The Art of Data Recovery

| June 8, 2011

Have you been paying for data recovery when your warranty runs out? Services like that can run you into the hundreds of dollars in many places. However, doing it yourself has gotten easier over time.

Let’s assume that your laptop has stopped working. You push the power button and nothing happens. After a while you determine that something is faulty, which prevents you from using the machine. However, you have an important paper or file that you need access.

The video above demonstrates how you can remove your hard drive and put it an enclosure which makes it become an external drive that you can attach to any machine (laptop or desktop).

Of course, make sure that you verify that the machine is not under warranty before tinkering with it. That’s just one of many disclaimers that I should throw out there (though I will probably forget to do so). By the way, my favorite disclaimer is used from the movie “Dogma.”

After you have determined that it is kosher to open the machine, make sure you have the proper tools necessary: a static-free environment, a safe place to put your screws (not demonstrated very well in video), a screwdriver (Phillips likely), an enclosure for a 2.5″ hard drive, the wires that came with the enclosure, and a working machine to attach the enclosure to if you are looking for imminent data retrieval. Enclosures can be found in many technology stores or online for between $10 and $20 (look elsewhere if you find the price higher where you go). A SATA enclosure is likely for most machines produced in the last few years, though you might have to get a regular EIDE 2.5″ enclosure (check your documentation). If you see two rows of pins sticking out when you remove the hard drive from the laptop, you are dealing with an EIDE drive.

You can find out how to remove/replace the hard drive in the manual that comes with your machine. The manual is also available online if you go to the company website (Dell, HP, Toshiba, etc.) and go to the support site. From there, you will enter your model number and/or express code which will bring up all documents and drivers specific to your machine. For more complicated parts removal, you can  find schematics and how-to’s on Google.

This procedure can also be performed on desktops. The enclosures for those are typically bigger (3.5″ HDD) and the concept is the same.

So enjoy the video… and sorry for the hairy legs…

DISCLAIMER #2: Never do this on a machine other than yours. They WILL find you.