How to Recover Files Deleted/Lost from an External Hard Drive

Home > HowTos > File Recovery Tips Updated by Nancy on Apr 24, 2024 | Approved by Daryl Baxter

External hard drives are a popular storage solution for people who need extra space for their digital files. They offer more storage capacity than thumb drives and have faster read speeds. This makes them ideal for collecting large files like videos, music, etc.

Although external disks are designed for easy data storage and backup, data loss can still occur, like formatting, deleting, volume disappearing, drive logic error, malware attacks, etc. If you find yourself in this situation, there is no need to panic. Don't worry; this article will introduce how to restore data from an external hard drive with/without software.

Quick Navigation
Part 1. What To Do If File Deleted/Disappeared in Your External Hard Disk
Part 2. How to Recover Files from External Hard Drive With Software [Easy and High Recovery Rate]
Part 3. How to Recover Deleted Files on External Hard Drive without Software [Free]
Part 4. How to Fix a Not Detected External Hard Drive to Find Files
Part 5. How to Protect Important Data on Your External Hard Disk
Part 6. Frequently Asked Questions

What To Do If File Deleted/Disappeared in Your External Hard Disk

Recovering files deleted from an external disk can be a tricky business. Even if you have a backup, there's no guarantee that you'll be able to get everything back. And if you don't have a backup, you could be out of luck entirely. However, you can do a few things to improve your chances of recovery.

While staying calm in the face of such a loss may be difficult, taking quick and decisive action can help you get your data back. These tips will give you a better chance of recovering your lost files on the external hard disk.

How to Recover Files from External Hard Drive With Software

No one likes to lose data, but it can happen to anyone. Want to access your files freely from an external disk? It's practical to use a professional external hard drive recovery tool. For example, iBeesoft Data Recovery offers incredible file recovery features to help users to restore data from external hard drive in Windows and macOS within four easy steps.

Download for Windows Download for macOS
  1. Install, download, and launch iBeesoft data recovery software on your PC.
  2. Connect your external disk to the PC. Tap on 'go to setting' to identify all the file types to save time to scan.
  3. Specify one drive to proceed with scanning. All the external disks will list through this interface. Select and tap the 'Scan' icon for extracting your missing files.
  4. Once the software completes scanning, you can look for the lost files in that list. Choose them and tap the 'recover' icon to save all the deleted or lost files.

5 Alternative Tools to Recover Data from External Hard Drive

While iBeesoft Data Recovery is one of the market's most popular and effective data recovery tools, it's not the only option available. File recovery is a broad field with a lot of software products. In general, they work similarly. Each application uses different algorithms to search for specific file types on your hard drive, allowing you to get them back. Here are a few of the most popular:

1. EaseUS Data Recovery

It is not only easy to use but also potent. It supports recovery from various storage media, including hard drives, SD cards, USB drives, and other multimedia mobile devices. Whatever the reason for the loss of files, it can help you get them back in most cases.

Its expensive: $69.95 /month, $99.95 /year, and $149.95/lifetime
A deep scan will take a lot of time.

2. PhotoRec

It is an open-source file recovery that can be used to get back various data types, like documents, videos, photos, and more. However, the external hard drive file recovery tool doesn't have a GUI, so that it may be less user-friendly for some people.

The Command line interface requires specialized skills to use it.
Cannot preview files before recovery

3. Wondershare Recovery

In terms of data recovery, Wondershare has two modes. In the actual test, the software's recovery speed is breakneck, and the recovery effect is good, but It cannot find the target file in some cases of data loss.

Expensive: Premium - $99.99/Year, Standard - $79.99/Year, and Essential - $69.99/Year
RAID recovery is not supported

4. Recuva

Developed by the makers of CCleaner, it is a free file recovery program that offers a wide range of features. It can retrieve permanently deleted files from hard drives, USB drives, and memory cards and supports many file types.

Only Windows version and discontinued updates
it has no preview function

5. Stellar Data Recovery

Stellar Data Recovery is a simple and practical disk recovery software that can help users quickly resume lost file, covering various common file types and easy and convenient operations.

Recovery for specific file types is mediocre
Only supports preview function in text format and hexadecimal format

The removable hard drive file loss is a common problem that can strike anytime. Whether you're dealing with a corrupted disk or accidentally removed files, the frustration of losing necessary data is all too real. Fortunately, several recovery tools are available to help you recover deleted files from external hard drive on Mac or Windows PC. But, with its robust data recovery and damaged file repair capabilities, it's no wonder that iBeesoft is a top choice.

How to Recover Deleted Files on External Hard Drive without Software

Losing important files can be a nightmare, especially if they're stored on an external hard drive. If you want to try to retrieve files from an external hard drive without software under the empty. Then you can try your luck and try the following method:

Method 1. Use Show Hidden Files Option

It's always frustrating when you can't find a file on your removable disk. Even more so when it turns out the file was never actually lost, just hidden away where you couldn't see it by faulty operation or malicious software. In this case, you can often resume disappeared files from the external hard drive simply by showing the hidden files option.

  1. Open your drive in explorer.
  2. In the top menu click View > Options.
  3. Switch to View in the pop-up window, and select "Show hidden files, folders, drives" under Advanced Settings.
  4. Hit "F5" to refresh and check if any target files are displayed.

Method 2. Check Previous Versions

Anyone who's ever been frustrated by accidentally deleting a file or making unwanted changes to a document knows that there's a way to go back in time and undo those changes. That's where Previous Versions comes in. This feature, built into Windows PC, allows you to restore external hard disk files to their previous states.

  1. Open the location where the file was lost and right-click to select "Restore previous versions."
  2. Select a recent copy in File Versions and click "Restore."

Method 3. Use the CHKDSK Command Line

To recover permanently deleted files on external hard drive in Windows 11/10 by command prompt, ensure to run CHKDSK. Refer to Check Disk. It is a commonly used Windows tool specially designed to ensure the integrity of your disk and fix it if it's corrupted or damaged. CHKDSK is used for repairing both external and internal disks.

Read the below-given steps to learn how to operate CHKDSK in Command Prompt for external hard drive data recovery in Windows 10/11.

  1. Click on the 'Win + Q' keys on the keyboard to access your search box. Enter 'cmd'. Choose "Run as administrator."
  2. Input the below command to detect any logical error on the external hard disk.
  3. If you find any bad sectors or logical errors on the external hard drive, input below given commands. Click Enter.
  4. Be patient until the command for proper execution.
  5. Finally, open the drive to check for the disappeared files.

Method 4. From Previously Made Cloud Backup

The Office 365/ Google cloud renders many ways to recover files on external hard drive. For example, all the recently made changes are backed up by default if you operate a cloud-based platform. Instead, it allows users to track changes within their files.

  1. Go to the Managed Items Folder. You will find a list of options. If you have saved your file, proceed with the other steps.
  2. Open your documents. You need to work on Tap on File > Info.
  3. Under the 'Manage Document' tap on the file's name, you need to work. Tap on 'Restore,' and your file will appear.

Note: If all methods fail, your mobile hard disk may have been seriously damaged. At this time, you can send it to a professional data recovery center. You still have the opportunity to retrieve files lost from the external hard drive but at a higher price.

How to Fix a Not Detected External Hard Drive to Find Files

Method 1. Check the connection and cables

One of the common errors in recovering data from an external hard drive is an issue with the power cable or data cable connecting the drive to your PC. Most troubleshooting guides for any hard drive issue include inspecting your power cable. Honestly, you can fix the power cables issue quickly. Follow the steps below.

  1. At times, replacing your hard disk connections or SATA/ATA power lead will fix your issues. This step is essential when you notice the internal hard drive doesn't show up on your PC operating system disk management tool.
  2. To check this, open your PC case and locate your storage device. Check your data cable.

Method 2. Try a different port or computer

The connection request is heard via a default listening port when you connect to your PC(either a Windows server or Windows client) via your remote desktop client. Changing the listening port on your Windows PC when you modify your registry is accessible.

  1. In your search box, enter 'regedit' and proceed to start your registry editor.
  2. Switch to the below registry subkey: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server\WinStations\RDP-Tcp
  3. Look for the port number.
  4. Click Edit > Modify, then tap on the decimal.
  5. Enter your new port number Tap on OK.
  6. Close your registry editor. Restart the PC. Remember to enter your new port the next time this connects your PC with the Remote Desktop connection. If you're a firewall user, the firewall configuration is essential to allow links to your unique port number.

Method 3. Update device drivers

Windows Driver updates and several devices like video cards, network adapters, printers, and monitors are downloaded and installed by default through Windows Update.

  1. On the taskbar of your search box, type device manager, Choose Device Manager.
  2. Double click "Disk drives" in the list point, right-click the target HDD/SSD, and select "Update driver."
  3. Click "search automatically for drivers."

If your Windows fail to look for a new driver, consider looking for the driver on the device manufacturer's website and follow the instructions.

How to Protect Important Data on Your External Hard Disk

External hard disks are a great way to store large amounts of data, but it is vital to take steps to protect the data from being lost or stolen. To effectively protect your files on the external hard disk. Keep the following points in mind:


Losing important data can be a frustrating experience. Whether it's a cherished family image or a critical business document, the loss of digital information can be devastating. This article will acquaint you with different ways to recover data from external hard drive. Act quickly after losing digital data is essential regardless of your chosen method. The longer you wait, the more likely the lost data will be gone forever.

Frequently Asked Questions

A few frequently asked questions regarding data recovery from external hard drives come up. Here are answers to some of the most common questions about this process: