Dead external disk: how to recover data

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External disks are widely used to provide extended storage capacity for computers. After all, a single external drive can store several terabytes of valuable data.

So, they’re a great option for storing photos, videos or other types of files that you don’t want to keep on your PC’s main disk.

Furthermore, the external drive also makes it easier to share data with friends and colleagues.

Even with a lot of care, external hard disks are unfortunately not immune to malfunctions – which can lead to you ending up with a dead disk.

There are a variety of problems that can result in this. Some of them can be resolved and you can recover the lost information.

In our article today, discover the signs that your hard disk is dying, how to repair and fix a drive in this state and how to recover the data stored on it.

How do I know if my hard disk is dying?

The most common signs that your external disk is about to die are an overheated computer, strange noises (such as clicking or buzzing) and data or file corruption.

Symptoms of external disk death can quickly lead to major problems, so you should act immediately to save your files and prevent any data from being lost.

Strange noises

When you hear strange noises coming from your external disk, you are in trouble.

A repetitive sound known as a death click is caused by the head trying to record data, failing, returning to its starting position and trying again and again.

Grinding or squealing noises indicate that parts of the hardware, such as the bearings or spindle motor, are failing.

Computer breaks

If you notice that your system is starting to slow down or crash a lot when you connect your drive, it could be an early warning of the death of your external disk.

This behavior usually occurs when you are accessing the drive, such as when starting programs, searching for files and saving documents, but it can also be a general slowdown.

Disk errors and data loss

Another revealing error that can indicate that your external disk is dying are disk errors and recurring cases of data loss.

Furthermore, if you notice that corrupted files are becoming a routine problem, this could also be a sign of your drive’s imminent death.

The computer stops recognizing the drive

The computer stops recognizing the drive

If your PC is having trouble recognizing your drive when you plug it in, this could also indicate that your external disk is about to die.

Step 1: How to repair and fix the disk that died?

To solve the problem of a dead external disk, you may need to go through two stages: repairing and fixing the drive and, if necessary, recovering the data.

In the first step, you can try any of the following alternatives to repair and fix the dead external disk.

Force dead external disk to appear in Disk Manager

There is a way to force the dead disk to appear in Disk Manager and try to restore it. To do this, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to “Control Panel”, click on “Administrative Tools”, then “Computer Manager”
  2. Then go to “Repository” and select “Disk Manager”.

If you need to access your data immediately, you can proceed to the next step to recover the data from your external disk.

But if you just want to make your device appear so you can continue using it, follow the steps below to change the letter and path of your drive:

  1. Locate your external disk, right-click and select “Change drive letter and path…”;
  2. Now assign a path and letter to the drive (which is not being used by another disk) and mark the partition as active;
  3. Click “ok” and restart your PC to access your external disk.

Make dead external disk appear by uninstalling drivers

For the dead external disk to appear, you can uninstall its drivers. To do this:

  1. Go to “Start”, type devmgmt.msc and press “Enter”;
  2. In the “Device Manager”, expand “USB Drivers” and see if there are any devices marked as unrecognized;
  3. If your external drive is marked as unrecognized, go to the “Drivers” tab and delete (or uninstall) the driver;
  4. Once this is done, check that the external disk appears in “My Computer/My PC”;
  5. If it doesn’t appear, restart your computer;
  6. Now, if it has appeared but then disappeared, repeat the steps above and then go to “Disk Manager”, change the drive letter and click on “Change”. Choose the new drive letter and click “ok”. Finally, the external disk can be read and detected.

Reinstall the USB controller to fix the dead external hard disk

Another alternative you can use to repair and fix your dead external disk is to reinstall the USB driver.

To do this, follow the steps below:

  1. Type devmgmt.msc in the “Start” menu and press “Enter”
  2. In “Device Manager”, expand “USB Controllers”
  3. Then right-click on USB Root Hub, then “Properties” and then “Power Manager”. Uncheck “The computer may turn off the device to save power…”.

To try again, do this for each USB Root Hub in the list and restart. Your PC will then be able to read your external disk again.

Step 2: Recover data and files from a dead external disk

Now that you have fixed and repaired your dead external disk, if you are still having problems accessing or reading your files and data saved on the drive, you can try two alternatives:

  1. Using software: this will require technical knowledge and familiarity with how to carry out this type of process – with no guarantee of success, it’s an option that could make the situation worse;
  2. Using a professional recovery service: a safer alternative that guarantees the integrity of your device.

If you decide to take a chance on the first alternative, follow the steps below after choosing one of these data recovery programs:

Step 1 – Select the external disk

Once you have installed the recovery software, open it and select your external disk from which you want to recover your data. Then start the scan.

Step 2 -Start the scan

The software will start scanning the entire external disk, looking for lost data. In the meantime, you will see a list of this data appearing on the system screen.

Step 3 – Recover data

At the end of the scan, you can analyze and select the data you want to recover. Once this is done, just select a safe place to store the files after recovery.


A dead external disk is a drive that has physically stopped working.

You can tell that your external hard drive is about to die when you hear strange noises coming from your PC, there are constant breaks, recurring disk errors and data loss and/or when your computer stops recognizing the drive.

When this happens, there are a few ways to try to repair and fix the drive. These include forcing the dead external disk to appear in Disk Manager.

Other ways to solve the problem are to uninstall drivers to make the external disk reappear and/or reinstall the USB controller.

If, after using any of these alternatives, your external disk is working again but you can’t access your data, you will need to recover your files and documents.

To do this, you can use data recovery software – which, as well as being unsafe and potentially making the situation worse, requires technical expertise.

Therefore, the safest alternative for recovering your data is to turn to a specialized recovery service – like the one we offer here at Bot!

By entrusting your external disk to our team, you ensure that your device will be taken care of by highly trained professionals who will recover your data quickly, without compromising the integrity of your drive.

Furthermore, you don’t have to leave home to send us your drive: we can collect your external disk from any address in Portugal.

In addition, we can analyze and propose a quote for recovering your data within 48 hours!

Trust those with more than a decade of tradition and more than 100,000 successfully resolved cases: start your recovery with us now!


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