File recovery after hard drive crash?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Darlene M. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

My hard drive crashed and had to replace it. Unfortunately, the techs did not install any of my old programs onto the hard drive. I don't know much about the computer and I want install my programs again. What can you suggest? "

My Response:

You will need to acquire and reinstall all of your programs (IE: setup.exe / run-time executables) onto your new hard drive. You cannot copy over the old programs and have them run on your new drive: they need to be reinstalled onto Windows.

I while back, I wrote an article entitled, "The Ultimate Program and Driver Install Guide", which explains how to go about installing programs or drivers (even archived files) if you are unfamiliar with the process:

The Ultimate Program and Drive Install Guide

If you can still access your old hard drive and would like to retrieve files:

1. Attach the old drive to the system. I have a downloadable video tutorial (How to Install a Hard Drive) which can show you how to do this.

2. Run ScanDisk on the old drive and attempt to correct File System Errors. Do this after Windows has loaded. If ScanDisk keeps resetting / restarting, you can get a replacement here:

Microsoft Scandisk and Defrag replacements

Side note: At this point, I would recommend that you do not attempt to Fix / Recover bad sectors on the drive. If a sector is damaged, the sector may be mapped out and its data over-written, which would make recovery of some files difficult.

3. Scan the corrupt drive for viruses. There's a free virus scanner here:

4. Copy over your most important files / directories to the new drive. You can use an Explorer window to Drag and Drop (or Cut and Paste) your files over to the new hard drive.

If the File System on the corrupt drive is messed up beyond recovery according to ScanDisk, or if the drive has developed bad sectors, you may want to use Data Recovery software (depending on the importance of the data).

Fortunately, I haven't had to use data recovery programs often, so I can't really make a recommendation. I know there's a lot of them out there, so this time I'm going to ask Infopackets Readers for their opinion.

Do you know of a good Data Recovery utility?

Send me your suggestions!

Update 2003/08/07: This article has been updated. Click here to read!

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