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How to recover your programs and files from a broken or dead computer (even if it won't turn on!)

Learn how to rescue programs, settings and files from a broken computer to a new PC - works for Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista and XP - without losing anything.

Windows 10

Already have the old hard drive connected and just need the software to transfer your programs and files to the new computer? Get Zinstall Computer Rescue Kit here.

In this article, we will see how to retrieve your programs, profile, settings, documents, pictures, music, movies, favorites and everything else from a broken PC that no longer works - onto a new, working replacement PC. The process uses an automatic computer rescue software, so it does not require a lot of technical knowledge for a successful recovery. You can use this tutorial in the following scenarios:

  • Your computer won't turn on at all or has a hardware failure, such as a fried motherboard, broken screen or graphics card
  • Your computer won't boot or load Windows properly
  • You have Windows malfunctions that you can't repair and want to switch to a new system

Fortunately, if your hard drive is not completely dead, you can recover not just files, but even your settings and applications to a new computer. Read on to find out how.

Get the hard drive out of the broken computer and connect to replacement PC

The first step in rescuing programs and data from a broken computer is take out its hard drive, and connect it to a replacement computer. Let's see how to do that.

First, take the old drive out of the broken PC:

  1. Disconnect the machine from power, and if it is a laptop - remove the battery.
  2. In a desktop computer, open the case, and you will see the drive on the front side.
  3. In a laptop computer, you will probably see a dedicated flap for accessing the hard drive, which you can open by removing a few screws.
  4. Disconnect the hard drive from the cables that go into it, and take it out.

Now that you have the hard drive, you need to connect it to the new computer. There are several ways to do this:

USB enclosure

  1. You can use a USB hard drive enclosure, which is a special "box"-like device that you slide the old drive into. The enclosure then connects to the new computer via a simple USB.
  2. You can also use a USB hard drive adapter, which is a cable-like device, connecting to the hard drive on one end and to a USB in the new computer on the other.
  3. If the new computer is a desktop, you can also connect the old drive as a secondary internal drive, just as the one already in the new computer.

USB hard drive adapter

Once the old drive is connected to the new computer, in any of the ways above, you should be able to view the old files. At that point, you can proceed to the recovery stage.


Recover your files, settings, profile and programs from the broken computer's hard drive

At this stage, you can access the old files on the new computer. This already a big step forward! You can look for the files you need, and manually copy them to the new PC. This type of manual recovery is not the easiest job to do, but it will at least get you your files back.

Fortunately, there are tools to do an automatic recovery, completely and easy. The one we'll use - called Zinstall Computer Rescue Kit - will even recover your programs, and of course emails, personalization, settings, documents and all the rest. Plus, it's automatic and you won't have to hunt everything down manually. Let's see how.

How to copy programs and files from a broken computer's hard drive to a replacement PC

  1. On the new computer, run Zinstall Computer Rescue Kit (you can get it here: Zinstall Computer Rescue Kit)
  2. It will automatically detect the old drive. Confirm the selection, and press Next.
  3. Selective migration
  4. If you want to only recover some of the programs, or some of the files, use the Advanced menu to select which ones you want. If you want to just recover everything, simply click Next to continue.
  5. You will be presented with a quick summary of what's about to be recovery - press "Go" to start the process.

That's it - once the recovery process is complete, you'll have your apps and files rescued from the broken computer to the new one!


Ready to transfer programs and files from the old hard drive? Get Zinstall Computer Rescue Kit here.

Video tutorial - how to recover programs, settings and files to a new computer

(you'll be transferring from a hard drive, not a from a computer, but the process is pretty much the same as you'll see in the video)

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