How To Recover Data On External Hard Drive

External hard drives are a convenient way to store and backup important data, but they are not immune to data loss. From accidental deletion to physical damage, there are several common causes that can lead to data loss on an external hard drive. If you are wondering how to recover data on C drive, there are various methods and software available to help retrieve your lost files.

We explore the different types of external hard drives, the causes of data loss, and most importantly, how to recover lost data. We also discuss preventative measures you can take to protect your data in the future.

Key Takeaways:

  • Always check the Recycle Bin first before trying any other data recovery methods. Many times, deleted files can be found here and easily restored.
  • In case of physical damage or severe data loss, seek professional help from data recovery experts to increase chances of successful recovery.
  • To prevent data loss on external hard drives, regularly backup your data, safely eject the drive, and use reliable antivirus software to protect against virus attacks.
  • What is an External Hard Drive?

    An external hard drive is a portable storage device that can be connected to a computer or other device to store and access data externally.

    External hard drives are commonly used to expand the storage capacity of computers and laptops, providing additional space for documents, photos, videos, and other files. Their portable nature makes them convenient for transferring large amounts of data between different devices, ideal for backing up important information or creating extra copies of files for safekeeping. With modern advances, many external hard drives now offer high-speed data transfer rates, multiple connectivity options such as USB, Thunderbolt, or even wireless, and varying storage capacities ranging from gigabytes to terabytes.

    What Are the Different Types of External Hard Drives?

    External hard drives come in various forms, including portable external hard drives, desktop external hard drives, and solid-state external hard drives, each offering unique advantages and storage capacities.

    Portable external hard drives are compact and lightweight, making them ideal for users who need to carry their data on the go. These drives are great for students, professionals, and travelers who require quick access to files.

    1. On the other hand, desktop external hard drives offer larger storage capacities and are suitable for users who need to store a vast amount of data such as photographers, videographers, and gamers. They are often used for backup purposes due to their high capacity.
    • Solid-state external hard drives, or SSDs, are known for their speed and durability. They use flash memory, making them faster and more shock-resistant than traditional HDDs. SSDs are perfect for users who need fast access to data, such as content creators and IT professionals.

    Common Causes of Data Loss on External Hard Drive

    Data loss on an external hard drive can occur due to various reasons, including accidental deletion, physical damage, file system corruption, and virus or malware attacks.

    Accidental deletion is one of the most common causes of data loss on external hard drives. It can happen when files are mistakenly deleted and then emptied from the recycle bin without a backup. This can lead to crucial data being permanently lost. Physical damage, such as dropping the hard drive or exposing it to extreme temperatures, can result in the loss of files and make the drive inaccessible.

    File system corruption is another significant reason for data loss on external hard drives. When the file system gets corrupted, the drive may become unreadable, rendering the stored data inaccessible. For example, if the Master Boot Record (MBR) or Partition Table gets damaged, it can lead to complete data loss.

    Accidental Deletion

    Accidental deletion is one of the primary causes of data loss on external hard drives, leading to the unintentional removal of important files or folders.

    When files are accidentally deleted, they are often sent to the Recycle Bin, which provides users with a safety net before permanent deletion. If files are deleted from the Recycle Bin or bypass it entirely, they seem lost forever.

    To prevent such mishaps, regular backups of essential data to cloud storage or an external device are crucial. Utilizing file recovery software can sometimes help retrieve mistakenly deleted files by scanning the drive for remnants of the lost data. Being cautious while deleting files by double-checking the selections can significantly reduce the chances of accidental deletions.

    Physical Damage

    Physical damage to an external hard drive, such as drops, water exposure, or electrical issues, can result in data loss and potential hardware failures.

    When an external hard drive experiences physical damage, it can lead to issues such as corrupted files, malfunctioning components, and even complete device inaccessibility. To prevent such risks, it is crucial to handle these devices with care, avoiding dropping them, keeping them away from liquids, and ensuring they are properly shielded from electrical surges.

    • Regularly backing up important data to a separate storage medium is also a good practice to mitigate the impact of hardware damage. In case of severe issues, seeking professional data recovery services is advisable to salvage valuable information and restore the functionality of the external hard drive.

    File System Corruption

    File system corruption on an external hard drive can lead to data inaccessibility, errors, and loss of files due to structural issues within the storage system.

    When file system corruption occurs, it can disrupt the way data is stored and retrieved from the external hard drive, impacting the integrity and accessibility of important files. One of the common symptoms of file system corruption is the inability to open files or folders, sudden crashes or freezes when accessing data, and error messages indicating data corruption.

    To diagnose file system issues, users can utilize built-in disk checking tools such as chkdsk on Windows or fsck on macOS. These tools can scan the drive for errors, repair file system problems, and attempt to recover corrupted data. It is crucial to back up data before running any repair operations to prevent permanent data loss.

    If built-in tools fail to resolve the corruption, specialized data recovery software like EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, Recuva, or Disk Drill can be used to retrieve lost files from the corrupted external hard drive. These tools offer advanced scanning algorithms to recover deleted or lost files, even from severely damaged file systems.

    Virus or Malware Attack

    A virus or malware attack on an external hard drive can compromise data security, integrity, and lead to data loss or corruption of files stored on the device.

    Viruses and malware are malicious software that can infiltrate external hard drives through various means, such as infected files or downloads. Once the attack occurs, sensitive information like personal documents, financial records, and even precious memories stored on the drive can be at risk.

    Protecting your external hard drive from such threats is crucial in today’s digital age. Installing reputable antivirus software on all devices that interact with the hard drive is a proactive measure. Regularly updating the antivirus software and performing full system scans can help detect and eliminate any potential threats before they cause harm.

    How to Recover Data on External Hard Drive

    Recovering data on an external hard drive can be achieved through methods like checking the Recycle Bin, utilizing data recovery software, or seeking professional assistance for complex cases.

    Checking the Recycle Bin is often the first step in data recovery for accidental deletions or misplaced files. If the files are not found there, the next step is to turn to specialized data recovery software. This software scans the external hard drive to locate lost or corrupted files through advanced algorithms. Depending on the software, users can select specific file types or run a full scan to recover as much data as possible. For more severe data loss scenarios, consulting with professional data recovery services is advisable to avoid further damage and increase the chances of successful data retrieval.

    Check the Recycle Bin

    Checking the Recycle Bin is the first step in data recovery on an external hard drive, as it may contain deleted files that can be restored with a simple recovery process.

    Once you determine that the Recycle Bin holds the files you need, you can easily restore them by right-clicking on the desired file and selecting ‘Restore’. If the deleted files are not found in the Recycle Bin, do not panic as there are efficient third-party file recovery tools available, such as Recuva or PhotoRec, which can deep-scan your external drive to retrieve lost data.

    It is crucial to avoid saving new files on the external hard drive after data loss to prevent overwriting the deleted files. Creating regular backups should be a habit to safeguard your important data against unforeseen events.

    Use Data Recovery Software

    Data recovery software like Disk Drill or EaseUS Data Recovery can help recover lost data on external hard drives by scanning the drive for deleted or corrupted files.

    This type of software is designed to retrieve data that has been accidentally deleted, lost due to system crashes, virus attacks, or other reasons. One of the main benefits of using mac data recovery software is the ability to recover a wide range of file types such as documents, photos, videos, and more.

    Popular data recovery tools offer various features such as deep scanning, preview options, selective file recovery, and compatibility with different file systems. For instance, while Disk Drill provides a user-friendly interface and advanced scanning algorithms, EaseUS Data Recovery stands out for its efficiency in recovering data from formatted drives.

    Seek Professional Help

    For complex data loss scenarios on external hard drives, seeking professional data recovery services like SalvageData may be necessary to recover inaccessible or severely damaged data.

    Professional data recovery services offer specialized expertise in retrieving lost data from various storage devices, including external hard drives. These experts possess the technical knowledge, tools, and resources required to tackle intricate data loss situations effectively.

    By entrusting your valuable data to a reputable service provider, you can benefit from their advanced recovery solutions, which employ sophisticated techniques to salvage data from damaged storage media. These services often utilize cutting-edge technologies and proprietary software to ensure the highest chances of successful data retrieval.

    When facing critical data loss on external hard drives, it is crucial to rely on professional data recovery services to minimize the risk of permanent data loss and maximize the chances of successful recovery. Trusted providers like SalvageData have a proven track record of delivering reliable and efficient data recovery solutions for a wide range of data loss scenarios.”

    Preventative Measures for Data Loss on External Hard Drive

    To prevent data loss on an external hard drive, it is crucial to regularly backup your data, safely eject the drive, and use reliable antivirus software to protect against malware threats.

    Regularly backing up your important files not only safeguards against accidental deletion or hardware failure but also provides a safety net in case of ransomware attacks or system crashes. Remember to follow the 3-2-1 rule,

    • keeping three copies of your data
    • on two different types of storage,
    • with one offsite or in the cloud.

    It’s also recommended to encrypt sensitive data before backing up and to schedule automatic backups to ensure consistency. Safe usage practices, such as avoiding suspicious links and emails, can further enhance your data protection efforts.

    Regularly Backup Your Data

    Regularly backing up your data from an external hard drive to a secondary storage location or cloud service can safeguard against permanent data loss in case of drive failure or corruption.

    Having a reliable data backup strategy is crucial for both individuals and businesses to protect valuable information. Data loss can occur due to various reasons, such as hardware malfunctions, accidental deletions, or cyberattacks. Utilizing automated backup solutions like cloud storage services or network-attached storage (NAS) devices can streamline the backup process and ensure that data is consistently preserved.

    When determining backup frequency, consider the importance of the data and the frequency of updates. Critical data should be backed up daily or in real-time to minimize the risk of data loss. For less critical information, weekly or monthly backups may suffice. Implementing a tiered backup approach can help optimize storage space and ensure that recent versions of data are readily accessible in case of emergencies.

    Safely Eject the External Hard Drive

    Properly ejecting an external hard drive from a computer or device ensures that no data corruption or hardware damage occurs during the disconnection process, preserving data integrity.

    When you eject an external drive safely, the system completes any pending read/write operations and closes any open files or applications that might be using the drive. This process prevents the abrupt termination of data transfers, reducing the risk of file corruption. Implementing proper ejection practices also helps maintain the longevity of your hardware components by preventing sudden power surges or spikes that can occur if the drive is disconnected while active.

    Use Reliable Antivirus Software

    Utilizing reliable antivirus software on the host system can prevent malware infections on external hard drives, protecting data integrity and system security.

    Ensuring that both the host system and any connected external drives are continuously scanned for potential threats is crucial in today’s digital landscape. By implementing robust antivirus protection, users can mitigate the risk of malicious software infiltrating their devices through external drives. This proactive approach not only safeguards personal and sensitive information but also prevents the spread of malware across networks. Regularly updating security software and running full system scans can detect and remove any existing threats, providing peace of mind in the face of evolving cybersecurity threats.


    Understanding the common causes of data loss on external hard drives and implementing effective recovery and prevention methods can help safeguard valuable data and ensure data integrity.

    It is crucial to acknowledge that data protection goes beyond just preventing data loss; it involves a holistic approach towards securing data across various devices and platforms. By maintaining regular backups and employing encryption techniques, individuals and organizations can significantly reduce the risks associated with cyber threats and accidental deletions. Staying informed about the latest trends in data security and recovery strategies can enable users to stay one step ahead in safeguarding their information.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How do I recover data on my external hard drive?

    To recover data on your external hard drive, you can use a data recovery software or hire a professional data recovery service.

    Can I recover data from a damaged external hard drive?

    Yes, it is possible to recover data from a damaged external hard drive. However, the success of data recovery depends on the extent of damage to the hard drive.

    Is it safe to use a data recovery software on my external hard drive?

    Yes, it is safe to use a data recovery software as long as it is from a reputable source and you follow the instructions carefully.

    How long does it take to recover data from an external hard drive?

    The time it takes to recover data from an external hard drive depends on the size of the drive and the extent of data loss. It can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.

    Can I recover data from a formatted external hard drive?

    Yes, you can still recover data from a formatted external hard drive. However, it is important to stop using the drive immediately to increase the chances of successful data recovery.

    Will I be able to recover all of my data from the external hard drive?

    It is possible to recover most, if not all, of your data from an external hard drive. However, the success of data recovery depends on the condition of the drive and the effectiveness of the recovery methods used.

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