Easy Ways to Recover Data from External Hard Drive

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Summary: This article will explore all the possible ways to recover data from an external hard drive, regardless of the cause of the data loss, such as deletion, corruption, formatting, or a virus attack.

Apart from a physically damaged external hard drive, you can perform all the fixes yourself with moderate computing knowledge and essential tools to get this task done.

An Overview of External Hard Drive Recovery

External hard drives are super convenient, allowing you to easily store and share terabytes of data in a pocket-sized device, which are among its best features.

But it is fragile to lose data due to various reasons like bad handling, virus, and malware attacks. Irrespective of how you lose data from your hard drive the data still resides in the sectors until the data gets overwritten by any new data.

So, it is highly recommended to stop using the hard drive once you have observed data loss to avoid overwriting and initiate the recovery process.

Also, you should be alarmed when encountering any errors or missing files on your portable hard drive, as they may indicate a potential risk of data loss on your hard drive.

If you haven’t observed any unusual noises, clicking sounds, or errors while using the external hard drive, but the files on the external hard drive are not showing up, then data loss is not certain. You will have to make some tweaks to access the data, such as…

  • Removing the attribute from the hidden
  • Check for errors using the error-checking tool

Recover Data From External Hard Drive using Data Recovery Software – SFWare Data Recovery Software

SFWare data recovery software is a safe and secure option when you are unsure about the cause of data loss on an external hard drive.

It is uncluttered software capable of recovering data from formatted hard drives, crashed hard drives, inaccessible hard drives, and bad sectors across various file systems, all with basic system requirements.

Free Download for WindowsSteps to use SFWare Data Recovery Software to perform External Hard Drive Recovery
Keep the external hard drive connected, download and install the software, and follow the steps below:

Step 1: Launch the tool, select the external hard drive under the External Drives section, and click on Scan.select the external hard drive and click on Scan

Step 2: Check the Folders for the recovered files according to how you lost them.

check for the recovered data in the respective folders


Step 3: Locate the files that you wish to recover.
(You can use the search box and Filter options to make it easy)

locating from the recovered external hard drive data


Step 4: Double-click on any file to preview it.

preview the recovered files from the external hard drive

Step 5: Select the files you want to recover and Click on Save to restore them on your device.

save the recovered data

NOTE: Make sure to save it in a new location to avoid the chances of losing the file again.

As a user, you must be having a question…Why should I use software to perform external HDD data recovery? Are there any manual ways to get my data back?

External hard drive recovery can be done in many other ways that are mentioned below. Still, it requires your prior action or facility to retrieve data from the external hard drive.

Opting for data recovery software is the best solution, even in cases where your drive backup fails.

Recover Data from an External Hard Drive Without Software

Method 1: Backup

If you remember taking a backup of the drive or setting up an auto-backup for your external hard drive, congratulations! You can recover data from the external hard drive for free without any additional tools.

Enabling Windows features like File History can back up the external hard drive data, if you had enabled it before the data loss then you can get your data back from it.

Simply restore the data to the external hard drive. However, remember that you won’t be able to retrieve data that wasn’t backed up.

Method 2: Recycle Bin or Trash

Verify the external hard drive’s recycle bin to recover files from the external hard drives, this is the easiest way to recover deleted files from the external hard drive. The data in the recycle bin exists until it is emptied or overwritten by other data.

  • Open the Recycle Bin folder on your external hard drive, choose the files, and restore the data.

Open recycle bin and check for the lost data

The files will be restored to the original folders.

Method 3: Scan using the Command Prompt

Type the following commands and execute them properly, it can fix minor corruption errors, bad sectors, and malware attacks on your external hard drive enabling you to access the external hard drive data.

1. Chkdsk (Check disk)
– Open Command prompt as Administrator.
– Type: chkdsk E: /f (Change E to your external hard drive’s letter) and press Enter.

type the chkdsk command

This will scan the external hard drive for bad sectors and fix it if it’s slight and repairable, you can reboot and check the drive files and functionality as well.

2. SFC (System File Checker)
– Open Command prompt as Adminsistrator.
– On Windows 8 or later, type: DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth.
– Once this progress is completed, now type sfc /scannow (This scan will take some time).

type the chkdsk command

– Once the scan is completed type exit and press Enter.

The SFC command can repair the corrupt files on your external hard drive, which were primarily lost due to a crash or malware attack. It also helps removing hard drive errors like error code 2000 0146

3. Attrib
The attrib command can fix the issue related to the attributes of the files like missing, or inaccessible on your external hard drive.
– Open Command prompt as Administrator.
– Type: ATTRIB -H -R -S /S /D X:*.*(Change E to your external hard drive’s letter) and press Enter.

type the attrib command

Once the process is completed try to access the external hard drive data.

What To Do If My External Hard Drive Is Not Detected?

When your external hard drive is not showing up on Windows or Mac verify the connection issues before heading to data recovery.

Check the cable: Connect the cable properly and check if the cable is worn out or has any damage, try changing a new cable.
Different Port: Clean the port if it is blocked or has dust particles. Try connecting the external hard drive to a different port.
Update driver: Outdated or Incompatible drivers cannot recognize the external hard drive check for drive updates on the device manager.
RAW or Corrupted Hard drive: In the case of raw drives or corrupt external hard drives, you will have to format the drive to get it recognized by the OS. (format the external hard drive only if you have a backup of the data).

You can recover the data from an external hard drive using a data recovery tool if is showing up on Disk Management.

Retrieve Data From External Hard Drive Via Data Recovery Services

If there is any physical damage, then recovery software cannot do the job of recovering data from the drive. You will need to take it to a professional hard drive recovery service. Just make sure to read their policies on recovery and data safety.

But the chances are very slim if you had continued using the drive after loss or if the drive had fried or soaked.

There’s always a window that can go wrong in data safety on external hard drives but we say you can put a curtain on it to reduce the chances of disasters.

A few simple precautions in the below section can help you avoid data loss on your external hard drives.

Measures to Prevent Data Loss on External Hard Drive

Regular backups: Take a backup of the data in a cloud storage or another device, and keep multiple backups of the data you care about. This will be helpful when you come across data corruption or a hard drive crash.

Check the hard drive’s health: Keep a tab on the hard drive’s health and act quickly whenever you come across clicking sounds or slow performance.

Use an updated antivirus tool: Scan the external hard drive regularly using a reliable antivirus tool.

Proper maintenance: Handle your portable hard drive with care, do not eject it when it is in use, and avoid physical pressure or damage to the drive.

Defragment your drive: Defragmentation can help in increasing the speed and lifetime of your external hard drives.


Reversing data loss on your external hard drive is possible if you act quickly and make wise decisions to retrieve it.

The external hard drives are equipped with advanced technologies and techniques that can help in easy data recovery. This article has helped you recover your data from your external hard drive and understand different aspects of external hard drive recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Can I recover data from a dead external hard disk?
Yes, you can recover from a dead hard disk using recovery software if the drive has logical damages.
In case of physical damage, you will need a professional data recovery service to perform data recovery on your external hard drive.

2. Why is my external hard drive not working?
If your external hard drive is not working, then it could be:
– Poor connection.
– Incompatible file system.
– Outdated drivers.
– Physical damage.

3. How do I recover data from an Unrecognized external hard drive?
Yes, You can recover the data using data recovery software only when the external hard drive is visible in the Disk management.



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