Can I recover files from a laptop hard drive?
October 28, 2010 2:30 PM   Subscribe

I have the hard drive from a broken laptop. It has really important things on it. How do I recover said things?

Laptop suffered the dreaded blue screen of deaths. Husband removed hard drive. Now what? Is there any chance in recovering the info? The information is basically Word files and photos.
I don't know hardly anything about computers. I can tell you model info and such if need be.
posted by kgreerRN to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
You'll need a hard drive enclosure. The tricky part will be to find one that matches your hard drive. This will let your old hard drive act as an external hard drive which will communicate with your new computer through a USB port. Don't worry, this is pretty routine, and your data (assuming the hard drive is not damaged) is safe.
posted by Comrade_robot at 2:34 PM on October 28, 2010

Response by poster: Where can I get one of those spiffy lifesavers?
posted by kgreerRN at 2:36 PM on October 28, 2010

you can also get a cable to connect it to a full size pc cheaper than an enclosure. It depends on what other computers you might have around and what the hard drive is.
posted by lumpenprole at 2:37 PM on October 28, 2010

Response by poster: If I wanted to try the cable option, where do I go to get one and what do I say I need?
posted by kgreerRN at 2:39 PM on October 28, 2010

You can buy hard drive enclosures online (e.g., Amazon). Your laptop hard drive is probably 2.5" SATA, but you need to check its specs to confirm.
posted by puritycontrol at 2:42 PM on October 28, 2010

Any decent computer store or an online store like NewEgg.

You first need to determine what kind of connector your hard drive uses. Do you see any writing on the hard drive? Could you post a photo of the pin connectors it has?
posted by fontophilic at 2:42 PM on October 28, 2010

If it's a laptop drive, then it's most likely a 2.5" drive (PCs usually have 3.5" drives). Your drive will probably either have a SATA or IDE connector - you'll need to know which is which - once you remove your drive from your laptop, check the data cable coming out of it and compare it to pictures on wikipedia of SATA and IDE connectors.

For instance, if you decide your drive is has a SATA data connector, this one should work for you.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 2:43 PM on October 28, 2010

You don't even need an enclosure if it's a SATA drive, if anyone's particularly handy with computers. Just need a SATA cable, and to open the PC and install the laptop drive as an additional hard drive. This assumes the computer in question has free SATA ports and you can get ahold of a spare $1 cable.

The enclosure is the easier route to take though.
posted by Rendus at 2:45 PM on October 28, 2010

What you want is sata to usb adapter. Link HERE. Will also work on older ide drives.
posted by Ferrari328 at 2:46 PM on October 28, 2010

Response by poster: pictures
posted by kgreerRN at 2:52 PM on October 28, 2010

That looks like a laptop IDE drive to me. This adapter from Amazon looks like it would work for you. Plug the big end onto the drive and hook the USB into a computer. It will mount as if it were a USB stick or an external hard drive and you can copy your files off.
posted by bonehead at 3:05 PM on October 28, 2010

Some of the links from my old question were invaluable in helping me to understand and solve the same problem.

(I bought the adaptor on ebay, for only about AU$20 or so, if I recall correctly.)
posted by malibustacey9999 at 3:19 PM on October 28, 2010

Your hard drive has a card edge connector on it. You'll need to pull it off before plugging it into any sort of IDE to USB adapter or enclosure. Here's an AskMe question from someone with a similar sort of connector on their drive. Just pull it straight out.
posted by zsazsa at 3:42 PM on October 28, 2010

Just wanted to add you can keep using it as a back up external hard drive if you put it in an enclosure.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:49 PM on October 28, 2010

You will need to carefully pull off the connector on the drive. Pull gently on both ends of the part of the drive that connected into the computer. The black plastic piece with copper plating should come off fairly easily.

Then it is just a matter of placing the drive into an enclosure (amazon link) and connecting the USB connector to another computer.
posted by jz at 6:29 PM on October 28, 2010

You don't even need an enclosure. I f all you're interested in is getting the data off it, try this for less than $30:

Don't let the Macintosh nature of the site scare you off. I've used this tool on literally dozens of drives ... Mac & Windows both.
posted by jrchaplin at 6:52 PM on October 28, 2010

Ya'll pay too much for stuff. Here's a bunch on ebay for a total of less than $10. They're all the same rebranded Chinese made garbage anyway, regardless of brand. You're looking for the one that looks like this.

One bit of warning:
Laptop drives draw power over the data connection. For this reason is it fairly important that you connect the drive to the plug in the correct orientation. The pins on the drive will be all there save for one missing, that's done so that you can't normally plug it in wrong. HOWEVER, the build quality on the USB-jobber is such that it generally has holes in all pin locations. If you look at it closely, you'll see that one of the center most pins on one side or the other is smaller/more deformed/different. That's the hole that goes where your blank pin is on the drive.

If you plug it in wrong, it just won't be seen and won't initialize in your computer. I have heard of people toasting drives this way, but have not experienced it myself.

Also, for a 2.5" drive, make sure the USB is plugged into a powered usb slot (one of the ones directly on the computer, probably in the back). One from a hub or front panel may or may not give it enough juice to power the device over USB.
posted by TomMelee at 5:27 AM on October 29, 2010

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