How to Repair Corrupted External Hard Drive Without Losing Any Data

Tracy King updated on Sep 16, 2020 to Storage Media Recovery | How-to Articles


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.

Have you ever wondered what causes your storage devices broken 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 hit Enter...Full steps
2. Recover Data Method 1. Change USB Cable, Change Drive Letter...Full steps
Method 2. Recover Data with Hard Drive Recovery Software...Full steps
3. Repair Corrrupted External Drive Method 1. Format Corrupted External Hard Drive...Full steps
Method 2. Repair Corrupted External Drive with Partition Manager Software...Full steps
4. Repair External Drive without Formatting Method 1. Repair Corrupted External Drive with Windows Tools...Full steps
Method 2. Update Exernal Hard Drive Driver...Full steps
Method 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  • Outdated/corrupted driver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.
Click to copy

Continue with the other command: sfc /scannow and hit Enter.

Click to copy

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

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 below steps recover precious data from your connected external hard drive now:

Step 1. Choose the external hard drive

Since you're going to recover data from the external hard drive, run EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard and under the External Devices tab, choose the exact drive where you lost data. Click Scan.

select external hard drive

Step 2. Scan for lost data

The software will start immediately to scan all over the selected drive for all lost data. During the scan, you could see more and more data showing up in the results.

scan external hard drive

Step 3. Preview and recover data

After the scan is over, check the scan results for the desired data. You can preview the file by double-clicking on it. Click Recover and choose another location to save the recovered data.

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. 

Step 1: Launch EaseUS Partition Master, right-click the partition on your external hard drive/USB/SD card which you want to format and choose the "Format" option.

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 1

Step 2: Assign a new partition label, file system (NTFS/FAT32/EXT2/EXT3), and cluster size to the selected partition, then click "OK".

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 2

Step 3: In the Warning window, click "OK" to continue.

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 3

Step 4: Click the "Execute Operation" button in the top-left corner to review the changes, then click "Apply" to start formatting your external hard drive/USB/SD card.

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 4

How to Repair Corrupted External Hard Drive Without Formatting

So how to repair 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.

  • 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)
Click to copy

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

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, to prolong 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 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 overheating and malfunctioning. 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.

Was This Page Helpful?


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.

About Data Recovery Wizard

It's super easy to recover 250+ types of files after deletion, disk formatting and virus infection. Click the links and compare the difference of each version.