The answer to the hard drive question is more complex than you may think, but the bottom
line is that you really need to know how damaged is your hard drive or rather how much
functionality is left in the hard drive.
• First, I would try to approach the problem by distinguishing if it is a hardware or software
issue. If the problem is software-related, for example, the operating system is corrupted, the
hard drive can be attached as a "slave" and the important data copied to the "master" bootable
drive. Many times that approach can be used even for hardware-related problems, for
example, when the hard drive is getting flaky, but it's not broken yet.
• It is a lot easier to prepare yourself for the broken hard drive, but to really motivate yourself
for any preventive steps, you'd have to answer the question: would I be still OK if my hard
drive crashes today? Also, how much time do I want to spent for a data and/or system
• Over years, I was developing many different methods of data recovery and backup, therefore
the following is the fastest and probably the most reliable method of doing so. First of all,
install the OS with all the associated programs and utilities including MS Office, Internet
• When you test everything and you're sure that everything is the way you want, you can take
an image of your hard drive by using Norton Ghost.
• For the files that you create from now on until next computer crash, create a folder called
"data" and in that folder subdirectories for MS Office, PhotoShop, etc.
• From now on, all you have to do is to backup your "data" directory to the CD and copy the
Ghost image to the second CD, and if you need to restore your system, it would take you
anywhere from 5 to 20 min to have everything back where it was.
• If your hard drive snapshot image is bigger than 650 MB, choose option to compress the
image during the process. If after compression the image is still bigger than 650 MB, you can
split the image on as many chunks as you need, for example 20 chunks to backup 13-GB hard
drive without compression.
From: Mike Fogarty
I have a really quick, no real science approach to this problem. Assuming that the drive will
still spin, there is a quick, however with some risk involved, solution. In past situations, I have
successfully accessed a damaged drive by "replacing the drive.” This method involves the
EXACT SAME DRIVE as the one in question.
Step 1 With all power off, remove the hard drive in question and place it on the side where it
can be easily accessed.
Step 2 Install the "NEW" drive (a drive of the same type, and manufacturer).
Step 3 Start the system up and get it to recognize the new drive. It is important to only start a
command line session. Remember that we are only trying to copy some files here—this is an
emergency maneuver. Also, the drive must be formatted the same as the drive we are
Step 4 With the system RUNNING (be careful, this is the risky part I told you about, do it in
this sequence), VERY QUICKLY detach the power umbilical from the running drive. Then detach
the data ribbon cable from the running drive.