Retrieve files after hard drive crash?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Ronald O. writes:

" My computer has crashed a few times and I have lost everything from the hard drive. What can I do to retrieve all my files on the hard drive? Please help! "

My response:

If the drive still works and detects under Windows but your files are missing, you can attempt to repair your master boot record (if it's damaged) by booting into DOS (from a DOS disk) and use the command "FDISK.EXE /MBR".

Side note: The Master Boot Record [MBR] is located at the beginning of the hard drive. This part of the hard drive is referred to as the boot sector, and it is stored at cylinder 0, sector 1 of the drive. The boot sector / MBR stores information about your drive [geometry] so that the drive is usable under an operating system.

If the MBR is damaged on the drive, you can attempt to repair the MBR by low level formatting the drive using a utility called MaxLLF (link at end of this article). If you still can't format the drive after using MaxLLF, you will need to send the drive to the manufacturer for replacement.

If you don't have a DOS disk, get the Windows 98 (not second edition) boot disk from All you need to do is extract the disk image using the boot disk [executable] download and then restart your computer with the floppy disk in the drive. The boot disk will contain the FDISK.EXE program.

After that, boot into Windows to see if the drive and files are available. If there are no files available, you can try to undelete the files using a Windows undelete utility:

How files are Undeleted

If the drive won't detect under Windows, you can read this article I wrote which describes steps you can take and attempt to reclaim your drive. (The link to MaxLLF is also in the below link):

Hard drive does not detect and has disappeared?

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