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I have a 320GB HDD which was in a building that burnt down. I need to get as much information as possible from this drive. It probably won't succeed, but it's worth trying.

I tried soldering a new connector on it and connecting it to an old PC, but I couldn't find the disk in the hardware manager of Windows XP. This suggests the interface to the motherboard is broke (as might the data itself).

What's my best bet to get any useful information from the drive?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Call a professional data recovery company and follow their instructions exactly. The more you mess with it, the more likely it becomes that you will damage any remaining data. This is not something an amateur can do.

Also, check with your insurance company to see if the data recovery will be covered.

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Agreed. If any PC you connect it to cannot read it, DO NOT do anything further to the device. – Kruug Mar 20 '13 at 18:42

With that kind of damage, your best bet is probably to send it to a data recovery specialist.

Here's one in Canada (there's tons of these businesses out there, do a web search for someone more local to you).

At Data Recovery Canada, physical hard drive problems make up more than 75% of the cases we see, so we know what it takes to get your data back from a physically damaged hard disk.

Many/Most recovery places will diagnose and determine if they can succeed before starting. And if they get nothing, then they don't charge you.

An example of such a guaranty/claim, from the same place I linked above:

enter image description here

Note: I don't work for the above linked company, and have never used them specifically. :)

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