What Can I Do After a Hard Drive Crash?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 March 2014
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Whether or not you can retrieve lost data and save your information after a hard drive crash will depend on how great the damage is. If there are several corrupted files but the entire system hasn’t been destroyed, you may be able to remove the files and retain your data. When the entire hard drive crashes, your only option may be to install and new one and then go back and attempt to retrieve any available data from your old one. This is generally costly and is not always possible.

If you have had an entire hard drive crash, you will need to buy a new hard drive for your computer and then install your operating system. You should have gotten a recovery disk when you purchased your computer or made one yourself soon after. Without this disk, you cannot install or run your operating system or retrieve any programs. If you did not make a backup disk and the computer manufacturer didn’t include one, you may have no option but to purchase the software. This can sometimes be nearly as pricey as buying an entirely new computer.

Once your operating system is up and running, you will need to set up your computer to run your new hard drive as the main one you will be using. The original will still remain on your computer and will become a “slave” drive, meaning you will have access to the files using your new hard drive using specialized software.


You may need to hire a professional to handle these tasks for you unless you are very technologically savvy. Sometimes your hard drive crash may not be the actual hard drive at all, but only the operating system. This will simply require a reinstall of the system without requiring the purchase of a new drive. Doing each step correctly is vital if you intend to retrieve your lost or damaged files.

In some cases during a hard drive crash, you will be able to fix the corrupted hard drive or hire someone to do so. This is not always available and can sometimes result in additional files being damaged if an underlying problem is not fixed. For this reason, purchasing a new drive is often a better option in the long-term, but if it’s not an affordable solution for you, repairing the damaged one could be an option.

If you do not have files saved to your computer that are irreplaceable, it is often less expensive to purchase an entirely new computer system. Personal computers are priced cheaper than ever before, with desktops starting at only a few hundred dollars (USD). In some cases, files from an old hard drive can still be recovered even if you are using an entirely new computer.


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