How to Recover Photos From Hard Disk Drive

Hard disk drive is the basic storage media of computer. It is a non-volatile and random access device for digital data. The basic anatomy of hard drive includes platters, spindle, spindle motor, read/write head, and head actuator. However, hard disk is not only used as storage media but some parts of it are fully dedicated to operating system. Therefore, hard disk can be divided into various logical storage units abbreviated as partitions. These partitions need a method to organize and store data in human readable form called as file system. Some major file systems of Windows operating system are FAT, NTFS, and exFAT.

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A hard drive can become corrupt or get damaged at any time without any sign or any warning. That's probably one of the harshest truths about laptops and PCs. Not only is that, the same goes for external hard drives too. So if you think that an external hard drive is the safest place to store a backup, you may want to reconsider. It wouldn't be wrong to say that currently, probably the safest place to store a backup would be the cloud since any mechanical hard drive is subjected to wear and tear over time if not anything else. And thus, all of us should be aware of why it can happen and how to deal with it on our own end before we panic and run to a service center. So go through this write-up thoroughly and keep the pointers in mind for reference if the need arises (God forbid)!

Possible causes of hard drive failure or loss of data can be as follows:-

There could be several reasons behind a failed hard drive. From mishandling to mechanical damage, it could be anything including the following:

  • File system damage or conversion of the hard drive from NTFS to FAT
  • Corruption in the structure of meta data
  • Virus infection
  • Accidental deletion of photos from internal / external hard drive
  • Sudden shutdown of the laptop / PC while previewing photos from the hard drive
  • Disconnecting an external hard drive during photo transfer or interruption during photo transfer in the case of internal hard drive
  • Unplanned hard drive formatting resulting from the error "Hard drive not formatted. Format it now?" on connecting the hard drive to the laptop / PC

To rectify this issue and recover photos from hard drive you need Photo recovery software.

Before proceeding to the ways to recover photos from hard drive, let us also have a look at the kinds of damage or corruption possible to a hard drive.

Kinds of damage to hard drive

Knowing what kind of damage or corruption has struck the hard drive can help you in diagnosing the level of destruction caused. It can also help you in choosing the right way to repair it and salvaging the photos on it.

There are primarily 2 ways in which a hard drive can be corrupt or damaged – Mechanical failure or Logical failure.

Mechanical Failure

If you inadvertently drop your hard drive leading to breakage of its internal parts, that means your hard drive has suffered mechanical damage. Most hard drives that are not SSDs, store and retrieve data by writing and reading from magnetic platters that are stacked vertically. Sudden jerks like dropping the hard drive could break the platters causing what is referred to mechanical damage.

When you connect a hard drive that have broken parts to a laptop or PC, it usually makes a clicking sound as it tries to access the files on it. Such a sound is a clear giveaway of its truly dead state. So if you hear that sound you should accept one good and one bad news. Good – your data is still intact and can very well be recovered. Bad – you'll have to take it to a service center or have experts over to examine it; and such services can cost quite a lot.

Logical Failure

If on connecting a failed hard drive to your laptop or PC you don't hear any clicking sound and the drive doesn't boot up too, it might be an indicator of a logical failure. In such a case, the data on the drive is there for sure, but there's some issue that is preventing your hard drive from accessing it or from accessing its system files. If you act quickly and take a few steps, you can very well redeem all data on it intact.

How to recover photo from hard drive that has failed

Here's what you can do if you find that you're internal or external hard drive has suffered logical damage.

  • Connect the hard drive to another computer or laptop via USB, hard drive dock, or as an internal drive. If the hard drive boots, well, problem solved. Backup all data and while you're at it, make multiple copies of your most important data.
  • If the drive however doesn't show, you'll have to rope in a trustworthy data recovery application that can help you salvage all of your data in minimum time and with maximum accuracy. We suggest using Stellar Photo Recovery Software. This product is available for Windows as well as Mac platforms and is a highly efficient way to beat photo loss on your hard drive. In addition to dead and failed hard drives, this software is capable of recovering data from a formatted hard drive too. Here's how you can use this software:
    After downloading and installing this software, follow these steps to recover deleted photos from your camera in just simple steps

Embedded support for scanning 60 TB of storage space.

Brief Description of Steps:

  • Open Stellar Photo Recovery.
  • Select the drive or storage media to scan and recover from. Click Scan.
  • Note: Choose to customize the recovery process through Advanced Settings icon on top. Select a specific file type, add new file type or edit Header to scan for exact results.

  • A dialog box of 'Scanning Completed Successfully!' appears. In the left-pane of main window, all the found files and folders are listed. The bottom-right pane lists the files stored in the selected folder. Select a file and preview in the right pane
  • Select the desired files and choose Recover. In the dialog box, specify the location to save the media files. Click Save to save the file in desired location.

Stellar Photo Recovery Software has embedded support for scanning 2 TB of storage space. This gives you the flexibility to perform recovery from larger capacity disks that are now a common place in the storage industry.
Hurray!!! You are done!! All your deleted photos are recovered and are saved in the selected location.


  • Do not move your computer while it is in operation.
  • Sometimes sudden increase in temperature or humidity causes hard disk damage and resulting in the stored data loss. To maintain the temperature of your hard drive, place it in a well-ventilated room. In case of laptops, never place them on the surface which blocks their air vents.
  • Abrupt system shut down or improper power supply causes hard disk data loss. Therefore, if this is the case with you then attach a UPS or voltage regulator to your computer.
  • Use an updated anti-virus which has definitions for latest virus to make your system free from virus attacks
  • Maintain the backup of all your important data regularly.

To sum it up

A failed hard drive usually has some unmistakable warning signs such as sudden computer freezes or OS crashes followed by the "blue screen of death". If such a thing happens, don't ignore it thinking you'll backup the second time. There might not be a second time. So keep a backup right away to be absolutely sure of your data's safety.

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