Is It Possible to Recover Data from a Broken External Hard Drive?

Your external hard drive is initially an internal one with an additional outer shell and a USB to connect it to your computer. It’s used for backups pretty often or just to free some space on the PC or laptop. However, even it needs a backup. There’s a golden rule that says “the data that is saved once isn’t saved”.

Even an HDD can’t guarantee complete safety for your files. If you plug the USB into the port and the computer doesn’t show the icon of new hardware, it usually means your drive is broken. But don’t panic since in most cases you can recover data from a broken external hard drive with the use of correct software.

Recovering Files from a Damaged External Hard Drive

First of all, there are two types of damage that may be done to your HDD:

  • Logical;
  • Physical.

Logical Damage

The logical damage that may need you to retrieve data from a broken external hard drive may be:

  • Malware;
  • File system damage;
  • Messed up permissions, etc.

In this case, the easiest method to restore data from a broken external hard drive is to use a recovery wizard. You can look for one in this selection of the 10 best disk repair tools. Beware of the faulty assumption that all such programs are too expensive. In reality, you can find one that is completely free or at least has basic free features.

To use a wizard:

  1. Plug the HDD in;
  2. Install the program and give necessary permissions;
  3. Run the software and get familiar with it;
  4. Choose a proper scanning method;
  5. Choose a proper recovery method.

This is an algorithm for a quality user-friendly wizard. Keep in mind that some programs don’t have a graphic interface, so if you’re a beginner, get a newbie-friendly one. You may need to upgrade it to get your files back, but that’s a small price for precious files from a broken external hard drive.

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Physical Damage

Physical damage is much more complicated to control, so it’s difficult to do a broken external hard drive recovery if you don’t have enough knowledge. First of all, listen to the sounds it makes when plugged in. Do you hear clicking or grinding noises? Disconnect it asap and do nothing else. As a way out, go to a recovery center and find a specialist, but remember that it’s a costly thing. Plus, you’ll expose any recoverable data to the workers of the company.

If the drive doesn’t make any weird sounds, you can take it apart and see what’s going on. Just remove the case and see if:

  • The SATA-USB adapter is broken;
  • The USB connector isn’t in place.

If there are no such signs, it’s better to turn to a professional. However, these two issues you can fix yourself. New adapters aren’t that expensive. If everything works out and you can access the files, it’s better to back them up this time. If the data is still not visible and the HDD isn’t detected by the PC, think of any logical issue that might have damaged it.

The best way to solve a problem is to prevent it. Make sure you back up all the important data from your PC or laptop. If you’re not sure in any backup, do it twice. Copy the files to a USB flash drive or an HDD, and use a cloud to make another copy. This will ensure all the valuable files are safe.

However, if a mistake was made, there’s always professional recovery software for you to use.


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