How do I Recover Pictures From a Crashed Computer's Hard Drive?

by Si Kingston
computer image by Ewe Degiampietro from <a href=''></a>

A system may crash for various reasons. Typically, an intrusive program or virus has caused the system to malfunction. Depending on how bad the system has crashed, pictures can be retrieved from the system using one of three methods: restoration, which is only useful if the restore option includes backing up the data; using recovery software on systems that will at least start up; or removing the entire hard drive.

Step 1

Recover the drive. Most computers come with a recovery CD or have an internal recovery option. The procedure for initiating system recovery varies per brand. For example, to recover a Toshiba, power off the computer. Then hit the "0" and power keys at the same time to initiate recovery. Acer users need to hit both the "ALT" and "F10" keys after system restart. A recovered system will restore the hard drive back to factory settings. Some systems will also back up your data in a backup folder on the hard drive. In Gateway computers this folder is located in the "Computer" folder.

Step 2

Use recovery software. There are many software programs that will attempt to recover the files on the drive, such as GetData Back Data Recovery, File Scavenger Data and Pandora Recovery. When the software is initiated, the program will browse the hard disk for files based on keywords or folder selection. Some of these programs will retrieve formally deleted files. Some will also create a drive image that can be used during recovery to restore the photos. This option is not available if the computer will not start up. Recovery software programs vary in price.

Remove the hard drive and connect it to another computer. You can remove the hard drive in its entirety. Instructions for removing the hard drive varies slightly per brand (see Tips). Once the hard drive is removed, insert it into the USB external enclosure (see Tips). These enclosures can be purchased at computer supply stores. Connect the enclosure to another computer. Locate the drive in the "Computer" folder and double-click to open it. Browse the hard drive for the photos and copy them to the second computer.


  • To remove a hard drive on a laptop, power the laptop off, unplug all power cables and peripheral devices and flip the laptop over. Unscrew the screws that hold the hard drive in place, and pull the hard drive out. For desktops, unscrew or slide off the case cover on the computer case. Disconnect the power and other cables connected to the hard drive inside. Remove or unscrew the hard drive from the cage.
  • To use a USB external enclosure, open the enclosure. Locate the first pin port on the ID cable. (The first pin port will state that it is pin number "1" and/or have a red marking.) If you're slaving a laptop hard drive, connect the laptop adapter to the enclosure's ID cable. The adapter will also have pin number "1" marked, or it will display another marking, such as a diamond, to indicate the first pin location. Line up pin "1" on each connection and connect the ports together.


Photo Credits

About the Author

Si Kingston has been an online content contributor since 2004, with work appearing on websites such as MadeMan. She is a professional screenwriter and young-adult novelist and was awarded the Marion-Hood Boesworth Award for Young Fiction in 2008. Kingston holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mills College.

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