Mon. Jun 3rd, 2024
How to Fix a Broken External Hard Drive


How to Fix a Broken External Hard Drive: Troubleshooting and Repair Guide

Have you ever experienced the heart-stopping dread of realizing that your external hard drive has crashed, taking all your precious files and memories down with it? It’s a nightmare scenario that no one wants to face. In this article, we’ll show you step-by-step how to bring your broken external hard drive back to life, salvaging those irreplaceable photos, important documents, and cherished music playlists. So grab your toolkit and prepare to embark on a journey of data recovery as we explore the secrets behind fixing a broken external hard drive. 

How to Fix a Broken External Hard Drive?

External hard drives are invaluable tools for storing and safeguarding our precious data. However, they are not invincible, and at some point, you may encounter issues with your external hard drive. Whether it’s not recognized by your computer, making strange noises, or displaying error messages, a broken external hard drive can be a worrisome problem. But fear not! In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the steps to diagnose and fix common external hard drive issues. From data recovery to hardware repair, we’ve got you covered.

Identifying the Problem

Before diving into the fixes, it’s essential to accurately identify the issue with your external hard drive. This step is crucial as the solution depends on the specific problem.

Not Recognized by the Computer

If your external hard drive isn’t showing up on your computer, the first step is to check the basics. Ensure that all cables are securely connected, and try plugging the drive into another USB port or computer to rule out port-related issues.

Strange Noises

Unusual noises, such as clicking, grinding, or buzzing, can indicate a mechanical problem. In this case, it’s essential to stop using the drive immediately to prevent further damage.

Error Messages

If your computer displays error messages when you connect the external hard drive, note down the error code or message. This information can be helpful when searching for specific solutions online.

Data Recovery

When your external hard drive is malfunctioning, your primary concern is often the data stored on it. Data recovery should be your first priority before attempting any repairs.

Use Data Recovery Software

There are many data recovery software options available, such as EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard and Recuva. Install one of these tools and follow the on-screen instructions to attempt to recover your lost files.

Consult a Professional Data Recovery Service

If the software doesn’t yield the desired results or your drive has sustained physical damage, it’s best to consult a professional data recovery service. They have specialized tools and expertise to retrieve data from damaged drives safely.

Software-Based Solutions

If the issue with your external hard drive is not hardware-related, you may be able to resolve it through software-based solutions.

Run Disk Check Utility

Most operating systems have built-in disk check utilities. For Windows, you can use the “chkdsk” command, while macOS users can use “First Aid” in Disk Utility. These tools can repair file system errors and bad sectors on the drive.

Update or Reinstall Device Drivers

Outdated or corrupted device drivers can cause compatibility issues. Visit the manufacturer’s website to download and install the latest drivers for your external hard drive.

Scan for Malware

Malware can corrupt files and affect the functionality of your external hard drive. Run a thorough malware scan using reliable antivirus software to eliminate any potential threats.

Hardware-Based Solutions

When software-based solutions fail, it’s time to explore hardware-based fixes. Please note that some of these methods may require technical expertise or professional assistance.

Replace Faulty Cables

Faulty or damaged USB cables can often be the root cause of connection issues. Try using a different USB cable to see if the problem persists.

Check the Power Supply

Ensure that your external hard drive is receiving adequate power. If it has an external power source, check the power adapter and outlet. USB-powered drives may not function correctly if the USB port doesn’t provide enough power. In such cases, use a powered USB hub.

Test on Another Computer

To rule out computer-related issues, test your external hard drive on another computer. If it works there, it may indicate a problem with your computer’s hardware or settings.

Repair File System

If the file system on your external hard drive is corrupted, you can attempt to repair it using tools like “chkdsk” for Windows or “First Aid” for macOS. Be cautious as this process can lead to data loss, so ensure you’ve backed up your data beforehand.

Remove Bad Sectors

If your drive has developed bad sectors, you can attempt to remove them using specialized software. However, this is a delicate process, and it’s recommended to seek professional help if you’re not familiar with it.

The Last Resort

Sometimes, despite all efforts, your external hard drive may remain unrecoverable or unrepairable. In such cases, there are still a few options to consider.

Warranty or Professional Repair Services

If your external hard drive is under warranty, contact the manufacturer or retailer for repair or replacement options. If it’s not under warranty, consider reaching out to a professional repair service, but be prepared for potential high costs.

Salvage Valuable Components

Before disposing of your broken external hard drive, salvage any valuable components, such as the hard drive itself or the enclosure. You can reuse these components for other storage needs.

Secure Data Destruction

If you’re concerned about data security, ensure that all data is securely wiped from the drive before disposal. Use software like DBAN (Darik’s Boot and Nuke) to irreversibly erase the data.

Dropped Hard Drive Still Works

Dropping an external hard drive can be a heart-stopping moment, but if it still works, you might consider yourself lucky. However, even if it seems operational, hidden damage could jeopardize your data’s safety. The impact from a fall can harm the internal components, potentially leading to future failures. To ensure your hard drive’s longevity, immediately back up all crucial data and thoroughly test it for any unusual behavior. If you notice any performance issues or unusual sounds, consider seeking professional help to diagnose and address hidden damage. Prevention is always better than recovery, so invest in a protective case and handle your external hard drive with care.

External Hard Drive Repair Cost

Facing a malfunctioning external hard drive can be stressful, and the looming question is often, “How much will it cost to repair?” The answer can vary significantly depending on the issue’s complexity and the extent of damage. Software-related problems might be resolved with minimal cost or even free data recovery software. In contrast, physical damage or severe data corruption can incur substantial expenses. Before committing to any repairs, it’s wise to obtain quotes from reputable data recovery specialists and weigh the cost against the value of the data you stand to recover. Sometimes, prevention and regular backups are more cost-effective than attempting costly repairs.

I Dropped My External Hard Drive and Now It Makes a Clicking Noise

The dreaded clicking noise after dropping your external hard drive is a clear sign of trouble. It often indicates physical damage to the drive’s internal components, particularly the read/write heads. Continuing to use the drive in this state can worsen the damage and lead to data loss. The best course of action is to immediately power it off and refrain from any DIY attempts to fix it. Contact a professional data recovery service, as they have the expertise and specialized equipment to handle such situations. Remember that data recovery becomes more challenging and costly the longer you delay, so act promptly to maximize your chances of retrieving your data.

External Hard Drive Corrupted and Unreadable Fix

Encountering a corrupted and unreadable external hard drive can be distressing, but there are steps you can take to address the issue. Start by checking the drive’s connections, cables, and ports to ensure they are functioning correctly. If it’s a software problem, you can attempt to repair the drive using built-in Windows or Mac tools. For more severe corruption, data recovery software might help retrieve your files. However, exercise caution and avoid overwriting data during the recovery process. If these DIY methods fail, consult a professional data recovery service. Remember that prevention, such as regular backups and safe ejection practices, is key to avoiding such issues in the first place.


In this comprehensive guide, we’ve covered everything you need to know about fixing a broken external hard drive. From understanding common issues to taking preliminary steps and exploring DIY repair options, you now have the knowledge to tackle most problems that may arise. Remember that data is irreplaceable, so always prioritize data backup and seek professional help when needed. By following our advice and taking preventive measures, you can ensure your external hard drive remains a reliable companion for your data storage needs.