Comprehensive Guide to Recover Deleted Files from Portable Devices

Learn how to recover deleted files from portable devices using professional tools and how to recover corrupted files from external hard drive by reinstalling the drive.


By Penny / Updated on April 2, 2024

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Can you recover deleted files from a portable hard drive?

A Portable Storage Device (PSD) is a small hard drive to store and transfer digital data. Some PSDs are fixed-size hard drives ranging from 256GB to 320GB. The major portable devices include USB, memory cards, smartphones, laptops, notebooks, MP3 players, iPods, rewritten CDs, and e-readers.  


If there’s no available PC for downloading while traveling, a portable storage device could be an alternative to make backups or purge memory cards.

As mentioned above, PSD is a portable hard drive for data storage and transmission. Can you recover deleted files from portable hard drive if you accidentally deleted some files? If you’re eager to jump out of the dilemma of data loss, find specific solutions below. 

How to recover deleted files from portable devices?

Both Windows File Recovery and MyRecover could help you recover deleted files from external hard drive. Nevertheless, if your files are corrupted, please refer to the next part.

In the future, stay away from these possible causes for external hard drive data loss.

The accidental deletion and intentional deletion.
Disk formatting without making backups.
A power outage or power surge causes damage to the external hard drive.
Ejecting the device forcefully during the process of writing data.
The file system used to store data could become corrupted due to improper handling, rendering the data inaccessible.
Inserting an incompatible digital media into incompatible devices.   

Method 1. Recover deleted files from external hard drive with Windows File Recovery

How to recover deleted files from external hard drive? Released by Microsoft in 2020, Windows File Recovery is free command-line software for you to recover the lost files from your internal and external drives, USB drives, and other storage devices.

This powerful but not well-designed software has not offered a graphical user interface. That is to say, you have to recover the deleted files using CMD if you can accept this disadvantage. In practice, please designate your needed mode and switches first and fill them in the following basic format command line.

▶winfr source-drive: destination-drive [/mode] [switches]

The source drive stores your desired files before data loss. After recovery, please store these retrieved files in a new location (destination drive).
If possible, please stop using your external hard drive and don’t execute any written performance because retrieving the overwritten deleted files is impossible.
Windows File Recovery is only compatible with Windows 10/11.
Use it to recover the deleted/lost Word, Excel, PPT, ZIP, PDF, JPG, JPEG, etc.
Extensive, Regular, Segment and Signature modes could support NTFS, FAT32, exFAT, and ReFS file systems.

Step 1. Check the file system of your source drive: Connect your external hard drive to your PC. Then click “This PC” > right-click on the external drive > “Properties.”


Step 2. After checking the file system and the data loss scenarios, please select a suitable mode.

File system


Recommended mode


Deleted recently



Deleted a while ago



After formatting a disk



A corrupted disk


FAT and exFAT



Step 3. Read the following form carefully and choose switches based on your needs.



Supported          modes


Recover specific extension groups, comma-separated



Saves a log file of the recovery operation in a different location than the default location on the recovery drive (for example, D:\logfile).



Overrides user prompts, which is useful in a script file.



Recovers undeleted files, for example, from the Recycle Bin.

NTFS Segment


Recovers system files.

NTFS Segment​​​​​


Recovers files without primary data streams.

NTFS Segment


To keep your results manageable and focus on user files, some file types are filtered by default, but this switch removes that filter. 

NTFS Segment


Specifies which file types are filtered.

NTFS Segment

Then you can resemble the basic format with your selected mode and switches.

Step 4. Download Windows File Recovery from the Microsoft Store by clicking the “Get” button. After installation, “Open” it.


Step 5. Let’s take PDF files as an example.

Assume you deleted the PDF file recently and you want to retrieve it from the F drive. Then store it on the D drive. Copy the adjusted command line: “winfr F: D: /regular /n *.pdf” in the window.


Step 6. Hit “y” to continue the recovery process. If you want to stop the process, please press the “Ctrl + C” keys.

Method 2. Use MyRecover

It is easier said than done. Windows File Recovery has discouraged non-tech users from employing it because of many restrictions for four modes and varied switches. Not to mention assembling the corresponding command lines for the targeted scenarios.

Based on the above considerations, you could utilize another handier data recovery tool to recover deleted files from portable hard drive. In this case, we’d like to introduce a user-friendly with you. That is the MyRecover.

Please learn more about the key features of this powerful and user-friendly application.

Recover the deleted/lost files from SSD/HDD/USB and other storage devices.

✦Recover 200+ types of data such as Word, Excel, PPT, Photos, Videos, Audios, Emails, Webpages, and compressed files.

✦Retain the original path, filename, and format for the deleted data.

✦Run Quick Scan and Deep Scan automatically to detect all the deleted files and other lost files.

✦Cope with deletion, disk formatting, system crashes, and other data loss scenarios. For instance, you can use it to recover the formatted files from USB without using CMD.

✦Support NTFS, FAT32, exFAT, and ReFS file systems in Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, and Windows Server.

Step 1. Launch MyRecover on the computer. Then connect your external hard drive to your PC.

Download SoftwareWin 11/10/8/7/Server
Secure Download

Step 2. After loading the disk, hover the mouse over the drive and click Scan to scan.


Step 3. You can see all the deleted files and other missing files after performing Quick Scan and Deep Scan.


Step 4. Select files you want to restore. Then click the “Recover x files” button and store them in a new location.


Further reading: How to recover corrupted files from external hard drive?

Sometimes, a corrupted device driver could lead to an inaccessible external hard drive. In this case, please try to reinstall the drive driver to fix this issue. After that, you can recover corrupted files from the external hard drive.

Press “Win + R” to open Device Manager. Then enter “devmgme.msc” in the window. Then Find your external hard drive in Disk Devices, and click “Uninstall device.”


Plug in the external hard drive to your PC after rebooting it. Then wait for it to install automatically.

To sum up

This guide shares two efficient methods with you to recover deleted files from portable devices. Moreover, if you want a higher data recovery rate for PSDs, you’re expected to stop using your electronic storage devices after data loss.

In brief, MyRecover is a better choice for you to perform external hard drive data recovery without using the command prompt. Apart from that, you could make backups using the Windows features or freeware-AOMEI Backupper.

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.