Recovering Information From A Hard Drive After A Computer Dies

by on December 3, 2007

Q: My computer just died on me and I have a 320GB IDE hard drive with a lot of information on it. I was wondering if I put the hard drive into an enclosure and attach it to another computer, will all of my information still be on there and accessible? Or would I have to reformat the hard drive so it would work properly?

A: You have had a great idea! So long as the hard drive is not what caused your computer to die, you should be able to use an enclosure to access your data. If your dead computer is Windows-based, connect the enclosure to another Windows-based computer. Use another Mac if the dead computer is Mac-based, etc. If you do not have access to the correct type of computer, consider using a Ubuntu Linux LiveCD as a workaround. A few additional tips:

  1. Do not attempt to recover your old operating system. Except in very special circumstances, that will cause more harm than good. Just recover your data.
  2. Depending upon your configuration, you may need to adjust the jumper settings of the hard drive in the enclosure. Settings on IDE hard drives are: master, slave, and cable select. Consult the documentation that comes with your enclosure for more information.
  3. If your dead computer is a desktop, you might be able to save some money by installing the hard drive directly into another desktop, in slave mode. You may find the enclosure to be an easier solution.

I hope that you have found my advice to be helpful. Good luck!