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How to Recover Files from a Sick or Worse Computer (Most of the time at Least) Part 1

Computer Will Not Turn On

Computer gone dead? Want your data? Well there may be some help out there that doesn’t require a clean room and thousands of dollars. The following steps do not always work, but usually do.

First let’s start with the obvious. Since the computer does not turn on you will need to obtain an external drive enclosure for the type of hard drive you are trying to save. Modern ones are SATA in either 3.5 (desktop) or 2.5 inches (laptop). SATA hard drives have 2 areas for pins If you have an old IDE hard drive (all pins), you will have a lot more trouble finding an external drive, but it can be done. Again laptop and desktop sizes for hard drives are usually different. If you have a modern solid state card style hard drive, simply take it out and put it into an appropriate card reader.

You will need to safely remove the drive from the non-working computer. This will vary considerably from a laptop or a desktop. Find your owners manual online, or an article on how to do this for your specific type of computer.

Generally, the following steps should be taken before the computer specific directions mentioned above.

In the case of both desktop and laptop, be certain that the power supply is completely disconnected from both wall and computer. In the case of the laptop, be certain that the battery is removed.

Next, it is important to make sure you are grounded once you are ready to remove the drive and put it into its new enclosure. With either you can use one of these anti-static wrist bracelets if you happen to have one.

If not and you are taking it from a desktop, simply place some part of your hand or arm on the frame of the desktop as you begin working.

For a laptop, ground yourself by touching the middle screw on an electrical wall outlet, or by touching a metal pipe, or simply by touching a metal part of the laptop frame. For safety do this again before installing your drive into its new enclosure.

Using the external drive or card reader, simply plug into a running, booted computer. In many cases your data will be there simply waiting for you to grab it.

If you don’t want to simply copy and paste your newly found data onto the computer you are using, you will need a different drive to put it on. Your backup system is especially good for this sort of thing. That way you don’t have to do it again!

If this does not work for you, or your old computer starts but won’t boot, you will need to study Part 2.

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