Tips How To Recover External Hard Drive Data

It’s almost inevitable.

Who hasn’t had an external drive get knocked off  the table and fall to the floor and find themselves all of a sudden in need of emergency data recovery services?

What about when you put it in your bag, and set the bag down hard before you remember your external drive is in there? OOPS…

What’s the very first thing everyone does? Plug it in to see if it works….

This is the absolute worse thing anyone can do.

External hard drives are not indestructible. Quite contrary they are very susceptible to internal damage and failure.

USB external drives were not meant to be stood up.

They should always be set on their side when in use. A simple topple over can cause the read write heads to crash into the platter.

If your platters are damaged from this, your data will not be recoverable.

Common problems with USB hard drives

In the event your USB external drive is not recognized any more, fails, or falls you will experience a few common symptoms:

  1. Clicking noises
  2. Scraping noises
  3. Beeping noises
  4. No power
  5. Light blinks but computer doesn’t recognize it

All of these symptoms means there is something very seriously wrong with your drive.

When you need to recover files from hard drive failures with these symptoms, it requires a company experienced with all manufacturers of externals, and potentially a clean room.

IT companies and computer repair companies are not qualified to repair these drives, or even to accurately diagnose them. What they mostly do is exacerbate the damage to the point the files will not be recoverable.

USB External hard drives come in a few sizes

The most common sized external hard drives are 2.5 and 3.5. The drives are sealed in a an enclosure that has a printed circuit board that translates the native SATA connection to a USB connector.

It’s the same type of drive inside those cases as the one that is in your laptop or desktop computer.

Usually there are a few rubber grommets that are located around the screws of the actual hard drive that are supposed to give it some shock support. They fail miserably at this.

Is my data encrypted on my external hard disk?

Many manufacturers have automatic encryption built into the PCB board that has the USB connector on it. Without this board your data will not make sense if you remove it from the casing.encrypted-external-drive

Professional data recovery companies have tools that can decrypt this data without the board, but don;t think you are going to take the drive out and put it into another enclosure to get your data off.

You aren’t even supposed to be turning that drive on without having it inspected internally in a certified clean room.

Why can’t you turn your drive on to see if it still works after a fall?

There are moving parts inside the drive that can easily become misaligned or bent. Once this happens the heads will travel over the platters and scratch them destroying your chances of getting any data off the drive.

Scratched platters cannot be fixed.