3 Best Ways to Recover Lost Data from an External Hard Drive in Windows
If you are in search for the safest and most reliable methods of data recovery from external hard drives, then it ends here. External hard drives offers great convenience and has become a necessity these days for computer users. They provide the ease to store your photos, documents, videos in large capacity and carry them anywhere. But what happens if you accidentally delete an external drive or if it gets corrupted?
A hard drive stores data in sectors and blocks. When you delete a file from an external hard drive, the Windows operating system doesn't remove the file from the hard drive - it simply updates the file system and marks the storage space as free. However, a new file can overwrite this free space and poses a risk of permanent data loss if the drive is getting used after deletion. This blog will explain how data loss can happen on an external hard drive and the best practices to recover lost data from external hard drive.
Tips to avoid complete deletion or data loss from an External Drive
Avoiding data loss from external hard drives is crucial since we store so much of our digital data on these portable devices. By being a little careful, you can greatly increase your chances of recovering deleted data.
In a situation of accidental deletion, following these simple tips will help maximize your ability to get your files back:
- Stop using the drive immediately once you find data loss. Please do not save or modify any new files in the drive as this may overwrite the deleted data, reducing any chances of recovery.
- Avoid reformatting the external hard drive at all cost, as formatting will make the deleted files irrecoverable and permanently delete all recoverable data.
- Don't expose the drive to extreme temperatures or moisture. Exposure to moisture or extreme temperatures could damage the drive, subsequently minimizing the chances of data recovery.
- Please keep the drive away from strong magnetic field devices like microwave ovens, speakers, or MRI machines, as this can potentially harm your drive and make data irrecoverable.
- Don't install or run unreliable data recovery software to recover data from the drive. Some recovery tools might permanently delete files instead of recovering.
Be careful not to overwrite the deleted data or reformat the drive as this can help you get all your valuable files back.
What causes data loss in an external hard drive?
We all can experience data loss from storage devices in some point of time thus making all our important files inaccessible. With external hard drives, knowing the causes of data loss is key to protect it as it will help in taking steps to recover lost files or avoid any data loss with safety measures.
Physical failures of hard drives due to wear and tear or improper handling, logical damages to the hard drive, accidental deletion, or malware infection are some major reasons for data loss.
3 Reliable Ways to Recover Lost Data from an External Hard Drive?
Accidents can happen with data storage devices resulting into loss of essential data. But if there is a problem there has to be a solution. Let’s understand how we can recover files from an external hard drive with 3 really simple and easy ways yet effective ones.
1. Using a Dedicated Recovery Software
Data recovery software’s are the best way to recover your lost files or folders, unless you have chosen the right one. Data recovery software are designed specifically for the purpose of recovering lost files from your corrupt or formatted data storage devices.
We recommend using Stellar Data Recovery, this is a highly rated option that makes the data recovery process easy and fast. It scans your drive and previews any found files so you can select what to restore.
Here's how to use it step-by-step:
1. Download and install Stellar Data Recovery Professional on your computer.
2. Connect the affected external hard drive to your computer.
3. Launch the software and select "All Data" in the “What to Recover” screen.
4. Next, choose your external hard drive and click "Scan".
5. Preview the files found after the scan is completed.
6. Select the files you want to recover and click "Recover".
2. Restore from Recycle Bin
Recycle Bin in Windows allows users to restore accidentally deleted files. If the deleted files have not been permanently deleted from the external drive, the Recycle Bin can help with restoring data with certain conditions. You only need to connect your external hard drive and look for the deleted files in your recycle bin.
Follow the below steps to recover data from recycle bin:
- Connect the external hard drive from which files were deleted, to your Windows PC.
- Open the Recycle Bin on the desktop.
- Look for the folders or files deleted from your external hard drive.
- Now select "Restore" from the context menu.
- The files will now be moved back to their original location on the external hard drive.
- Eject the external hard drive safely once restoration is complete.
3. Unhide Hidden Files with Windows Command Prompt
Often, files may not be accessible on your external hard drive because they are hidden and you cannot find their exact location. In such scenarios, the attrib command on Windows Command Prompt can help you unhide accidentally hidden files on an external drive and recover them.
Here are the steps to execute it:
1. Connect the affected external hard drive to your computer.
2. Open the Command Prompt as an administrator and type the external hard drive letter e.g. – E:.
3. Type "attrib -H -R -S /S /D *.*" and press Enter. This will unhide the files accidentally hidden from your external hard drive.
4. Now, go back to your external hard drive and look for the files you want to recover.
Things to Remember to Safeguard Your Data
These simple precautions will help keep your external hard drive data secure.
- Back up your files regularly. Make a separate copy of important documents, photos and videos to another storage drive or cloud service.
- Be careful with your hard drive. Do not leave it in extreme hot or cold conditions, for e.g., a closed car parked under sun during summer, or apply pressure to it.
- Always eject your drive properly with the help of eject or unmount function, instead of suddenly unplugging it.
- Regularly scan your external drive for viruses. Also, keep your antivirus software updated to stay safe from latest malware and virus infections.
The methods presented here offer a simple way to get your important data back from a deleted or formatted external hard drive. Built-in Windows utilities like Recycle Bin and Command Prompt provide handy options to restore or unhide hidden data but they come with limitations to recovery. Hence, spending some bucks in a good and reliable data recovery software can help you overcome data loss with ease and save your time and important files.