Guide to Recover Data from inaccessible Hard Drives

Get eight fixes to recover data from inaccessible hard drives after finding the related possible reasons. And you can get other practical tips about unrecognized drives in this article.


By Penny / Updated on April 2, 2024

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Is it possible to recover data from inaccessible hard drives?

If your drive is not accessible, what can you do to make it recognized by your Windows operating system? Some users even wonder if is it possible to recover data from inaccessible hard drives?


Please don’t be worried because there is a chance to recover data from inaccessible hard drives (internal & external hard drives). And this issue is more common with external hard drives.

Why my drive is not accessible?

Let’s get an overview of possible reasons for this issue before starting the damaged hard drive recovery.

  • Misconfigured permission settings
  • Without or missing drive letter
  • Outdated/corrupted device driver
  • Damaged file systems of your hard drive
  • Incompatible file systems with your Windows OS
  • Interruption during the reading/writing data process
  • Sudden power outages

How do I recover data from inaccessible hard drives?

If there’s data loss or other deletion performances from inaccessible hard drives without disk letters, please consider adopting the fifth method to recover deleted or missing files directly. Without data loss, other fixes also can help you recognize and access data from your drive.

Fix 1. Modify permission settings of inaccessible folders

How to recover data from inaccessible hard drives? Users cannot access specific folders if their accounts are not given insufficient permission. At this point, regain full control of these inaccessible folders to get your desired data.

Step 1. Open your hard drive and right-click on your inaccessible folder > Properties > Security > your UserName > Edit.


Step 2. Under the Allow tab, tick the “Full control” button. Then Apply it.


Fix 2. Take ownership of inaccessible files/folders

If the above modification is useless for you to access data from your hard drive’s folders, perhaps you can refer to the following steps. Especially for users who’ve upgraded their Windows operating systems.

Step 1. Right-click on the folder> select Properties > click Security > tap Advanced.

Step 2. In the Advanced Settings for Files window, click “Change” next to the Owner.

Step 3. In the Select Users or Groups window, replace your username with Everyone, then click Check Names > OK.


Step 4. Go back to the Advanced Security Settings window, tick “Replace all child object permission entries with inheritable permission entries from this object” and click the “OK” button.


Fix 3. Access hard drives by starting your PC in Safe mode

Sometimes, you may access your hard drives by starting your PC in Safe mode because Windows OS only runs essential drives, which can prevent unnecessary programs from launching.

This solution also applies to fixing the Red Screen of Death. Let’s show how it works!

Step 1. Press “Win + I” to open Windows Settings and click the “Update & Security” button.


Step 2. Click “Recovery” on the left. Under the Advanced startup tab, click the “Restart now” button.


Step 3. After rebooting into the winRE, click Troubleshoot > Advanced options.


Step 4. Under the Startup Settings tab, click “Restart” first. After that, you can press F4/F5/F6 to start your Windows PC in Safe Mode.


After that, you can try to access data from your needed hard drive.

Fix 4. Assign a new drive letter to your inaccessible hard drive

Assuming your external hard drive access is denied because of a lack of disk letter, you can make your Windows OS recognize an inaccessible external hard drive by assigning a new drive letter.


Because drive letter assignment is also a process of assigning alphabetical identifiers to volumes. Let’s take an external hard drive as an example.

Step 1. After inserting the external hard drive into your Windows, press “Win + R” and type “diskmgmt.msc” in the Run box. Then press “OK” or hit “Enter” to open the Disk Management utility.


Step 2. Right-click on your external hard drive and choose the “Change Drive Letter and Paths” option.


Step 3. Select “Add” to assign a new drive letter to your external hard drive.  

Step 4. Select the “Assign the following drive letter” option. Please ensure the newly selected drive letter is different from all the existing drive letters.


After detecting your external hard drive, you may find your desired files from this drive easily.

Fix 5. Recover data from inaccessible hard drives via data recovery software

As mentioned above, if you permanently deleted files from a hard drive without a drive letter, after assigning a new drive letter, you still need to recover deleted files from hard drives.

So why don’t you use a more powerful Windows data recovery tool like MyRecover to recover deleted & missing files from hard drives without disk letters directly?

  • For a higher data recovery rate, please avoid newly written performances after data loss.
  • After recovery, please remember to save these retrieved files in a new saved path.
  • To recover large-scale deleted & missing files from your internal/external hard drive, please consider upgrading MyRecover to the Professional or Technician edition.   
Powerful features & friendly design of MyRecover:  
Powerful features: Recover deleted & lost Word, Excel, PPT, folders, compressed files, photos, songs, videos, audio, websites, and other 200+ file types from internal/external hard drives.
Easy-to-find: During Quick Scan and Deep Scan, you can quickly locate your desired files by Filename, Path, Date, Size, etc.
Convenient: Retain the original Path, Filename, and Format for the deleted files.  
Excellent compatibility: Support NTFS, FAT32, exFAT, and ReFS file systems.

Don’t hesitate to install MyRecover on your Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, or Windows Server PC now!

Download Software Windows 11/10/8/7/Server
Secure Download

Step 1. Connect your external hard drive to your Windows. After running MyRecover, hover the mouse over your external hard drive and click Scan.


Step 2. Filter your needed data according to Name, Date, Document Type, or Path.

  • Name: Type the filenames of your desired files to narrow the search area.
  • Date modified: Set the date according to your situation (today, yesterday, the last 7/30 days, etc).
  • Size: Filter the file size based on your needs (<128KB, 128KB~1MB, 1MB~ 512MB, etc).


Step 3. Go to the Deleted Files/Recycle Bin/Other Missing Files folder and select the files you want. Then click “Recover x files” to start Windows data recovery.


Fix 6. Update/reinstall your inaccessible device driver via Device Manager

Undoubtedly, outdated/corrupted device drivers can discourage your Windows OS from accessing data saved on your internal & external hard drives. To solve this issue, please refer to the following steps to update/reinstall device drivers.  

Step 1. Type “Device Manager” in the search bar on your PC and open it.

Step 2. Locate “Disk Drives” and expand it.

Step 3. Right-click on your targeted drive and select Uninstall device/Update driver.



Step 4. Restart your Windows PC and the operating system will reinstall the hard drive automatically. Or you can also click the “Browse my computers for drivers” button.


After that, please remember to click the “OK” button.

Fix 7. Check & fix errors on your inaccessible hard drive via CHKDSK

In computing, bad sectors or corrupted file systems of hard drives can lead to data loss.

Though the CHKDSK command prompt is powerful to check and fix file system errors, its operation steps might be difficult for newcomers to use.


At the moment, why not use another free and friendlier tool, AOMEI Partition Assistant to check and repair partitions’ errors? Moreover, you don’t have to type CHKDSK using this software.

Step 1. Install free AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard on your Windows 11, 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, or XP computers.

Download Demo Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 2. On the main interface of the tool, right-click on your selected partition including your needed data. Then click Advanced > Check Partition.


Step 3. Select Check Partition and fix errors in this partition by using chkdsk.exe > click OK. If your hard drive is in RAW format, please select the last option.


Please wait patiently. Then you can click “OK” to exit this window.

Fix 8. Format unrecognized hard drives to a compatible file system

If the file system of your hard drive is not compatible with your Windows OS, what can you do to recover data from inaccessible hard drives? Or are you wondering how to recover data from a Micro SD card not detected?

You can format partitions and alter file systems to make your Windows detect your hard drive. In this scenario, don’t hesitate to use the AOMEI Partition Assistant that you’ve previously downloaded!

Step 1. After running this free demo on your Windows PC, right-click on your selected hard drive and select the “Format Partition” option.


Step 2. Select a file system you want and click the “OK” button.


Please click “Apply” to save these changes and wait patiently.

Related Q&A about undetected drives & location permission

How to recover files from external hard drive not detected? Please get eight methods to recover data from inaccessible hard drives from the above content. Meanwhile, there’re some related tips for you.

Penny · Editor
Penny works as an editor at AOMEI Technology, while she's a tester and editor for AOMEI Data Recovery Tools. She enjoys helping users with data recovery issues on Windows and iPhones using simple and practical solutions. Outside of work, she has a strong affection for pets, particularly giant pandas.