Not all forms of hard drive failure are mechanical; problems with a drive can be logical as well. If the drive fails to load the operating system, but is recognized by the BIOS or still spins up during the boot process, you may be able to repair logical errors on the drive using Check Disk and back up your files to another location. If, however, the drive makes clicking or clunking noises when in use, the drive is most likely experiencing mechanical failure. If that's the case, you can try to recover your most important files using File Explorer -- although it's risky. To access your files or repair your data, you can connect the device to another PC using a USB to SATA/IDE combo adapter.

Back Up the Entire Drive

Step 1

Connect the SATA or IDE interface on the adapter to the hard drive and then plug the USB interface into an available slot on your computer.

Step 2

Press "Windows-Q" to open the Apps screen, type "cmd" into the search box and then press "Enter."

Step 3

Type the following command into the console:

chkdsk /f [drive]:

Replace "[drive]" with the letter assigned to the disk and then press "Enter." For example, if the disk is assigned to "E:" drive, type "chkdsk /f E:" (without quotation marks) into the console. If you don't know the drive letter, disconnect the device from your computer, press "Windows-E" and then reconnect the drive. The disk will appear in the right pane.

Step 4

Return to the Apps screen when Check Disk completes and then type "file history" into the search bar.

Step 5

Choose "File History" from the results and then click "Windows 7 File Recovery" in the left pane.

Step 6

Click "Set Up Backup," choose a location to back up your files and then click "Next."

Step 7

Click "Let Me Choose" and then click "Next." Select your removable drive from under Computer and then click "Next."

Step 8

Review your selection on the Summary screen and then click "Save Settings and Run Backup" to back up your data to the specified location.

Back Up Only Certain Files or Folders

Step 1

Connect the SATA or IDE interface on the adapter to the hard drive and then plug the USB interface into an available slot on your computer.

Step 2

Press "Windows-E" to open File Explorer and then double-click your removable drive.

Step 3

Navigate to the file or folder path containing the data you want to back up, and then drag-and-drop the file or folder onto your backup location.