Many consumers are under the false impression that when their operating system crashes, their hard drive is no longer recoverable, but there are actually many simple ways for data retrieval to occur. Perhaps the quickest method would be to physically remove the hard drive from the system and place it within another computer, but there are also a number of programs available to perform this service as well. A final option would be to bring the damaged computer system to a data retrieval specialist and they can perform one of the above services on the consumer's behalf.
A hard drive is nothing more than a storage device that uses the principle of magnetism to store information. Unless data is intentionally deleted or another magnet is placed within close proximity of the hard drive, there is always a great chance of data retrieval. When a virus infects a computer, it is normally targeted at the operating system itself since that is the easiest way to disable the device. Hackers can then easily perform a data retrieval process to seize information from that system, and they are usually searching for social security numbers, bank account information, and other tidbits of information that can be sold for a profit. To immediately stop an intrusive data retrieval attempt, a user simply has to disconnect the modem from the Internet by removing the Ethernet or telephone cord.
Once the user secures the information from outside interference, the computer can be powered off and the hard drive can be removed. This task can be accomplished by removing the power and data cords, plus taking out any screws along the mounting brackets. After the second computer system is powered down as well, the case doors can be removed so that the compromised hard drive can be installed as a backup drive by connecting the wires in the same fashion as they were removed. For older hard drives, this will also require moving the two-pin jumper so that the system recognizes it as a slave to the main one.
After the damaged hard drive is properly installed, the data retrieval process can begin. The second computer system should be powered up without an Internet connection active and the "My Computer" icon should be selected once everything has loaded. There should be two icons visible for hard drives, and the second one should be the information for the drive that was compromised by the virus. The damaged drive should be scanned for viruses, with any susceptible files being quarantined, and then the files can be copied over to the second hard drive. This process can take quite a bit of time depending on the volume of files that are being removed, and some users may have better results burning the information to a compact disc (CD) or digital video disc (DVD).
Once the data retrieval information is properly backed up, there are a number of options available to users. The original hard drive can be reformatted to have a new operating system installed, an attempted repair of the existing operating system can take place, or it can remain installed as a backup drive within the second computer system. If either the reinstall or repair options are explored, they should be conducted from within the original computer system.