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Summary :

how to get data off an old hard drive

How to get data off an old hard drive? This is a common topic. In this post, we will show you 3 common situations, as well as the corresponding methods to get files from the old disk. Just try one based on your needs to pull data from hard drive.

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When Need to Get Files off an Old Disk

As to this topic - getting data off an old hard drive, there are various situations:

1. You have an old hard drive from the previous computer sitting around and it isn’t put to your old PC.

2. The old hard drive is in your old PC

  • The PC can start up properly from the old hard drive; you want to keep the same data and Windows as the old PC on the new one.
  • In a dead computer, Windows OS fails to boot from the old disk, then you need to recover data.

Depending on different situations, the ways to retrieve data from hard drive are also different. Here, we will show you details on how to get data off an old hard drive in these cases.

How to Access Files on Old Hard Drive Without Putting It to PC

Sometimes your old computer is broken; only the hard drive is in a healthy status. In this case, you may remove the disk from the damaged computer, let it sit around and then buy a new Windows 10 PC where a new disk is included.

Since much important information is saved on old disk, you may want to access the disk data. So, how to access files on the hard drive in Windows 10 becomes a common topic. The easiest way is to connect the old disk to your PC rather than putting it inside the PC.

Note: Can you plug an old hard drive into a new computer that doesn’t have an OS? This is a question always asked. If your new computer has the same hardware as the old one, you can do this work. Otherwise, the PC couldn’t boot properly from the old disk due to incompatible hardware.

Move 1: Connect Old Hard Drive to PC

The simplest option is to use a special USB cable adapter to connect the disk to your computer. If you only occasionally need to use an old drive or just need to do it once, an adapter is available. Just choose a proper one from the internet.

use a USB adapter to connect disk to PC

Besides, you can buy an external hard drive enclosure and install your old hard drive in it if you are planning to access the old disk data regularly. Some instructions on how to install the hard drive to the enclosure are shipped.

Move 2: Access the Disk Data

The disk connected to the PC should be recognized and displayed in Windows Explorer automatically without any software or driver. Now, you can get data off an old hard drive. Just open the partitions on the old disk to use the old files and folders.

Then, you can take some measures to get files from the old disk, for example, pull data from hard drive to your new PC. Of course, you can plug the old disk to your new computer every time for accessing files when you have a need instead of data transfer or copy & paste.

Note: A warning message might pop up saying that you don’t currently have permission to access this folder when opening folders on the old hard drive with Windows OS installed. This means the folder only has the permission given by the previous system.

In this case, how to get data off an old hard drive? Press Continue and Windows will assign permissions to your currently signed-in account.

Tip: What if the hard drive is not recognized by Windows? Please make sure both the power and data cables are connected properly. If yes, but the issue still exists, read this post - Fix: External Hard Drive Not Showing up or Recognized.

How to Get Data off an Old Hard Drive to New PC’s Disk

Sometimes, your old computer can run from the old hard drive but it runs very slowly. Then, you may decide to purchase a new PC. You are used to using the Windows settings, applications, personal data, etc on the old computer and also want to keep the old disk on the old computer.

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So, what if you want to get data off an old hard drive so that the new PC uses the same OS, setting, data as the old PC? The simple method is to clone disk. As for this work, third-party software is recommended. So, which one should be used? MiniTool ShadowMaker can be a good option.

At first glance, you may think it is only free backup software to back up Windows OS, file & folder, partition, and disk. Actually, it can be used as a hard drive cloning software that is compatible with Windows 10/8/7, etc.

With its Clone Disk feature, you can easily clone the old hard drive to the disk on your new computer. By this way, everything including Windows OS, settings, apps, personal data, etc. will be moved to your new disk. Now, hit the download button to get MiniTool ShadowMaker Trial Edition (30 days free use).

Free Download

Here are the steps on how to get info off a hard drive.

Step 1: Run MiniTool ShadowMaker for Local Disk Cloning

  1. Double-click on the installed software.
  2. After running MiniTool ShadowMaker, click Keep Trial to continue.
  3. To manage a local computer, click the left Connect button.

MiniTool ShadowMaker local or remote backup

Step 2: Select a Feature for Disk Clone

  1. Hit the Tools feature in the toolbar.
  2. Find Clone Disk and click it to continue.

clone disk with MiniTool ShadowMaker

Step 3: Specify Both Source Disk and Target Disk

  1. To get data off an old hard drive to a new disk, you should choose the old disk from the Source section and the new PC’s disk from the Destination section.
  2. Click OK and a warning pops up to tell you all target disk will be destroyed.
  3. Click Yes if no important files are saved or you have created a backup.

choose source and target disks

Step 4: Perform a Cloning Process

  1. If the old hard drive has much data, the cloning process will take a few minutes.
  2. You can take advantages of the option Shut down the computer when the operation is completed.

performing clone disk

Tip: After finishing cloning, please disconnect the new disk from your old computer. Then, put it into your new computer and then boot it from this disk. Ensure the new PC has the similar hardware to the old PC. Otherwise, Windows couldn’t boot. If yes, perform a universal restore. Now, you can enjoy everything on the old hard drive.

Related article: How Can You Do Windows Backup Restore to Different Computer?

“I don’t know how to get data off an old hard drive to a disk on the new PC? MiniTool ShadowMaker can help me via disk cloning. So, share it with you.”Click to tweet

How to Get Files off a Hard Drive That Won’t Boot

In addition to the above situations, there is another case: Windows cannot boot from the old hard drive. So, how to get files off old computer that is unbootable? Take it easy now; the method is very simple provided that you use a piece of third-party software.

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Method 1: Use MiniTool ShadowMaker Bootable Edition to Back up Data

To retrieve data from hard drive on a dead computer, you can also use MiniTool ShadowMaker. As mentioned above, this software allows you to back up files.

Free Download

Since the computer cannot start up, you need to prepare a bootable medium.

  1. Similarly, get MiniTool ShadowMaker and enter its Tools
  2. Click Media Builder to create a bootable USB drive/external hard drive or DVD/CD disc.
  3. Boot the dead computer from the created medium. Now, you can start to get files off an old computer.

Step 1: Run MiniTool ShadowMaker in WinPE

  1. After booting the dead computer, enter the MiniTool PE Loader interface.
  2. Launch this backup software to the Backup page.

MiniTool PE environment

Step 2: Choose Backup Source

You may ask “how to find pictures on old hard drive”. Follow the following guide. Of course, searching for any other files is also available.

  1. Go to Source > Folders and Files.
  2. Open your computer drive to check needed files like pictures.
  3. Click OK to go back to the main interface.

check needed files

Step 3: Choose Backup Destination

  1. We recommend you to get data off an old hard drive to an external hard drive or USB flash drive.
  2. Click OK to continue.

choose a backup destination

Step 4: Run a Backup

  1. Click Back up Now.
  2. MiniTool ShadowMaker will go to the Manage page to execute the backup operation.

MiniTool ShadowMaker file backup

Tip: After that, you can browse the backed up files via the Browse feature of this software. For more information, read this post - How to Restore Individual Files from Backups? Focus on 2 Cases. Additionally, if you want to directly view the files after the backup, you can use its Sync feature to sync files to other location.

Are you still looking for the answer to “how to get data off an old hard drive that won’t boot”? Use MiniTool ShadowMaker at once since it can easily help you to retrieve data from hard drive and save to a safe location.

Free Download

Method 2: Recover Data from Old Hard Drive in a Dead Computer

Additionally, the data recovery software – MiniTool Power Data Recovery is designed to retrieve data from an external hard drive, USB drive, SD card, SSD, HDD, etc. in various situations. Thus, it can be used to easily get files off an old hard drive that won’t boot; existing and lost or deleted files will be recovered.

Also, you need to use a bootable disc or drive to boot the dead computer. To create the bootable medium, you need to use Deluxe or an advanced edition. Just get a proper edition from the MiniTool Store and then get files off old computer.

How to get data off an old hard drive that won’t boot? Follow the guide:

Step 1: After entering the MiniTool WinPE page, run MiniTool Power Data Recovery.

Step 2: In its This PC interface, choose the target drive and click Scan.

Step 3: Depending on a large amount of the data, the scan might take a while. Ensure the scan process isn’t stopped for the best scan result.

Step 4: Then, you can check all the items that you need and click the Save button to recover data from old hard drive to a safe place.

Tip: How to find pictures on old hard drive quickly? You can go to the Type section to click Graphics & Picture. Of course, the Path section is also available. Then, perform the picture recovery operation to get pictures off an old computer.

recover data from hard drive in a dead computer

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Bottom Line

How to get data off an old hard drive? This post shows you three cases, as well as the corresponding methods. Just choose one based on your actual needs.

On the other hand, don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any question regarding MiniTool software or any suggestion of pulling data from hard drive. Leaving a comment below and sending an email to [email protected] are both OK.

How to Get Data off an Old Hard Drive FAQ

Can you plug an old hard drive into a new computer?

Three options are offered to you:

  1. Use a USB hard drive enclosure: slide the old drive into it and connect it to your new computer.
  2. Use a USB hard drive adapter to connect the old disk to your new computer.
  3. Connect the old disk as a secondary internal drive if the new computer is a desktop.
How can I retrieve data from a dead laptop?
  1. Run MiniTool Power Data Recovery Bootable Edition on your PC.
  2. Under the This PC section, choose a drive where you want to recover your data to scan.
  3. Wait for the scan.
  4. Choose the needed files to recover to a safe location.
  5. For more information on the recovery, refer to this article - How to Recover Data from a Dead Laptop Hard Drive.
Can I use my old laptop hard drive as an external?
The answer is yes. If you want to re-use your old hard drive, you can convert it to an external USB storage. Just install it in an external enclosure and use it.
What happens if hard drive is removed?
In your computer, the hard drive stores all the operating system and all of your files. It is essential for using the PC. Removing the hard drive can let your computer useless since it cannot boot without a system disk.
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