With the help of high-capacity external hard drives, you can store your important data, such as music, pictures, and videos, or transfer a large amount of data to another PC or laptop. The only problem is that the more data stored on a single external hard drive, the greater the possibility of losing them. Sometimes, unexpected data loss disasters caused by certain reasons can make you lose all your crucial data in just seconds.

But don't worry. You can recover deleted files from external hard drives easily with the full instructions in this tutorial.

You may lose data on an external hard drive for many reasons, including accidentally deleting your files, formatting the external hard disk, unforeseen file system corruption, or a virus attack. File deleting is the most common problem. Here, we offer multiple ways to restore deleted data from external hard drives.

Data Loss Scenarios Useful solutions Recovery rate
🙁Accidentally deleted files from an external hard drive without backups. Recover with professional external hard drive recovery software - EaseUS file recovery software High
💠Deleted files are in the Recycle Bin. Restore data from the $recycle.bin folder in the external hard drive. High
⚡Files are lost and invisible. Retrieve deleted data using CMD. Low
💥External hard drive data is permanently deleted. Find deleted files from Previous Versions. Low
❗The external hard drive id damaged. Resort to professional data recovery services. High

1. Recover Permanently Deleted Files from External Hard Drive 

If you permanently deleted data from your external hard drive with Shit+Delete keys or the deleted files bypass the Recycle Bin, you can only use professional external hard drive recovery software to help you retrieve files. 

 Download for Win Recovery Rate 99.7%
 Download for Mac Trustpilot Rating 4.7

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro can recover deleted files from USB flash drives, pen drives, SD cards, external hard drives, SSDs, HDDs, and other storage devices in various cases. 

  • Restore deleted data from external hard drives in Windows 10 and Windows 11.
  • Recover files from corrupted external hard drives.
  • Recover lost data from external drives of various brands, including Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba, Sandisk, etc.

Download and install EaseUS data recovery software on your computer and take the three steps to recover deleted files from your external hard drive.

Step 1. Connect the external hard drive to your PC. 

Step 2. Launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard and choose your disk to scan under External drives. 

Step 3. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard starts its quick and deep scanning automatically to find all the lost data. You can stop and resume the procedure at any time. 

Step 4. Preview the found files. The recovered data are well organized in the types of pictures, videos, documents, audio, and others. Select the files you need and restore them to a safe location.

recover deleted files from external hard drives without software

EaseUS data recovery software is still compatible with macOS versions. You can use it to find lost data from external disks on Mac.

restore lost data on external disk on Mac

How to Recover Deleted Files from an External Hard Drive on Mac

You have four ways to recover deleted data from an external hard drive: restoring from Trash Bin and backup files, using Mac data recovery software... Read more >>

The following video guide shows you how to use the EaseUS file recovery tool for external hard drive recovery.

Share this article with your network and help others avoid data loss on external disks. 


2. Restore Deleted Files from the Recycle Bin Folder on External Hard Drives

Where do deleted files go on an external hard drive? The external hard drive has an in-built recycle bin folder where the deleted files from it are stored. However, like system files, the recycle bin folder is default hidden at the disk's root directory. You can check the recycle bin folder of your external hard drive to find lost data.

How do you access the recycle bin on an external hard drive to restore files? Take these steps:

Step 1. Open File Explorer on your computer.

Step 2. Click "View", then "Options". Choose "Change folder and search option".

click the view tab

Step 3. Click "View", then select "Show hidden files, folders, and drives" and disable "Hide protected operating system files". Apply these settings. 

show hidden files

Step 4. Open your external hard drive. Now, you can see the $RECYCLE.BIN folder.

Step 5. Open the recycle bin folder and find the lost files to restore. 


Still curious? Click here to learn about $RECYCLE.BIN Folder | All You Want to Know About $RECYCLE.BIN Folder Is Here.

3. Restore Deleted Files from External Hard Drives Using CMD

Windows Command Prompt provides some finer control over the computer, allowing you to complete some operations with text commands. Many users apply the attrib commands to restore deleted files on the HDD or external hard drive. However, this command line does not recover deleted data; it only helps show hidden files on Windows. You can use this command if the files on your external disk are hidden and gone.

Step 1. First, connect your external hard drive to your PC or laptop.

Step 2. Press Win + R keys to launch the Run tool. Type cmd and click "OK".

Step 3. Type the following command and press Enter: attrib -h -r -s drive X:\*.* /s /d. Replace the X with the drive letter of your external drive. 

show hidden files with attrib command

4. Recover External Hard Disks from Previous Versions

Previous versions were either copies of files and folders created by Windows backup or copies of files and folders automatically saved by Windows File History as part of the restore point. You can use previous versions to restore files or folders that were accidentally modified, deleted, or damaged on external disks.

Note: The premise of using this solution is that you have to back up your data in advance. Otherwise, you need to use data recovery software to recover permanently deleted files on an external drive. 

Step 1. Connect your external disk to your computer. Go to find the folder where your lost files were stored.

Step 2. Right-click inside the folder and select "Properties".

Step 3. Click the "Previous Versions" tab. 

Step 4. Select the versions you need to restore.

restore external drive files from previous versions

5. Recover Deleted Files with Data Recovery Services

Is it possible to retrieve deleted files on the external hard drive? With EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, most removed files can be recovered. You might want to give EaseUS Data Recovery Service a try if you are unable to successfully retrieve deleted files from external hard drive.

Consult with EaseUS data recovery experts for one-on-one manual recovery service. We could offer the following services after FREE diagnosis

  • Repair corrupted RAID structure, unbootable Windows OS, and corrupted virtual disk file
  • Recover/repair lost partition and re-partitioned drive
  • Unformat hard drive and repair raw drive(Bitlocker encrypted drive)
  • Fix disks that become GPT-protected partitions


Why recovering lost data from an external hard drive is possible? Here's the thing. Files that get deleted aren't usually truly deleted but are just hidden, waiting to be overwritten by something else. You can recover your deleted files in no time.

In this post, we cover several ways to help you restore files from external hard drives. You can restore from the recycle bin folder if files are not permanently lost. Or you can use EaseUS data recovery to recover permanently deleted files from an external disk. Windows backup or File History allows you to restore deleted files without software. However, make a backup beforehand. 

 Download for Win Recovery Rate 99.7%
 Download for Mac Trustpilot Rating 4.7

If you found this tutorial helpful, share it with your friends on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!


How to Recover Files Deleted from External Hard Drives FAQs

Get more guides on retrieving deleted files from external hard drives.

1. What are the causes of data loss from external hard drives?

  1. Hard Drive Damage
  2. Hard Drive Formatting
  3. Software Corruption
  4. Viruses or Malware
  5. Human Error...

2. How to recover deleted files from an external hard drive?

To recover deleted files from an external hard drive:

Step 1. Run EaseUS hard drive recovery software.

Step 2. Scan all lost files from the external hard drive.

Step 3. Restore all lost files.

3. Where do deleted files from external hard drives go?

Your external hard drive has a recycle bin folder where deleted files are stored. To delete those deleted files, we need first to access the recycle bin folder of the external hard drive.

4. Can I recover data from my external hard drive for free?

Yes. You can use the free EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard version to recover 2GB of data for free on the external drive. 

5. Why can deleted files be recovered?

Deleting a file isn't really erased – it continues existing on your hard drive, even after you empty it from the Recycle Bin. This makes data recovery possible.

Was This Page Helpful?

Updated by Jaden

Jaden is one of the editors of EaseUS who lives and works in Chengdu, China. She focuses on topics concerning PCs and Mac data recovery. Jaden is committed to enhancing professional IT knowledge and writing abilities. She is always keen on new and intelligent products.

Read full bio

Approved by Evan Galasso

Evan Galasso is a digital forensics and data recovery engineer with over 10 years of experience in the field. He presents opinions on the current state of storage media, reverse engineering of storage systems and firmware, and electro-mechanical systems of SSDs and HDDs.

Read full bio