Regardless of which brand of external hard drive you’ve purchased or how recently, it can fail owing to a plethora of reasons. While repairing a faulty drive with the help of in-built operating system utilities is relatively straight forward, the tricky task often lies in the recovery of data stored on such drives. More often than not, when a drive fails, users can’t seem to get past the dreaded error, “This drive is not formatted, format it now?” To make the drive usable again, formatting it seems to be the only option left. But such an unplanned formatting can lead to tragic data loss if you don’t have proper data backup.
So what should one do and how, to try and repair a corrupted or damaged hard drive and if possible recover all data from it in one piece?
First things first – why can a hard drive fail?
No matter how many times you’ve used your external hard drive and how trustworthy it has proved for you, or how recently you’ve purchased it and with what warranties, you may arrive at a situation where-in one fine day you plug-in the drive and find the “format” warning. Obvious reactions to such a warning would be “what?”, “it was working till last evening, what happened suddenly?”, “why am I seeing this warning?” etc. Well, to answer all those questions, here are some very common reasons why hard drives can fail:
- Hard drives tend to wear and tear mechanically with continuous usage over years
- Damage or breaking of the metallic platters within external hard drive due to improper handling or dropping of the hard drive from height can render them useless
- Ejecting them while data transfer is underway could lead to corruption
- Exposure to excessive heat or moisture could cause damage
- Magnets are poison for hard drives so proximity to them is extremely harmful
- Sudden system shutdown or frequent powder surges when the hard drive is connected and being used can cause corruption
- Virus attack to the hard drive or system to which it is connected
- Switching an external hard drive among different platforms like Windows, Mac, Linux very frequently can also sometimes mess up with the file system format of the hard drive leading to data corruption
- Operating system crash while the hard drive is connected
Now that you know how easily a hard drive can fail, you should also know that most warranties cover only mechanical hard drive damage. So if your drive fails, with the warranty, at most you’ll be able to make it usable again. However, there’s no warranty that covers data recovery so a re-usable hard drive does not mean your data will be saved intact. Moreover, if your hard drive is not under warranty, having it repaired at a service center can itself prove to be quite costly. So if you actually look at it closely, paying to revive a hard drive and still end up with data loss doesn’t seem to make sense.
Fix Corrupted External Hard Drive
- You’ll have no other option but to format the drive and then use trustworthy third-party data recovery software to salvage your data. To perform a clean format of the drive, follow these steps:
- Run command prompt as an administrator and type ‘diskpart’. Hit enter.
- Then type ‘list disk’ and hit Enter.
- Type ‘select disk <your disk>’ and hit Enter.
- Type ‘clean’ and hit Enter.
- Type ‘create partition primary’ and hit Enter
- Type ‘format fs=ntfs’ (or fs=fat32 if you want to use on PC and Mac) and hit Enter.
This will format your hard drive and make it visible and readable by your computer. Thereafter, you must take care NOT to write any new data to drive. Immediately use Stellar Windows Data Recovery software to safely and accurately recover all your data from the hard drive, intact. Once that is done, take a backup of the recovered data and then proceed to use the drive as normal.
I really like Stellar data recovery software working process, it is very quick and easy. I just installed it on my system and followed the simple 3 steps to recover my lost data. If you too have lost your data them I highly recommend this software.
The best way to safeguard your data is to take regular complete backups of it. Moreover, to keep your hard drives healthy run CHKDSK on them once every few weeks to find and repair errors before they can cause damage.