We’ve all experienced this terrible, panic inducing moment: you press your computer’s power button and absolutely nothing happens. Your computer is completely dead.
Replacing your computer can be costly, especially if your warranty has expired. It’s massively inconvenient, especially since most work these days is completed on a personal computer. But what really makes this moment terrible is that suddenly, all the files you took for granted are inaccessible. Your important documents, your downloaded music, and most importantly, your photos are gone forever.
Or are they? Though it may seem daunting, it is possible to retrieve files from your dead computer. It’s even possible to do it yourself in the comfort of your own home.
On a PC
The first step in retrieving your data is to determine whether the problem is with the software or the hardware. Make sure that your computer is plugged into its charger (if it’s a laptop) or that the monitor is connected (if it’s a desktop). Then, hold down the power button until the computer shuts down. Push the power button as if you were turning the computer on again.
If for even the briefest moment, the computer turns on, then you might have a software problem. If your computer doesn’t respond when you press the power button, there’s likely something wrong with the hardware. If you have little experience with where the problem lies, you should consider hiring a professional to attempt a computer repair.
Unfortunately, your files may not be recoverable. If the hard drive has died, you may not be able to recover the data unless you’ve kept regular backups. However, if the hard drive is salvageable, you can insert it into your new computer or use an external drive bay to extract your photos and files.
You can purchase a SATA-to-USB adapter to help you through this process. When you power on your new PC, you can copy the files from your old computer’s hard drive to your new computer’s main drive. Plug the SATA end of your SATA to USB adapter into the hard drive. Then, connect the USB end into the USB port of the new laptop.
When you boot up your new computer, open the “Computer” tab. Open up your old hard drive by clicking on its icon. Then, find the folder where your photos are stored. Copy that folder over to your new computers’ internal hard drive, and you should be good to go.
On a Mac
If you own a Mac rather than a PC, extracting your files will be a different process. You can recover your lost photos by creating a bootable USB drive of macOS and using it to reboot your dead Mac. Then, using data recovery software, you can retrieve your photos.
Preserve your photos for the future
Losing all of your photos, even temporarily, should serve as a wakeup call. It’s time to back up your files, in one format or another.
Online storage: Consider saving your files in an online database. DropBox offers free accounts that can store up to two gigabytes worth of files, while DropBox’s “Plus” plan offers two terabytes of storage space (2,000 GB). That’s plenty of room even for the most prolific photographer.
Google Drive also offers free storage for up to 15 GB of files. For the occasional picture taker, this may be a very good option. In the event that your computer fails again, continuously uploading your pictures into an online database will ensure that you don’t lose anything of value.
As artwork: While backing up your photos may be an obvious way to save your files for the future, you may want to consider investing in canvas photo prints. Using your own photos as art pieces for your home will help preserve your pictures in the future. Plus, you’ll have a beautiful home gallery that celebrates your memories!
Losing the use of your computer doesn’t have to mean losing your photos and important files forever. Just follow these simple steps and your cherished memories will be safe.