How to access a hard drive from a dead computer

I’ve had a lot of questions on this video I did a while back on my Youtube channel  I will try to address these comments and questions below.

There’s many little details I can’t cover and you may need a technician to help with a data recovery.  You might even need to send the hard drive into a data recovery lab which can cost anywhere from $500-$3,000 CDN depending where you go.  With that disclaimer, I will now explain some things in more detail that the above video didn’t cover or questions that were created based on the video.

The O.S. (Operating system) doesn’t need to be the same on the computer you are using to recover files on, as the computer that this hard drive was on to begin with.  This is normally true, but Macs are so different from a PC, that if you are trying to access Mac files on a PC, you can get the files by copy and paste, but you are not able to do anything with them to test that they work once recovered.

If you have viruses on the hard drive, and they infected the files you are copying over, then yes, you will transfer over the viruses.  If the virus is one that infects the operating system, you are not necessarily copying those files, so you are fine.  But if you have a worm type virus, as soon as you plug the hard drive in, you will get infections covered over to the working computer automatically.  Basically you can’t be 100% sure what kind of virus you have.  So just assume you have viruses and they are bad.  Be sure to scan before, during and after the file transfer if possible.  OK, that’s  a little overboard.  your anti-virus will scan as you copy files automatically.  But you should force a full scan on the entire drive before starting the copy, just incase.

If you plug the hard drive into your computer, it may not detect the drive as a device attached to your computer.  It may detect and not show a drive letter to browse in My Computer, which means some data recovery software may work.  It could also not detect itself in the device manager (In Windows) at all, and will require a data recovery lab to physically repair the drive.

If you’re lucky, you will see a drive letter to browse, and easily access your files and simply copy and paste what you need from the hard drive that came from the dead computer, over to the hard drive on the working computer.

The type of cables used should be clearly described in the video.  As for where to buy them, you will need to see what local stores in your area have them, or just order online.  Look for “ATA to USB” or “SATA to USB”, even laptop IDE to USB or the newer thin connections.  See the article I wrote on types of drives.  Just get that type of drive to USB connector.  You need to know what type of drive you have to know what type of connector you need.  You also need to know when to give up and let a professional help. If you don’t see your files right away and you’re hearing clicking and/or grinding noises, stop everything and call an expert.  You could damage the driver further and make it impossible for even an expensive data recovery lab to recover.  Regardless if you’re willing to spend upto $3,000 or not.