Solved: How to Recover Deleted Files From External Hard Drive?

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Wondering how to recover deleted files from external hard drive? Don’t worry stop using the external hard drive right away to avoid overwriting and read this extensive article as it discusses everything about recovering external hard drive data and more.

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An external hard drive is a portable storage device commonly used as a backup drive. Depending on the storage capacity of the external hard drive, it can store tons of files, photos, videos, and many more.

According to a data loss report published by Remo Software, 36.84% of data loss on external hard drives in 2023 was due to accidental deletion and we are sure that the number would have gone up in 2024.

Before performing data recovery from external hard drive, check for physical damages on the drive, In case of physical damage take the hard drive to a reputed data recovery service to restore files from external hard drive.

How To Recover Deleted Data From External Hard Drive?

Follow these DIY solutions, listed from basic to advanced, to recover files from an external hard drive.

Method 1: Restore Files From External Hard Drive by Unhiding

Method 2: Restore Files From External Hard Drive from the Recycle bin

Method 3: Recover Deleted Photos from External Hard Drive Using OneDrive (If Enabled)

Method 4: Recover External Hard Drive data using Data Recovery Software

Method 5: Recover Deleted Data from External Hard Drive with Data Recovery Services

Method 1: Restore Files From External Hard Drive by Unhiding

Try this solution when you are unsure about deleting files from external hard drive or unable to locate the external hard drive data due to virus infection or system errors. Connect your external hard disk to the computer and follow the steps below:

  • Open File Explorer and click on This PC.
  • Click on the View tab and check the Hidden Items box in the Show/Hide section

This will unhide all the folders and files, Now locate all your external hard drive data.

Method 2: Restore Files From External Hard Drive from the Recycle bin

Unhide the ($RECYCLE.BIN) folder on your external hard drive to recover deleted files from external hard drive.

Note: You won’t find shift-deleted files in this folder. In such cases, data recovery software is the best way to recover data from external hard drive.

  • Open File Explorer, click on the View tab, and click on Options
open file explorer and click on view tab
  • Click on Change folders and Search options.
expand the options and choose Change folders and Search options
  • Click on the View tab, Under Advanced Settings select show hidden files, folders and drives, and click on OK.
select show hidden files, folders and drives
  • Now you can see the $RECYCLE.BIN folder on the external hard drive, open the folder, and restore deleted files from the external hard drive.
open recycle bin folder and restore al the deleted files from external hard drive

Method 3: Recover Deleted Photos from External Hard Drive Using OneDrive (If Enabled)

OneDrive is an online cloud storage from Microsoft. It is integrated with Windows 10 and 11 as the default document storage location, giving Microsoft account users 5 GB of free storage before upgrade options are provided.

OneDrive allows users to store files, photos, videos, and other documents on multiple devices. Users can also save their files on OneDrive and sync them automatically on different devices. This means someone can access and work on the same document in multiple places.

So, if you can access an account on OneDrive, you can quickly retrieve deleted files from external hard drive using one drive.

To recover deleted photos using OneDrive, follow these simple steps:

  • Visit https://onedrive.live.com/
  • Sign in to your OneDrive account.
  • Locate and click on the Search bar at the top of the page.
  • Type in the name of the deleted files that you want to recover.
  • Press Enter and wait for the search results to appear.

Also: If you cannot find the file in OneDrive, check OneDrive's Recycle Bin first, as it may contain the deleted files. Remember that it keeps deleted items for 30 days (or 93 days for work/school accounts), after which they are permanently removed. Once you find the files, you can save them to your external hard drive once you find them.

Method 4: Recover External Hard Drive data using Data Recovery Software

Microsoft has its own command line data recovery tool i.e., Windows File Recovery to perform data recovery from external hard drive, if you are using Windows 10/11 you can download the software from the Microsoft Store and retrieve deleted files from the external hard drive with NTFS, FAT, exFAT, and ReFS file systems.

Download the Windows File Recovery tool and follow the steps below:

  • Launch the Windows File Recovery tool and
  • Type: winfr source drive letter: destination drive letter: /regular /n *.file extension 1, file extension 2

Now check the destination drive for the recovered files. If Windows File Recovery couldn't recover deleted data from an external hard drive, it could be due to an unsupported file format or a command line error.

Read More about the Windows File Recovery Tool

Don’t lose hope; you still have chances. Choose a professional data recovery software with wide file format support and an easy GUI to recover the external hard drive data.

When the methods mentioned above didn’t recover deleted files from the external drive then use a professional data recovery software like Remo Recover. This tool can detect and recover over 500 file formats from your external hard drive.

  • Download and install Remo Recover for Windows on your computer. 
  • Connect the external hard drive from which you want to recover the deleted files and launch the software. 
  • Select the external HDD from the home screen and click the "Scan" button to start the deleted file recovery process. 
select the external hard drive to recove data
  • Click on Dynamic Recovery View to see the files being recovered from the external hard drive.
scan-your-external-hard-drive-to-start-the-deleted-file-recovery-process
  • Once the scanning process ends, you can find your lost files in the "Lost and Found" or "Lost Partition" folders. 
list-of-recovered-files-from-external-hard-drive
  • Select the files you want to recover and click the "Recover" button, then choose a safe location when prompted and click "OK" to complete the file recovery process.
save-the-files-to-complete-the-deleted-files-recovery-from-external-hdd

Note: Save the recovered files in a different location from the previous one to avoid losing them again.

Method 5: Recover Deleted Data from External Hard Drive with Data Recovery Services

When DIY solutions can’t recover files from the external hard drive, consider using a data recovery service near you. These services have advanced tools and data recovery experts to recover the deleted files.

Data recovery services are very expensive, so ensure you check the pricing, success rate, and privacy policy before handing in the external hard drive.

Important Read: Recover Deleted Files from External Hard Drive Using Command Myth or Reality?

When it comes to recovering data from an external hard drive using a command prompt, many articles out there might suggest using CHKDSK and ATTRIB commands. But hold your horses; these commands are not the ultimate solution you're looking for.

While CHKDSK can check for errors and fix them, it's not equipped to perform full data recovery. And as for ATTRIB, it can tinker with file attributes, but it's not a file recovery wizard.

Common Reasons for Files Deletion or Missing on External Hard Drive

Data Loss ScenarioDescription
🤕Accidental DeletionThis occurs when files are unintentionally deleted from the external hard disk. It's one of the most common causes of data loss and can happen due to a simple misclick.
💽 Formatting the DriveData can be lost when an external hard drive is formatted, either intentionally or accidentally. Formatting wipes all the data stored on the drive. You can refer to this article to recover files from formatted hard drive.
⚠️Drive CorruptionFiles may become inaccessible or go missing if the external hard drive becomes corrupt. This can occur due to various reasons, including malware attacks, system crashes, or hardware issues.
💻Data Transfer IssuesDeletion of files or loss of Data can occur during the transfer of files from an external hard drive to another device. This can be due to interruptions while data transfer or errors in the transfer process.
🖥️System InterruptionsInterruptions, such as an unexpected system shutdown or power surge while the external hard drive is in use, can lead to data loss. These unexpected events can disrupt the read/write process, causing data corruption or loss.

Tips for Protecting External Hard Drive Data

Follow these simple suggestions to prevent data loss on your external hard drive:

  • Don’t connect your external HDD to virus-infected devices. 
  • Take a regular backup of all your essential files.
  • Verify the files before you delete or format the external hard drive.
  • Finally, avoid interruptions while transferring files from an external HDD.

Conclusion

In conclusion, file deletion is not the ultimate end for your external hard drive data. All you need to do is stop using the external hard drive and try the solutions listed in this article to recover deleted data from external hard drive.

We recommend following a regular backup routine to keep your files safe and having a disaster management plan ready to protect your files in case of drive failure.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Recover deleted Files from an External Hard Drive?

Yes, recovering deleted files from an external hard drive is possible. When you delete files from an external hard drive, the operating system removes the reference to the files from the file system table, but the actual data may still be present on the drive until new data overwrites it.

To increase the chances of recovering your lost files from an external hard drive, it is important to stop using the drive immediately once you realize that data has been lost. If you continue using the drive after deleting files, it could overwrite the deleted data, making it extremely difficult or even impossible to recover.

Is it possible to recover data from a dead external hard drive?

Yes. It is possible to recover data from a dead external hard drive. But if your external hard drive or USB is dead due to physical damage, then recovering files using a data recovery is not possible. However, if your external hard drive is dead due to logical errors and you cannot access its files, use the Remo Recover tool to restore your data easily.

How to Recover Permanently Deleted Files from External Hard Drive?

Here are the steps to recover deleted files from an external hard drive:
1. Download and install Remo Recover software.
2. Connect the external hard drive to your computer and launch Remo Recover.
3. Choose the external hard drive and click on Scan.
4. Preview the recovered files.
5. Save the recovered files to a new location by clicking Recover.

About the Author: John Harris

With a decade of experience in data recovery, John Harris, Senior Editor at Remo Software, is your go-to specialist. His focus includes partition management, Windows solutions, and data troubleshooting, delivering insightful content that serves both users and search engines. John's expertise shines through in illuminating blog posts, untangling data loss intricacies across diverse storage platforms.…