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How to Get Files from a Dead Laptop

Don’t you just hate it when you spend the whole night preparing an important presentation and the laptop just crashes? Maybe you were about to submit your thesis, but you can’t do anything now except helplessly stare at the blank screen of your dead laptop. Before you start spiraling into a full-blown panic attack, listen to this: there is a way to get your files from a dead laptop.

In fact, to be very honest with you, there are several ways. You might have tried unplugging and plugging your laptop or fidgeting with the battery. However, that didn’t bring your laptop back to life, did it? We thought so. Therefore, now that you’ve accepted that your laptop is truly dead, let’s get to recovering your files.


Before we go any further, we need to take a few precautionary measures. Just because your laptop is dead and won’t turn on, does not mean that it is entirely useless. Therefore, you need to take things slowly and carefully. Unplug your laptop and remove the battery to avoid any further damage. Since most of your work will revolve around the laptop’s hard drive, you’ll have to take that out.

But before you do so, make sure you know exactly how to do it. Search up your laptop’s model or watch a few YouTube videos to learn how to take it apart and access the hard drive. You’ll also need a few other tools, but we’ll get to that in a while. Furthermore, ensure that you have enough space wherever you’re planning to save your recovered files.

Once you’ve taken care of these things, we can get down to business.

Steps to Get Files from a Dead Laptop

As mentioned earlier, there are several methods to get your files from a dead laptop, depending on the damage within the laptop. If the laptop doesn’t turn on due to software issues, you might need to boot your laptop in the Safe Mode. The Safe Mode usually runs your operating system in a more basic mode with fewer functions.

Using this mode, you can diagnose and fix the software issues in your laptop, without needing to buy a new laptop or build a computer from scratch, if that’s more your style. More importantly, you can get your files and save them in an external hard drive. On the other hand, if some hardware issues caused your problem, the chances of recovering your data do fall a little. But there’s no need to fret. Good news: it can be done.

The simplest method is to convert the hard drive from your dead laptop into an external hard drive. Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Remove the Hard Drive from the Dead Laptop

You might feel like smashing your laptop open at this point because of all the worry it’s causing you. However, we’d advise you be gentle. Your laptop is a complex machine. If you’re not careful, you can cause further damage inside. To access the hard drive, you probably need to unscrew and remove some panels at the bottom of your laptop.

If you’re not sure how to do it, go through the laptop’s user manual to locate precisely where the hard drive is. You can also look up the laptop model number and watch YouTube tutorials on how to do it.

After all this, if you’re still unable to figure it out, don’t try to force it open or remove something you’re not sure of. Instead, take the laptop to a professional who can guide you.

Step 2: Get a Disk Enclosure or a Hard Drive Adapter Kit

Once you have the hard drive, you need some way to connect it to another laptop or make it readable. This is where the disk enclosure or adapter kit comes in. These devices will turn your hard drive into an external drive that you can then connect to a laptop through a USB port.

However, before you buy one of these, you need to ensure that it matches your hard drive type. Whether it’s a 2.5 SATA, 3.5 SATA, SSD, etc., you’ll need the appropriate adapter.

Step 3: Connect the Hard Drive to the Disk Enclosure or Adapter Kit

If you have the right hard drive adapter kit or disk enclosure, this next step shouldn’t be too hard. You simply need to attach the two. However, if your hard drive is an IDE hard drive, you’ll have to remove the detachable adapter over it to connect it to the disk enclosure or adapter kit.

You can even go for a universal adapter that supports all types of hard drives.

Step 4: Get a Working Laptop with a Similar Operating System

With the external drive ready, you need a working laptop to access the files. Whether you decide to borrow or buy a laptop, make sure it has a similar operating system as your dead laptop. Otherwise, a different operating system won’t be able to read files from another operating system.

It is possible for some cases. For instance, Linux can read files from a Windows operating system. However, we won’t recommend this as in a worst-case scenario you could end up erasing all your data.

Step 5: Connect the Hard Drive to the Working Laptop

We hope you’re still with us because this is the moment you were waiting for. All that’s left is to connect the adapter with the hard drive to the working laptop. The laptop should automatically open the drive, or you might need to open it yourself from My Computer or Finder. And voila! All your files are safe and accessible.

You can now choose to save it on that laptop or another external drive.

Final Words

Despite what we want to believe, technology is not infallible. Not yet, anyway. You could drop your phone and crack the screen. You could spill juice on your laptop and damage the motherboard. Regardless of what happens, the thing to remember is not to panic. Most of the problems we face do have simple solutions that can have our phones and laptops back to normal in no time.

Just as we’ve shown you how to get files from a dead laptop, you can find quick DIY solutions to any of your tech troubles. However, when you feel the problem is too big or it’s a sensitive matter, it is always wise to seek help from a professional.

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