We are committed to providing fast, efficient, and affordable software solutions that set new standards in the software development industry.
  • R-Studio: Data recovery from a non-functional computer

Sometimes computers fail. They can be repaired or replaced, but quite often the most important problem is to retrieve all valuable files that are stored. This article will give you a detailed step-by-step guide on what to do to get them back from a non-functional computer using the data recovery program R-Studio.

Problem Identification

For the first step, we need to identify the source of the problem. Is this a faulty computer's hardware or software (an operating system crash, for example)?

  • Symptoms that the computer cannot start because of faulty software: the computer powers on, the start-up procedure begins, Windows starts loading but then stops, and the computer either hangs or goes to restart. In this case, the files can be recovered using R-Studio Emergency. Our article Emergency File Recovery Using R-Studio Emergency describes this procedure. In addition to that article, we recommend you to check the disk's S.M.A.R.T. status before file recovery.
  • Symptoms that the computer cannot start because of faulty hardware: the computer doesn't power on, you hear unusual beeps during startup, the startup procedure abruptly interrupts, the computer throws warning about malfunctioning hardware components, etc. In this case file recovery requires some operations with computer hardware. You have to remove the disk from the faulty computer and connect it to a working one.

But before we proceed further, you should take into two things into consideration:

1. You should have some skill in working with computer hardware.

2. Watch the warranty seals. If they are removed then the computer's warranty may be void.

Preparing a working computer for data recovery

1. Download and install R-Studio. You don't have to buy the program immediately. You may wait until you're sure that you can recover your files. Then you can register R-Studio on-the-fly.

2. Check that you have enough disk space to store recovered files. R-Studio can save files on any local or network disk visible to the operating system..

Preparing the disk for data recovery

1. Open the computer case and remove the disk. It's quite easy for a desktop PC, but there may be some difficulties when opening a laptop case.

Hard disk in a laptop

Fig.1. Hard disk in a laptop

Click image to enlarge

2. Connect the disk to the working computer. You may use either a USB/SATA adapter,

Disk connected to a computer through a USB/SATA adapter

Fig.2. Disk connected to a computer through a USB/SATA adapter

Click image to enlarge

or connect it directly using a SATA cable.

Disk connected to a computer through a SATA cable

Fig.3. Disk connected to a computer through a SATA cable

Click image to enlarge

Note that you should connect the disk through a SATA cable only when the computer is in the power-off state.

Recovery from a removed disk

1. Start the computer.

Check that the disk doesn't show any sign of hardware fault:

  • Your system does not recognize the disk, or it appears under an unusual name.
  • The hard disk makes unusual noises, clicks, or starts too slowly.
  • SMART inspecting programs report a severe hardware failure event.

Important! If you believe that the hard disk is malfunctioning, DO NOT DO ANYTHING WITH IT BY YOURSELF ANYMORE! Don't try to run a scan or recovery procedure. Don't try to use some other data recovery software. Remember, tampering with a disk in this condition will surely inflict more damage to your files. At best, you'll have to pay extra money to a professional data recovery service. At worst, you'll lose all your files for good. Bring the disk to qualified data recovery professionals. They have special equipment, software, and, most important, the required skills to work with such disks.

2. Try to find the disk in Windows Explorer.

If its file system is not damaged, Windows Explorer will show folders and files on it and you can just copy them without using any data recovery program. But before we strongly recommend you to check disk's S.M.A.R.T. status to see whether its conditions allow you to work with the disk. You may use R-Studio for that. Below is described how.

3. If Windows Explorer cannot show files on the disk, start R-Studio.

Locate the disk with the damaged file system. Most likely R-Studio won't show any file system on it. You may also look at the disk's size to tell the disk.

Disk with a damaged file system in R-Studio

Fig.4. Disk with a damaged file system in R-Studio

Click image to enlarge

Then check the S.M.A.R.T. attributes for the disk to be sure that it's in good conditions. Select the S.M.A.R.T. tab on the R-Studio's Main panel.

S.M.A.R.T. attributes for the disk with a damaged file system

Fig.5. S.M.A.R.T. attributes for the disk with a damaged file system

Click image to enlarge

If the health status is CAUTION, there are possible some small problems with the disk in the future, you may work with it but with cautions and regular check of these parameters. Disk imaging is recommended, although that may require additional storage space.

If the health status is BAD, the disk conditions are critical and chances of hardware failure are great. The best recommendation for this case is to stop working with the disk and bring it to professional data recovery specialists. You may though continue to work with the disk at your own risk, but disk imaging is very strongly recommended.

If the S.M.A.R.T. parameters are OK, we can start data recovery.

4. Select the disk, click the Scan button, and select the required scan parameters

Scan parameters

Fig.6. Scan parameters

Click image to enlarge

1. Click the Change button and leave selected only the NTFS and FAT file systems.

2. Check that the Extra Search for Known File Types option is enabled, then click Known File Types button, and select those file types you're looking for.

Known File Types

Fig.7. Known File Types

Click image to enlarge

Click the Clear All button, and select only the file types you want to find and recover.

You may learn more about scan parameters on the R-Studio on-line help Disk scan.

When everything is ready, click the Scan button. R-Studio will start scanning the disk showing its progress. Scan of large disks may be quite lengthy, so some patient is required.

Disk Scan Process

Fig.8. Disk Scan Process

Click image to enlarge

When the scan is over, R-Studio will show recognized partitions (disks that R-Studio believes exist or existed on the hard disk).

Disk Scan Results

Fig.9. Disk Scan Results

Click image to enlarge

R-Studio shows them in different colors, depending on which elements of the partition have been discovered.

An existing logical disk or partition.
Both boot records and file entries are found for this partition.
Only file entries are found for this partition.
Only boot records are found for this partition.

If R-Studio has found several recognized partitions, it's necessary to determine which one corresponds to the real logical disk on which the files resided. Generally, speaking, the following guidelines apply:

  • If you are going to recover files from a disk with a amaged file system, the right recognized partition will most likely be a green one.
  • If you are going to recover files from a previously deleted or re-formatted partition, the right recognized partition will most likely be a yellow one.

Always check the recognized partition's file system, start point, and size. They should be the same for the recognized partition and the lost logical disk.

This however won't always be the case. Even in our example the most probable recognized partition is yellow Recognized0 with an incorrect size.

You may still have selected a wrong partition, but you'll be able to return back to this panel and select another one.

5. Find lost files and mark them for recovery.

There are several ways to do that:

* By browsing the folder tree:

Files and folders marked for recovery

Fig.10. Files and folders marked for recovery

Click image to enlarge

* By sorting them by file types (extensions) or time stamps.

Files sorted by their types (extensions)

Fig.11. Files sorted by their types (extensions)

Click image to enlarge

Such file search is very important, as files in a damaged file system may appear in any, sometimes very strange, place on the disk.

* By direct search for specific files.

Search for specific files

Fig.12. Search for specific files

Click image to enlarge

See R-Studio on-line help: Searching for a File for more file search options.

Please note that once marked for recovery, a file or folder will remain marked even when you switch, say, from the real folder tree to files sorted by their extension. You need to explicitly unmark a file if you don't want to recover it.

While marking files for recovery, you may also estimate chances that R-Studio can successfully recover them. Double-click a file to preview it and see the results.

File preview for a jpg file

Fig.13. File preview for a jpg file

Click image to enlarge

6. Data recovery

Now if you decide that R-Studio can recover your lost files, you may purchase the license and register it on-the-fly without restarting the program.

When you marked all files for recovery, click the Recover Marked button and select a place to store them.

Place to store recovered files and recovery parameters

Fig.14. Place to store recovered files and recovery parameters

Click image to enlarge

If necessary, you may also specify data recovery parameters and options to process bad sectors on the disk. See R-Studio online help to learn more about Recovery and Bad Sectors options.

Click the OK button to start data recovery.

When R-Studio finishes the process, it will display a brief report about its results

Data recovery results

Fig.15. Data recovery results

Click image to enlarge

Data recovery results

Now you may go to the folder with the recovered files and view your files.

Data Recovery Feedback
370 feedbacks
Rating: 4.8 / 5
I really love your R-Studio product, I am doing Data Recovery as a professional, I used RS since the early versions and I loved the product, as far as I can tell, R-Studio, especially the Tech Version (but including the standard) is one of the best and excellent tools for a pro to have in the arsenal of tools in a pro DR lab, especially combining with the specialized Data Recovery hardware providers like DeepSpar, and PC3000, the rest of `wannabees` out there are waste of time, strongly recommend
I lost more than 200K files from my NAS due to a mistake. I tried 3 different recovery solutions over the 4 TB raid disks, and all of them performed ok but to be honest none of them were able to Raw recover the files and rename them with meaningful names out of the Metadata like R-TT did, then I was able to sort again my files and pictures and kind of restore all of them.

R-TT may not be the easiest or most user-friendly solution, but the algorithm used for the renaming saved me THOUSAND of hours of opening ...
Just recovered my old ext4 partition with R-Studio after trying testdisk and R-Linux without success. That partition was overwritten by another ext4 partition and I was losing my hope until I tried R-Studio demo. It detected all my files and directories again!

Bought it and 100% recommend it for anyone with a similar issue.
Genuinely tried every free program available without luck of recovering a deleted file from months ago. Thinking my file was deleted forever and lose all hope I came across this website as a recommendation.

I was reluctant as it seemed pricey compared to other programs, but damn worth every penny. It managed to even find files I thought were wiped from existence.

Kudos to r-tools, thank you!
Why make incremental backups, when there is R-Studio?

I`m an IT professional who has worked from home for over a decade. Early on in my career, I configured an HP ProLiant Server (Raid 1+0) as a workstation that I would remote into from my laptop. As technology evolved, I began to use it only for email and as a config file repository.

A short while ago, one of the drives degraded, but the HP ProLiant Server (Raid 1+0) still functioned fine on the remaining drive. I was complacent and didn`t replace the ...