How to Recover a Bad Disk That Won't Read or Mount

By Norm Dickinson

Hard drives store data on magnetic platters.
i hard disk drive image by dinostock from

Data recovery software can often detect and recover files from bad disks that are not detected by the operating system and that refuse to mount. Data recovery labs are extremely successful at this operation but the price can be too high for many users depending upon the importance of the data on the drive. When the data is critical, there is no substitute for a dedicated data recovery lab and no attempt should be made to recover data manually as any drive activity reduces the chance of success by the lab.

Data Recovery

Power down the computer that has the bad disk installed immediately after noticing problems with the disk.

Obtain data recovery software and install it onto the working computer. Several options for finding data recovery software can be found in the Resources section of this article.

Purchase a USB hard drive adapter and attach it to an available USB port on the working computer. Install any necessary drivers for the adapter.

Connect the failed hard drive to the USB hard drive adapter and to a power supply. Cancel any prompts that attempt to automatically play or initialize the drive or that ask what to do with the drive.

Run the data recovery software and have it scan for external drives attached to the USB ports on the working computer.

Perform a full surface scan of the failed drive to recover any data that is on the drive.

Store the recovered data on removable media or on the working computer or attach another storage device to which you can save the recovered data.