Let’s say your laptop failed to start but you have some important files on the hard drive you would like to access. Is it possible to recover data from a failed laptop or notebook computer? Yes, it is and the process is relatively simple.
First of all, I assume that the hard drive in your failed laptop is not damaged.The laptop fails to start but the hard drive is in a good working condition.
In order to recover data you will have to access and remove the hard drive. Fortunately in most laptops the hard drive can be easily accessed through a hatch on the bottom. If the hard drive has mounting brackets installed (like in my example), it might be necessary to remove those brackets.
How to recover data from a laptop IDE hard drive.
Let’s start with an IDE hard drive also known as PATA hard drive.
On the picture below you see a regular IDE hard drive. It has two rows of pins on the front side.
The easiest way to access and recover data from an IDE hard drive would be using an external USB enclosure. Make sure to choose a USB enclusure for 2.5″ IDE hard drives.
You attach your hard drive to a USB/IDE converter and then connect it to another working computer (laptop or desktop) via USB cable.
Advantages of using external USB enclosure:
1. Easy to assemble and setup even for novice users.
2. Can be connected to a laptop or desktop computer.
Disadvantages of using external USB enclosure:
Slow data transfer rate.
If you computer supports USB 2.0, the data transfer rate will not exceed 480Mbps (I assume the enclosure also supports USB 2.0).
If your computer supports only USB 1.1, the data transfer rate will not exceed 12Mbps and it might take hours to transfer large amount of data.
The second method is for more advanced users.
You can access and remove data much faster if you use a laptop to IDE hard drive adapter (on the picture below mentioned as IDE connector).
One side of the adapter connects to the laptop hard drive. The second connects to the available IDE cable inside your PC computer.
Advantages of using Laptop to IDE hard drive adapter:
Fast data transfer rate. If you have a Ultra ATA/100 (UDMA/100) laptop hard drive, the data transfer rate will be 100MBs.
Disadvantages of using Laptop to IDE hard drive adapter:
1. Not for novice users. Requires PC disassembly and hardware configuration.
2. Can be connected only to PC computes.
On the picture below you can see how the adapter is connected to a PC computer.
How to recover data from a laptop SATA hard drive.
A SATA hard drive has a different interface. It has a data connector and power connector.
A laptop SATA hard drive also can be connected to an external USB enclosure. Make sure to choose a USB enclusure for 2.5″ SATA hard drives.
If you are using an external USB enclusure, the data transfer rate will be limited to the speed of the USB port (480Mbps or 12Mbps) even though SATA hard drives has transfer rate 150MBps.
For a faster data recovery I would suggest connecting your SATA hard drive directly to the SATA ports inside a PC computer. Fortunately, you can use same type of cables as you use for regular 3.5″ desktop hard drives.
My next post explains how to recover data from a laptop with crashed OS.