometimes, the power outlet you are using may not be providing enough power. Try plugging your laptop into a different outlet to see if that solves the problem.
- 4. Check the power adapter: If your laptop uses an external power adapter, make sure it is working properly. Check for any signs of damage, such as frayed wires or a loose connection. If the adapter is damaged, you may need to replace it.
If you have tried these steps and your laptop is still not receiving enough power, it's possible that there is a problem with the motherboard or another internal component.
2. Run diagnostic tools
Running diagnostic tools is another step you can take to troubleshoot a dead laptop hard drive. Many laptops have built-in diagnostic tools that can help you identify issues with the hard drive.
Here's how to run diagnostic tools on a laptop:
- 1. Restart your laptop: Make sure your laptop is connected to a power source and then restart it.
- 2. Enter the BIOS setup: During the startup process, press the key that corresponds to your laptop's BIOS setup. The key you need to press may vary depending on your laptop's model, so check the documentation that came with your laptop.
- 3. Navigate to the diagnostic tools: Once you are in the BIOS setup, look for an option that says something like "Diagnostics" or "System Test." Navigate to this option using the arrow keys on your keyboard.
- 4. Run the diagnostic test: Once you have found the diagnostic tools, follow the prompts to run a test on your hard drive. The specific steps you need to take will depend on your laptop's model and the diagnostic tools available.
If the diagnostic test finds any issues with your hard drive, it will usually provide you with an error code or message. Use this information.
It's worth noting that not all laptops have built-in diagnostic tools. If your laptop doesn't have these tools, you may need to use third-party diagnostic software, like DiskInternals Uneraser.
3. Try booting from a different device
Trying to boot from a different device is another step you can take to troubleshoot a dead laptop hard drive. If your laptop is able to boot from a different device (such as a USB drive), this may indicate that the issue is with the hard drive itself.
Here's how to try booting from a different device:
- 1. Create a bootable device: To boot from a different device, you will need to create a bootable device, such as a USB drive or CD/DVD, with a compatible operating system. You can use tools like Rufus or UNetbootin to create a bootable USB drive.
- 2. Insert the bootable device: Once you have created the bootable device, insert it into your laptop's USB port or CD/DVD drive.
- 3. Restart your laptop: Make sure your laptop is connected to a power source and then restart it.
- 4. Enter the BIOS setup: During the startup process, press the key that corresponds to your laptop's BIOS setup. The key you need to press may vary depending on your laptop's model, so check the documentation that came with your laptop.
- 5. Select the boot device: In the BIOS setup, navigate to the "Boot" or "Boot Options" menu and select the bootable device that you just created.
- 6. Save and exit: Save any changes you made in the BIOS setup and exit. Your laptop should now boot from the bootable device you inserted.
If your laptop is able to boot from the bootable device, this may indicate that the issue is with your laptop's hard drive. In this case, you may need to replace the hard drive or seek the help of a professional technician to retrieve any important data from the drive.
4. Replace Storage Device
Replacing the storage device is one of the most effective ways to fix a dead laptop. If your laptop's hard drive is completely dead, replacing it with a new one can bring your laptop back to life.
Here's how to replace the storage device in a laptop:
- 1. Determine the type of storage device: Before you replace your laptop's storage device, you need to determine what type of storage device it uses. Most laptops use either a 2.5-inch SATA hard drive or a solid-state drive (SSD). You can find this information in your laptop's documentation or by doing a quick online search for your laptop's model.
- 2. Purchase a new storage device: Once you know what type of storage device your laptop uses, purchase a new one. Make sure the new storage device is compatible with your laptop's model and has the storage capacity you need.
- 3. Back up your data: Before you replace the storage device, back up any important data on your laptop. You can use an external hard drive, a cloud storage service, or another method to back up your data.
- 4. Install the new storage device: To install the new storage device, you will need to open your laptop's case and locate the storage device. Depending on your laptop's model, this may require some disassembly. Once you have located the storage device, remove it and replace it with the new one. Make sure the new storage device is properly connected and secured.
- 5. Reinstall the operating system: Once you have installed the new storage device, you will need to reinstall the operating system. You can do this using a recovery disk or USB drive that came with your laptop, or by downloading the operating system from the manufacturer's website.
- 6. Restore your data: Once you have reinstalled the operating system, you can restore your backed-up data to your laptop.
Replacing the storage device in a laptop can be a bit tricky, especially if you have never done it before. If you are not comfortable doing it yourself, it's best to seek the help of a professional technician.
5. Reinstall the OS
Reinstalling the operating system (OS) is another method to fix a dead laptop, particularly if the issue is caused by a corrupted or damaged OS. Here are the steps to reinstall the OS on a laptop:
- 1. Back up your data: Before you reinstall the OS, you should back up any important data on your laptop. This is because reinstalling the OS will erase all data on your laptop's hard drive.
- 2. Obtain an installation media: To reinstall the OS, you will need to obtain an installation media, such as a USB drive or DVD. The installation media should contain the OS that your laptop originally came with.
- 3. Boot from the installation media: Insert the installation media into your laptop and restart it. Press the key to enter the boot menu, which is typically F12 or Esc depending on your laptop's manufacturer. Select the installation media from the boot menu to boot from it.
- 4. Begin the installation process: Once the installation media boots up, you will be prompted to begin the installation process. Follow the on-screen instructions to install the OS on your laptop. Make sure to select the correct language, time zone, and keyboard layout during the installation process.
- 5. Reinstall drivers and applications: After you have reinstalled the OS, you will need to reinstall drivers and applications that were previously installed on your laptop. You can download drivers from the laptop manufacturer's website or from a third-party website, while applications can be downloaded from their respective websites.
- 6. Restore your data: Once you have reinstalled drivers and applications, you can restore your backed-up data to your laptop.
6. Reinstall Your Previous Apps
Alright, your once-dead laptop is now back up after you changed the primary storage and/or installed a new OS, but you can’t seem to find your software programs and apps? Yes, that’s normal; once you have tempered with the OS or primary storage of a computer system, you will need to reinstall all your software apps.
This is why it is advisable to always run a comprehensive backup before performing advanced actions on a computer system. So, you have to start reinstalling the programs and applications you once had on the computer – this may take time, but sadly, there’s no other way around it except you’ve got a backup somewhere, so you just load the backup file.
If your files are backed up on external storage, connect the external storage device to the revived computer and start copying your files to the system’s primary storage. If you weren’t able to back up your files earlier and still using the initial primary storage you’ve always had on the system (in other words, you didn’t install new storage to revive the PC), then you can try retrieving your lost important files using DiskInternals Partition Recovery.
Can You Recover Data From a Dead Laptop?
The simple answer is YES. You can recover your files from a “dead laptop.” In most cases, what is dead is the hard drive, not the system itself, and the hard drive being “dead” simply means, in most cases, that the system cannot read it as the primary storage.
Furthermore, most hard drives that can no longer function as primary storage due to quite many reasons can function smoothly as external storage drives. So, by merely disconnecting the primary drive and converting it into external storage, you have already fixed the issue.
Part One: How to Get Your Files/Data from a Dead Laptop Hard Drive
There are a couple of reliable ways to get your files from a failed hard drive so you can either resave them on a good, functional one or export them to a cloud/remote storage.
Method 1: Retrieve Data from a Dead Laptop Hard Drive That Won't Boot
If the computer cannot boot from the primary hard drive, you need an installation media or bootable media. So, you will have to boot the computer using the installation/bootable media; once the computer has powered on, you should be able to open the problematic drive and copy out your files into a secondary storage or external hard drive.
But, if you don’t have a bootable or installation media, there’s no way this method will work for you. Notwithstanding, there are quite many tools that allow you to create bootable media so you can boot your computer when the primary hard drive refuses to load the OS and boot the system as usual. If you’re not ready for this stress, try the other methods below.
Method 2: Transfer the Files to a New PC
This is literally the best and simplest method, but it requires you to have access to another computer system and also get an external hard drive casing. In this method, you’re required to remove the problematic hard drive and insert it into another computer that is in perfect condition, then copy out your files. Here are the steps:
- Uninstall the problematic hard drive from the “dead laptop”
- Put the hard drive in an external HDD casing
- Get/find a working computer system and connect the hard drive using USB (as an external device)
- Open Windows File Explorer and check to see if the connected hard drive appeared as one of the active disks on the system; if you can find the connected drive, your problems are already solved
- Open the connected hard drive and copy out every of your important file and data, and save them to another storage location. If the second computer you used is still yours, you can copy out the files from the problematic HDD/SDD and save them there.
Method 3: Use a Data Recovery Program
There are lots of data recovery software programs that allow users to recover files from problematic hard drives. DiskInternals Uneraser and Partition Recovery are two of the best data recovery apps to use on Windows OS computers. Both programs are packed with many features, and they are simply intuitive to use.
The DiskInternals software can read the problematic hard drive, extract your files from such drives, and allow you to save them to remote storage via secure FTP connections. Also, you can preview the recovered files to confirm they are the actual ones you need to get back. DiskInternals data recovery programs are for beginners and professionals. Some main features include:
- Supports NTFS, FAT, REISER, EXT, and many other file system formats
- Recovers over 1,000 file formats
- Built-in Recovery Wizard for FAT, NTFS, and other file systems
- Works on Windows XP, up to Windows 11
- Recovers from all kinds of storage disks/devices: HDDs, SSDs, flash drives, external hard drives, memory/SD cards, IDE disks, SCSI disks, SATA disks, and more
- Free file previews
1. Install DiskInternals Uneraser: Firstly, install the Uneraser or Partition Recovery software on the working computer system and launch it to recover your files. Make you have connected the problematic hard drive to the computer where DiskInternals data recovery software is installed.
2. Select the Drive: Select the hard drive device from the list of available/connected storage media on your PC. If you can’t find the drive, check if the connection is well done, or you can try connecting it again using another USB cable.
3. Scan the Drive: Once you have selected the drive from the list of available drives on your PC, next is to launch a scan to recover those files – choose between Fast and Full Recovery scan modes.
4. Preview: After the scanning is complete, you will be able to preview the deleted files; they’d appear with a red asterisk to separate them from the existing files on your drive.
5. Recover: The recovered files must be saved on a new storage location – not the problematic hard drive again. DiskInternals Uneraser and Partition Recovery let you export the files to remote storage via FTP.
Part Two: How to Fix a Dead Laptop after Retrieving Your Data from the Hard Drive?
Okay, you have gotten out your files from the hard drive that was in the “dead laptop?” Now, how do you revive the laptop so that it starts functioning again as usual? Interestingly, there are quite many ways to go about this, and below are the best methods to follow.
1. Take Out The BSOD Error
BSOD means Black/Blue Screen of Death; it is that blank black or blue page that appears on your laptop screen and won’t let you operate the computer any longer. This blank screen appears due to pretty many reasons, including driver issues, MBR or file corruption. Sometimes, the BSOD will appear with an error message on it and some hints on how to take it out.
- You can’t do anything to take out a BSOD unless you boot from an installation media
- Connect an installation/bootable media and boot from it
- Select the “Repair my computer” link
- Choose Troubleshoot 🡺 Advanced Options 🡺 Startup Repair
- If the Startup Repair tool doesn’t take out the BSOD, try other tools available in the “Advanced Options” of the “Troubleshoot” tool. These tools will help to clear out the BSOD; then, you can remove the installation media and continue to use your laptop as before.
2. Reinstall Windows OS
OS crash is one of the worse things that can happen to any PC user – such incidents can make your laptop “dead” – unable to boot. So, if you confirm that your laptop has died as a result of an OS crash, then the best way to revive it is by reinstalling Windows OS. This can be done in several ways, and here’s one of those ways.
If the computer can still boot normally (but crashes some minutes later), carry out these steps quickly to reinstall Windows OS:
- Press the Windows key + I to launch the settings page
- Go to Update & Security 🡺 Recovery 🡺 Reset this PC 🡺 Get started
- You will then choose if you want a complete refreshing – “Remove Everything” – of your PC or just to reinstall the OS while retaining your files – “Keep My Files.”
In contrast, if your computer doesn’t boot at all, you will need to use Windows Installation Media to carry out the OS reinstallation. Here’s the guide:
- Restart your laptop and enter the BIOS or UEFI settings. This is usually done by pressing a key such as F2 or Del during the boot process.
- Change the boot order in the BIOS or UEFI settings to boot from the USB drive first (the USB drive should be your installation media, which is connected to the computer).
- Save the changes and exit the BIOS or UEFI settings.
- The Windows installation process will begin.
- Follow the on-screen prompts and choose your preferences for the different prompts you’d receive during the process.
- Once the installation is complete, you will need to re-activate Windows again using a valid product key. Then proceed with reinstalling your needed drivers and software apps that were previously on the laptop.
- Restore any backed-up data and files to the laptop.
3. Get a New Computer System
Well, if the hard drive is still functioning, but the computer itself seems dead, then you should consider discarding the PC to buy a brand-new one. You may also trade it in as scrap, then add some money to buy another used or brand-new one.
When you buy the new laptop, simply remove the hard drive (of the new laptop) and install the one you were using on the old computer so you can regain access to all your files. Of course, since you’re buying a new computer, you should consider going for another model.
How Can You Lose Files from Your Laptop?
There are many scenarios that lead to data loss, most of which are not intentional. Explained below are some of the commonest causes of data loss on computer systems.
1. Mistaken Deletion: Maybe you wanted to delete a few files or folders, so you marked/selected the files/folders and deleted them – not knowing that you also selected another file/folder that you’d never have intentionally wanted to delete. This mistake has occurred to many PC users severally; if it happens to you, check the recycle bin folder first before resorting to other data recovery methods.
2. Hard Drive Problems: Hard drives (HDDs and SSDs) can suffer physical and logical problems, which can make them unreadable by Windows OS. You should avoid dropping down your PC’s hard drive, but if it happens accidentally, back up your files immediately and start budgeting to get a new one – especially if the drive cracked or sustained a physical mark when it fell to the ground.
3. Interruptions: Yes, interrupting Windows updates, driver updates, or other ongoing advanced processes on your laptop can lead to data loss. When you interrupt an advanced process, quite many core system files could get corrupted, making it difficult for the computer to access the data saved on the primary hard drive.
4. Power Surges: Sudden power surges or outages can instantly crash an HDD, especially if your laptop’s battery is not strong and the PC isn’t connected to a failsafe power surge/outage regulation, such as an inverter or UPS.
How to Protect Your Laptop’s Hard Drive from Data Loss?
Well, this is not a failsafe, as data loss is almost inevitable. But adhering to these tips will most likely save you from encountering data loss scenarios frequently.
1. Always Backup
This is no joke. Always back up the files and data on your primary storage drive; you can back them up on an external USB drive. When there’s a backup, you can easily regain your files anytime you face a data loss scenario. You can even back up to the cloud.
However, it’s not only about creating backups; the backup file(s) needs to be updated regularly to contain new changes to the original file. If the backup is not up to date, you will lose recent changes to your file when you restore the back (after losing the original file).
2. Protect Your HDD/SSD
Normally, it is expected that you frequently remove and reinstall the primary HDD/SSD that comes with your computer. However, if for any reason you removed it, ensure that it doesn’t fall to the ground so it won’t sustain any physical damage that may affect the readability when reinstalled into your computer.
3. Get a Strong Laptop Battery
If your laptop’s battery is weak and no longer holds charges, you should get a new one that will last you for a reasonable number of hours. Aside from lasting for hours, it is important to use a laptop with a good battery to avoid damage due to sudden power outages. As an alternative, you may want to consider getting a UPS too.
Can you recover files from a dead laptop? Yes, you can. This article explains the many ways you can follow to get back your files from a dead laptop hard drive. Mainly, you can turn the problematic hard drive into an external drive or get a new computer system.
Can you recover files from a dead laptop?
It is possible to recover files from a dead laptop, but it depends on the cause of the laptop's failure. If the laptop's hard drive is still functional, the data can usually be recovered. However, if the hard drive has failed, data recovery becomes much more difficult.
How can I recover data from my laptop that won't turn on?
How can I get data from a laptop that wont turn on?
1. Remove the hard drive and connect it to another computer: You can remove the hard drive from your laptop and connect it to another computer using a hard drive enclosure or SATA-to-USB adapter. Once connected, you can access the files on the hard drive and copy them to another location.
2. Use a data recovery tools: DiskInternals Uneraser has specialized tools and techniques to recover data from damaged or non-functioning hard drives.
3. Try booting from a live Linux USB: You can create a live Linux USB drive and boot your laptop from it. This will allow you to access the files on your laptop's hard drive and copy them to an external storage device.
4. Contact a professional technician: If you're not comfortable trying any of the above methods, it's best to contact a professional technician. They will be able to diagnose the issue with your laptop and retrieve your data if possible.
Can you retrieve files from broken laptop?
It is possible to retrieve files from a broken laptop, but it depends on the severity and cause of the damage. It's important to note that retrieving files from a broken laptop can be a difficult and time-consuming process, and there is no guarantee that all files will be recoverable. Therefore, it's important to regularly back up important files to prevent the risk of data loss in case your laptop fails.
How to recover data from laptop hard drive?
- First, stop using the laptop immediately. Continuing to use it may cause further damage to the hard drive and make data recovery more difficult or impossible.
- Remove the hard drive from the laptop. Most laptops have a removable panel on the bottom or side that allows you to access the hard drive. You may need a screwdriver or other tools to remove the panel and the hard drive itself.
- Connect the hard drive to another computer using a USB adapter or enclosure. You can purchase these from a computer store or online. Make sure the adapter or enclosure is compatible with the type of hard drive in your laptop.
- Download and install a data recovery program on the other computer. There are many free and paid options available. Some popular ones include Recuva, EaseUS Data Recovery, and Disk Drill.
- Launch the data recovery program and select the option to scan the connected hard drive. This process may take some time, depending on the size of the hard drive and the amount of data on it.
- Once the scan is complete, you should see a list of recoverable files. Preview the files and select the ones you want to recover.
- Save the recovered files to a different hard drive or external storage device. Do not save them to the same hard drive you are recovering from, as this may overwrite the data you are trying to recover.
- Once you have saved your recovered files, safely disconnect the hard drive and reinstall it in your laptop.
Is it possible to recover data from a hard disk without opening the laptop?
Yes, it is possible to recover data from a hard disk without opening the laptop, as long as the hard disk is still functioning properly. Here are a few ways to do so:
- Use data recovery software: There are many data recovery software programs available that can help you recover data from a damaged or corrupted hard disk. These programs can scan the disk for lost or deleted files and restore them.
- Remove the hard disk and connect it to another computer: You can remove the hard disk from the laptop and connect it to another computer using a USB adapter or an external enclosure. Once connected, you can access the files on the hard disk and copy them to the other computer.
- Use a live bootable USB: You can create a bootable USB drive with a live operating system that can run directly from the USB without the need to install it on the laptop. Once booted from the USB, you can access the files on the hard disk and copy them to an external drive.
Is there any way of recovering data from my laptops' dead hard disk?
Yes, it may be possible to recover data from a dead hard disk, but it will depend on the severity of the damage to the disk. If the damage is minor, it may be possible to recover the data with the help of a professional data recovery service.
- Check the connections: Make sure that the hard disk is properly connected to the laptop and that all the cables are secure.
- Use data recovery software: You can try using data recovery software to scan the hard disk and recover any lost or corrupted data.
- Remove the hard disk and connect it to another computer: You can remove the hard disk from the laptop and connect it to another computer using a USB adapter or an external enclosure. Once connected, you can use data recovery software to try and recover the data.
- Take it to a professional data recovery service: If the above methods fail, you may need to take the hard disk to a professional data recovery service. They have specialized tools and techniques to recover data from damaged disks.