7 Effective Methods to Fix I/O Device Error On A External Hard Drive

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If you are looking forward to knowing about IO error, causes, and how to fix IO error on external storage devices, this is the article you have been looking for. In this read-up, you will learn everything you need to know about the IO error and how to fix the error effortlessly and also learn how to recover data if you have incurred data loss.

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User Query: I/O error showing in external hard disk and unable to recover data

I/O error showing in external hard disk and unable to recover data
Source: Reddit

Table of Contents

What is an IO Device Error?

I/O stands for Input/Output. The I/O device error is an issue with the external storage device that stops Windows from reading or writing on it. If you are facing the same issue and wondering how to fix the i/o device error on an external hard drive then you are at the right place. In this article, we have explained 7 effective methods to fix the i/o device error. Multiple users often report I/O device errors (Input/Output) while performing read/write operations on their external storage media, like USB Flash Drives with IO error, SD cards, external hard drives, etc.

Below listed are the usual error codes you might encounter when you come across an IO error.

  • "The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error".
  • "I/O error 32", "I/O error 21" or the similar "I/O error + codes"

Going ahead, let us first understand the common scenario for this IO error message to occur in the section below.

Why Does IO error Occur on External Storage Device?

  1. The Storage is incompatible with the OS
  2. The faulty or Corrupted Storage device
  3. Loose USB or e SATA cord
  4. Physically damaged storage device
  5. Outdated drivers
  6. The external hard drive, memory card, or USB drive is recognized with a wrong drive letter.

The above-mentioned reasons can be addressed effortlessly by following the solutions given in the section below.

IO error usually stops the users from doing basic operations on the external storage device and also puts the data residing on the storage device at risk. If you have valuable data residing on it, we recommend you recover the data first and then go ahead with the fixes listed below. Download Remo Recover now and effortlessly recover your data or deleted data from IO error with ease

7 Simple Methods To Fix I/O Device Error On External Hard Drive

Method 1: Check If the Cables are Properly Connected

The easiest solution to solve the 'request could not be performed i/o error' message is to check whether the cables are properly connected or not. Most I/O device errors occur because of cables. Cables tend to loosen and cords can weaken. First, check that all cables are properly connected to the ports of the hub and the computer. Check for a problem with your computer's port by connecting the drive to another computer. If this solution resolves the i/o device error issues, you're done. If that doesn't solve the problem, go to the next method to fix the i/o device error on an external hard drive.

Method 2: Reinstall or update the device driver for your SD card/Storage Devices

  1. Right-click Computer and select Manage. Then choose Device Manager.
  2. Go to Universal Serial Bus Controllers, right-click USB Mass Storage and choose Uninstall.
  3. Remove the SD card/ USB and reconnect it.

Method 3: Change the drive transfer mode in IDE Channel Properties

  • Hold onto Windows + X keys and select device manager from the menu list
  • Expand IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers. A subset will open that lists the different IDE ATA/ATAPI channels.

  • Right-click on the channel where the appropriate drive is connected, and then click Properties.
  • Go to the Advanced Settings tab and select PIO Only in the Transfer mode box for the device that represents the appropriate drive. Typically, this is device 0. Then, click OK and exit all windows.
  • Test the drive and check if the error message has been removed.

Method 4: Check and Repair the Device in Command Prompt to fix the i/o device error on an external hard drive

  • Run Command Prompt (Admin) from the menu list
  • Click Yes to allow the OS to launch the Command Prompt as Administrator.
Command prompt
  • In the Command Prompt window, type chkdsk G: /f /r /x. Replace the existing drive letter with your desired drive letter.

This option will check and repair disk errors on external storage devices to fix I/O device errors. If the above method does not work well, go ahead with the below solution

Method 5: Repair I/O Error using the Clean Boot Option

  • Open Run
  • Type MSConfig and click OK
  • On the General tab > Selective Startup
  • Clear the Load Startup items and click on the Services tab
  • Select Hide All Microsoft Services checkbox
  • Click Disable All
  • Click the Startup tab, and open Task Manager
  • On the Startup tab, right-click each enabled startup item and select Disable
  • Click Ok and restart your system

Method 6: Change the Drive Letter of the External Storage device

Due to an invalid drive letter, your storage device might become inaccessible, in order to change the drive letter follow the below steps which will fix the fix i/o device error on an external hard drive.

  • Click on ‘This PC’ and then right-click and then go to ‘Manage’ and then click Disk Management.
  • Next, right-click on the external storage device of which you wish to change the letter and select the change Drive Letter and Paths.
  • Now, click ‘Change’ in the new window and then assign a new drive letter to the USB flash drive and then click ‘OK’.

If this method also didn't work for you proceed to the next method to fix the fix i/o device error on the external hard drive

Method 7: Format The Hard Drive

If the above methods didn't work well for you, you can try formatting your hard drive to fix the i/o device error on the external hard drive. 

Alert: Formatting a hard drive will remove all your valuable data stored on it. Make sure you take a backup of your hard drive before formatting it. In case the hard drive is ready only or not detected by your computer you can use a professional data recovery tool like Remo Recover to gain access from the hard drive and recover data from it.

The above-mentioned solution will usually fix the IO error from your external storage device, but while following the above procedure there are chances that you might encounter an unforeseen data loss scenario if you are not tech-savvy while implementing the procedures.

In such cases, all the data residing on the storage device will be lost. Nevertheless, with the help of reliable data recovery software, you will be able to recover lost or deleted data from your external hard disk.

Remo Data Recovery tool is a reliable data recovery application that can effortlessly recover more than 500+ file formats with its advanced scan engine. Within a matter of a few clicks, you will be able to recover your lost data from an external storage device.

How to Recover Data From I/0 Device Error Hard Drive?

  • Download and Install Remo Recover Windows Software on your computer and connect the external storage device that is showing an io error to this computer.
  • Launch the software, select the External storage drive from which you wish to recover data, and click on the Scan option.
select the drive from where you want to recover data
  • During the scanning process, you can click on the Dynamic Recovery View option to preview the files while the recovery is in process.
click on Dynamic Recovery view
  • Once the scanning is completed, all your deleted files from the external drive will be located under the Lost and Found folder or Lost Partition folder.
deleted files will be located under the Lost and Found folder or Lost Partition folder
  • Select all the files you want to recover from the drive and click on the Recover button to save them in the desired location.


This read-up emphasizes how to fix the IO error with the effective solutions mentioned above. For further queries, make use of the comment section below

About the Author: Molly Owen

Molly is the Lead Technical Specialist with distinguished knowledge and understanding of Mac computers and operating systems. Being a veteran photographer and video recovery specialist, Molly’s expertise in video formats and file repair has helped restore a lot of videos and cherished memories of users. As a technical specialist, she also believes in learning and…