External Hard Drive Data Recovery: 8 Top Ways

5 mins read

Updated on 2024-05-16 16:35:55 to Hard Drive

An external hard drive is a popular storage device used by both Windows and Mac users to store and transfer large amounts of data, as well as create backups. However, despite its convenience and reliability, an external hard drive is not immune to data loss. Accidental deletion, formatting, corruption, malware, or other unforeseen circumstances can lead to the loss of precious files. If you find yourself in a situation where your important data has disappeared from your external hard drive, don't panic. In most cases, your lost files can be recovered.

In this article, we'll explore the top 8 methods for external hard drive data recovery in 2024. We'll guide you through the process of identifying the cause of your data loss and choosing the right solution to retrieve your files. So, let's discover how to rescue your lost data!

external hard drive recovery

Part 1: What Causes Data Loss on External Hard Drive?

Data loss on an external hard drive can be a frustrating and stressful experience. Understanding the common causes of data loss can help you take preventive measures and be prepared for data recovery if needed.

Some of the most frequent reasons for data loss on external hard drives include:

  • Accidental deletion or formatting of files or partitions
  • File system corruption due to improper ejection or power failure
  • Malware or virus attacks that damage or encrypt files
  • Physical damage to the hard drive due to drops, shocks, or wear and tear
  • Logical damage caused by sudden system crashes or software malfunctions

By being aware of these potential causes, you can minimize the risk of data loss and be ready to take action if it occurs.

Part 2: What're the Top Ways for External Hard Drive Data Recovery?

Now that we've explored the common causes of data loss on external hard drives, let's dive into the top methods for recovering your precious files. In the next section, we'll discuss various solutions that can help you get your data back safely and efficiently.

Way 1: Use 4DDiG Data Recovery for External Hard Drive Data Recovery

One of the most reliable and efficient solutions for external hard drive data recovery is 4DDiG Windows Data Recovery. This powerful software is designed to recover lost, deleted, or corrupted files from various storage devices, including external hard drives, with a high success rate.

The software also provides a preview feature, allowing you to see the recoverable files before restoring them, ensuring you recover exactly what you need.

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To use 4DDiG Windows Data Recovery for external hard drive data recovery, follow these simple steps:

  • Connect your external hard drive to your computer and launch the 4DDiG software. Select the external hard drive from the list of available drives and click "Scan" to begin searching for lost data.

    select local disk
  • 4DDiG will perform a deep scan of your external hard drive. You can pause or stop the scan at any time if you locate the files you need. Preview the recoverable files to ensure they are the ones you want to restore.

    tree-view
  • Select the files you want to recover and click "Recover." Choose a safe location on your computer to save the recovered files. Avoid saving them to the same external hard drive to prevent overwriting and permanent data loss.

    With these three easy steps, you can quickly and effectively recover lost data from your external hard drive using 4DDiG Windows Data Recovery.

    save-recovered-files

Way 2: Perform External Hard Drive Data Recovery from Backup Solution

If you've been diligent about backing up your external hard drive data to your computer, another storage device, or the cloud, you're in luck. This is the most effective way to protect yourself against data loss.

In the event of accidentally deleted files or unexpected disk issues, you can easily recover your backed-up data from the external hard drive.

Keep in mind that this method will only restore files from your most recent backup, so any data stored after the last backup won't be recoverable. Nevertheless, it's an excellent way to retrieve a significant portion, if not all, of your lost data.

Way 3: Perform External Hard Drive Data Recovery from Recycle Bin

When you delete a file from your external hard drive, it's not immediately erased; instead, it's sent to the Recycle Bin. This makes the Recycle Bin an excellent first place to look when attempting to recover deleted files from an external hard drive.

Follow these steps to restore your deleted files from the external hard drive's Recycle Bin:

  • Connect your external hard drive to your computer. This will allow you to access the combined Recycle Bin data from both your computer and the external drive.
  • Open the Recycle Bin by double-clicking its icon on your desktop or by searching for it in the Start menu.
  • Locate the files you wish to recover within the Recycle Bin. You can use the search bar or manually browse through the contents.
  • Select the files you want to restore by clicking on them. To select multiple files, hold down the Ctrl key while clicking on each file.
  • Right-click on the selected files and choose "Restore" from the context menu.

    recover from recycle bin

Way 4: Try External Hard Drive Data Recovery Using File History Feature

File History is a built-in backup feature in Windows 8, 8.1, 10, and 11 that automatically creates backups of your files, including previous versions. It allows you to save data to an external hard drive or a network location, making it easy to recover files from your external hard drive in case of data loss.

To recover lost files from your external hard drive using File History, follow these steps:

  • Connect your external hard drive to your computer.
  • Open the Settings app by pressing Windows + I, then navigate to Update & Security > Backup.
  • Click on "More options" under the "Back up using File History" section.
  • Scroll down and click on "Restore files from a current backup."

    from a current backup
  • Browse through the available backup versions, select the files or folders you want to recover, and click the "Restore to" button to save them to their original location or a new destination of your choice.

    restore to

Way 5: Check Invisible Items for Your External Hard Drive Data Recovery

If you haven't deleted the files from your external hard drive, but they seem to have disappeared, they might be hidden. This can happen due to various reasons, such as virus or malware infection, file system errors, or corruption. By enabling the "Hidden items" option, you can view and recover these hidden files.

Here's how to retrieve hidden files from your external hard drive:

  • Connect your external hard drive to your computer.
  • Open File Explorer and navigate to the external hard drive.
  • Click on the "View" tab in the File Explorer ribbon.
  • Check the box next to "Hidden items" in the Show/hide section. After enabling this option, you'll be able to see and access any hidden files on your external hard drive and you can recover them easily.

    hidden items

Way 6: Use Windows System File Checker to Run the External Drive Recovery

The Windows System File Checker (SFC) is a built-in utility that scans and repairs corrupted system files on your PC. It can also help recover data from an external hard drive, especially if the data loss was caused by malware or an unexpected system crash.

To use SFC for external hard drive data recovery, follow these steps:

  • Connect your external hard drive to your computer.
  • Open an elevated Command Prompt by searching for "Command Prompt" in the Start menu, right-clicking on it, and selecting "Run as administrator."
  • If you're using Windows 8 or newer, run the following command first: DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth. This command uses the Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool to scan for corruption and restore missing files.
  • Once the DISM command completes, run the following command: sfc /scannow. This will initiate a system scan that checks for corrupted files and replaces them with cached copies. Run this command regardless of your Windows version.
  • Wait for the scan to complete. Do not close the Command Prompt window during this process.
  • After the scan is finished, type "exit" and press Enter to close the Command Prompt.

    exit

If the SFC scan successfully repairs corrupted files or replaces missing ones, you'll see the message "Windows Resource Protection did not find any integrity violations."

However, if the scan fails, try running the DISM command first, regardless of your Windows version, and then rerun the SFC scan. You can also try running the SFC scan in Safe Mode after restarting your PC.

Way 7: Start Your External Hard Drive Data Recovery with Windows Command Prompt

Windows Command Prompt offers a simple way to recover lost, inaccessible, or deleted files from your external hard drive. By running a single command, you can fix the attributes of these files and restore your data.

Follow these steps to recover data from your external hard drive using Command Prompt:

  • Connect your external hard drive to your computer.
  • Press Windows + R to open the Run dialog box, type "cmd," and press Enter.
  • In the Command Prompt window, type the following command, replacing "X" with the drive letter of your external hard drive: ATTRIB -H -R -S /S /D X:*.*

    replace x
  • Press Enter to execute the command. This will remove the hidden, read-only, and system attributes from the files on your external hard drive and restore your data to a new folder.

Way 8: Ask for External Hard Drive Data Recovery Services

When physical damage to your external hard drive is preventing data recovery, or if the previous methods have failed, it's time to consider professional data recovery services.

Experts have the tools, knowledge, and experience needed to recover data from even the most severely damaged hard drives. To ensure the best chances of successful data recovery, choose a reputable service provider.

Contact them to discuss your situation, get a quote, and find out if they offer a "no data, no charge" policy.

By entrusting your external hard drive to professionals, you can minimize the risk of permanent data loss and increase the likelihood of a successful recovery.

Part 3: FAQ about External Hard Drive Data Recovery

Q: How much should it cost to recover data from an external hard drive near me?

Ans: The cost of data recovery from an external hard drive varies depending on the severity of the issue and the service provider. Prices can range from $100 to $1,000 or more for complex cases.

Q: How can one prevent the need for data recovery on an external drive?

Ans: To avoid external drive data loss, regularly back up your data to another storage device or cloud service. Always safely eject the drive before unplugging it, and keep it away from extreme temperatures and moisture.

Q: How do I fix my external hard drive not detected?

Ans: If your external hard drive is not detected, try connecting it to a different USB port or computer. Check the cable and power supply, and update or reinstall the device drivers if necessary.

Q: Is it possible to recover data from an external hard drive?

Ans: Yes, it is possible to recover data from an external hard drive in most cases. The success rate depends on the cause of data loss and the extent of the damage to the drive.

Conclusion

Losing data from an external drive can be tough, but there are ways to get your files back. From easy DIY fixes to expert help, you have options. The key is to prevent loss by regularly saving your data elsewhere and handling your drive carefully. If you still lose data, 4DDiG Windows Data Recovery is a great tool to use. It's easy to use, works on many file types, and helps you recover data fast. So, if you're facing data loss, give 4DDiG a try and you might just get your important files back.

William Bollson (senior editor)

William Bollson, the editor-in-chief of 4DDiG, devotes to providing the best solutions for Windows and Mac related issues, including data recovery, repair, error fixes.

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