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Recover Data from Dead External Hard Drive

This article tells how to recover data and files from a dead external hard drive, USB drive or SD card and repair dead external hard drives. You can download the best hard drive recovery software for free and recover files from the dead external hard drive, USB or SD card and repair dead storage device to work again with the method offered.

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Table of Contents

"How many of you guys have ever met such a problem that the memory card is dead and there is no access to data stored in the card. I'm now having such a problem that my camera SD card is not working on my camera. I tried to connect it to my computer to see whether the computer can read it. It seemed that the card was dead and nothing was checked or detected. Does anyone of you know how to fix this issue?"

Can You Recover Data from Dead/Failed External Hard Drive

Before specifying the chance to recover files from a dead external hard drive, you need to identify the status of your external hard disk in Disk Management. Go to "This PC" > "Manage" > "Disk Management" and check its status. Generally, you will find the dead USB drive in one of the following situations:

  • The USB drive is not recognized/detected by Windows at all 
  • The external hard drive shows "Online" in Disk Management but you cannot access its files since the partition shows RAW or is lost
  • The external hard drive shows "Missing", "Not Initialized", or "No Media" in Disk Management

If your external hard drive is not showing in Windows at all after you check the connection and update the device driver, or there are mechanical or electrical corruptions on your device, your external hard drive is probably truly dead and the data stored on a truly dead or failed external hard drive can only be recovered by professionals via manual data recovery services. 

However, if your device can still be recognized or detected by your computer like in the last two situations or external hard drive light blinking but not working, you still have a chance to recover data from the dead USB drive and fix the failed device by yourself. 

How to Recover Data from Dead External Hard Drive

Depending on your situation, the time to perform failed external hard drive recovery varies.

Method 1. Retrieve Data from Dead External Hard Drive and Format It

If your dead external hard drive shows RAW file system or shows partition lost, recover files from your external hard drive and then format it directly.

When your external hard drive is detectable but inaccessible, the EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard - EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard can help you rescue data from your dead external hard drive. This software supports deleted/formatted/lost data recovery from local/external hard drives, USB flash drives, memory cards, and other conventional storage devices.

To recover data from your external hard drive:

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Video Tutorial:

Step-by-Step Guide:

Step 1. Use a correct USB cable to connect your external hard drive to your computer. Run EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard and you will see your external disk under External drives. This software supports all the popular external disk brands, including WD, Seagate, Toshiba, LaCie, SanDisk, Samsung, etc. 

Select the external hard drive and then click the "Scan" button. 

select your seagate external hard drive and click scan

Step 2. As soon as the scan process starts, the software will find more and more lost and deleted data and display the data in the scan results. The recovered data will be nicely organized. You can quickly find the target files/folders by file type or search in the search box with exact file name. 

scan the lost data on the seagate external hard drive

Step 3. You can preview the files found by EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard's scanning algorithms. Then, select files and click "Recover". To avoid data overwriting, we recommend that you save the recovered data to a different drive than the original Seagate drive.

select files and click recover

Now you have retrieved all your files successfully, you can format your external hard drive to make it usable again.

Step 1. Connect your external hard drive your computer.

Step 2. Open "This PC". Right-click your hard drive and choose "Format".

Step 3. In the new window, set a file system and click "Start".

Step 4. In the Warning window, click "OK" to start formatting your device.

How to format external hard drive

Method 2. Fix the Dead External Hard Drive and Then Recover Data

If your external hard drive shows "Missing", "Not Initialized", or "No Media" in Disk Management, you need to first try to fix the dead external hard drive first and then get back the files from the device using EaseUS data recovery software.

When your external hard drive shows "Missing" in Disk Management, it's probably because your USB device is damaged or disconnected. In this case, reconnect your USB flash drive or USB hard drive and reactivate it (right-click the USB in Disk Management and choose "Reactivated Disk"). If this tip doesn't work, apply EaseUS data recovery software to rescue your data as much as possible.

You can refer to the detailed articles to fix your dead external hard drive if it shows "Disk Not Initialized" or "No Media" in Windows 10. If the tips bring your dead external hard drive back to a normal state, you can then recover files from the external hard drive with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard. If not, send your dead external hard drive for manual repair.

The Bottom Line

Recovering data from a dead external hard drive can be both easy and difficult, depending on the situation of your device. If your external hard drive is still recognizable, don't hesitate to use EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard and then try to fix the dead USB drive. If not, you still have lots of tips to try referring to the related articles.

External hard drives or other storage devices may go corrupted, damaged, or dead due to many reasons. If you don't want to lose your precious files, it's a good choice to back up your file regularly.

Also Applies To: USB Flash Drive, Memory Card, and Other External Storage Devices

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Updated by Cedric

Cedric Grantham is a senior editor and data recovery specialist of EaseUS. He mainly writes articles and how-to tips about data recovery on PC and Mac. He has handled 10,000+ data recovery cases and is good at data recovery of NTFS, FAT (FAT32 and ExFAT) file systems, and RAID structure reorganization.

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Written by Tracy King

Tracy became a member of the EaseUS content team in 2013. Being a technical writer for over 10 years, she is enthusiastic about sharing tips to assist readers in resolving complex issues in disk management, file transfer, PC & Mac performance optimization, etc., like an expert.

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