How do I retrieve the files from a hard drive without HD enclosure?
February 28, 2007 7:20 AM   Subscribe

My computer recently crapped out and I desperately need to get back the files on my hard drive. I bought a HD enclosure which did not help me out. I tried to change the permission on the files, but it kept telling me that I need to format everything. Is there any other way I could get my files back? (The computer is completely done, but the hard drive is alive.)

To simplify, if HD enclosure did not work, what are some other ways I could retrieve the files back from my hard drive? Thanks in advance.
posted by cheero to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you have another working computer? You can typically just plug the drive into another computer and pull the files off that way.

But, er, what was telling you to format the drive?

Also, are we talking about Windows, Mac, Linux?

If all else fails there are companies that specialize in data retrieval. If your drive is OK then you probably won't need to resort to that.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:30 AM on February 28, 2007

Please state OS, etc. And define "crapped out" won't start, won't boot from drive, etc.

If you were trying to set the permissions, that means you can see the files in some directory view somewhere? Did you try the HD enclosure with the problem drive on another PC, or the same one that crapped out.

Try a linux live CD to get a working OS, and see if that will allow you to browse the files.

The solution will depend greatly on your os.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:37 AM on February 28, 2007

Sorry for the lack of info, here's a bit more.

My computer that 'crapped out' simply died. Dell did not know what was wrong with it. At first they thought it was the power suply, then motherboard and then finally the processor. None of the replacements seem to fix the issue. The computer simply won't turn on. I've since dropped it off at a computer store (Micro Center) to see what they can tell me.

The drive is SATA.

OS is Windows XP (shame, I know). And the actual computer model was Dell 9100.
posted by cheero at 7:42 AM on February 28, 2007

Are you able to scandisk it or anything?
posted by tomw at 7:45 AM on February 28, 2007

Yank the drive. Put it in a USB enclosure that supports SATA and USB 2.0 Attach the drive to a working PC that already boots up. You should be able to access the files.

If you have another SATA pc, you should be able to plug the suspect drive into the motherboard as an internal drive. Note, you may need to fiddle with the bios settings to get the computer to recognize the drive, and don;t forget the power supply.

Microcenter should be able to do this, but explain to them that you don't need to boot off the drive, you just need to get the files off of it.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:49 AM on February 28, 2007

Wait a second, is the computer a desktop Dell Dimension 9100 or the laptop Inspiron 9100?
posted by Pastabagel at 7:51 AM on February 28, 2007

Dell Dimension 9100.
posted by cheero at 8:06 AM on February 28, 2007

ok, what I said above should work. Also, you might ask microcenter just to dupe the drive to another new drive they sell you. Even if the suspect drive is readable, a power spike or other catastrophic problem may have hosed the drive, and I wouldn't rely on it. Drives are cheap. Sorry about the hassle.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:10 AM on February 28, 2007

When my partition table, drive letter recognition, (etc) crapped out last year, I had great success rebuilding and pulling the data using a tool called GetDataBack, from RunTime. It can be purchased for either NTFS or FAT filesystems.

Good luck.
posted by wonderwisdom at 8:17 AM on February 28, 2007

Have you tried to boot with Knoppix yet? If you're not familiar, try an Ask MetaFilter search for Knoppix and instructions are bound to be there.
posted by k8t at 8:19 AM on February 28, 2007

Thank you for your suggestions! I will try it out later on in the day.
posted by cheero at 8:19 AM on February 28, 2007

In case it wasn't clear, do not actually ever format this drive. It may be horribly screwed up, but formatting it is going to destroy the files that are on an individual basis probably ok. I'm sure you knew this, but I thought I'd say it.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:24 AM on February 28, 2007

Don't do anything that will write to the drive until you get your data back. Don't change permissions, don't run scandisk and give it permission to fix errors.

I've had great luck with R-studio for file recovery from partially corrupted disks. You can run the demo and have it tell you what it can recover before you decide to spend money on it.
posted by Good Brain at 8:52 AM on February 28, 2007

Ditto the advice on knoppix. I've successfully accessed drives which were difficult to access with windows.
posted by JJ86 at 9:10 AM on February 28, 2007

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