Is There a Way to Get Data Off a Broken External Hard Drive?

External hard drives serve as reliable storage solutions, but they are susceptible to failures, leading to the crucial question: How to recover data from a dead external hard drive? This comprehensive guide delves into the causes of external hard drive failure, common signs of a dying drive, and practical steps to retrieve your valuable data. Additionally, we explore the MyRecover tool, shedding light on its detailed recovery process.


By Lori / Updated on January 10, 2024

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External hard drives have become indispensable for data storage and backup. However, their portable nature exposes them to various hazards, resulting in dead external hard drives. In this article, we unravel the mystery behind dead external hard drives and provide actionable solutions for data recovery.

Broken Hard Drive

What Is a Dead External Hard Drive?

Before delving into recovery methods, it's crucial to understand what constitutes a dead external hard drive. Typically, it refers to a storage device that is either logically or physically damaged, rendering it unreadable or unrecognizable.

  • Logically damaged drives: These suffer from software-related issues, such as problems with the file system or firmware. For example, some SSDs may face firmware bugs leading to failure.

  • Physically damaged drives: Mechanical issues plague these drives, ranging from shattered platters to broken connectors, often caused by water ingress, shocks, or excessive heat.

Why Do External Hard Drives Become Dead?

Understanding the causes of external hard drive failure is essential for prevention and recovery. Common culprits include failed formatting, water ingress, shocks, software bugs, excessive heat, and malware infections.

To prevent such issues, users are encouraged to handle their external hard drives with care, avoid exposing them to extreme conditions, and employ regular data backups.

Can You Recover Data From Dead External Hard Drives?

Despite the grim term "dead external hard drive," both logically and physically damaged drives can often be recovered. Logically damaged drives may be restored by fixing underlying software issues, while data recovery software proves beneficial for more severe cases. Professional data recovery centers offer solutions for both types of damage.

How to Recover Data From Dead External Hard Drives?

Let's explore several techniques to recover data from a dead external hard drive:

Method 1: Recover Data From Recycle Bin/Trash

Before delving into complex methods, check the Recycle Bin (Windows) or Trash (Mac) for missing files. However, this method may not work for truly dead external hard drives.

Method 2: Repair the External Hard Disk

Utilize built-in disk repair tools on Windows and macOS. For Windows, use the Terminal and execute chkdsk X: /f (replace X with the drive letter). For macOS, use Disk Utility and run First Aid.

Method 3: Use Data Recovery Software

Among the myriad data recovery tools, MyRecover stands out with its user-friendly interface and efficient recovery process. Follow these detailed steps to recover data using MyRecover:

Download and Install MyRecover:

Visit the official MyRecover website.

Download the application compatible with your operating system.

Install the software on your computer.

Launch MyRecover:

Open MyRecover on your computer.

Allow necessary permissions for the recovery process.

Select External Hard Drive:

Connect your dead external hard drive to the computer.

In MyRecover, identify and select the external hard drive from the available list.

Initiate Scan:

Click on the "Scan" button to initiate the scanning process.

MyRecover will perform a thorough scan to identify recoverable files.

Preview and Select Files:

After the scan completes, preview the list of recoverable files.

Select the desired files for recovery.

Choose Recovery Destination:

Specify the destination on your computer where recovered files will be saved.

Avoid saving files on the same external hard drive to prevent data overwrite.

Complete Recovery Process:

Click on the "Recover" button to start the recovery process.

Wait for MyRecover to finalize the recovery and save the files to the specified location.

MyRecover's intuitive interface and advanced algorithms enhance the chances of successful data recovery from dead external hard drives.

Method 4: Send Your Disk to a Data Recovery Center

For severe mechanical damage, professional data recovery centers equipped with advanced tools offer the best chance of recovery. Initiate a work order, send your external hard drive, and wait for the experts to recover your data.

Method 5: Recover Lost Data From a Backup

If you follow data backup best practices, retrieve lost data from a backup. 

How to Protect Your External Hard Drive From Becoming Dead

Prevention is often the best cure. Follow these best practices to extend the lifespan of your external hard drive and minimize the risk of unexpected data loss:

  • Handle with Care: Use protective cases and avoid subjecting external hard drives to shocks and vibrations.
  • Back Up Your Data: Regularly back up important data using reliable tools or manual methods.
  • Monitor Its Health: Use S.M.A.R.T. monitoring technology to assess the health of your external hard drive.
  • Enable TRIM: For SSDs, enable TRIM technology to enhance performance, but ensure a solid backup system is in place.


External hard drives play a pivotal role in data storage, but their susceptibility to failure necessitates understanding and proactive measures. Whether facing logical or physical damage, the solutions provided in this article empower users to recover data successfully. Additionally, tools like MyRecover simplify the recovery process with detailed steps, offering hope even in dire situations. By implementing preventive measures, users can safeguard their external hard drives and minimize the risk of data loss.

FAQs About Dead External Hard Drive

Q1: What happens if my external hard drive dies?

If your external hard drive dies, you may lose access to the stored data. However, recovery methods, including professional services and data recovery software, can often retrieve lost files.

Q2: Can I retrieve data from a dead external hard drive?

Yes, data retrieval is possible from a dead external hard drive. The success depends on the extent of damage, and options include using recovery software, professional data recovery services, or relying on backups.

Q3: How do I know if my external hard drive is damaged?

Signs of external hard drive damage include strange noises, computer freezing upon connection, blue screen errors, disappearing files, and corrupted files. Regularly checking for these signs can help identify potential issues.

Q4: How do I fix an unresponsive external hard drive?

Fix an unresponsive external hard drive by using built-in tools.

Lori · Editor
Lori receives professional technical training since joining AOMEI, and aims at helping users troubleshoot problems on data recovery and protection. She focuses on simple, efficient and practical methods, and provides professional advice. Being able to help readers and users is her ultimate goal.