How to Recover Data From an External Hard Drive

By Jason Gordon

The hard drive is not the most vital part of a computer, but it is probably the most important part to you. Why? It contains all your data -- every paper you have written, every digital picture, every music and video file and all your programs and games. When the hard drive stops working or is accidentally erased, it is worse than losing your wallet. Luckily, there are ways to recover data in many cases.

Step 1

Boot your computer normally with the external hard drive attached.

Step 2

Download the freeware data recovery program PC Inspector and install on your main computer drive. Do not attempt to install anything on the external drive, as it may overwrite your data.

Step 3

Run PC Inspector. If you accidentally deleted files on your external hard disk, select "Recover deleted files." If you formatted your disk accidentally or a system crash damaged your data, select "Find lost data." If you cannot find the drive letter or access your drive at all, select "Find lost drive."

Step 4

Select the logical or physical hard drive that contains the lost data. A logical drive means a partition or virtual drive and a physical drive means a whole hard drive. Some drives are divided into multiple partitions.

Step 5

Click on the green check to scan for data. Recover all data by saving on your main system drive. Depending on the health of the external hard drive, you can now reinstall the data.

Step 6

Send in physically defective drives to a hard drive recovery service. If the drive has some sort of mechanical issue, you will not be able to do anything but send it in to an expert.

Tips & Warnings

  • Hard drives can crash or get erased for a number of reasons. Take precautions by backing up your important data periodically to insure against data loss.