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Data recovery from notebook’s hard disk with USB hard disk

When you cannot boot normally into Windows, try:

  1. press F8 continuously during boot up (when you see the progress bar)
  2. then, select 1 of the options

According to Windows Help:

Safe Mode option – you have access to only basic files and drivers (mouse, monitor, keyboard, mass storage, base video, default system services, and no network connections).

Safe Mode with Networking option – loads all of the above files and drivers and the essential services and drivers to start networking

Safe Mode with Command Prompt option – exactly the same as safe mode except that a command prompt is started instead of the graphical user interface. For DOS / MS-DOS pro only.

Last Known Good Configuration option – starts your computer using the registry information that was saved at the last shutdown. Very much like Inoue‘s (of Bleach) talent Santen Kesshun in reversing the (sad and bad) state of a person to heal. Unfortunately, if your saved registry during the last shutdown is corrupted/missing, this wouldn’t work.

Safe mode helps you to diagnose problems. If a symptom does not reappear when you start in safe mode, you can detect the possible causes via elimination process. If a newly added device or a changed driver is causing problems, you can use safe mode to remove the device or reverse the change.

Unfortunately, this does not guarantee as it could still failed either by freezing (hang, deadman) or auto restart when loading in Safe Mode. Contrarily to most beliefs, blue screen during loading doesn’t always mean there’s memory (software) problem. For all you know, it could be the hard disk (hardware) itself.

You can check the error messages in blue screen (or otherwise) for Windows at Search the Knowledge Base. If it’s other OS (Operating System), just go to your OS’s official website to search the “error code”. I searched in Google (yeah, not intended to give free advertisement) to get tweaks from techies as well as official websites.

If you have or not sure if you have warranty, please check with your dealer (where you bought the unit from). Software problems are generally not supported by hardware – if you have Microsoft XP loading error, Dell, HP, Toshiba, Sony would not support you without charging $. Even if they charge you, there’ll be delay because these companies need to generate a quotation to you and then your signature for approval. I’m not sure if they require payment first if it’s online assistance. You may need to send the notebook in or pay extra to get their technicians to fix software problems. This may take a few minutes to days. Most companies take back your faulty hdd even if you have to pay for a new hdd. Check this before you agree anything. Although it’s ethical for companies to ask first before they do anything, sometimes there can be miscommunication.

I had customers who exclaimed, “I want to get back my data! And my hard disk. I don’t care what you do, just give me back my data. If cannot, then give me back the hard disk.”

Data recovery (considered software support) is usually not supported by manufacturer of the hdd.

Another thing is, all data is lost if the hdd is reformatted (when the hdd can still be used – the problem was with software, not hardware). Reinstalling the OS only would not erase other softwares but OS reinstallation is under software and usually chargeable to the customer. Unless the customer has software + hardware support. Of course customer him/herself could contact the OS company and ask for troubleshooting again but that’s out the manufacturer’s support.

If you are sure that the warranty is out and you really want to recover data from the hard disk by yourself, read on. Again, if the warranty is still valid, DO NOT attempt this!

Make sure you have plenty of space to place the hard disk from notebook which you’ll take out later. Have a tray/area to keep the screws in order. No water nearby! You’ll need:

  1. Screwdrivers in different sizes – depending on your notebook and USB hard disk.
  2. a USB hard disk (for the casing)
  3. a USB cable

Steps to Data recovery from notebook’s hard disk with USB hard disk

1 Make sure all power sources are off. Switch off power supply and take out the battery.

2 Take out the screws and then take out hard disk (hdd) from USB hard disk (also known as portable hard disk). You need the circuit board (the green thing with maps). The metallic casing (aka enclosure) is not essential but it’ll protect your hdd later..

Screwdriver, screws, USB casing (metallic), hdd attached to circuit board:
Tech2 - Portable Hard Drive Buying Guide

3 Take out the hdd from the dead notebook (nb). Usually it’s located at the side and it’s much thinner than PC’s hdd.

Most manufacturers have images and guide on where the hard disk is located in their websites. Search for the guide if you are not sure.

CMS Products – how to remove the internal hard drive from various notebook computers

How a nb hdd looks like:
Toms Hardware 2.5

You need the gold pins (IDE) unobstructed to slot them into the USB board:
Laptop Repair Help Accessing notebook hard drive using USB enclosure

You DON’T have to open till it shows the spinning disk:
Hitachi Travelstar 60GH and 40GN 2.5-inch hard disk drives

4 If the IDE gold-silver pins are protected by a cover, try using flat screwdriver to create a bit space. Pull the hdd out by hand slowly to avoid hitting the other end.

5 Slot your nb’s hdd into the USB’s board – make sure the gold pins meet the holes correctly. Now you have nb’s hdd on USB’s board.

Clearer pictures in All Cam – How to assemble a USB portable hard drive?

6 Slot the USB board into the USB casing if you want to. This is just to protect your hdd from external environment.

7 Connect USB cable onto USB and PC or another nb’s USB port on each end.

Bix Net - 60GB ~ 160GB USB2.0 PocketSize External Hard Drive

8 Your computer (PC or another nb) would detect additional hardware (icon on taskbar). You can also view it in My Computer – there’s additional icon for USB.

If however, the notebook gives a message that the power is not enough and you need to disconnect the USB to the notebook – follow the advice immediately to avoid damage!

When I tried to connect the USB hdd (now with the dead nb’s hdd) to another nb, I got that message. So I had to connect it to desktop PC instead.

9 Open it as how you would open your files and folders, start transferring your data from the USB into PC/nb. I would create another folder just for this backup to avoid confusion later.

DO NOT COPY OS and Program Files folder! If you do, it could create confusion or error in your PC/nb.

Just grab the important stuff, chat history, installation files for other applications/games (in *.exe) and Favorites/bookmarks.

10 After backup, click on the additional hardware icon to remove it safely from the PC/nb. Select the item and click STOP.

Your original hdd from the notebook? You can send it to check or repair/replacement. You can reformat it while it’s still connected via USB and reuse, donate it to charity or recycle. Check the manufacturer’s website for environmental programs. Most charity organizations collect hardwares to recycle – look for 1 nearby your area to save petrol. You can also sell it off at online auction (lelong, ebay, tumpang) and forums with warning of the problems you had encounter.

All the pictures are taken from their own sites, just click on the image to go to the original webpage which would contain more info.

More links:

One thought on “Data recovery from notebook’s hard disk with USB hard disk

  1. These software tools are capable of finding disk errors and possibly fix them. But, data recovery nyc should be noted that not all errors can be fixed in data recovery new york city and manhattan best by these tools, they are not miracle tools anyways Good Job!!!


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