How to Recover Data From a USB Hard Drive

With the amount of media that people like to carry around with them these days, a USB hard disk has become a nearly essential piece of equipment for computer users. However, because these kinds of disks are carried around so much and subjected to so much use, they are vulnerable to breakdown, which can lead to an irretrievable loss of mountains of data. But with the proper techniques, it is possible to retrieve precious data from a broken USB hard drive provided It is still being detected by your computer.

First Thing First: Determine the Cause

If you suddenly find your hard drive malfunctioning, it may be for reasons that will fall under two categories: mechanical or logical disk failure. Mechanical failure is happens because of wear and tear that can be brought about by any number of things. When trying to figure out the cause of your hard drive’s failure, try to remember whether you have recently dropped, hit, shaken, wet or heated (overused, left in a car on a hot day, etc.) it. If you have, then the problem is probably mechanical. If not, then it’s possible that you’re looking at a logical disk failure. You’ll know this is the case if your computer recognizes the hard drive but simply cannot read the files. You should be relieved because recovering your data will be much easier than if your drive had failed mechanically.

What to Do in Case of Mechanical Failure

If you plug your hard drive into your computer through the USB port and your computer doesn’t read it, don’t panic just yet! Stay calm, and try attaching your drive internally, like a regular hard drive. If the computer is then able to read the drive, then your data should be intact. All you need to do, then, is transfer your files to a backup and then have your hardware repaired.

But if your computer can’t read the drive even when it is internally connected, then you should turn to professional data recovery services (unless you happen to be experienced in this kind of thing, in which case you wouldn’t be reading this article).

What to Do in Case of Logical Failure

An example of logical disk failure is when the Master File Table or MFT in Windows has been corrupted. In this case, your disk still retains your data, but is unable to properly access it. If this is the case, then follow these steps to recover your files:

Don’t load any more data. This may seem obvious, but is nevertheless important to say. You might be tempted to just accept the “loss” of the files and start using your hard drive again without fixing it, but this will only lead to more problems for you.
Prepare another hard drive. You will use this to store your recovered files.
Purchase or download for free any reliable data recovery software. Normally, this will get the job done. All you need to do is, scan your USB hard drive for deleted files and the software will show you a lit of files you’ve deleted before. You just need to select those files and start the recovery process.

If you’ve done all this, and are still unable to recover your files satisfactorily, then you should think about availing of professional services.