Thursday, September 6, 2012

How to Recover Your Files from a Dead Hard Disk

When you turned on your computer all you see is black screen with this error message: “Reboot and Select proper boot device or Insert Boot Media and press a key”. You probably tried to turn off and on your computer but the error message is still there. You might have also tried to shake your computer a little bit, but that will not work either.

In situations like this you may try to open the BIOS setting and see if your hard disk is detectable. If it is not then open your computer and check all the cables (e.g. SATA/IDE and power) if properly connected. You may also try to install that hard disk to another computer just to see if it will be detected. If you tried that and the error is not going away. You can now say good bye to your hard disk. If you do not have a backup of your files then that makes the situation even worse. Well, actually there is slim chance of getting your files back. But there is no assurance that it will work or if it does work you will be able to get all your files. First, you have to look for a hard disk which has “the same specification” with that of the defective unit. If you have a used hard disk of the same specification you may try that, what is important is the board of that hard disk is still okay.

Before we proceed I would like to show you the dead hard disk connected to a computer.  You will see on the BIOS setting that there is no hard disk detected on the 3rd drive. I also tried removing the first hard disk and installed only the second hard disk which is the defective one but it did not help either.

On this example that I am going to show you, the defective hard disk is Western Digital 320 GB SATA. The second hard disk with the same specification is also defective but the board is still working. Here is how I did it:

     1. You will need here a precision screw driver to be able to remove the screws. I carefully removed all the screws on the board of both hard disks. Avoid applying too much pressure on the hard disks when removing the screws because it might just aggravate the condition.

     2. After removing the boards I transferred it on the hard disk that I would like to recover the files.

     3. I connected the hard disk to the computer just to see if it will be detected…and it is detected.

     4. I saved the BIOS setting and then exit.

     5. Windows started to open up and I browse the hard drives. You will see here the four hard drives.  Four because I had my drive partitioned into two - drives C:\ and D:\. Drive F:\ and G:\ is the second hard disk that is also partitioned into two. You will also see here that I started copying the files to my desktop.

If you are successful of getting your files back, I suggest you do not use that hard disk anymore because it is already in a bad condition. Your only goal here is to recover your files.

It is a good practice to regularly backup the files. If you are in this situation and you have a backup you can just buy a new hard disk. There are some companies that are really good in reviving dead hard disks but they charge too much. If you do not want to spend too much for recovering your files start backing up otherwise you might regret it later on.


  1. Thanks Ed,

    Very useful information, it is so furstrating when such things happen - but it is good to know that there is a chance to recover important files.

    All the best,


    1. Hi Moran,

      Yeah, there is but it's quite costly. It's always a good idea to backup the files.

      Thanks for your comment and have a nice day.



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