How to recover data from a non-booting laptop

Recently, my father gave me his very old laptop (bought second-hand in 2007) to try to recover some pictures.

Step 1. Access the hard drive

The laptop was not booting, and nothing indicated that the power supply was working. So I couldn't use the laptop itself, and I had to take its hard drive out.

First, I looked up a video on YouTube to see how to disassemble it enough for this. It was not too hard, just 1 screw for this particular laptop.

You can see at 0:43 in this particular video:


Then, I find out that the connector is the old IDE kind, not the SATA ones which can be plugged into modern laptops:

I need some sort of adapter for it. Searching for adapters on Amazon can get you stuff like this which costs quite a lot (and I already have a SATA to USB adapter, so I didn't want one).
Looked some more and I found this nice box (which would also make the drive portable, so I could simply give it to my father).

I unplugged the laptop connector from the drive (it had some strange removable connector), and then I inserted the drive into the box's socket (carefully so I wouldn't bend the pins, and the missing hole is aligned with the missing pin).

It worked nicely, and I could see the file system on my computer :)

Step 2. Deleted file recovery

I searched for all jpg and jpeg files currently on the drive, and did not find the pictures my father was looking for (he mentioned specific images). So, I had to run some recovery tool on the empty space of the file system inside.

Warning! If you just deleted a picture and want to recover it, DON'T use the drive anymore! This is because your OS can now copy stuff over the deleted picture (which is now marked as empty space). If you copied files to fill your drive afterwards, then the picture will not be recoverable anymore.

Luckily my father didn't fill his hard drive, and the picture was still floating around in the empty space. I found it using the awesome open source program called PhotoRec.

This program can comb through the empty space of your hard disk, and check for signatures of files (it is explained on the website in more detail). Also, it can detect where the file ends, and then it saves a copy of it (on another hard disk, NOT the one you're trying to check the empty space of).

Here is a guide on how to use it.

If you think this software is useful, you should donate, since the author relies on donations for the program's development.

Hope this post was useful for you! Have a nice day.

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