5 Ways to Access Hard Disk Data Without OS

Jean updated on Jan 22, 2021 to Data Recovery | How-to Articles

If you are unable to access your hard drive, keep calm. Here are four ways to access your data without OS. Even your system crashes, you can still access data by following the four methods below. Besides, you can also recover data from hard drive with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard bootable media software.

Can I Access Hard Disk Without OS

Q: "What's the best way to access my HP laptop's hard drive to recover data when the OS won't boot?"

Q: "I've got a computer from my friend but the user password was lost. I'd like to recover some data from the HDD. I assume that there should be a way to copy data from a hard disk without OS."

Do you know how many ways of getting data off from a hard drive without booting into Windows? To get data from an unbootable computer, first of all, you must find approaches to access hard disk without OS. You can take the 5 ways here to easily access hard disk data without OS to access all data.

To Access Hard Disk Step-by-step Troubleshooting
Fix 1. Try Another Computer Sometimes it's just Windows OS corruption that makes your hard drive fail to boot...Full steps
Fix 2. Put in a Freezer If it's the hard drive problem that disables the boot, try putting it in a freezer...Full steps
Fix 3. Use Command Prompt Invoke Windows Command Prompt so that you can use robocopy...Full steps
Fix 4. Use Data Recovery Software Create a bootable disk > Boot from the bootable USB > Recover files...Full steps
Fix 5. Try Windows Explorer Connect the SATA-to-USB adapter's power cable to the L-shaped power connector...Full steps

Solution 1. Recover Hard Drive on Another Computer

Sometimes it's just Windows OS corruption that makes your hard drive fail to boot. Great, you can just take out the drive from the dead computer and connect it to another computer. If you can access the hard drive normally, go ahead to backup hard drive data.

Solution 2. Put Your Hard Drive in a Freezer

What if it's the hard drive problem that disables the boot? Try putting it in a freezer. Many hard drives that stopped working can be brought back to life. It's not a permanent solution to fix a non-bootable hard drive, however, at least somebody says that it worked for about 20 minutes, which gives enough time for them to copy everything on the drive.

Solution 3. Copy Hard Drive Files from the Command Prompt

Or, if you had a Windows installation media at hand, try to boot Windows from the bootable disc or USB drive. Invoke Windows Command Prompt so that you can use robocopy to easily copy all folders and files on the selected drive. Enter the following command: robocopy C:\tools D:\backup\tools /e

  • The /e modifier tells robocopy to include all subdirectories. This includes empty folders.
  • robocopy will automatically copy hidden and system files. It will create new directories if they don't exist at the target location.

Solution 4. Recover Data from Hard Drive Without OS

The last method to access the hard disk and recover data without booting into the Windows operating system is to boot your hard drive from a third-party OS. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard WinPE Edtion is recommended. It is an ideal choice to recover data from hard drive without booting into Windows, recover data from dead hard drive and computer that won't boot.

Tip - Be sure that you have a CD/DVD-Recorder and a CD/DVD or USB drive which can be written. Then, follow the steps below:

To access hard disk without OS:

Step 1. Create a bootable disk.

Prepare an empty USB. If you have important data on it, copy the data to another device. When you create a bootable disk, the data on the USB will be erased. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard WinPE Edition will help you create a bootable disk. Connect the USB drive to PC, launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard WinPE Edition. Select the USB drive and click "Proceed" to create a bootable disk.

create a bootable disk with easeus

Step 2. Boot from the bootable USB.

Connect the bootable disk to PC that won't boot and change your computer boot sequence in BIOS. For most users, it works well when they restart their computer and press F2 at the same time to enter BIOS. Set to boot the PC from "Removable Devices" (bootable USB disk) or "CD-ROM Drive" (bootable CD/DVD) beyond Hard Drive. Press "F10" to save and exit.

Step 3. Recover files/data from a PC/laptop hard drive that won't boot.

When you boot from the USB, you can run EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard from the WinPE bootable disk. Select the drive you want to scan to find all your lost files. 

selet the drive

Click Scan to start the scanning process.

let the software scan the drive

Recover data from the computer or laptop. After the scan completed, you can preview all recoverable files, select the targeted files, and click the "Recover" button to restore your files. You'd better save all of the recovered data to another place to avoid data overwriting.

recover data from the computer

Solution 5. View the Contents of a Hard Drive

When you fail to access the hard drive, you can view the contents of the hard drive using Windows Explorer. This tool makes browsing through hard drive folders a breeze, but that assumes the hard drive is accessible to the computer.

Step 1. Convert the Internal Hard Drive to an External One

1. Connect the SATA-to-USB adapter's power cable to the L-shaped power connector on the internal SATA drive. 

Note: SATA drives have two L-shaped connectors, side-by-side. The larger of the two is the power connector. The smaller one is the SATA data port.

2. Connect the adapter's SATA connector to your internal hard drive's SATA data port.

3. Position the hard drive close to your computer on a level surface. 

4. Plug the adapter's power cable into a wall outlet and slide the "Power" switch to the "On" position.

5. Insert the adapter's USB cable into an available USB port on your computer. Windows will automatically recognize the drive after a few seconds.

Step 2. Open Windows Explorer 

1. Click "Start" and select "PC" to open Windows Explorer.

2. Double-click the hard drive's letter from the right pane's Hard Disk Drives section to view the drive's contents. To view files within folders, double-click the folder.

3. Right-click the drive letter and select "Eject" when you are finished browsing the drive.

Step 3. View All Files

1. Click "Organize" in the Windows Explorer toolbar and select "Folder and Search Options."

2. Click the "View > Show Hidden Files, Folders, and Drives" in the Advanced Settings section.

access hard drive using windows explorer

3. Uncheck "Hide Protected Operating System Files (Recommended)" in the Advanced Settings section and click "Yes" in the confirmation dialog box. Click "OK."

After the steps above, you can view all files and folders.

People Also Ask

If you cannot access the hard drive or still have questions, read the following questions.

How do I get data off an old hard drive?

  • You can connect the old hard drive to a new PC to bring back data.
  • The other way is to recover data from old hard drive with the help of EaseUS data recovery software.

How do I access my hard drive without OS?

  1. To access hard disk without OS:

    Step 1. Create a bootable disk.

    Step 2. Boot from the bootable USB.

    Step 3. Recover files or data from a PC/laptop hard drive that won't boot.

Why my hard drive is not showing up?

If a hard disk contains no partition and all disk space is unallocated, it will not show in Windows Explorer. If a new hard drive cannot be detected by the system BIOS, the cause might be that the disk is not enabled.

Can I put my old hard drive to a new computer?

Yes. you can connect the old hard drive to a new computer using the SATA-to-USB adapter's power cable.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why choose EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard?

"EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is the best we've seen. It's far from perfect, partly because today's advanced disk technology makes data-recovery more difficult than it was with the simpler technology of the past, but it's fast and efficient..."PCMag

"The first thing you'll notice about EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro is that its interface is very clear and uncluttered, with only a small collection of self-explanatory controls. You won't find lots of extra options hidden in a system of hidden menus, either; what you see really is what you get."techradar

"Recover lost files, even after deleting a partition or formatting your drive."Macworld

2. Why cannot I recover 2GB data for free?

It is recommended to check the version installed is Free or Trial because they are different versions.

Trial has data preview function but cannot save any files, while the Free version enables to recover 2 GB files. The default free space is 500 MB and you may share the product on social media to get another 1.5 GB.

3. Why cannot the recovered files be opened?

A file is saved as 2 parts on the storage device: directory info (which is comprised by file name, time stamp and size info, etc.) and data content.

If the files with original file names and folder structures cannot be opened, one possible reason is the corrupted directory info. There is still a chance to recover the data content with the RAW Recovery method in our software.

4. Why isn't it suggested to recover the files back to the original drive?

The storage structure of the lost files would be altered or damaged by any changes on the drive. If you save the recovered files back to the same drive, the original data structures and data content would be corrupted or overwritten, which causes permanent data loss. So you should prepare another disk to save the files.

5. How can I check whether my data is recoverable or not before purchase?

The Free version helps you save 2GB files, so verify the recovery quality of our product before purchase.

6. How long does it take to scan the drive?

It strongly depends on the capacity of your hard drive and the performance of your computer. As reference,most drive recoveries can be completed in around 10 to 12 hours for a 1-TB healthy hard drive in general conditions.

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