How to Repair Corrupted External Hard Drive Without Losing Any Data

This tutorial article shows you how to repair a corrupted external hard drive without losing any data with professional hard drive recovery solutions. If your external hard drive, hard drive partition, USB drive, SD card, etc. devices suddenly corrupted or crashed, follow to troubleshoot the issue by yourself and restore valuable data now.

Table of Contents

Have you ever wondered what causes your storage devices to break down, such as external hard drives, USB drives, SD cards, etc. ? This article demonstrates a full range of technical solutions to hard drive corruption issues.

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
1. Restore Corrupted File System Open Command Prompt > Type chkdsk g:/f and...Full steps
2. Recover Data 1. Change USB Cable, Change Drive Letter...Full steps
2. Recover Data with Hard Drive Recovery...Full steps
3. Repair Corrupted External Drive 1. Format Corrupted External Hard Drive...Full steps
2. Repair Corrupted Drive with Partition Manager...Full steps
4. Repair External Drive without Formatting 1. Repair Corrupted Drive via Windows Tools...Full steps
2. Update External Hard Drive Driver...Full steps
3. Run CMD to Repair External Hard Drive...Full steps

Try your best to repair an external hard drive according to the associated symptoms. It's the most efficient way to troubleshoot an internal or external HDD with unusual signs of making a clicking noise, overheating, not opening, not responding, or not showing up. Since a disabled hard drive will potentially endanger data, you shall use EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard to rescue data as soon as possible.

What Causes a Corrupted External Hard Drive

A lot of reasons will spur a hard drive issue, preventing it from functioning normally. These are some examples.

  • Improper operation: unplug a connected device from your PC without safe ejection
  • Viral damage or malware infection
  • An excessive number of  hard disk bad sectors
  • File system errors
  • Outdated/corrupted driver
  • A variety of error messages imply a hard drive problem

People who go well along with an active storage drive usually are with good habits. For instance, use devices properly, update drivers once or twice, check the virus with anti-virus software regularly. What if the error has already occurred, how to fix it? Here below, we'll show you how to repair a corrupted external hard drive without losing data at home. Be your own expert by carefully reading through, and following by to revive your external hard drive.

How to Restore Corrupted System Files from the External Hard Drive

Missing or corrupted system files are responsible for a hard drive with unusual symptoms. It usually occurs when there is a problem during the file save process. So when your hard drive seems to be damaged and you cannot open it, maybe you need to repair the crashed system files at first.

  • Open Start and type: cmd, hit Enter to open Command Prompt Window;
  • Type: chkdsk g:/f (if the external hard drive is Driver g:), click Enter.
  • Continue type: sfc /scannow and hit Enter.

After the repair process finished, you'll see Windows Resource Protection did not find any integrity violations message if no corruption has found. Otherwise, it'll fix it automatically.

How to Recover Data from the Corrupted External Hard Drive

When your storage device suddenly stopped working, the most urgent thing is about how to recover data or files from it. Here below you'll find two methods to get this issue fixed now:

Method 1. Recover Data with other USB Cable or New PC

If you are not sure whether the device has been in trouble, you can connect it with a new USB port or even a new PC to see whether it can be detected or not. If the drive can be read, then you can directly use your data on the external hard drive.

By chance the hard drive cannot be detected on the other computer, check its status in Windows Disk Management, and try to change a drive letter and paths to show it up.

Step 1. Right-click on This PC, select Manage. Under the Storage section, click Disk Management. Or, use an alternative way to open Disk Management in Windows 10/8.1/8/7: Press Windows + R keys, type diskmgmt.msc in the Run box, and hit Enter.

Step 2. Right-click on the SSD partition and select Change Drive Letter and Paths….

Step 3. Among Add, Change, and Remove, click the "Change" button, and then select a drive letter from the list. Click "OK" to assign a new drive letter to the problematic hard drive.

change drive letter to show up the corrupted hard drive

You May Also Like: Best Data Recovery Software for Windows 10

Method 2. Recover Data with Hard Drive Recovery Software

As long as your hard drive is detectable by Windows Disk Management, let it be RAW, inaccessible or with other strange characters, powerful hard drive recovery software can help you get data out from it with simple clicks. Here we'd like to recommend you try EaseUS hard disk recovery software which allows you to restore lost data on all storage devices under Windows 10/8/7. Just download, install and activate it to follow the below steps to recover precious data from your connected external hard drive now:

Video Tutorial of External Hard Drive Data Recovery

Step-by-Step Guide:

Step 1. Choose the external hard drive

  • Since you're going to recover data from an external hard drive, you need to correctly connect the drive to your Windows computer.
  • Run EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard and choose the exact external drive where you lost data.
  • Click Scan.
select external hard drive

Step 2. Check the scan results

The software will immediately start scanning the selected drive for all lost data. During the scan, you can see more and more data showing up in the results. The Filter feature is there for you to quickly locate the files of one kind, such as Pictures, Word/Excel/PDF documents, Videos, etc.

scan external hard drive

Step 3. Preview and recover data

  • Double-clicking a file will allow you to preview its content.
  • Choose the file(s) and click Recover.
  • Select a different drive to save the recovered files instead of the original one. 
preview and recover data

After restoring data from the affected external hard drive, you may also want to know how to repair the corrupted device. Follow to find the answer now.

How to Repair Corrupted External Hard Drive

Here in this part, we'll show you two methods to format a corrupted external hard drive and get it back to normal again. Before proceeding, it's necessary to know what kind of hard drive problems you can use the disk formatting method to solve.

Theoretically speaking, disk formatting should be done with caution because it erases data and removes programs installed. However, it's quite useful. Disk formatting is the configuring process of data storage media for initial, so it can solve the most common hard drive issues like "Disk is not formatted, do you want to format it now?", or hard drive is not showing up and displaying itself as RAW. Moreover, it can scan and repair bad sectors, and sometimes remove sophisticated viruses.

Method 1. Quick Fix Corrupted External Hard Drive by Formatting

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

Step 2. Right-click the device and select Format.

Step 3. Set a new file system - NTFS or FAT etc. to the drive and click OK to finish the process.

format a corrupted hard drive

Method 2. Repair Corrupted External Hard Drive with Partition Manager Software

The other applicable disk formatting tool is from a third-party application called EaseUS Partition Master Free. It does the same work as the Windows File Explorer, but at times when you cannot see the hard drive's drive letter there, you can download this piece of software to perform the formatting.

EaseUS CleanGenius is a user-friendly computer fixing tool that is both safe and lightweight. It's a perfect alternative to CHKDSK command. Use this one-click tool to fix the damaged file system easily.

Step 1.  DOWNLOAD EaseUS CleanGenius on your computer and complete the installation. 

Step 2. Run the software. Click "Optimization", and then choose "File Showing" . 

select the file showing option

Step 3. Select the drive with a corrupted file system. Tick the "Check and fix file system error" option and click "Execute".

fix file system

Step 4. Wait the tool performs the repairing task. After that, click the "View" button to check the drive.

fix file system

How to Repair Corrupted External Hard Drive Without Formatting

So how to repair a corrupted external hard drive without formatting? If you don't want to format it, or if the drive becomes unallocated, it won't work with the formatting method. Don't panic, you can head to the other two methods.

Method 1. Repair Corrupted External Hard Drive with Windows Tools, no Formatting

There are Windows tools available that supposed to get a problematic hard drive back to normal, and each tool is worth a try.

  • Open "This PC", right-click the drive that has bad sectors, and choose "Properties".
  • Go to the "Tools" tab.
  • Click "Check" to check and repair the bad sectors on your hard disk.

check and repair bad sectors

Or, you can use administrator privilege to remove bad sectors permanently with the chkdsk command. The Command Prompt functions in the same way as the Windows tool.

Note that the CHKDSK command will erase all data while fixing the device error. So make sure that you recover data with file recovery software first. 

  • Press Windows + R keys simultaneously, type cmd and hit Enter.
  • Enter the command: chkdsk E: /f /r /x and hit Enter. (Replace E with your own drive letter)

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.

  • Right-click the external drive or USB you intend to format and choose "Format".
  • Set the Partition label, File system (NTFS/FAT32/EXT2/EXT3/EXT4), and Cluster size, then click "OK".
  • Click "OK" to continue.
  • Click the "Execute Operation" button and click "Apply" to format the hard drive partition.

Method 2. Update Corrupted/outdated Driver in Device Manager

This is an imperative option to force show up an external hard drive. Sometimes, the driver issue is the main culprit for a hard drive problem, so you can try to fix it by reinstalling a driver.

  • Right-click "This PC" and choose "Properties" > "Devices Manager".
  • Click on "Disk drives", right-click on your hard drive that is not showing up in Windows and choose "Uninstall device". (Make sure you have selected the correct USB device.)
  • In the prompt asking you to confirm the removal, click "OK". 
  • Restart your computer and reconnect the drive to the PC. After the computer restarts, the driver will be automatically installed.

Fix USB drive not showing up in Windows 10 -  Reinstall Driver

Method 3. Run CMD to Repair Corrupted External Hard Drive Without Formatting

This Diskpart command will erase all data on your corrupted device. Therefore, please recover data from the corrupted external hard drive first before you run CMD to repair the drive.

  • Press Win+R, type: cmd and click Enter;
  • Type: diskpart and hit Enter;
  • Type: list disk and hit Enter;
  • Type: select disk 0 and hit Enter; (0 stands for the drive letter of your corrupted external hard drive.)
  • Type: clean and hit Enter; (This will wipe all data on the drive.)
  • Type: create partition primary and hit Enter;
  • Type: exit and hit Enter to finish the process.

How to Maintain a Healthy Hard Drive

All computers have a hard drive installed in them, which is used to store files for the operating system, software programs, and a user's data. A computer cannot come into play without a hard drive whirling. To correctly cooperate with a hard drive, or an external one, you must possess some necessary know-how skills for keeping a storage device healthy, and in turn, prolonging its life.

Thereby, we think these three routine jobs should be carefully implanted in daily use.

1. Everyday data backup

You can back up a whole hard drive data, a certain partition, user archives or even an operating system. This is the most guaranteed way of attempting all chances of hard drive recovery without worrying about data loss (e.g. Some fixes within this page are meant to erase data, making it unrecoverable). There are native backup tools for Windows, namely Backup and Restore for Windows 7, 8.1 and 10, and File History for Windows 8. But modern people tend to prefer third-party free backup software, they choose over more intuitive, user-friendly, versatile and more features involved backup plans to replace such a dull and flat Windows utility. EaseUS Todo Backup Free perfectly meets an everyday backup of a hard drive, partition, files, folders, etc.

2. Periodic disk cleanup and system optimization

Remove junk files, useless but extremely large files or system/browser cache files that occupy precious disk space, to avoid the risk of the computer becoming slow. Why not use simple disk cleanup to boost hard drive performance?

In addition, the longer you use the machine in a settled location, the more dust and debris in the air will accumulate and cause the hard drive to overheat and malfunction. You may use a small piece of cotton rag and a dip of alcohol to clean it by yourself, and a cotton bud is also a good choice for the inside areas.

3. Take advantage of Power Save and Sleep Modes

Though there are large brands that announced a longer lifespan, you need to accept the truth that the less time your drive is running, the longer it will last over the lifetime.

Therefore, turn off the hard drive after some time of complete inactivity. Likewise, when your computer is idle, try to utilize the Power Save and Sleep Modes, to keep it from performing certain general maintenance tasks such as defragmentation, checking Windows updates, third-party activities, etc.

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Updated by Tracy King

Tracy joined in EaseUS in 2013 and has been working with EaseUS content team for over 7 years. Being enthusiastic in computing and technology, she writes tech how-to articles and share technical solutions about Windows & Mac data recovery, file/system backup and recovery, partition management and iOS/Android data recovery.

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