Retrieve Data From a Dead Computer


Introduction: Retrieve Data From a Dead Computer

This involves removing the hard drive from the dead machine and making it appear to be an external HDD on another computer.

You will need:
A second computer
An external HDD

Note: The external HDD must be of the same type as the target HDD.

Step 1: Disassembly

The name says it all.
I am using a 60GB iomega portable usb powered HDD. this is good because it uses a Laptop HDD and i want to get files from a laptop. I you are trying to get file off a PC then you will need a different external disk.

Once you have removed the dick from its enclosure gently disconnect the PCB. This is the bit that controls the drive and connects to a usb port..

Step 2: Disassembly 2

Open the target computer and remove the hard drive.

Step 3: Conect Up

Very simple.

Plug the PCB into the new drive. Be careful not to bent any of the pins of flex the board too much, it was never designed for this kind of abuse.

Step 4: It Works!

Or not.

Plug it into a computer via usb and it should appear as a removable storage device.

For desk top drives (SATA ?) You may be able to connect it to a spare port in you machine but i haven't tried this.

Please leave comments and criticisms.

Good Luck!



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    21 Discussions

    Loved this blog post will try & experiment in case of my
    raid 5 recovery, if need arises like
    in emergency or so.

    well,u see my old laptop got locked with an unknown password and it had a lot of information and projects inside it.anyway i'll try ur instructables. :-|

    My old computer crapped out on me a few days ago.. i just pulled the HD out and put it in my newer computer along with the other one.. more memory and i have all mo ld stuff.. and it was free..... sooo....

    I used to use an old HD enclosure, now I think that a better way would be to use a Live CD. That way those that don't feel comfortable removing a hard drive and dismantling a an external HD. Besides some enclosures wont except some HDs.
    Anyway, this guide has a few different recover methods that use Live CDs. 
    The Hard Drive Recovery Guide for Non-Geeks
    All of the methods are in plain language.

    OMG! LMAO. As a 20 yr geek, that is just SOOOOO funny on so many different levels

    Quote "Once you have removed the dick from its enclosure gently disconnect the PCB."

    You might want to check this sentence!!!

    3 replies

    Pretty cool. What kind of laptop is that? It looks just like mine.

    I have a USB thing that cost like $30, and it reads SATA, ATA, and IDE HDD, and all you have to do is pull the HDD from the dead computer, and plug this into it, it even comes with a power brick with adaptors to supply power to the hard drive (more used for the desktop HDD) thought I'd let you know, considering it is cheaper, and it works on about 99% of the hard drives out there.

    2 replies

    oh, it also opens the HDD like an external HDD allowing you to view all the files, and worse come to worse, you have to change promission from the old computer, to the one reading the HDD, which is really easy

    In matters of PC use and helpful innovations I have a lot less background than many forum contributors, but I was reminded of the way I happened to be drawn into an inelegant approach to this problem. After installing an HD from an older PC into a newer one with an open bay (with inconvenience and some fumbling) I learned there was such a thing as an IDE to USB dongle, less than $5.00 on Ebay.  I pulled an unused power cable though a hole in the desktop PC base and plugged it into the HD connector and connected  the dongle between the  HD IDE and PC USB hub. I found it was also easy then to browse the couple other HD drives I had accumulated (for retrieving earlier files). Never had any problems, but wonder if  anyone sees a risk in this. But really, I would like to hear from anyone whether this or any way of creatng a secondary HD could be used to copy the entire contents of the primary for use as a system backup in the event of the C drive crashing.

    Keep in mind if you do this that the Hard drive came from another computer, and all files will be inaccessible. It gave me a headache for awhile, I thought all our family photos were destroyed. You have to change the users inside the properties from the old computer to the new one.

    There are also available external HD enclosures in various sizes and connections, which may be a cheaper option than buying a complete drive, since the main part you need is the IDE/SATA -to-USB converter. It's also worth noting that this will only work if the HD itself is not damaged. In my experience, half the time it is the HD that fails, whether due to a physical failure or the corruption of key sectors. If this is the case, then the data may or may not be retrievable, depending on the problem (and whether or not you work for the CIA).