Have you ever wondered what causes your external hard drives to break down and inaccessible? The driver of the external hard disk is lost or outdated, or the file system is corrupted, or physical damage can cause the disk to become inaccessible and, worst of all, lose data. The problem of lost data is far more serious than we think. 

However, don't be discouraged. There are some effective strategies you can take to prevent complete data loss and repair your external drive. This article describes how to repair a damaged external hard drive and how to recover data from it in multiple ways.

There will most likely be some obvious symptoms when your external disk is damaged, like making a clicking noise, overheating, external hard drives not working, not opening, not showing up, and an accompanying risk of data loss. 

Notice: When your device is damaged, be sure to stop using the drive immediately and stop writing new data. If you continue to use an external hard drive, it is likely that new data will overwrite the lost files, greatly reducing the chances of recovery. In these cases, you should back up and recover your data with specialized file recovery software before external hard drive repairs. 

How to Recover Data from Corrupted External Hard Drives

The most useful way to restore files from a corrupted External hard drive is data recovery software or service. 

Method 1. Recover Data with External Hard Drive Recovery Software

As long as your external hard drive is detectable by Windows Disk Management, be it RAW, inaccessible, or with other strange characters, powerful hard drive recovery software can help you get data out from it with a few clicks.

Here, we'd like to recommend you try EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, which allows you to restore lost data on all storage devices under Windows 11/10/8/7. Simply download and install it, and then follow the steps below to recover precious data from your connected external hard drive:

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

Step-by-step guide to recover files from a corrupted external hard drive using EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard:

  1. Step 1. Download and install EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard.
  2. Step 2. Connect your corrupted external hard drive to your PC or laptop.
  3. Step 3. Select your drive from the External drives list and click the "Scan" button.
  4. Step 4. This software will start the quick and deek scan in succession. 
  5. Step 5. Preview and recover files to finish the corrupted external hard drive recovery.
recover data from external hard drives

Video tutorial to recover data from corrupted external hard disk

External Hard Drive Recovery

Have you restored data from the damaged external hard drive? Don't forget to help others by sharing this tool on your social media. 


Method 2. Use Data Recovery Services 

Sometimes data storage devices, HDDs, memory cards, or USB sticks are corrupted, making accessing personal data impossible. EaseUS provides an efficient working solution - data recovery services to help you. You can repair your external hard drives with the help of experts and keep the data intact.

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

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

How to Repair Corrupted External Hard Drives Without Formatting

How to repair a corrupted external hard drive without data loss? The following methods can attempt to repair a damaged file system or faulty driver on an external disk. No formatting is required; you don't have to worry about losing data.

Method 1. Repair Corrupted External Hard Drives with Windows Tools 

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

Step 1. Open "This PC," right-click the drive with bad sectors, and choose "Properties."

Step 2. Go to the "Tools" tab.

Step 3. Click "Check" to scan and run disk repair.

check and repair bad sectors

Method 2. Use CMD to Fix a Corrupted External Hard Drive

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

Note that the CHKDSK command might cause data loss during disk repair. So make sure that you recover data with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard first. 

Step 1. Press the Windows + R keys simultaneously, type cmd, and hit Enter.

Step 2. Enter the command: chkdsk E: /f /r /x and hit Enter. (Replace E with your own drive letter)

Method 3. Update Disk Driver in Device Manager

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

Step 1. Right-click "This PC" and choose "Properties" > "Devices Manager".

Step 2. 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).

Step 3. In the prompt asking you to confirm the removal, click "OK". 

Step 4. 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 4. Fix Corrupted System Files with SFC Scan

Missing or corrupted system files are sometimes the reason for a hard drive with unusual symptoms. This 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, you might need to repair the crashed system files first.

Step 1. Open Start, type cmd, and hit Enter to launch a Command Prompt Window.

Step 2. Type chkdsk g:/f (if the external hard drive is drive g) and press Enter.

Step 3. Type sfc /scannow and hit Enter.

run SFC scan

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

Share these solutions on your social media and let more people know how to fix external hard drives without losing data.


How to Fix a Corrupted External Hard Drive by Formatting

In this part, we'll show you two methods to format a corrupted external hard drive and get it back to normal condition again. Before you proceed, it's necessary to know the kind of hard drive problems that you can use the disk formatting method to resolve.

Theoretically speaking, disk formatting should be done with caution because it erases data and removes installed programs. It's extremely useful, though. Disk formatting is the initial configuring process of data storage media, so it can solve 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. Use Windows Format Tool

Step 1. Connect the problematic 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, for the drive and click "OK" to finish the process.

format a corrupted hard drive

Method 2. Assign or Change the Drive Letter of an External Hard Disk

If you are unsure whether the device has an issue, you can connect it to a different USB port or even a different PC to see whether it gets detected. If the drive can be read, then you can use your data on the external hard drive.

In case the hard drive cannot be detected on the other computer, check its status in Windows Disk Management. Then, try to change the drive letter and path to make it show up.

Step 1. Right-click on "This PC" and 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 the 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. In the Add, Change, and Remove options, click the "Change" button and 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

Method 3. Format with Partition Manager Software

Another applicable disk formatting tool is from a third-party company.  The tool is called EaseUS Partition Master Free, and it does the same work as the Windows File Explorer, but it works at times when you cannot see the hard drive's drive letter. In that situation, you can download this piece of software to perform the formatting.

Step 1. Right-click the external drive or USB you intend to format and choose "Format".

Step 2. Set the Partition label, File system (NTFS/FAT32/EXT2/EXT3/EXT4/exFAT), and Cluster size, then click "OK".

Step 3. Click "Yes" to continue.

Step 4. Click the "Execute 1 Task(s)" button and click "Apply" to format the hard drive partition.

format external hard drive with partiton manager

Method 4. Run CMD to Format the External Hard Drive

The Diskpart command will erase all data on your corrupted device. Therefore, recover data from the corrupted external hard drive first, and then you can run CMD to repair the drive.

Step 1. Press Win+R, type cmd, and press Enter.

Step 2. In the command prompt windows, Type diskpart and hit Enter;

Step 3. Type list disk and hit Enter;

Step 4. Type: select disk 0 and hit Enter; (0 stands for the drive letter of your corrupted external hard drive.)

Step 5. Type clean and hit Enter; (This will wipe all data on the drive.)

Step 6. Type create partition primary and hit Enter;

Step 7. Type exit and hit Enter to finish the process.

What Causes a Corrupted External Hard Drive

A lot of reasons cause hard drive issues, preventing it from functioning normally. These are some examples:

  • Improper operation: unplugging a connected device from your PC without safely ejecting it
  • 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

The tech-savvy people out there usually keep their storage devices in good condition. For instance, they use the device properly, update drivers once or twice a month, and regularly check the virus with anti-virus software. But what if the error has already occurred? How to fix it?

You can take the effective methods above to repair a corrupted external hard drive without losing data by yourself. Be your own expert by carefully reading through and reviving your external hard drive.

How to Prevent External Hard Disk Damage Effectively

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

💾Back up your External hard drive regularly

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 on 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 users tend to prefer third-party free backup software.

They like more intuitive, user-friendly, versatile, and feature-packed backup plans to replace the dull and flat Windows utility. EaseUS Todo Backup Free perfectly meets the everyday backup expectations for these users, including backing up a hard drive, partition, files, folders, etc.

✅Periodic disk cleanup and system optimization

Remove junk files, useless and extremely large files, and system/browser cache files that occupy precious disk space to avoid the risk of the computer becoming slow. 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.

👊Take advantage of power aave and sleep modes

Though major brands ensure a longer lifespan, you should admit that the less time your drive is running, the longer it will last.

Therefore, turn the hard drive off when you’re not using it. Similarly, 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, and so on.

Share this tutorial on your social media and help more people who can benefit from this information.


Repair External Hard Drive FAQs

Read the frequently asked questions below to get more helpful tips.

1. How can I recover data from a corrupted external hard drive?

To recover files from a corrupted external hard drive:

  • Connect your external hard drive to your computer
  • Run EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard
  • Select the external hard drive and click the Scan button. 
  • Select files and click Recover. 

2. How much does it cost to get an external hard drive recovered?

Based on these factors, basic HDD data recovery costs average between $0 and $100.

If you only want to restore data, it costs $69.9. If you want to repair the hard drive and restore lost data, it costs an average between $100 and $700 according to the hard drive capacity and the severity of the damage.

3. Can damaged hard drive be repaired?

Yes. A hard drive repair is possible, but the HDD should not be reused after a recovery!

4. How do I fix a corrupted external hard drive?

If your external hard drive gets corrupted, you can fix it with Windows repair tools.

  • 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 external hard disk.

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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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Approved 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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