Troubleshoot | Repair External Hard Drive without Losing Data

How to repair external hard drive without losing data? Get the corresponding ways to fix corrupted external hard drives and perform external hard drive data recovery on this page.


By Penny / Updated on April 2, 2024

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Can a faulty external hard drive be repaired?

An external hard drive is a convenient storage device that accommodates different types of digital files. This portable device can be moved between PCs, providing extra storage for backup files. But sometimes, you may receive error messages that remind you to fix external hard drives.



Hi! I’ve stored all my photos and music on my external hard drive. But recently, some photos didn’t copy across properly. I deleted them, but the hard drive is stuck canceling the action, and Windows is asking me to repair the drive: We have found errors on this drive. To prevent data loss, repair this drive now. But does repair this drive erase data? Thanks.

-A user from TenForums

Please don’t worry because there is a chance to repair external hard drive without losing data. To select a targeted method, please first get an overview of the following reasons.

What are the common causes of external hard drive failures?

Several factors are responsible for external hard drive failures.

Software failure: Software bugs can cause a healthy, properly operating drive becomes corrupted. However, if the entire file system on your external HDD turns faulty, it could put you in a difficult situation and cause data loss. 
Firmware or manufacture faults: Sometimes, hard drives are prone to corruption due to manufacturing or firmware flaws. Therefore, manufacturers usually release firmware updates online to solve this issue.   
Bad sectors or corrupted file systems: Your drive might remind you of bad sectors on your external hard drive. Long-term use can make some portions of your external HDD useless, which render the drive unreadable or inaccessible. Moreover, bad sectors serve as a warning sign that reminds you to change a new drive or format the older one. 
Improper usage: If a hard drive is not ejected properly, it may reduce its lifespan. And unexpected power failure or excessive heat also are blamed for hard disk failure.   
Virus attacks or malware: Several malware/virus infections from unidentified sources can corrupt file systems and cause files automatically delete themselves.


When it comes to how to select a suitable solution, please keep the following principles in mind.

  • Please go to the first phase if there’s nothing wrong with your external HDD and no deletion actions.
  • If there’s data loss, please read further to perform external hard drive data recovery.
  • If you desire to fix external hard drives, you’d better recover your desired files from external hard drives first. Then you’re ready to refer to the third phase because these fixes may cause further damage to your external drive and decrease its data recovery rate.

Phase 1. How to repair external hard drive without losing data?

If you need to recover data from Micro SD card not undetected, these two fixes also are useful. Let’s show how it works.

1. Assign a new drive letter to undetected external hard drives

Sometimes, your connected external hard drive might be undetected by your Windows because of a missing drive letter. So there’s no sign of your external hard drive via File Explorer.


If it happens to your case, you can view your unrecognized external hard drive via Disk Management. This Window system utility can display the details for each drive for your PC and perform advanced storage tasks. 

Step 1. Connect the external hard drive to your PC. Then press “Win + X” to select the “Disk Management” option.


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


Step 3. Select “Add” to assign a new drive letter to this unlettered external HDD.

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


2. Update/reinstall your external hard drive device driver

As mentioned above, outdated/corrupted external hard drive device drivers can prevent this drive from working normally. So you need to update or reinstall your external hard drive device drivers to address this issue.

Step 1. Connect the external hard drive to your Windows PC. Then press “Win + X” and click “Device Manager” to open it.


Step 2. Go to Disk Drives and expand it. Please right-click on your external hard drive and select “Update driver” or “Uninstall driver” as you prefer.



Step 3. After rebooting your computer, its operating system can automatically reinstall your external hard drive. Or you can click the “Browse my computers for drivers” button.  


Phase 2. How to recover deleted files from external hard drives?

Given the unique features of external hard drives, if there are no accessible disk backups, you’ll have no choice but to seek help from a third-party tool.

Some users say powerful Windows File Recovery is designed to recover lost files from local storage devices like external hard drives. In theory, this file recovery software is an ideal one. But in practice, only computer-savvy users can operate this utility because there’s no accessible GUI (graphical user interface) for users and you need to type CMD.

So why not utilize another friendlier Windows data recovery software with an intuitive GUI to recover deleted & missing files from external hard drives? Released by AOMEI Tech, professional MyRecover provides you with a high recovery rate & easy-to-follow operating steps.

  • After data loss, please avoid writing any new files to your external hard drive.
  • After recovery, please remember to save these retrieved files in a new saved path.
  • To recover more and more deleted or missing files from your external hard drive with no effort, consider upgrading MyRecover to the Professional or Technician edition.   
Highlights 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, USB, SSD, etc.
Easy-to-find: Quick Scan and Deep Scan can find your deleted & missing files as many as possible. You can also quickly locate your desired files by Filename, Path, Date, Size, etc.
Convenient: Get deleted files’ original Paths, Filenames, and Format after recovery.   
Excellent compatibility: Support NTFS, FAT32, exFAT, and ReFS file systems and be compatible with Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, or Windows Server.

Let’s perform how to recover deleted files from external hard drives via MyRecover!

Download Software Windows 11/10/8/7/Server
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Step 1. Connect the external hard drive to your Windows PC. After running MyRecover, select your connected external hard drive, hover the mouse over your RAW external hard drive by checking the drive letter and the size, then 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 (today, yesterday, last 7/30 days, and so on) according to your situation.
  • Size: Filter the file size (<128KB, 128KB~1MB, 1MB~ 512MB, etc) based on your needs.


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


Phase 3. How to fix a corrupted external hard drive?

Are you wondering how to fix a corrupted external hard drive? There’re two feasible fixes for your reference.

1. Run the CHKSDK utility to check and repair errors

CHKDSK aims to check the file system and file system metadata of a volume for logical and physical errors. Please remember to use CHKDSK with the /f, /r, /x, or /b parameter. Otherwise, your CHKDSK command only can display the volume status and cannot fix errors.

In this case, you can fix a corrupted external hard drive without formatting.

Step 1. Connect the external hard drive to your Windows and enter “cmd” in the search bar. Then click “Run as administrator” to open the command prompt window.


Step 2. Type “chkdsk F:/f” in the window. You can replace F with your external hard drive letter. Then wait to see this notice: Windows has made corrections to the file system.


2. Fix external hard drives by formatting them via Disk Management

If your external hard drive suddenly becomes RAW, you can format it first and make it ready for further use. For example, you can change its file system to NTFS.

Please refer to the following steps to convert RAW to NTFS without losing data.

Step 1. Connect the external hard drive to your PC. Then press “Win + X” to select the “Disk Management” option.


Step 2. Right-click on your RAW external hard drive and select the “Format” option.


Step 3. Select the NTFS file system that works with your current Windows OS. Then click “OK” to save these changes.


Wrapping up

Are you wondering how to repair external hard drive without losing data? After reading this article, you may get the corresponding ways. In brief, you’d better have a closer look at its possible causes and methods guide.

To prevent the second damage, please consider using AOMEI Backupper to create disk backups. This free Windows backup software also allows you to back up files, partitions, or systems regularly.

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.