Understandably, the intricacies of why hard drives, like any mechanical or electronic equipment, can fail might be beyond your interest, especially if you’re not a tech aficionado or a hardware engineer. Your primary concern is likely how to retrieve your invaluable data rather than diagnosing the precise reason for your hard drive’s failure. This guide is designed with that in mind. We will guide you step-by-step through an external hard drive data recovery from a non-functioning hard drive, providing you with comprehensive instructions on the necessary actions. Also you’ll find useful tips on how to fix a corrupted and unreadable external hard drive.

So, let’s get started!

external hard drive recovery instruments

How Do I Recover Files From a Crashed External Hard Drive?

There are different methods how you can do external hard drive data recovery:

1. Recover Data Using In-Built Disk Management Tools

In cases of logical damage to your hard drive, it may still be possible to recover your data using built-in system utilities. When your drive crashes or gets corrupted, data may become unreachable. However, the Disk Management utility available in both Windows and Mac systems can help rectify this problem, allowing you to access your files.

Warning! Employing the following approach to rectify a logically damaged hard drive could lead to permanent data loss. It’s essential to maintain data backups or resort to professional data recovery software to ensure your files are safely restored.

Here are the steps to retrieve your data using the Disk Management utility:

For Mac:

1. Open the Disk Utility using Spotlight (Press Command + Space).
2. Choose the affected disk or volume, then click on First Aid.
3. After First Aid runs its course, Disk Utility will inform you if it has detected or rectified any issues.

disk management mac

For Windows:

1. Press the Windows + X keys and select the Disk Management option.
2. Identify your malfunctioning hard drive in the Disk Management panel.
3. If the hard drive is visible, consider formatting it to correct any errors and render the data accessible.

Once the procedure concludes, your hard drive should be repaired and good to go!

disk management utility windows

2. Utilizing Data Recovery Software ( for example, Disk Drill)

Utilizing data recovery software like Disk Drill, you can recover all misplaced files and a substantial amount of data that’s been formatted from your malfunctioning hard drive. Disk Drill is a robust data recovery solution that allows you to effortlessly retrieve exclusive copies of critical documents, assignment files, beloved photos, videos, and other important data lost from both your device’s internal and external storage.

To Retrieve Erased Data from a Malfunctioning Hard Drive:

1. Download and set up Disk Drill on your computer.
2. Choose your hard drive and select the ‘Recover’ option.
3. Preview the files available for recovery.
4. Pick and secure your files.

Actually, the process is quite swift. Instructing Disk Drill on the required action takes merely a few moments. Afterwards, there is a brief waiting period while the software employs its sophisticated data recovery algorithms to restore over 400 file types. This gives you the ability to choose the files you wish to recover and disregard those you don’t need.

How can I recover data from a dead external hard drive?

The process of retrieving data from a defunct external hard drive greatly depends on your definition of ‘dead’. If by ‘dead’ you’re referring to a drive that has experienced physical damage, regrettably, the chances of successfully recovering any data on your own are slim. However, if ‘dead’ signifies a corrupted or formatted hard drive, there’s hope for you. With the aid of data recovery software, you can reclaim your lost information.

Can I recover data from hard disk which is not detecting?

In situations where your hard drive remains undetected by your operating system, employing a data recovery software for retrieval of data is unfortunately not feasible. At times, a simple solution such as switching your hard disk to another port or connecting it to a different computer may resolve this issue. However, if such measures prove ineffective, it’s advisable to get in touch with professionals specializing in data recovery.
If your hard drive won’t show up on Mac, read the article to fix the problem>>>

How Do I Fix a Corrupted and Unreadable External Hard Drive?

Even though certain types of damage may render your hard drive irreparable, there’s a chance that corrupted, damaged, or seemingly dead hard drives can be salvaged. After you have retrieved your data from the drive, you can try the following solutions to see if they restore its functionality:

Method #1: Scan for Viruses

Viruses could be responsible for the damage inflicted on your drive. A virus scan could be the key to restoring your drive to working condition. If you don’t have an antivirus program installed, you can use Windows Security.

To scan your drive for viruses using Windows Security, follow these steps:

1. Press the Windows Key + S and search for Windows Security. Open it.
2. Click on Virus & threat protection.
3. Click on Scan options.
4. Select your scan type. A Full scan is the most comprehensive. When ready, click Scan now.


Method #2: Fix Damaged Windows Files

If your Windows files have become corrupted or are missing, your system might not function properly. In such instances, you can utilize the System File Checker (SFC) utility, another tool included in Windows that can scan for and restore missing or damaged Windows system files.

To restore damaged or missing Windows files using SFC, follow these steps:

1. Right-click on Start and select Windows PowerShell (Admin).
2. Type `DISM.exe /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth` and press Enter. This process might take several minutes as it uses Windows Update to fetch the files necessary to fix corruptions.
3. Type `sfc /scannow` and press Enter. This command will scan all system files and replace any corrupted ones with functional versions.


Method #3: Repair Using CheckDisk

CheckDisk is a utility tool that repairs file system errors on your drive. By applying specific parameters, CheckDisk can scan for errors and automatically correct them, including identifying and marking bad sectors to prevent accidental data storage.

To repair a drive’s file system using CheckDisk, follow these steps:

1. Right-click on Start and select Windows PowerShell (Admin). Confirm if prompted by UAC.
2. Type `chkdsk /f /r D:` in the command line. Remember to replace `D:` with the letter of your drive. Press Enter.
3. Wait for the process to complete. It might take longer for larger drives. Once finished, check if the damage has been repaired.


Ready For External Hard Drive Data Recovery?

We’ve explored several straightforward methods to recover data from an external hard drive, alongside steps to mend a corrupted or unreadable device. It’s important to remember that while technological mishaps are common, many issues, including data loss, can be managed effectively with the right knowledge and tools at your disposal.

Sometimes a clicking noise can be a signal of your hard drive being corrupted. To fix the problem, read: External Hard Drive Clicking Noise (Easy FREE Fix).

By using utilities built into your operating system, third-party data recovery software like Disk Drill, or the Disk Management tools, you can address most hard drive issues head-on. Also, understanding how to fix corrupted drives allows you to potentially restore data accessibility without professional help.

Regular data backups are always recommended as a preventive measure against data loss. If the damage is severe and the data critically important, it’s advisable to consult with data recovery professionals.





Thank you for reading this guide! I hope that it was helpful in teaching you everything you need to know about external hard drive data recovery:)

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