Remounted hard disk

How to recover your files from a broken computer to a new computer

This article assumes you have a broken computer with a functional hard drive and a new computer that already has an operating system loaded. This article requires a set of jeweler’s screwdrivers. Wearing an anti-static wrist-strap is recommended. The ultimate goal is full data recovery from the old disk drive to the new disk drive while using the old disk drive as a fresh backup drive.

First, properly shut down and unplug both computers. Capacitive energies should dissipate within a minute. Your computer has stored energy on the motherboard that can still cause damage if you touch them the wrong way.

hard drive
This is how your hard drive may look when mounted

Next, remove the captive screws that hold the case on. Place these aside in a container so that you don’t lose them. There may be a few more screws on the opposite side depending on the type of case you have.
Third, remove the case and place it aside. Next you will have to locate the hard-drive. It will be a shiny metal box about the size of a deck of cards. There will either be a large ribbon cable going into the back (known as an IDE cable) or a thin, black or red cable (known as a SATA cable). There will also be a power cable (either a translucent white connector called a Molex connector or a very small black connector).
SATA cable and hard disk drive
This is a SATA cable and the hard drive’s power supply.

Unplug both cables and remove them if they will be needed to install the hard-drive in its new home. In the event of the ribbon-shaped IDE cable, ensure that you remember the position on the cable that the hard-drive is connected to. IDE cables have a cable-select feature that may impact the operation of the hard-drive based on the jumper position on the hard-drive controller.
Unscrew the captive screws from the old hard-drive and *carefully* remove it from the old computer. Some screws may be hidden so double check before you try to force it. This may involve removing a separate enclosure. Sometimes there will be a special plastic or metal restraint system that you will have to defeat by pressing, sliding, or some combination thereof. Mount the hard-drive in the new computer.
Plug the new cabling in. If given the option for older model hard-drives, the new computer’s original hard-drive should be the Master and the old computer’s hard-drive should be the Slave. This can be set via a jumper pin on the back of the hard-drive.
Reinstall your case cover, reinstall all external screws. Boot your machine. Choose the newest version of windows (the one on the new computer’s harddrive) to load if given the option in the boot menu. You should be able to make it to the desktop from here. Open File Manager and pull the files you want to save from the old harddrive to your new harddrive.
At this point, we want to erase the old operating system to prevent any conflicts from happening. If you don’t want to do that, skip this step. From the File manager, right click the old harddrive and select Format. WARNING: DOING THIS WILL ERASE THE HARD DRIVE AND YOU WILL LOSE ANY DATA NOT ON THE NEW HARD DRIVE. BE EXTRA CERTAIN YOU HAVE SELECTED THE RIGHT HARD DRIVE!
Click Format, quick format, and let it run. Now you have a fresh harddrive to use for backup/extra storage/etc. It is best to keep your most important files on the newer harddrive as the old one will tend to fail a lot faster than the new.
If you have any questions or suggestions for this post, leave a comment!

Leave a Reply