Your computer died? Don’t panic! A dead computer doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve lost all your data.

A dead computer doesn't necessarily mean you've lost everything...

Picture this, you go to turn on your computer and nothing happens. No lights, no whirring of fans, no nothing. Or maybe it starts to boot but freezes, hangs up, or gives you an error message that you can’t get past.  It’s an ugly scenario, but one that happens all the time.  Let’s face it, computers are sensitive electronic devices and as such are susceptible to failure from any number of causes including power surges, power outgages, overheating, static electricity, and life’s assortment of bumps and bruises (particularly for laptop and netbook computers) as well as failure due to age, poor design, manufacturing flaws, even individual component failures, in short, like a radio, TV, or any other electronic device, sometimes computers just inexplicably fail.

I often get asked by customers “what happened?” not because they would necessarily understand when I say the capacitors in the video card ruptured, but because they want to know what they can do in the future to prevent this from happening again.  Realistically? Nothing.  It didn’t fail because of anything you did or didn’t do. In fact, it’s more of an indictment of market pressures driving down the cost of PCs and forcing manufacturers to cut corners and reduce product lifespan to maintain what slim margin remains on the production of PC hardware.

But let’s get back to you and your dead computer. So there you sit with a dark screen and a sinking feeling that you’ve lost all your  family photos, your music collection, your documents, projects, resume, emails, contact lists, everything. And you know that when you ask anyone that knows anything about computers, what they think, the first words out of their mouth will be “do you have a backup?”

Ugh! You always meant to do that but never got around to it…

You may be aware that there are companies who specialize in recovering data from dead computers, but you also may be aware that typical prices for their services tend to run into the thousands of dollars.

What you may not be aware of however, is that a dead computer does not necessarily mean lost data.  In fact, in most cases, the hard drive can be easily removed from your dead computer and in a relatively straightforward operation, the data can usually be extracted from it during a housecall service without even having to send your computer anywhere.

Of course there are cases when the hard drive really is damaged and data cannot be recovered locally, but this is not typical.  So before you give up on ever seeing your baby pictures again, contact a professional local geek service like Stickynote Tech Services.  An on-site professional can usually tell in short order whether your data can be recovered directly, or if more drastic (and more expensive!) recovery services are required.

Some DO’s and DON’Ts when faced with a non-booting PC:

Do unplug it, Do call a professional at least for an opinion, Do make note of any error messages, unusual noises, or unusual performance leading up to the failure.

Don’t try a system recovery or any other operation that involves reinstalling Windows as this may get your computer running again, but can wipe out all of your data in the process!

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