How to recover data from crashed/dead hard disk?

By Katrina | Posted to Data Recovery on July 31st, 2018 |

Summary: Most computer users have been involved a situation where a hard drive gets crashed and dead. If this happens to you, in case the files you need are overwritten, you should act quickly and download the free hard drive data recovery software below to recover data from the crashed/dead/damaged hard drive on Windows and Mac.

Hard drive failure can happen anytime without any hints. It's possible that one day a hard disk is working fine and the next day, you switch the drive on your computer but the drive is not showing up/recognized on your Windows and Mac computer. If you are looking for a way to recover data from broken/failed hard disks, just keep reading!

Table of contents
1. What is a dead hard drive?
2. Symptoms of physical and logical hard drive crash
3. Chances of crashed/dead hard disk data recovery
4. Best free hard disk data recovery software
5. How to recover data from crashed/dead hard disk?
6. How to repair crashed/dead hard disk?
7. What's the causes of a dead hard drive?
8. Conclusion

Let's start with a real story:

My hard drive (3TB, stores all my games and work) appears to have died. Windows wont see it, i cant see it in the BIOS either, its just gone. It made no sounds before it died, so I don't think its a mechanical failure. Whats the best way to go about trying to get my data back?


What is a dead hard drive?

Hard disks are an essential part of a computer as they allow you to store and access your valuable data. When it comes to hard disks, this includes internal hard drives and external hard drives. However, just like electronic and mechanical devices, hard disks tend to die or crash over time.

In this situation, the drive will stop working entirely. Perhaps your computer doesn't recognize or show it up. You probably see a file icon with question mark on Mac or receive an error message saying your PC has no hard drive. If the failed hard drive is the system drive, your computer will act strangely, even worse, it won't turn on.

Symptoms of physical and logical hard drive crash

Hard drive crash can be broadly put into two groups: physical and logical. As different kinds of data losses should be dealt with different types of data recovery means, initially you should confirm whether the hard drive is damaged physically or logically.

Physical hard drive crash: When you hard disk is damaged by heat, moisture or shock, etc., it can cause physical failure. If there is a physical crash, you will hear the licking, whirling or other grinding noises form the drive. Physical damage can make hard drive data recovery incredibly difficult, but by no means impossible.

Logical hard drive crash: In the event of physical hard drive crash, you will receive some error message when accessing the hard drive. If the hard drive is an internal one in a computer, the computer may fail to boot up as normal. Fortunately, logical data recovery is much easier to perform.

Chances of crashed/dead hard disk data recovery

Don't worry! Unless the corruption occurs within the files or results from hardware problems, you can recover lost data from broken hard drive at the most time. Because if the crashed/dead disk refers to the corruption of file directory and partition table, the operating system just can't find the location of the stored files and the data still keep intact.

So in order to get the best possible chances of recovery on a dead hard drive, you should avoid running the hard disk and look for fast help from professional data recovery software.

Here is a short video about how to recover data from crashed/dead/damaged hard disk in detail:

Best free hard disk data recovery software

iBoysoft Data Recovery is free hard drive data recovery software to recover data from crashed/dead hard disks. Whether you have face the logical or physical hard drive crash, chances are that you can get lost data back with this powerful data recovery program. It is able to recover deleted/lost documents, pictures, audios, videos, emails from FAT32, NTFS or exFAT drives on Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP and Windows Server 2016/2012/2008/2003.

Moreover, iBoysoft Data Recovery also enable us to recover deleted files even if emptied from Recycle Bin, fix RAW hard drive to NTFS, recover data from inaccessible drives, recover data from corrupted drives, recover data from unrecognized drives, recovers data from formatted drives, and recover data from deleted or lost partitions, etc. It works perfectly on hard drives, external hard drives, USB flash drives, SD cards, memory cards, pen drives, etc.

How to recover data from crashed/dead hard disk?

If the dead hard drive contains your operating system, the computer won't boot as usual. Otherwise, you have two hard drives in your laptop or computer, the dead drive is for your files rather than the operating system. In this case, your PC works well. No matter which situation you are facing, the following guide will show you the detailed steps:

Tips: Also, you can go through this step-by-step tutorial to recover data from crashed/dead hard disks on Mac.

If your Windows computer works as usual:

Step 1: Download and install iBoysoft Data Recovery.

Warning: Please don't download and install iBoysoft Data Recovery on the crashed hard drive. Because in this way, the lost files stored on the drive will be overwritten, resulting in irreparable data loss.

Step 2: Launch iBoysoft Data Recovery and you will see all connected drives on the home window. Select the crashed/dead hard disk and click "Next" button to scan all lost data.

Note: If you can't see the needed files in the scanning results, you can go back to the home window, tick "Deep scan" on the right bottom corner and click the "Next" button.

Recover data from crashed/dead hard disk with iBoysoft Data Recovery

Step 3: Preview the searching results, choose files you need, and click "Recover" to get them back. Then please make sure your needed files has been restored.

Warning: Please don't save the recovered files back onto the same hard drive partition where you lost the data from.

Recover data from crashed/dead hard disk with iBoysoft Data Recovery

If your Windows computer won't boot:

Step 1: If you have two PCs, you can plug the crashed hard disk out and connect it to the working PC.

Tips:If you have only one PC, you need to create a Windows bootable external drive and boot your PC from the external drive. Click here to learn about how to create a boot disk on Windows 10/8/7/XP.

Step 2: Download and install iBoysoft Data Recovery. Remember not saving recovered files to the original drive, because this may also overwrite lost files.

Step 3: Navigate to your damaged/dead hard drive, then the software will start to scan all lost data by clicking on the "Next" button.

Step 4: Preview the searching results, choose files you need, click "Recover" to and save them to some place other than the problematic drive. If the lost files can't be found, you need to click "Back" to the home window, select the crashed hard disk and click "Deep scan" to try again.

Step 5: Please make sure that your needed files has been restored.

Tips: If you can't see the crashed hard drive listed on the home window of iBoysoft Data Recovery, the drive has been physically damaged. You can only take your hard disk to local data recovery shop.

How to repair crashed/dead hard disk?

After crashed/damaged hard drive data recovery, you can apply these basic troubleshooting to repair crashed/dead hard disk.

Solution 1: Reinstall Windows OS

In case your hard disk only has some logical errors, you can simply try to reinstall the Windows operating system. To do this, you need to find a working computer and a USB drive.

Tips: This process will wipe all data stored on the computer, please make sure you have restored important files if necessary.

Step 1: Download Microsoft Media Creation tool which will create a bootable USB drive with Windows 10 on it.

Step 2: Plug the bootable USB drive to the non-working PC and turn on the non-working PC.

Step 3: Choose the "Language to install", the "Time and currency format" and the "Keyboard or input method". Then click on "Next".

Reinstall Windows 10

Step 4: Tick "Install now" and the setup will start.

Step 5: You will be presented with the License terms. Accept it and click on "Next".

Step 6: You will be asked "Which type of installation do you want?" Select "Custom: Install Windows only".

Reinstall Windows 10

Step 7: Choose a partition to install Windows 10 and click "Next". (If you did not create a partition earlier, this setup wizard also lets you create one now)

Reinstall Windows 10

Finally, Windows 10 installation will start. Once it is done, your PC will restart.

Solution 2: Send it to repair or replace your hard drive

Unable to find the hard drive in Disk Management or fail to reformat the drive? It indicates that the drive has been damaged severely and the operating system cannot recognize the drive. In this situation, you should ask a technical expert for advice if the hard drive is still repaired. Otherwise, you can also replace it with a new one.

What's the causes of a dead hard drive?

Here are some common causes of a dead hard drive in detail. Learning about them can help to prevent hard drive failure in the future.

  • Firmware or manufacturer faults. Firmware or manufacturer on a hard drive is software that is responsible for many major functions of the disk including accessing the data, as well as reading and writing to the drive. If the the firmware of a hard drive is damaged, all files on the drive will be inaccessible.
  • Electronic failure or power surge. A power outage may do harm to your computer and shorten the lifespan of storage devices. If the power is out while working on a hard disk, the heads for recording and reading data will be damaged. As a result, the operating system fails to locate all files on the hard drive.
  • Mechanical or internal failure. This issue may occur on a hard disk when its moving components stop functioning due to stress or wear. If your hard drive experience a mechanical failure, its read/write heads will be off track, which prevent the drive from accessing users data.
  • Corrupted files. Corrupted files will happen on modern computers with no good security measures in place. Usually, files become corrupted when being written to a disk. If your computer loses power or crashes while saving or creating a file, there's good possibility that the file will become corrupted.
  • Human errors. This is the leading cause of hard drive failure. It's possible that you may accidentally delete any system file which is essential to boot a hard drive when you think it could be malware or junk. Furthermore, there are some indirect human error which will make a hard disk crashed or dead.


Hard drive failures are probably the worse enemy for everyone since it will result in data loss. However, it's possible to recover data from crashed/dead/damaged hard disk with free data recovery software - iBoysoft Data Recovery. Be it physical and logical hard drive crash, this software helps you a lot.


Katrina is a data recovery expert @iBoysoft who loves to help readers solve various data recovery problems.

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