How to recover data from an external hard drive

If you cannot access data on your external hard drive first of all you need to understand why your external hard drive stopped working. There are three possible reasons:

  • logical problem,
  • enclosure issue,
  • hard drive failure.

Logical problem

In this case hardware (disk and enclosure) works well but you don’t see your data due to a filesystem failure (RAW filesystem), accidentally formatting the drive, or because you just deleted the wrong files. The course of action is the same as in typical scenarios of data loss, for example as described on the data recovery after format page; the only difference is that first you need to connect the external hard drive to a PC running Windows and only then use ReclaiMe File Recovery software to extract data off the drive. Read more and watch the video on the "External hard drive recovery - logical problem" page.

Enclosure issue

This involves broken USB connector, USB-to-SATA chip failure, or power supply failure which you can suspect if the disk doesn’t spin up. Data recovery starts with disassembling the enclosure and extracting the disk out of it. Then you need to connect the disk to a PC and see what it brings. Read more and watch the video on the "External hard drive recovery - enclosure issue" page.

Hard drive failure

Hard drive failure includes bad sectors on the hard drive surface or failure of internal hard drive components, for example a read/write head. In this case you see that Windows hangs when trying to access your external hard drive or you hear some unusual sounds from the drive or the system doesn’t show your drive at all. If you observe such symptoms you need to disassemble the enclosure, pull the disk out, and connect it to a PC directly via a SATA port. Read more and watch the video on the "External drive data recovery - hard drive failure" page.

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