Broken hard drive enclosure - how to access the data

An external hard drive enclosure consists of a box, a USB-to-SATA chip, and an optional power supply. If any of these components fails (except may be a box), you lose access to the data on the drive. In practice, you can diagnose an enclosure issue based on the following signs:

  • broken USB connector,
  • disk does not spin up,
  • LED on the box does not light up.

In all these cases, data recovery starts with extracting the disk from the broken enclosure. On the video below it is shown how to pull the 2.5’’ disk out of the Transcend StoreJet enclosure. If you deal with another enclosure, it would be easy to look on YouTube for the video on how to disassemble your particular box.

Once you extract the disk and remove the USB-to SATA chip, you need to connect the disk to a PC. To do this you can use either an USB-to-SATA adapter to connect the disk via USB or open the PC case to connect the disk to the motherboard SATA port. Also, you can put the disk into another known-good enclosure.

After you connect the disk to the PC one way or another, you need to open My Computer and see whether you can access the data.

There are three possible outcomes:

  • You see the drive and the data looks OK. It is better to copy the data to a safe location, then check the disk using a diagnostic software provided by the disk manufacturer. If the disk is healthy, continue using it, for example put it into a new enclosure.
  • You see the drive, but when opening it the system asks you to format the drive – don’t. In this case along with an enclosure issue you deal with a logical problem. To get access to the data you need ReclaiMe File Recovery software. Read more and watch the video on the "External hard drive recovery" page.
  • You don’t see the drive in My Computer. First you need to ensure that the system can recognize the disk. To do this open Disk Management utility – press WinKey + R on the keyboard, type diskmgmt.msc and then press Enter. Check whether your drive is listed there. If yes – use ReclaiMe File Recovery to extract data (read more), otherwise you deal with a mechanically damaged hard drive and should continue reading "External drive recovery - hard drive failure".

All the steps on video

Still have questions?