External HDD – Recover & Restore All Data

Rollins Duke   
Published: May 13th, 2024 • 4 Min Read

A Practical Scenario

Some weeks back, when a user was on a holiday in another town, she clicked many pictures there. Now, just about a week ago, her close friends asked her to show those pictures. But, to her aghast, the HDD was inaccessible and her system was not able to read any of the data stored on that drive. The system prompted a message suggesting to format the external HDD in order to reuse it again. These and many such common scenarios that make us search for the viable options for external HDD recovery.

Symptoms of External HDD Failure

  1. HDD is showing “Not Initialized” in the Windows Disk Management
  2. External hard drive is not spinning (which can be due to no power availability)
  3. Drive is extremely hot
  4. An anomalous ticking noise while the external HDD is reading the data
  5. A loud grinding or clicking noise

Let Us See These in Detail Now…

  1. Showing as “Not Initialized” in the MS Windows Disk Management: Microsoft Windows > Disk Management actually is responsible for listing all the external/physical data disk drives that are being recognized by the PC and also lists the ways in which the computer space is allocated on those external or physical disk drives. An error stating “not initialized” is a form of signal of some basic communication error. More often than not, a user’s attempt of initializing the hardware failed disk drive leads to low level Input/Output (“I/O”) error
  2. HDD Not Spinning: If a correct drive is totally not spinning (or if it is absolutely silent) then this can be a sure signal of a problem with the PCB (Printed Circuit Board) of the hard drive, which is responsible to hold all the electronics that control the operations and the communications of the drive with the PC system. Replacing the PCB should be done only in the professional supervision.
  3. Extremely Hot Drive: Just as with any other mechanized moving piece, the friction while in motion produces heat. A problem (physical) can thus create excessive heat leading to an extremely hot drive.
  4. Ticking Noise: While the disk reads the data, sometimes, there is such circumstance, a failed hard disk drive can cause an unusual ticking noise. This noise can sometimes be a warning sign for the bad sectors in the disk, which means the magnetic storage on that particular HDD part might have become degraded. This type of noise is usually produced by the actuator arm which keeps on returning to the same place again and again on multiple disk reading attempts.
  5. Loud Grinding or Clicking Noise: This is somewhat graver error (mechanical). This is a severe problem as it indicates the major mechanical malfunction. Continuous use of the drive even after the noise can even put the disk platters (which contain data) at a higher risk of permanent data damage which would then be irreversible. The disk drive must be closed without delay and should be powered down instantly.

Some Other Problems Encountered with External HDD

  • External HDD data getting damaged or corrupted abruptly
  • Hard drive file system has become “RAW”
  • Warning: “not formatted, do you want to format it now”
  • The external hard drive is not recognized by the system
  • Reformatted the drive mistakenly
  • Other disk problems/errors which make the data inaccessible

External HDD Recovery Solution

It is very much possible to run an HDD data recovery software successfully on a degrading external drive and to restore data from that failed drive. However, careful consideration must be given on the recovery techniques that will be employed. It might also be sensible to try and obtain a disk image that is “sector by sector” of the problem media. You must also keep in mind that external HDD recovery must be performed in a ‘clean room’ for avoiding further issues that can be caused by dust particles. It always takes specialist knowledge and equipment for reading the platters of a damaged external drive. A professional software from a reputable company is thus recommended.