Nothing quite strikes the fear into the heart of the computer lover than an all-out crash. It’s easy to think about your machine as an invincible, bulletproof way to store your most important documents, but when your computer goes kaput, so can your files. However, a computer gone awry doesn’t always mean a life sentence for all of your files, photos and music saved on your computer.
As long as the hard drive is still working fine, you can — if you’re reasonably adept at computer fixit projects — take it out and install it on another computer to salvage your files. Of course, if it’s your hard drive that goes bad, it’s time to call in the professionals for some serious recon. Otherwise, as long as you have a basic knowledge of computers, it should be a DIY project at home.
First, you need to pop your old hard drive out of your dead computer. Switch the computer off and unscrew the casing around the outside of the tower. Inside, you should find a section in the tower that is filled with “bays” or slots that allow for the addition of other hard drives. Unplug the leads that are connected to hard drive and gently work it out of its current slot. You can then trash the tower for parts or see if someone can fix it, but you no longer need it for your files.
Grab your working computer and switch off the power. Unscrew the casing as before and pull it off. Inside, you’ll already see a hard drive. If you’re new to installing hard drives, you might think it’s totally fine to remove the current drive and use the leads and cables to plug in your old one. But you need two hard drives in order to move the old files to your new computer. To do so, you have to install the second hard drive as a “slave” or secondary drive on your computer.
Slide your old hard drive into a bay near the working drive so the connectors can read from the second to the first. Then, slide the “jumpers” in the mini connectors on the back of the drive, so that your working drive is the “master” and the drive from your old computer is the “slave.”
Finally, connect the power supply using the additional connectors from the current supply and screw the casing back onto the tower. You can then restart your computer and either operate with two drives or move your old files over to anew drive so you can pop the older drive back out.