What to Do After a Hard Drive Crash
Data Recovery Step #1: Buy a New Hard Drive
When you lose data during a hard drive crash, it typically means your hard drive—at least in part—is trashed. Moreover, although it's often possible to get some hard drives working again, it's best to start fresh with a new, more reliable hard drive, rather than continue risking more data loss. It’s understandable if you want to stick it out with the hard drive you’ve had for quite awhile, but the risk far outweighs the benefits in this situation. A new hard drive will likely have features that can help you stave off further disaster.
Data Recovery Step #2: Create "Master" and "Slave" Drives
Once you've purchased and installed your new hard drive, you'll want to reload your operating system onto it. The next step is to install your new drive as your master (or primary) hard drive and reassign your original hard drive as a slave (or secondary) drive-this allows you to run your computer from your new hard drive, but still gives you access to your original. This is also a risky proposition because it might lead to your new hard drive being compromised. The key here is to find out what caused your crash in the first place. It’s wise to wait to install your new hard drive until you have cured what ailed the original hard drive.
Data Recovery Step #3: Attempt to Recover Lost Data
After you have your computer up and running, you can attempt to recover the data off your slave drive by using data recovery software. This software is designed to recover data that's been deleted during a crash or was stored in sectors of a hard drive that have become damaged. You will only be able to recover your data this way if your data is still recoverable. If it’s too far gone, you will have to pick up the pieces and find a way to rebuild your digital existence.
Although the computer novice may require help performing some of the aforementioned steps, doing so can help you turn a moment of total, data-loss devastation into pure, data-recovery delight. Your luck with these steps will depend on the severity of your data loss; however, attempting to recover your data is always worthwhile, even when the situation gets grim. In the case of the grim situation, there’s no possible way for you to make things worse, if you follow the steps correctly. The disaster could become even more severe if you mess up one of these steps. If you’re not sure of your abilities, we recommend that you take your damaged hard drive to a professional.