Hard drives have been around since the early PCs were on the market over thirty years ago. These days, they can store vast amounts of data and are pretty cheap to buy. Both individuals and businesses rely on hard drives to operate as expected on a daily basis.

The only trouble is; hard drives have a limited lifespan and may need hard drive recovery. They are mechanical devices, and as we all know, mechanical devices will fail at some point.

The typical lifespan for a conventional hard drive is around four to six years.


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It can be a gut-wrenching feeling when you turn your PC or laptop on and find that nothing happens! All the usual lights appear on it. But either nothing shows up on your display, or you see a “hard disk failure” message appear as your system tries to boot up.

If your hard drive has decided to give up being useful, here is some practical information to help you get back up and running again.

Confirm your hard drive is dead

It might surprise you to learn that, in some cases, hard drives are still OK! If your computer got knocked by accident, you could have caused some of the cables inside to become loose.

Open up your PC or laptop and double-check that all the cable connections are secure. Some laptops are notorious for having loose cable connections. Make sure that you do these checks with the power off! In the case of laptops, remove the battery as well before you check.

If your hard drive still doesn’t work, try using it with another computer if you can. Doing so will help to determine whether your computer or the hard drive is at fault.

How dead is dead?

Believe it or not, there are varying levels of “dead” when it comes to faulty hard drives.

If your hard drive doesn’t make any noises apart from what it usually does, there’s a chance the circuit board is faulty. It’s more common for boards to get faulty than the drives themselves. All is not lost if that’s the case, as you can buy replacement controllers on the Internet.

But what if your drive does make strange noises? Are those noises like a mechanical “clunking” noise that just repeats over and over? Again, this might be down to a faulty controller. If the drive is a few years old, it could be that it has faulty internal parts.

Changing those parts is beyond the scope of most people’s abilities. In these circumstances, the only thing you can do is get any readable data extracted from the drive. The best approach in that scenario is to use a company like Data First.

They have specialist equipment to get data back, and are useful if you have important data on the drive that you haven’t backed up.

Data recovery software

The obvious thing to do would be to recover data yourself. If you do it yourself, it won’t cost you anything other than the price of the software you use. And, in most cases, that software is free.

I recommend trying some data recovery software first before you pay for a data recovery company to do the job for you. The software you can use gets burned to a bootable CD, and can get run from any system regardless of make. Good luck!