How to Fix External Hard Drive I/O Error

I/O stands for Input/ Output. In the case of external hard drives, I/O means read/ write. An I/O error is thus an issue with the external hard drive that stops Windows from reading its contents or writing on it. In other words, I/O error means that Windows isn’t able to transfer data to and from the external hard drive.

When an I/O error occurs, it indicates that the external hard drive has encountered a serious problem and has become inaccessible for file transfer. All of the files and data stored on the external hard drive are at risk of being lost permanently when Windows starts displaying an I/O error.

Part 1: How to fix External Hard Drive I/O Error

Solution 1: Ensure the Correctness of the Cable Connections

Check the cable that is being used for connecting the external hard drive to the PC and ensure that it is working properly. The drive won’t function as it should if the cable isn’t properly attached. Try using a spare cable and test it by connecting it to a different USB port.

Note: Only a trained professional should attempt to replace the cables of an internal drive of a PC. The reason for this is that you can cause serious damage to the internal parts of the disk if you do this task incorrectly. Thus, cables located inside a portable computer or laptop shouldn’t be changed by ordinary computer users.

If this solution works then your work is done. If it didn’t fix external hard drive I/O error then move on to solution 2.

Solution 2: Try Clean Booting Your PC

Check if a driver or program is clashing with the external hard drive by performing a clean boot of the PC. If your issue gets resolved after a clean boot, you might have an incompatible driver or program on your system.

If this solution works then your work is done. If it didn’t fix external hard drive I/O error then move on to solution 3.

Solution 3: Alter the Drive’s Transfer Mode in IDE Channel Properties

Windows won’t be able to transfer data between the PC and the external drive if the drive’s transfer mode is incorrect or has been changed. Correcting the transfer mode of the drive can fix this issue. You need to follow the below-mentioned step in order to perform this task.

Step 1. Press the Start button

Step 2. Right-click the icon labeled My Computer

Step 3. In the menu that appears, choose the Manage option

Step 4. Choose Device Manager option in the window labeled Computer Management

Step 5. Expand the option IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers. You will see a list containing various IDE ATA/ATAPI channels for your PC

Step 6. Press the Properties option after right-clicking the channel that the external drive is connected to. The channel that is usually used for external hard drives is Secondary IDE Channel

Step 7. Choose PIO Only option in the box labeled Transfer Mode for the device representing your external hard drive on the tab labeled Advanced Settings. Usually, this is Device 0. Close all windows after clicking OK button

Step 8. Check the drive

Warning: Primary ID Channel, Device 0 is used for system disk so don’t change that. Your PC won’t even work if you end up making any change to the settings of this transfer mode.

The drive might not be present there if changing the secondary IDE channel device 0’s transfer mode doesn’t fix your issue. If available, try to change back the transfer mode to DMA using the same process. After that, perform steps 1 to 6 for changing the IDE devices’ transfer mode in the below-mentioned order until the problem is fixed:

1. Primary IDE channel, device 1

2. Secondary IDE channel, device 1

Do remember to reboot your PC after changing your settings to let the system identify the alterations that have been made. Examine the settings after the restart to ensure that they have taken effect. Your external hard drive will start working correctly if the settings are correct.

The display of the I/O error means that the external hard drive can lose all of the data that is present on it. If you have important files stored on your external hard drive then you need to recover data from external hard drive before the data loss becomes permanent. While the above-mentioned methods can fix external hard drive I/O error but they can’t retrieve the data from it.

Part 2: How to Recover Data from External Hard Drive

If you want to perform recovery of data from external hard drive then you will have to use a hard drive data recovery tool. The internet is fraught with various such tools that give you the opportunity to fix external hard drive I/O error and can retrieve data from external hard drives too. However, the only trustworthy software available out there for data recovery is Recoverit Data Recovery software.

hard drive data recovery

Recoverit - The Best External Hard Drive Recovery Software

  • Recover lost or deleted files, photos, audio, music, emails from any storage device effectively, safely and completely.
  • Supports data recovery from recycle bin, hard drive, memory card, flash drive, digital camera and camcorders.
  • Supports to recover data for sudden deletion, formatting, lost partition, virus attack, system crash under different situations.

The following is an instruction manual that describes the process of how to recover data from external hard drive using Recoverit Data Recovery software.

Step 1 Launch Recoverit hard drive recovery software. Please select "External Devices Recovery" mode to get started.

external hard drive recovery

Step 2 Make sure your external device has connected to the computer. Select it and click "Start" to next.

recover lost data from hard drive

Step 3 Recoverit data recovery will start a quick scan. If quick scan can't find out your lost data, you can go to deep scan with "All-around Recovery" which will deeply search your hard drive.

deep scan hard drive

Step 4 After deep scan, you can preview the recovered file from hard drive.

recover files from hard drive

I/O external hard drive errors can prove to be catastrophic if they are not dealt with quickly. You can use a number of methods to fix external hard drive I/O error. In order to recover data from an external hard drive, you will have to utilize a third-party tool like Recoverit data recovery software.

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