Hard drives usually begin dropping hints and clues that they are about to fail before they become completely unreadable. But occasionally, a system crash occurs suddenly and immediately renders the machine unbootable. This occurs when important system files become corrupted, or if the hard drives' boot records or partition tables become severely damaged. This can be particularly frustrating, since your files may be completely intact, yet inaccessible due to the fact that your computer won't start up.
If this happens, there are three possible solutions.
1. Remove the Hard Drive and Attach it to a Working Computer
This is what most technicians would do, given the time, tools and resources. But with the advent of modern mobile computer design, particularly with netbooks and laptops, personal computers are becoming less serviceable by everyday users. The Macbook, for example, requires a special type of screwdriver just to remove the hard drive. Also, depending on the type of hard drive you are trying to recover, you may need to purchase additional adapters and/or enclosures in order to attach it your working computer. Furthermore, it may just be a matter of not owning another computer.
For these reasons, removing a hard drive and installing it in another computer isn't a feasible option for many users. Still if you want to follow this option, you may find our article R-Studio: Data recovery from a non-functional computer useful.
2. Use a Data Recovery Program with a Startup Version
If you install a startup version of a data recovery program onto a bootable device, such as a USB drive or a CD or DVD, you can use it to boot your computer, as long as there are no critical hardware issues with your machine. A startup version of a data recovery program effectively bypasses the operating system on your computer. All the necessary files for booting your computer are contained within the bootable media, meaning that even if you hard drive is damaged beyond recovery, you can still turn on your computer. The advantages of a startup version is that it allows you to access the drive without removing it. However, startup versions are usually limited in their data recovery capabilities, since, by nature, they tend to be stripped down versions designed for working in recovery mode environment.
3. Perform a Network Data Recovery
Emergency data recovery over the network is the best of both worlds from the above two methods. Without removing the damaged hard drive from the computer, you would boot it up using a startup disk with a remote agent installed. This remote agent would then communicate with another computer that was connected via a local area network, or even the Internet. You could then run the full version of a data recovery software from the remote computer, even if the target computer cannot boot.
The advantages here are that you aren't faced with the cumbersome task of physically removing or installing any hard drives, but you aren't limited by the capabilities of a startup version of a data recovery program.
R-Studio comes with a data recovery agent that allows you to perform data recovery over the network. It also includes an agent for starting up an unbootable computer and connecting it to the computer that will be performing the data recovery. This makes it a flexible and powerful data recovery tool for both professional technicians and home users.