How to Recover Data From a Dead External Hard Drive


how to recover data from a dead external hard drive

Is it Even Possible to Restore Data From a Dead External Hard Drive?

Yes, it is possible to recover data from a dead external hard drive. The key factor is to get your computer to recognize the broken device so you can use recovery software to recover files from the dead external hard drive. When the drive ceases to operate, the data that resides on it is still intact and can be retrieved with the right tools. So don’t despair, the situation may not be as grim as it seems at first glance.

External hard drives are great for adding additional storage to your computer. Their portable nature makes them useful for transferring large amounts of data to remote machines that are not network-connected. One very critical role filled by external hard drives is to provide backup media on which individuals can back up and protect their valuable data. External drives can often be overlooked in backup plans which makes it crucial that you can recover data from them if they fail.

How to Recover Data From a Dead External Hard Drive Using Disk Drill

To recover deleted files from a dead external hard drive, use the following procedure:

  1. Download and install Disk Drill for Windows.
  2. Connect the external hard drive to your computer and launch Disk Drill.
  3. Select the drive from the list and click Search for lost data.recover data from dead external hard drive
  4. Preview the recoverable files and select those to be restored.can i recover files from a dead external hard drive
  5. Click Recover to retrieve the data.can you retrieve data from a dead external hard drive

Disk Drill uses powerful and advanced scanning algorithms to scavenge the failed drive and fix the logical links that restore your ability to access the found data. It performs this function from an intuitive user interface which enables users with modest computer skills to successfully recover lost and deleted files and folders. In the matter of a few clicks, Disk Drill will recover as much data as is possible from virtually any type of disk-based storage device. This includes your external hard drive, internal disks, SD cards, and flash drives.

Option #1

Disk Drill for Windows enables you to recover deleted files even after you have emptied the Recycle Bin. You can also use the app to recover files from a disk or partition that you accidentally formatted. It recovers files from over 400 different formats including all types of image and audio files. Restore the files to the location of your choice to avoid potentially overwriting your data.

recover data from dead external hard drive via disk drill

Option #2

Disk Drill also offers data protection features that make it even more valuable. You can create a byte-level backup of an ailing hard drive to use for recovery purposes without putting additional stress on the failing device.

how to recover data from a dead external hard drive with disk drill

Option #3

The Recovery Vault feature provides a supplemental Recycle Bin that allows you to recover protected files instantly without performing a full scan.

dead external hard drive data recovery software

You can try this exceptional data recovery software with a free trial and recover up to 500 MB for free as you evaluate the tool.

Are External Hard Drives Still Popular in 2019?

External hard drives are still widely used by individuals and organizations to add storage capacity to their systems. The market for enterprise-grade external hard drives is expected to remain strong for the next several years. Solid-state drives (SSDs) are becoming increasingly popular due to their faster speed and reduced power consumption. Cloud storage also offers an alternative to external hard drives but demands an Internet connection and enough bandwidth to transfer files.

can i recover files from a dead external hard drive with disk drill

The market for external hard drives is not going away anytime soon. The devices offer large capacities and are less expensive on a per-gigabyte basis than similarly sized solid-state drives. They are still extremely useful in many scenarios including:

  • Backing up your personal computer – Large capacity external hard drives are perfect for individuals who want to protect their data. The speed afforded by an SSD is not required in this role.
  • Storing multimedia collections – Many users have extensive collections of movies, photos, and music that cannot all be kept on the computer’s internal storage. Using an external hard drive enables a user to keep as many large multimedia files as they like and easily transport them for use on another machine.
  • Expanding enterprise storage capabilities – Banks of external hard drives have their place in an organization’s storage hierarchy. In this scenario, data that is used frequently or needs to be accessed quickly can be stored in more expensive flash memory or SSDs. External hard drives handle the overflow data that needs to be available but can withstand the slower access speed of the HDDs.

Did You Know?

The first external hard drive was introduced by IBM on September 13, 1956. They were refrigerator-sized units that required air-controlled rooms for their operation. The system, called the IBM 350 Disk File, did not run internally within the computer, hence the designation of an external hard drive. It consisted of a magnetic disk memory unit with its access mechanism, the electronic and pneumatic controls for the access mechanism, and a small air compressor.


Q: How to tell if your external hard drive is failing

There are several signs which indicate that your external hard drive is failing or about to experience a failure. They include:

  • Strange grinding or clicking sounds when accessing the drive;
  • An increase in the number of corrupt or missing files;
  • Very slow response time when reading or writing to the disk.

Q: Is it possible to read data from the completely dead external drive?

If the drive is logically damaged there is the possibility that dead external hard drive data recovery software can be used to retrieve its data. In cases where the drive has physically crashed and cannot be accessed through a computer, you may be able to recover the data by employing a professional data recovery service.

Q: How do I fix an external hard drive that is not recognized by a Windows PC?

There are several methods you can try that may revive your external drive and allow you to conduct data recovery on it.

  • First, you should try to connect the drive to other ports on your machine, as the issue may be with the interface. You might open the drive to determine if the drive has come loose from its power supply.
  • You can also attempt to access the drive with a different computer. The drive may need to be reformatted, after which you can use software to recover data from the dead external hard drive.
  • As a last resort, a data recovery service may need to be engaged to resolve the issue.


If you use peripheral storage devices there may come a time when you need to retrieve data from a dead external hard drive. Data recovery software such as Disk Drill offers a method of restoring your files and folders without the need to engage an expensive data recovery service. Protecting the data on an external drive should strongly be considered if the information it contains holds any value. It’s never a bad idea to have a second copy of your external hard drive just in case disaster strikes. Take backups and get Disk Drill to keep your data safe.

Jeff Cochin is a data management and recovery professional, who has been with Pandorarecovery for nine years and has always been an essential part of the team. Jeff also works as a technical writer at Macgasm, being a first hand in testing, trying and writing about big and small tech software.