How to Extract Files From the Internal Hard Drive of a Dead Laptop

Alternatively, use disk cloning software to copy the contents of your drive to a new device.
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Laptop manufacturers typically store serviceable components, like the RAM and hard drive, underneath access panels on the bottom of the case. If your computer won't power on or boot, you can extract your hard drive from its compartment and hook it up to another computer using a SATA/IDE-to-USB adapter. One end of the adapter connects to the SATA or IDE interface on your hard drive, and the other end plugs into an available USB slot on your other PC, enabling you to mount your laptop disk as a removable drive.

Disconnect the power adapter and all devices and drives from the laptop. Close the display, and then flip the computer over.

Slide the tab or tabs on the bottom of the case to eject the battery from its compartment.

Pull the battery out, and then loosen the screws securing the access panel or panels to the bottom of the case.

Lift the access panel or panels off the case, and then check each compartment to locate the hard drive.

Put on an antistatic wrist strap to protect the hard drive from electrostatic discharge.

Loosen and remove the screws securing the hard drive to the case, and then grasp the tab on top of the drive to lift the device out of its compartment.

Line up the SATA or IDE interface on the adapter with the connector on the hard drive, and then connect the appropriate interface to the device.

Connect the USB interface on the adapter to your computer, and then select "Open Device to View Files" from the pop-up menu. If no menu appears, press "Windows-E," click "Computer" in the left pane, and then select the removable drive.

Navigate to the folder containing the files you want to recover from the device, and then drag the files onto the other hard drive.

  • The steps to remove the hard drive from your laptop may vary depending on the make and model of your device. Review the service manual if you have any difficulty locating or extracting the drive.
  • Some manufacturers install the hard drive to a compartment on the right or left side of the laptop.

Ruri Ranbe has been working as a writer since 2008. She received an A.A. in English literature from Valencia College and is completing a B.S. in computer science at the University of Central Florida. Ranbe also has more than six years of professional information-technology experience, specializing in computer architecture, operating systems, networking, server administration, virtualization and Web design.