External Hard Drive Recovery: the Most Common Issues Explained

As storing data has become more sophisticated – evolving from paper to digital copies, the issues that come with it have become more sophisticated as well since there are a lot of different factors that can easily damage or even erase data nowadays. Although it is not the only way to store data, hard drives are probably the most common way of doing so, as they have been used longer than any other device or method. Data recovery comes in many different ways and to make sure you have taken all the precautions to prevent data loss from ever occurring, first you’ll need to be aware of the common issues, their symptoms and the solutions to those issues.

External hard drive recovery

Mechanical Damage

•Mechanical damage can occur as a result of different reasons, but the most prominent one is the fact that every hard drive has moving parts which can degrade over time. Since this all happens internally, it is hard to intervene before your PC starts showing signs. The external hard drive recovery, in this case, has to do with three main defects regarding the PCB (logic) board, disk platters, and the hermetical block. The symptoms here are usually clicking noises, complete system freeze, a black screen after booting up the PC and starting to lose files and folders as time passes.

External hard drive recovery

• A damaged PCB element can make the information on the hard disk inaccessible but the data stays safe or sometimes just a part of it gets damaged. Damage can be in the form of a bulged capacitor or completely fried board in which case you’ll have to get one that matches the make and parameters of the hard drive. This includes the model number, firmware version, series and the support of adaptive tunning with that particular hard disk.

• A mechanical failure inside the hermetical block can be caused by a broken or fractured assembly head and damaged or completely destroyed motors and bearings. A certain sector can be blocked from a stuck or damaged assembly head on the landing zone, which will prevent your PC from identifying the drive since it won’t be able to start. In this scenario, it is very hard to repair the drive on your own as dust particles can easily get inside which can make it useless. That is another reason why you should look to hire professional external hard drive recovery services.

External hard drive recovery 1

• Disk platters can be damaged from either the assembly head and all its defects or from an independent issue. The former can result in scratches or just bad sectors (blocks) which cannot be read. If that sector contains information on the structure then it disappears completely, but if it has some files on it then those files become inaccessible. Disk remapping is your best bet in this case but it is not a guaranteed solution.

Corrupted Files

• By corrupted files I mean malware-infected ones as they too can compromises big chunks of data without you even being aware of it. Sometimes certain files may be inaccessible due to human errors such as messing with the registry settings or turning off your PC straight from the plug. Electrical problems can also make your hard disk unstable and prevent it from operating properly, like power surges or unexpected shutdowns.

External hard drive recovery

• What a user can do to salvage important information and get rid of the drive’s current undesirable state is to use the command prompt. You will start by going to the start button, typing “cmd” and running it as an administrator by right-clicking on it and selecting the option from the list. Then you will type “chkdsk g:/f” and execute the command by pressing “Enter”. If this isn’t of any help, try saving as much of your data by transferring it on a USB drive or uploading it on the cloud before taking it in for a professional external hard drive recovery check.

Logical Failure

• Like mechanical damage, logical disk failures can occur in three different forms – a damaged MBR (Master Boot Record), damaged sector contents and a damaged file system. The symptoms are usually no noise being generated when the hard disk is working or the driver simply not being able to boot. In this case, you can extract the data but can’t access it while it’s on the drive.

External hard drive recovery

• When partitions can’t get recognized by the OS or can’t get their settings recognised properly, it means that you have a damaged MBR, which is the result of a damaged signature making the OS act in this way. This can lead to files from the partitions not being accessible anymore and the partition table being compromised. In other words, it will be totally destroyed, which can also lead to a certain level of damage to the contents of the table as well.

• A damaged file system has similar characteristics with that of a damaged MBR, except in this case you can’t access the partitions. The OS does recognize them but only as unallocated space. In the case of not being able to solve the file system related issues, the lost data will be shown as lost logic strings.

Overheating & Firmware Issues

• Overheating symptoms like fans working slower than usual and the bottom of your laptop being too hot to even place your palm on it, are quite obvious. However, there is one exception – the clicking sounds. Overheating is a very common external hard drive recovery failure, which leads to a sudden hard disk crash and can severely fry the drive to a point of no recovery. Make sure to regularly check if the fans are working with enough speed either with visual inspection or using some software.

External hard drive recovery

• Firmware or manufacturer faults can cause the disk to be undetectable and the system to loop the booting process or fail to boot. This can happen as early as the first week of buying the hard disk or at the very last day of its lifespan. The first thing you should do is contact the shop or manufacturer you bought the drive from and ask for an RA (Return Authorization). The manufacturer can’t guarantee that it will extract all the data safely. I know this is a real bummer but try to seek professional help with this issue too.