Have you tried accessing the files on your external hard drive and couldn't open them, or have you seen a recurring error message? Your external hard drive could be corrupted.

Can an external hard drive be repaired?

This question can puzzle you. But here, you can get the answer. This article will walk you through how to fix an external hard drive and recover data from corrupted external hard disk. You'll learn to check if your hard disk is corrupted and what types of corruption exist and explore a step-by-step guide on external hard drive repair and data recovery.

In this article
    1. When Should You Leave External Disk Repair to a Professional?
    1. Initiate External Hard Disk Repair From Command Prompt
    2. Repair an External Hard Drive Using the Error Checking Tool
    3. Update Corrupted/Outdated Driver in Device Manager
    4. Assign or Change the Drive Letter

Part 1: Check if Your External Hard Drive Is Corrupted

is my external hard drive corrupted

If your external hard drive is malfunctioning, you should check whether it's corrupted, so how can you do that? There are several ways to check if your external hard disk is corrupted. First, you can check the symptoms. If your external hard disk is showing any of the following symptoms, it's probably corrupted:

  • ⏹ Frequent freezes or crashes;
  • 🐌 External hard drive suddenly becomes extremely slow;
  • ❗ Recurring error messages;
  • 🚫 Inability to access your external hard drive;
  • 🤦 Data loss.

If you've noticed any or all of the symptoms above, your external hard drive is most likely corrupted. However, if you're unsure, you can check with Disk Management. Follow these steps to check if your external hard drive is corrupted:

  1. Press Windows + X and select Disk Management from the list.
  2. Find your external hard drive in Disk Management, right-click on it, and go to Properties.
    disk management check corrupted external disk
  3. Go to the General section and find the File System option. Your external hard disk is corrupted if the File System format is set to RAW.

Part 2: Common Types of External Hard Drive Corruption

Once you confirm your external hard drive is corrupted, you must repair it. However, you can't repair an external hard drive if you don't know what the problem is. You'll first need to determine the type of external hard drive corruption, and then you can repair it accordingly. Look at the table for the common corruption problems, symptoms, and solutions.

Problems Symptoms Solutions
Inaccessible external hard drive/corrupt partition/damaged boot sector
  • Error messages
  • Denied access
  • Incorrect parameter
  • Partition not showing up in Windows Explorer
  • The RAW format in Disk Management
  • Loss of functionality
The external hard drive's file system is corrupted
Physically damaged external hard drive
  • Strange clicking or beeping noises
  • Drive not booting
External hard drive data loss Files randomly disappearing and reappearing

When Should You Leave External Disk Repair to a Professional?

Sometimes you must contact a professional to help repair your corrupted external hard drive. Firstly, you must contact professional services when your external hard disk is physically damaged. There's little you can do about it on your own, so find a reliable, professional external hard drive repair service near you to help you.

Moreover, if you've tried recovering your lost external hard disk data and weren't successful, you shouldn't lose hope. You can contact a professional and explain the situation. If it's possible, they'll help you recover your lost data.

Part 3: How To Recover Corrupted External Hard Disk Data

Before trying to fix your external hard drive, it's essential to focus on backing up your data first. If you don't have backups, the next step is to recover files from the corrupted drive. While the process might seem complicated, retrieving lost data from the external hard disk can be quite straightforward using a data recovery software.

note
Note: If your external hard drive is corrupted and you're facing data loss, stop using the drive immediately. Continuing to use the external HDD could lead to new data overwriting your lost files, greatly lowering your chances of recovery.

The most efficient way to restore lost files is by using data recovery software. However, if that doesn't work, you can always seek help from a professional data recovery service.

Wondershare Recoverit is a highly effective hard drive data recovery tool that can recover any lost files from internal and external drives, crashed computers, NAS and Linux systems, etc. Besides disk corruption, Wondershare Recoverit can save you from accidental deletion, system crashes, formatting, partition loss, virus attacks, etc.

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Therefore, if you want to recover data from a corrupted external hard drive quickly and safely, follow these steps:

  1. Connect your corrupted external hard disk to your PC and make sure it's recognized.
  2. Open Wondershare Recoverit, select your corrupted external hard disk in the Hard Drives and Locations section, and click Scan.
    select external hdd in wondershare recoverit
  3. The scan of your external hard disk will automatically start. You can monitor the scanning process on the screen.
    scan corrupted external hard disk data
  4. When the scanning is finished, preview the found files. If you're satisfied with the files or folders, select the ones you want to restore and click Recover.
    recover corrupted files from external hard drive
Free Download
Free Download

Part 4: How To Repair a Corrupted External Hard Drive Without Formatting

Now that you've established your external hard drive is corrupted and backed up your data, it's time to try to fix it. We've prepared the four most effortless and successful ways to repair corrupted external hard disk without formatting, so follow these four methods to fix your corrupted external hard drive.

Way 1. Initiate External Hard Disk Repair From Command Prompt

Your external hard drive can be repaired through the Command Prompt or CMD. Command Prompt can help you scan and fix a corrupted external hard drive quickly and efficiently. However, the lack of a graphic interface can be hard to navigate independently.

Follow these steps to fix corrupted external hard disks using CMD:

  1. Press the Windows key and search for CMD.
  2. Select Command Prompt and click Run as administrator.
    run command prompt on windows
  3. This will open the command window. Type in the following command: chkdsk *: /f (replace * with the drive letter assigned to your external hard disk)
    fix corrupted external hard drive using cmd

chkdsk * - "check disk" command to scan your external hard disk and detect problems.

/f - command to fix errors on your corrupted external hard drive

Way 2. Repair an External Hard Drive Using the Error Checking Tool

You can find an error-checking tool built-in on Windows devices. This utility allows you to scan for bad sectors and system errors. Windows error-checking utility essentially does the same as CMD but with an interface, so it could be easier to use it.

Follow these steps to repair your corrupted external hard disk using Windows Error Checker:

  1. Connect your corrupted external hard drive to your computer.
  2. Open This PC and make sure your external hard disk is connected and recognized.
  3. Right-click on your external hard disk and select Properties.
    properties of external hard disk
  4. Then, go to the Tool section and click Check under Error Checking.
    check for errors on external hdd
  5. Step 5: The error-checking utility will scan your corrupted external hard drive for errors.
    scanning corrupted external hard drive
  6. When done, the pop-up message will inform you that the tool found some errors. Click Repair Drive to fix your corrupted external hard drive.
    repair corrupted external hard drive

Way 3. Update Corrupted/Outdated Driver in Device Manager

Your drivers get automatically updated by Windows 10 or 11. They need to be up to date to work correctly. If they are outdated, it can lead to the loss of functionality, system instability, or hardware damage. Sometimes you must manually update your corrupted driver, which could be outdated. You can fix the corrupted external hard drive by updating it in Device Manager.

Follow these steps to update your corrupted driver in Device Manager:

  1. Open the Run dialogue box by pressing Windows + R.
  2. Type devmgmt.msc into the box and click OK.
    type text in run dialogue box
  3. Check the driver list and search for the one with a yellow "?" sign. That's your corrupted external hard drive.
  4. Right-click on it and select Update driver.
    update driver in device manager
  5. Windows will automatically install the available updates on your driver and repair it.

Way 4. Assign or Change the Drive Letter

Sometimes, a missing or conflicting drive letter can cause the external hard drive to become corrupted and adjusting the drive letter can help restore access to your data. By following the steps outlined below, you can easily assign a new drive letter to your external hard drive and potentially resolve the problem, thereby recovering your valuable files and data.

  1. Connect your corrupted external hard drive to your computer.
  2. Press Windows key + X and select Disk Management.
  3. Find your external hard drive in the list and right-click on it. Noe, select Change Drive Letter and Paths.
    change drive letter and paths
  4. Select the drive letter and click on Change. If there isn't a drive letter, click Add instead.
    add or change the drive letter
  5. Assign a new drive letter and click OK.

Part 5: How To Fix a Corrupted External Hard Drive With Formatting

format corrupted external hard drive

Another efficient method to fix your corrupted external hard drive is formatting. Formatting your hard drive erases everything from it and allows you to use it as brand new. It usually fixes your corrupted external hard drives as it deletes the data on them and the errors. However, we suggest you recover and back up your external hard drive data first to avoid losing it.

There are two types of formatting – Quick and Full Format. Quick Format erases data by creating a new File Allocation Table (FAT) over the old one and letting you overwrite the old data with new ones. If you don't overwrite old data, you can quickly recover it after the Quick Format of your corrupted external hard drive.

Full Format wipes your external hard drive clean and replaces old data with zeros. That means you can't recover lost data after the Full Format – we suggest you perform Quick Format first. Then, if that doesn't fix your corrupted external hard disk, you can Full Format it as a last resort.

Follow these steps to fix a corrupted external hard disk with formatting:

  1. Press Windows + X and open Disk Management.
  2. Find your corrupted external hard drive. Right-click on it and select Format…
    format external hard disk in disk management
  3. Specify your file system and disk name first. Then, tick the Perform a quick format option and click OK. If the Quick Format doesn't fix your corrupted external HDD, repeat the steps and untick the Perform a quick format option.
    fix external hard drive by formatting

If you lose crucial data after formatting, don't worry. You can use Wondershare Recoverit to recover data from formatted external hard drive.

Free Download
Free Download

Part 6: How To Maintain a Healthy External Hard Drive

External hard disk corruption happens from time to time. You can't completely protect yourself from hard disk corruption. However, there are several things you can do to protect your external hard drive and make it last longer. Follow these tips, and you'll maintain a healthy external hard drive and avoid data loss:

  • Handle your external hard drive carefully: be gentle and careful not to drop it, as this may cause physical damage and necessitate dropped hard drive recovery Avoid roughly moving it and laying it down.
  • Don't keep it plugged in: unplug your external hard drive when you're not using it. Since electricity isn't constantly going through it, it'll last longer.
  • Store it properly: your external hard drive can get damaged if it gets in touch with moisture. Keep it in a cool, well-aired place.
  • Keep it dust free: if dust gets into the disk mechanism, it can damage it and cause failure. Make sure your external hard disk is free from dust as much as possible.
  • Avoid overheating it: the disk is spinning and heating when you're using it. Overheating can damage its components. If it starts overheating, disconnect it and let it cool.
  • Don't carry it with you: avoid carrying your external hard disk in your backpack. If it tumbles around, it can easily get damaged.

Conclusion

If you notice your external hard disk is showing error messages, overheating, or not responding, it's most likely corrupted. A corrupt external hard disk can lead to data loss. You need to fix it as soon as possible. You can fix it from the Command Prompt, with the Error Checking Utility, or in Device Manager.

Moreover, you can perform a Quick or Full Format of your corrupted external hard drive. You can use Wondershare Recoverit to easily recover lost files from a corrupted external HDD. If you want to avoid your external hard disk getting corrupted and extend its lifespan, follow the tips we gave you.

External Hard Drive Repair FAQs

  • Can a corrupted hard drive be repaired?
    The short answer is yes. A corrupted hard drive can be repaired. However, sometimes it can be a bit harder to do so. Always remember to stop using a corrupted external hard drive to avoid deleting and overwriting your data. You can use CMD, Error-Checker, or Device Manager on Windows and Disk Utility on Mac to fix your external hard drive.
  • How do I recover data from corrupted external hard drive?
    To recover data from a corrupted external hard drive, try Wondershare Recoverit, a reliable data recovery tool.
    1. Download and install Wondershare Recoverit from their official website.
    2. Connect the corrupted external hard drive to your computer.
    3. Open Recoverit and select the external hard drive from the External Devices section.
    4. Press Scan to begin scanning for lost files.
    5. After the scan, preview and select the files you want to recover.
    6. Click Recover and save the files to a new location.
  • How to repair a corrupted external hard drive without formatting?
    Even though formatting provides a clean slate and factory resets your external hard drive, you don't need to repair it like that. You can repair your corrupted external hard disk using all the methods mentioned above without formatting and deleting the data on your disk.
  • How much does it cost to get an external hard drive recovered?
    If you're using the methods mentioned above, fixing your corrupted external hard disk costs you nothing. However, if you're unsure of your ability to fix it or these methods aren't working, you can contact a professional service to repair it for you. If the recovery is more complicated, the prices can range from $100 to $300.
Sue Wayne
Sue Wayne Jan 27, 24
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