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5 Ways to Access Hard Disk Data Without OS

Take the 5 ways to access hard disk data without OS. Back up or recover data from hard disk without OS, including recover hard drive on another computer, freeze your hard drive, copy files from the command prompt or recover data from hard drive with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard bootable media software.

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Table of Contents

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 Data Recovery Software Create a bootable disk > boot from the bootable USB > access the hard disk and recover files...Full steps
Fix 4. Use Command Prompt Invoke Windows Command Prompt so that you can use robocopy...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. Recover Data from Hard Drive Without OS

Another effective method to access the hard disk and recover data without booting to the Windows operating system is to boot your hard drive from a bootable USB drive.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is recommended. It is an ideal choice to access and recover data from a hard disk without booting into Windows. EaseUS data recovery software enables you to recover data from a dead hard drive as well as recover data from a computer that won't boot.

 Download for Win Recovery Rate 99.7%
 Download for Mac Trustpilot Rating 4.7

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

Launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, choose "Crashed PC Recovery" and click "Go to Recover".

choose crashed pc recovery

Select an empty USB to create the bootable drive and click "Create".

Warning: When you create a bootable disk, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard will erase all data saved in the USB drive. Back up important data beforehand. 

create bootable USB

Step 2. Boot your computer from the bootable USB

Connect the bootable disk to the 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 simultaneously to enter BIOS.

Set to boot the PC from "Removable Devices" (bootable USB disk) beyond Hard Drive. Press "F10" to save and exit.

restart from bootable USB

Step 3. Recover data from a crashed system/PC

After booting from EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard bootable disk, select the drive you want to scan to find all your lost files. Preview and recover the files you need to a safe location.

recover lost files

 Download for Win Recovery Rate 99.7%
 Download for Mac Trustpilot Rating 4.7

You can also use the manual data recovery and Windows repair services of EaseUS. Our professional technical team can help you solve any data recovery and system errors, including system failure, BSOD, unbootable devices, and so on.

Consult with EaseUS Data Recovery Experts for one-on-one manual recovery service. We could offer the following services after FREE diagnosis:

  • Repair corrupted RAID structure, unbootable Windows OS and corrupted virtual disk file (.vmdk, .vhd, .vhdx, etc.)
  • Recover/repair lost partition and re-partitioned drive
  • Unformat hard drive and repair raw drive (BitLocker encrypted drive)
  • Fix disks that become GPT protected partitions

Solution 4. Copy Hard Drive Files from the Command Prompt

If you have 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 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 an 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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Updated by Cedric

Cedric Grantham is a senior editor and data recovery specialist of EaseUS. He mainly writes articles and how-to tips about data recovery on PC and Mac. He has handled 10,000+ data recovery cases and is good at data recovery of NTFS, FAT (FAT32 and ExFAT) file systems, and RAID structure reorganization.

Read full bio

Approved by Evan Galasso

Evan Galasso is a digital forensics and data recovery engineer with over 10 years of experience in the field. He presents opinions on the current state of storage media, reverse engineering of storage systems and firmware, and electro-mechanical systems of SSDs and HDDs.

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