How to Recover Data from a Dead Hard Drive and Repair the Corrupted Disk

Roxanne updated on Sep 24, 2020 to Data Recovery | How-to Articles


Simple steps to recover data from dead or damaged hard drive disk with reliable dead hard drive recovery software. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro with Bootable Media is mainly designed for data recovery cases of any system crash or starting problems. Try it to rescue your files when the hard disk is dead, damaged or failed. Also, if you want to repair your corrupted HDD, we still have solutions.

recover data from dead hard drive

To Recover Deleted Data from a Damaged Hard Drive: 

  1. 1. Download & Install EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard WinPE Edition on your computer.
  2. 2. Select your hard drive & click the Scan button.
  3. 3. Preview files and click Recover.

How to Recover Data from a Dead Hard Drive

  1. Part 1. Chances of a Dead Hard Drive Data Recovery
  2. Part 2. How to Recover Data from a Dead Hard Drive
  3. Part 3. What to Do If the HDD Is Not Online
  4. Part 4. How to Repair Corrupted/Damaged/Dead Hard Drive

When you find your hard disk does not respond anymore and hear a few "biz biz" when you're trying to boot from it, and then it stops, and you can't access it. In such a condition, your hard disk drive might become dead. How to tell if your hard drive is dead? Here are some tips:

  • Strange noises
  • Computer crashes
  • Disk errors and data loss
  • Computer stops recognizing the drive

If you are faced with one of these symptoms, your hard drive is dead. You don't have to be panic, follow the tips below to recover data from dead hard drive.

Part 1. Chances of a Dead Hard Drive Data Recovery

The dead hard drive eventually affects all computer users. Frustration soon kicks in due to the loss of pictures, music, documents, and other files - files that you can't always replace.

Do not worry, unless corruption has occurred within the files, the files can be saved. And most of the time, the data is intact. It is good if you have a backup of your important data. However, if you do not make a backup in advance, and find the components in your drive are still functioning, you can recover data from the dead hard drive with bootable CD/DVD of data recovery software - EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard WinPE Edition.

Tip: Make sure that the Disk is recognized as Online Disk and the partition or disk space is displayed properly. Then you can use this software. If the disk is not recognized as Online Disk, you can refer to Part 3.

disk must show as online

Part 2. How to Recover Data from a Dead Hard Drive

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard WinPE Edition is a bootable disk of data recovery software which can help you recover data after the system crash and boot problem. Before you start, create a bootable USB first. Then, boot from Data Recovery Wizard WinPE bootable disk. Then, follow the steps below to recover data from a dead HDD.

Step 1. Choose a location to scan.

Make sure that all hard drives and other devices were correctly connected and recognized by the software. Refresh an external device if necessary. From which drive was data lost? Choose the relevant hard drive partition by left-clicking on it. Click the Scan button.

select a location and click scan

Step 2. Wait for the scanning results.

It takes a while for EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard to complete the scan, all depending on how much disk space is used on the selected hard drive. As you see, the "Deleted files" result would come our first, later it's all lost data result. You can try to recover lost data as soon as it shows up even though the scanning process has not finished yet.

scan the disk

Step 3. Preview the result and recover data.

Preview and choose the files you want, click "Recover" button to save them to a safe place. You'd better choose a different drive to avoid data overwriting.

recover data from the disk

Apart from recovering lost files from a dead hard drive, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard WinPE Edition also supports recovering data from RAID, external hard drive, dynamic disk and Memory Cards, etc. Also, it can recover lost photos, documents and media files, etc., unformat files, recover data from lost partition, etc.

Part 3. What to Do If the HDD Is Not Online

If your dead HDD is not showing as "Online", follow the steps to fix it.

Case 1: The HDD Shows "ONLINE (ERRORS)"

When a dynamic disk detects an I/O error, an "online (error)" status occurs. And usually, all volumes on the disk will show as "At Risk" status.

online error - at risk state

Step 1. If the I/O error is a temporary error (like cable slack), reactivate the disk.

Step 2. If the "Healthy (At Risk)" status is still displayed, there may be a disk failure. Back up data and replace disk as soon as possible.

Case 2: The HDD Shows "Not initialized"

The "uninitialized" state occurs when the disk does not have a valid signature or virus corruption.

Step 1. Connect the hard disk to other computers to see if it is normal. If it is still uninitialized, you can initialize it first.

Step 2. Right-click the disk and click "Initialize Disk". The disk status is temporarily changed to "initializing" and then to "Online" status.

initialize the dead disk

Case 3: The HDD Shows "Missing"

A "Missing" state occurs when a disk is destroyed, closed, or disconnected.

the dead hdd shows as missing

Open "Disk Management", right-click the missing disk, and then click "Reactivate Disk". If there are multiple missing disks, Disk Management will attempt to reactivate all of them.

reactivate the disk

Case 4: The Disk Is Showing as "Foreign"

When the dynamic disk is transferred from another computer to the local computer, the "Foreign" status is displayed. The "Foreign" status is also displayed when a computer running Windows XP Home Edition is configured to pass dual boot mode of another operating system (using dynamic disks). Importing a Foreign disk would solve it.

hdd is showing as foreign

  • Right-click the disk.
  • Click "Import Foreign Disks". The data will not get lost.

import foreign disks

Case 5: The Device is Unreadable or No Media

An "unreadable" state occurs when a basic or dynamic disk is inaccessible. The disk may have a hardware failure, a corrupted, or an I/O error. You can solve this error by following the steps below:

1. Rescan the disk 

Click "Action" > "Rescan Disks") or restart your computer to see if the disk status has changed.

rescan the disk

2. Update driver in Device Manager

Step 1. In the Device Manager, double-click the device (where there is usually a yellow triangle exclamation icon beside it) and open the driver Properties window.

Step 2. Go to the Driver tab and click "Update Driver".

Step 3. Click "Search automatically for updated driver software".

update driver to fix the no media error

3. Rebuild MBR

If your MBR disk is damaged, you certainly cannot boot into Windows. How to repair the damaged MBR? Here we'll provide a safe and reliable procedure to help you. EaseUS Partition Master has already offered the function to rebuild MBR in the case of boot failure due to MBR problems. Follow the step-by-step instructions to rebuild MBR.

Step 1. Create a WinPE bootable disk.

  • Download and launch EaseUS Partition Master on a new PC which runs the same system as yours.
  • Click "WinPE Creator" on the toolbar. And select to create the bootable disk on a USB drive. If your computer has a CD/DVD drive, you can also create the bootable disk to CD/DVD.
  • Click "Proceed" to finish the process.
create a bootable disk

Step 2. Rebuild MBR.

  • Connect the bootable USB or CD/DVD to your PC.
  • Press "Del" when you are restarting the computer. Boot your computer from "Removable Devices" or "CD-ROM Drive". And then EaseUS Partition Master will run automatically.
  • Right-click the disk whose MBR is damaged. Choose "Rebuild MBR" to continue.
rebuild MBR
  • Select the type of MBR with the current operating system. Then, click "OK".
rebuild MBR
  • Click the "Execute 1 Operation" button at the top-left corner and click "Apply" to build the MBR. After that, your computer can boot normally again.
rebuild MBR

Part 4. How to Repair Corrupted/Damaged/Dead Hard Drive

When your external hard drive fails, you can try the solutions below to fix it. If you can see obvious damage, such as strange sounds, obvious cracks, or a broken printed circuit board, send the HDD to a specialist in time. The following methods are more suitable for repairing non-physical damage 

Solution 1. Fix the File System Error

If the disk has bad sectors or internal errors, the hard disk can corrupt very easily. And if you know how to run CHKDSK command in your PC, it will be effortless for you to fix hard disk corrupted issue. 

  • Press Win + X, select "Command Prompt (Admin)".
  • Click "Yes" to launch Command Prompt as Administrator.
  • Type: chkdsk and hit "Enter" to check errors in the corrupted hard drive.
  • Type:  chkdsk D: /f /r/x to let CHKDSK fix the drive. (D is the drive letter of your corrupted hard drive)

fix the file system error

If you don't have any technical know-how and want to minimize data risks, using third-party software could be a better choice. The Command line is suitable for computer professionals since wrong commands can cause severe problems. Therefore, we strongly recommend you try an automatic command line alternative.

EaseUS Tools M is a practical computer fixing tool that is safe and light-weighted. It's a perfect alternative to CHKDSK command. Use this one-click tool to solve your computer issues.

To fix file system error or disk error:

Step 1: DOWNLOAD EaseUS Tools M for Free and install it.

Step 2: Open the software and select the "File showing" option. 

Step 3: Choose the drive and wait for repairing. After the operation completes, click the "View" button to check the drive. 

select the drive and check off file system error

Solution 2. Use File Manager to Fix Corrupted Non-System Drive

  • Press "Win + E" to open File Manager, right-click the appropriate drive from the left pane.
  • Select "Properties" and click "Tools" > "Check under Error Checking".
  • Click "Repair This Drive" when the scan completes fixing the drive errors.

Solution 3. Run a Thorough Disk Check 

  • Open "This PC", right-click the hard drive and select "Properties".
  • Click "Tools > Error checking > Check".
  • Select "Check local disk" and click "Start". Close all running and open programs, select the option to let the system check upon the next boot. After this, restart the PC.

check the disk

If it reports that your drive has 'bad sectors or clusters', don't worry. CHKDSK command in Solution 1 will fix this issue.


Diagnosing and fixing a broken hard drive is difficult. Do take it seriously, but also try to exclude some of the more simple-to-fix culprits before you spend hundreds of dollars to a specialist. Even if you managed to repair your drive and get back all your data, replace the HDD with a new drive as soon as possible. If I were you, I would not trust this hard drive anymore.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why choose EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard?

"EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is the best we've seen. It's far from perfect, partly because today's advanced disk technology makes data-recovery more difficult than it was with the simpler technology of the past, but it's fast and efficient..."PCMag

"The first thing you'll notice about EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro is that its interface is very clear and uncluttered, with only a small collection of self-explanatory controls. You won't find lots of extra options hidden in a system of hidden menus, either; what you see really is what you get."techradar

"Recover lost files, even after deleting a partition or formatting your drive."Macworld

2. Why cannot I recover 2GB data for free?

It is recommended to check the version installed is Free or Trial because they are different versions.

Trial has data preview function but cannot save any files, while the Free version enables to recover 2 GB files. The default free space is 500 MB and you may share the product on social media to get another 1.5 GB.

3. Why cannot the recovered files be opened?

A file is saved as 2 parts on the storage device: directory info (which is comprised by file name, time stamp and size info, etc.) and data content.

If the files with original file names and folder structures cannot be opened, one possible reason is the corrupted directory info. There is still a chance to recover the data content with the RAW Recovery method in our software.

4. Why isn't it suggested to recover the files back to the original drive?

The storage structure of the lost files would be altered or damaged by any changes on the drive. If you save the recovered files back to the same drive, the original data structures and data content would be corrupted or overwritten, which causes permanent data loss. So you should prepare another disk to save the files.

5. How can I check whether my data is recoverable or not before purchase?

The Free version helps you save 2GB files to better verify the recovery quality of our product before purchase.

6. How long does it take to scan the drive?

It strongly depends on the capacity of your hard drive and the performance of your computer. As reference,most drive recoveries can be completed in around 10 to 12 hours for a 1-TB healthy hard drive in general conditions.

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