Recover Data From A Crashed Hard Drive

Published Date
01 - Jan - 2008
| Last Updated
01 - Jan - 2008
Recover Data From A Crashed Hard Drive

Here’s a crash course on recovering data from a crashed hard drive!

Fact of life: when hard drives crash, they usually do so without warning. What results is a headache and, more importantly, heartache. But the data is usually not wiped clean from the crashed hard drive; rather, the file allocation table—which contains filenames and points to data on the drive—is what usually gets damaged. It is therefore technically possible to recover data in such situations; you only need to know the tools of the trade. The tool we’re talking about is PC Inspector File Recovery—a freeware that can be downloaded from file_recovery/UK/welcome.htm.

If you’ve lost data on a partition on a drive other than C, just install the program in Windows. If your entire hard drive has crashed and you’re unable to boot, install the program on another computer and attach your hard drive as a secondary drive on that computer.

Step 1. Launch The Program

Launch PC Inspector File Recovery, choose English as your language, and click on the green tick button. Choose what kind of data you wish to recover by clicking on one of the three buttons to the left.

If you choose Lost Data, go directly to Step 6; if you choose lost drive, go directly to Step 8. If it is deleted data that you wish to recover, click on the icon at the top left.

Step 2. Select The Drive

The program will scan your hard drive for some time for available partitions, after which it will display them. You will most likely be able to select the drive from the Logical Drives tab.

It may sometimes be listed twice; select the entry containing the drive’s letter. To verify the drive’s content, click the Preview button. Click on the tick button to continue to the next step.

Step 3. Sniffing Out Deleted Files

The selected drive will now be scanned; this may take a few minutes. A Deleted folder will be displayed (with the Recycle Bin icon). You need to go through this folder to locate the files you wish to recover. You might find that the original filename has not been preserved. You can opt to search for the file in the following way: choose Object > Find, enter the file type, and click on the green tick to search.

Step 4. Recovering The File

A list of matching files will appear after the search process ends. If the file you’re searching for does not appear, you can use the Size and Date Modified columns to help identify it (assuming you know these details). Click on the top of these columns to arrange them accordingly, to make it easier to locate the file. Select the possible candidates by keeping on clicking on them while keeping [Ctrl] pressed. Keeping [Ctrl] pressed, right-click on them and choose Save to. Choose a location.

Step 5. Check And Rename

After they are restored, you should try to open the files to see if they are indeed the files you were looking for. After confirming this, you can rename them to what they were and copy them to the original location later. If the files are not the ones you were searching for, return to PC Inspector File Recovery and try to search for them again.

Step 6. Find Your Lost Data

Sometimes data is lost due to a quick format or due to system or program crash. In such cases, you should choose the Lost Data button (the middle button on the left) in the main screen of PC Inspector File Recovery. In this case, data is retrieved in a way similar to deleted files. Select the drive from the Logical Drives list and click on the tick button when the Select Cluster Range dialog appears. The process of identification of files to be retrieved begins; this will take some time.

Step 7. Retrieve The Lost Data

You will see that PC Inspector File Recovery has found hundreds of “lost” files—many will be fragments. It will take quite a bit of your time to go through them all, but it is worthwhile because you have a chance of getting back precious files. Repeat steps 3 to 5 to find your file and check its integrity.

Step 8. Find The Lost Drive

If your partition table has been damaged, you may no longer be able to view any drive from the affected hard drive in the Logical Drives list. You’ll have to manually search for it.

Click on the Physical drive tab from the Select Drive dialog, and select your hard drive—usually named fixed disk #1. Click on Find logical drives.

Step 9. Search Within Clusters

You can choose to scan the entire drive for lost drives, or if you have some idea about where the partition was physically located on the disk, you can move the sliders to concentrate the search on that particular area. Now click on the tick button and wait for the search to complete, after which you can select the logical drive to recover your files and folders (as explained in the previous steps).

Jayesh LimayeJayesh Limaye