How to Fix A Corrupted External Hard Drive and Recover Your Data

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fix a corrupted external hard drive

If you find a slow performance, a randomly lost file, or an inaccessible amount on your external hard drive, it may be a sign that the drive is damaged. You must solve the situation promptly, but first, recover any vital files. How to fix the problem and recover data from the damaged external drive is in the next part. 

How to recover corrupted external hard drives without losing data

To retrieve information from a corrupted external hard drive, you will need to use a third-party data recovery program. However, it is important that your PC can detect a corrupted drive. To check if it is visible or not, press Windows Key + R. Print “diskmgmt.msc” and press Enter in the disk management window. Check that your external drive is on the list.

If your drive is visible and not “no media” you can recover. Your disk may be physically damaged or have substantial lock damage, needing professional data recovery.

Third-party programs restore data from faulty external hard disks in two steps:

  • Disk imaging the corrupted external hard drive. This procedure is important because direct scanning can cause data loss and damage to the drive. The disk image is used as a virtual copy of the entire drive and enables safe scanning and recovery.
  • Scan disk images or backups using data recovery software.

There are many data recovery programs available here to revive your data. However, they are not compatible with or can create disk images of all external hard drives.

After evaluating its reliability and user-friendly features that help recover files from empty recycling tanks, I recommend WinfrGUI as a powerful solution for retrieving lost data. Its easy-to-use interface makes the file recovery process easier, making it accessible even for those with the least technical knowledge.

WinfrGUI was designed specifically for Windows 10 and 11 users, providing compatibility with these operating systems free of charge.

Now let’s take a look at the steps of recovering empty files from recycled tanks using WinfrGUI:

Step 1: Image the drive disk

  • WinfrGUI must be downloaded and installed on Windows.
  • Open WinfrGUI.
  • Link the drive to your computer to restore files.
  • Enter WinfrGUI’s ‘Disk Image’ area.
  • Decide where to save a disk image of the drive.
  • Click ‘Start’ to create a disk image. Depending on drive size. The procedure may be lengthy.

Step 2: File Scan/Recover

  • After disc image generation, go to WinfrGUI’s ‘Recover Files’ tab.
  • Select your newly produced disk image from the list.
  • Choose a place to save retrieved files.
  • Start scanning by selecting Start.
  • Let WinfrGUI scan disk images for recoverable files. This may take a long time depending on disk image size and file count.
  • A list of recoverable files will be provided after the scan.
  • Walk through the list and pick the file to recover.
  • Click ‘Recover’ to begin file recovery.
  • Choose a folder to save the restored file and confirm.
  • WinfrGUI restores the selected file to the location.

With WinfrGUI’s simple way of recovering files, users can effectively load deleted files, providing valuable protection against data loss, it could also recover files from formatted hard drive.

How to fix a corrupted external hard drive

Now we go back to fixing the corrupted external hard drive.

In most cases, it is possible to repair damaged hard drives without formatting unless there is widespread damage to the file system of the disk. We will explore 5 ways to fix a damaged external hard drive, but please make sure you follow the instructions for each method carefully as something can be complicated.

Method 1: Physical diagnosis of external hard drives.

If you notice damage after your drive has been physically affected, such as falling, it is important to check physically.

Here are two steps you can take:

  • Check for clicks, screams, or bits from the drive. If you hear these sounds, it means that the internal components are damaged. Stop using the drive and find professional data recovery services.
  • Check the cables and connectors on your hard drive. If you notice any damage, such as stretched wires or broken ports, you will need to remove the external hard drive and connect it to your computer using a SATA cable. Just try doing this if you feel comfortable working with your PC hardware. Otherwise, seek professional data recovery services. Be careful because improper handling of the physical drive may lead to data loss or disc damage.

Method 2: Repair corrupted partitions on external hard drives.

If you have problems accessing a specific partition on your external hard drive and you receive an error message such as “Access denied” or a partition does not appear in Windows Explorer. The partition may be corrupted. Also, it may cause your specific drive or partition to appear as RAW on your PC.

Luckily, there is a third-party tool called TestDisk, which can be used to repair your external hard drive. Testdisk has received positive reviews with high success rates in fixing damaged partitions on external drives. However, please note that it does not have a graphical user interface (GUI), which may make navigation a challenge for new users.

Here’s how to use TestDisk to repair damaged partitions:

  • Download TestDisk and extract the contents of the log
  • Open testdisk_win.exe file
  • Choose whether or not you want to create a log.
  • Use the arrow keys to navigate and Enter to confirm.
  • Select the corrupted external hard drive and press Enter to confirm.
  • Select the type of the partition table. It is recommended to press Enter on this screen as TestDisk will automatically detect the types of partition tables.
  • Select “Analyze” and press Enter.
  • Select “Fast Search” and press Enter.
  • Use the left and right arrow keys to run through the partition type. Make sure there is a “P” at the start.
  • Press Enter
  • Except for the “Write” option and press Enter.
  • Confirm with “Y” in the instructions.
  • TestDisk will recover damaged partitions.

To repair the boot part of a corrupted hard drive using TestDisk:

  • Open TestDisk and choose whether or not you want to create a log file.
  • Select your drive and press Enter.
  • Click Enter on the partition table selection screen.
  • Except “Advanced” and press Enter.
  • Select the partition that appears as RAW on your PC
  • Select “Boot” and press Enter
  • Finally, select “Create a new BS” and press Enter.
  • On the next screen, select “Write” and press Enter.
  • Reboot your PC, and you should be able to access previously corrupted hard drives.

Method 3: Fix corrupted hard drive error

Windows has a built-in tool called CHKDSK that can detect and fix file system errors on your external hard drive. While CHKdSK is the main command line tool, you can access its basic GUI version through Windows Explorer, which is called the bug scanner.

Here are two ways to fix errors in your corrupted hard drive:

Using Disk Error Checker:

  • Connect the corrupted external hard drive to your PC
  • Open Windows Explorer (Windows Key + E)
  • Right-click on the external hard drive and select “Properties.”
  • Click on the “Tools” tab, and under Error Checking, click “Check”.


Enter “cmd” in Windows Search (Windows Key + S)

Right-click Command Prompt and select “Run as Administrator” in the search results.

Print “chkdsk X: / f” and press Enter instead of “X” with the specified drive letter on your external hard drive.

The process may take a long time, depending on the size of your hard drive.

Method 4: Repairing bad sections on external hard drives using full format.

The above-mentioned method allows you to fix damaged external hard drives without formatting. However, without them, your only option besides seeking professional data recovery services is a full-fledged operation.

Please note that the full format will delete all data on your damaged external hard drive and repair any bad sections. Procedure with caution, and make sure you have your backup.

Here’s how you can run the full format on Windows:

  • Press Windows Key + R and type “diskmgmt.msc” in the running text box. 
  • Press Enter.
  • In Windows Disk Management, right-click on your external hard drive and click on “Format.”.
  • In the Format Options window, delete the “Execute Quick Format” option. This is important.
  • Click OK

Signal of hard drive failure and confirmation method

While it is possible for an external hard drive to fail unexpectedly, it is not normal. To check the condition of your hard drive, you can check the properties of S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology).  This can provide the most accurate prediction of the future drive failures.

There are many programs used to analyze the status of S.M.A.R.T. of your external hard drive:

It is recommended to use one of the programs mentioned to receive the S.M.A.R.T. report. Details for your drive. However, if you do not want to download additional tools, Windows Central has a detailed manual on checking the S.M.A.R.T. status. of your drive using the built-in Windows tool.


Multiple backups in physical and cloud storage are recommended to protect your assets. Check S.M.A.R.T. status. Checking your disk regularly might forecast issues. Instead of repairing your external hard disk, use a data recovery service if your data is vital.