Getting Pictures off Old Hard Drive

Dear Computer Lady,

Hello my name is Heather . Hopefully you can help me with my computer problem.

My husband had the same computer about I want to say 6 months ago and his crashed it’s a toshiba . I’ve been told people can pull pictures off of the hard drive. When I turn it on it’s a black screen telling me to insert a disk( the one that came with the computer ) but it has disappeared over the years that I have had it.

I just really want to save all of my pictures off of it. If you can give me advice as what to do I’m all ears.

Please and thank you 🙂 Heather


Dear Heather,

Rescuing files like pictures from hard drives is something that I do on a regular basis here in my computer shop. Even though I do it all the time, it is not always easy, and it requires some computer expertise and equipment that most users don’t have.

I use the following tools for this.

1. A linux boot CD that allows me to boot the computer and view the files on the hard drive. It does not look like Windows, you won’t be able to see your desktop or run your programs, but you can view and copy files. I use Puppy Linux from: which is free to download. You do need to know how to create the bootable CD from an .iso file.

2. An external hard drive. You need a place to put your files when you are taking them off the hard drive. I find that an external hard drive with a USB interface is perfect for this. I usually burn the files onto DVDs later, but for just getting the files off, this is the perfect tool. The hard drive that I currently use is an Iomega drive similar to this one:

3. The last tool that I use is a USB to SATA or IDE adapter. This is only used if the computer will no longer boot, even from a CD. In that case, I need to take the hard drive out of the computer and use this adapter to attach it to a working computer. My favorite adapter is this one from StarTech:

Since you say that the computer is asking you to insert a disk when you turn it on, there is a good chance that you can just boot the computer using a Linux disk and use that operating system to copy your files to an external hard drive.

If this task is more than you want to take on, find a local comptuer shop like mine, and ask them to do it for you.


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