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3 Proven Ways to Get Data Off an Old Hard Drive [SOLVED]

You are going to learn the three best ways to get data off an old hard drive. One is using EaseUS data recovery software to get files off an old hard drive with a bootable USB even if the hard disk can't boot. The other way is to get data off a hard drive by putting it on another working PC. Read on and get data off the disk.

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Table of Contents

Cannot Access and Get Data Off an Old Hard Drive

"I've had a laptop for probably a little over 10 years, a self-contained Eee PC that ran Windows XP. The laptop will no longer boot up. How can I get data off an old hard drive on the laptop?"

get data off an old hard drive

You might have found an old hard drive from an antiquated laptop or PC and want to recover data from the hard disk like the user mentioned in the above scenario. It can be challenging and meaningful to get files off an old hard drive to find the record of the past time.

In this tutorial, we will focus on how to get data off an old hard drive or external hard drive with full guides. Let's start now.

Why Do You Need to Get Files Off an Old Disk

According to the case and the HDD users' feedback, there are two main reasons that people want to get data off a hard disk.

The old hard drive is on your old PC

You bought a new computer, but the old PC's hard drive kept all your data. You want to keep the same data and Windows as the old PC on the new one.

The Computer is dead, but the HDD is fine

Windows OS fails to boot from the old disk, but you want to get the data off the hard drive.

According to the reasons, there are two main solutions. Try HDD recovery software with a bootable USB or connect the old hard drive to another computer.

Method 1. Get Data Off an Old Hard Drive via a Bootable USB

When you want to recover files from an old hard drive that can't boot or the computer with an old hard drive is dead, most users will choose to remove the old hard disk and connect it to another normal computer for data recovery. But it's very complicated. You're likely to have problems opening the drive or files because of driver inconsistency and access permission.

Instead of taking such a complex approach, here's a pretty simple way to retrieve data from the hard drive by using data recovery software in the WinPE environment. Free download EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard on a healthy computer, then create a bootable USB and use it to get data off an old hard drive, although the old laptop or PC won't turn on.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

  • Get pictures off an old hard drive, as well as videos, documents, emails, etc.
  • Repair corrupted photos during data recovery on the hard drive
  • Recover data from inaccessible, formatted, or corrupted hard drive
  • Repair corrupted Excel, Word, MP4, MOV, GIF, and PDF files
 Download for Win Recovery Rate 99.7%
 Download for Mac Trustpilot Rating 4.7

Now, download EaseUS file recovery software to retrieve data from an old hard drive. In this way, you don't need to take out the old hard drive and run into disk access or detection problems.

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

Method 2. Let Old Hard Drive Data Recovery Experts Help

Why not let experts help? If you are bothered by getting data off an old hard drive, you can ask experts for help. They can check your hard drive and recover data from the hard drive easily. Contact the experts and restore hard drive data.

EaseUS Hard Drive Recovery Services

Click here to contact our experts for a free evaluation

Consult with EaseUS data recovery experts for one-on-one manual recovery service. We could offer the following services after a FREE diagnosis

  • Repair corrupted RAID structure, unbootable Windows OS, and corrupted virtual disk file
  • Recover/repair lost partition and re-partitioned drive
  • Unformat the hard drive and repair the RAW drive(Bitlocker encrypted drive)
  • Fix disks that become GPT-protected partitions

Method 3. Connect Old Hard Drive to Another PC to Get Data

If you don't want to use a third-party tool to get data off an old hard drive, you still can make it manually. So, how to access and get files off the old hard drive by yourself? You can do it by removing the old hard disk and connecting it to your computer as an external hard drive.

Tools you need:

  • A screwer to remove the hard drive  
  • An external adapter to connect the old hard drive to the computer

Step 1. Take out the old hard drive. 

Step 2. Connect the hard disk to your computer with an external adapter.  

Step 3. Access the old hard drive to get files.  

The old hard disk connected to your computer should be detected and recognized in Windows Explorer. And then, you can view all the files and folders and get data off an old hard drive by a simple copy-and-paste.

You can also connect your hard drive without putting it into your computer case. Watch this video to get data off an old hard drive easily.

  • 0:13 Introduction
  • 0:44 Preparations
  • 1:56 Connect your hard drive to the case
  • 3:53 Get data off an old hard drive

How to Fix Old Hard Drive Errors When Connecting to Another PC

Note that when you try to access and recover data from an old hard drive, you may encounter the following issues:

1. Hard Drive Not Showing Up or Detected in Windows 11/10/8/7

There are many possible reasons for the old hard drive not detected on your computer, such as driver issues, hard drive damage, drive letter conflict, and more.

To solve these problems, you should take the following effective measures:

  • Uninstall and re-install the hard disk driver
  • Repair corrupted hard drive
  • Change the drive letter
  • Format the old hard drive
  • More effective methods...

2. Hard Drive Is Inaccessible, Access Is Denied

Another high frequently appearing problem is that when you open the old hard drive on your Windows PC, you get an error message saying "Location is not available. F:\ (my external hard drive) is not accessible. Access is denied".

hard drive is inaccessible

Take some quick fixes to solve the hard drive access denied:

  • Run Error Checking tool
  • Gain permission to access the hard drive
  • Repair bad sectors
  • Change the drive letter and format the hard disk

3. You Don't Currently Have Permission to Access This Folder

Happen to meet the "You don't currently have permission to access this folder" issue when you are opening a folder on the old hard drive? Don't fret. Here are the ways to work out.

do not have permission to access this folder


After reading this article, we believe that you've learned how to get data off an old hard drive in effective ways. We offer you three different ways to recover data from an old hard drive.

First, you can use EaseUS data recovery software to get files off an old hard drive without removing and connecting. Directly recover all the files and folders from the old hard drive in the WinPE environment even if the computer can't start up. 

Both computer pros and beginners can use this method for file recovery. What's more, if you encounter any problems during the process, you can get help from us in time via email: [email protected].

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

The second and third way is to manually take out the hard disk and connect it to your computer to get data off. These methods are not suitable for computer novices.

Get Data off an Old Hard Drive FAQs

There are some other questions that you might be interested in. Read the following questions and answers to solve other hard drive problems.

1. Can I retrieve data from a dead computer hard drive?

Yes, you can recover data from a dead hard drive with the steps below:

  • Download EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard WinPE Edition
  • Create a bootable USB with this software
  • Boot from the bootable USB
  • Recover data from a dead hard drive

2. What happens if the hard drive is removed?

If your hard drive contains the system, removing the hard drive can make your computer useless. A computer can't boot without OS. If it doesn't contain the system, removing the hard drive is safe.

3. How do I restore data from a dead laptop?

Follow these steps to recover files from a dead laptop:

  • Recover Files from Dead Laptop Drive
  • Get Data off from Dead Laptop Disk
  • Fix Dead Laptop with BSOD Error

4. Can you plug an old hard drive into a new computer?

There are three ways to plug an old hard drive into a new computer:

  • Use a USB hard drive enclosure
  • Use a USB hard drive adapter
  • Connect the old disk as a secondary internal drive

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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.

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Written by Brithny

Brithny is a technology enthusiast, aiming to make readers' tech lives easy and enjoyable. She loves exploring new technologies and writing technical how-to tips. In her spare time, she loves sharing things about her game experience on Facebook or Twitter.

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