A hard disk crash can feel like one of the most devastating moments in our tech-focused world. Especially if you haven't backed up all the data on your drive. When your disk crashes, you can lose family photos, important documents and records, music files - all of your data. But if you know how to recover files after a hard disk crash most likely your data isn't gone forever.
Often, your data is still on the disk, but you'll need to use different methods to retrieve it.
Hard disk failures can occur spontaneously or gradually. But all hard drives fail inevitably, if you keep them up and running long enough. Under normal conditions, a hard drive may take years to fail. But obviously, abuse or mishandling caused by overheating, drops and falls, spilled beverages, etc. can drastically shorten then life of your hard drive (or end it immediately).
Early warning signs of gradual disk failure include corrupted data, slower functioning of your machine, and cyclical clicking noises. If you suspect your hard drive might be failing gradually, back up all your data immediately. A gradual failure can take as long as several weeks or as little as an hour or two to crash entirely.
A spontaneous or catastrophic hard disk failure occurs without warning. You'll most likely encounter these when you turn on your computer one day and it just won't boot up.
If your hard disk has already crashed, don't panic. Keep reading for tips on how to recover the precious data on your disk.
If your drive is making a lot of noise, don't keep trying to boot up your computer. Instead, find another way to access the hard disk without booting it. You can do this by removing it from your main computer and attaching it via a USB enclosure or a free hard drive bay in another computer. If you can't remove the hard drive (for example, if you have a failed laptop hard drive), use a bootable LiveCD. R-Studio comes with a bootable version that can be burned on a disc or imaged to a USB drive. Or, you can Ubuntu Rescue Remix, a slightly less user-friendly (but free) tool that's based on the popular Windows-like Linux distribution. Ubuntu Rescue Remix comes with TestDisk bundled with it, which is a command line interface tool for disk repair and data recovery.
The best you can do with a physical disk failure is recover your data. Even if you can have your hard disk repaired, it will likely continue to be unstable for the remainder of its life. I recommend investing in a new hard drive after a major hardware failure.
Recovering data after a hardware malfunction can be more difficult than recovering data after a software issue. If you're hard disk is making grinding noises, you may be doing more harm to your data if you try to retrieve it without the proper tools. Although it is more expensive than do-it-yourself data recovery, hiring a data recovery specialist is often worthwhile for hardware failures. These specialists are highly-trained and experienced in dealing with mechanical failures.