Tip & How-To about Computers & Internet

How to retrieve data from a broken laptop.

Most people today with careers on the go have a laptop. With this mobility comes great sacrifice and that's because of the risk of hard disk failure thorough dropping or mishandling. When this happens the only thing on their minds is if they'll ever see their data again. This wouldn't be such a crisis if they recently made a backup but then again how many do. So if your laptop has broken or stopped working then here is what you can do to retrieve the data yourself.

We're going to assume that the hard drive survived and is still functional.

First of all you're going to need to dismantle the laptop to remove the hard drive. As there are so many different types of laptops out there I can't give you a universal way to dismantle it, if you want the dismantling instructions just type How to dismantle Your laptops model name here laptop for example into Google or Yahoo!

We want to be able to access the data on the hard drive so you'll need a IDE to USB cable (for older drives) or a SATA to USB cable (for newer drives). This all depends of which connector your laptop's drive has. You'll need a 12 volt source for the hard disk which can be obtained from a molex power cable in the PC.

Plug the power from your power supply to the required power connector on the drive (normally a molex connector or newer thin power connecor on more recent power supplies that use SATA technology) and then plug the data cable USB into one of your free USB ports and boot up the PC.

Look around in my computer and you should see the laptop hard disk listed, it should be seen as an external hard disk just like a flash drive when you plug it in.

Copy over all the files and information that you want recovered to the desktop. Depending on the situation, you may want to format the hard disk, re-install the OS, and then re-use the hard disk.

When you purchase a new laptop you can then copy the recovered data onto it and there you have it just like before. Remember to make regular back-ups of important files in the future as the hard drive may not always be working if the laptop fails.

This is what a IDE drive looks like, notice the many pins in the IDE connection.

This is what a SATA drive looks like notice the large L shaped data connection and the smaller L shaped power connection.

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