Recover files from a broken external hard drive

Hard Drive

An external hard drive is a handy way to backup your files. But what should you do if you have a broken hard drive?

Backing up is one of the most important things to do if you don’t want to lose your files. It is recommended to make multiple backups on different media such as external hard drives, and in the cloud if you prefer. But if you haven’t, and your external hard drive contains the only copies of important files, you have a problem when this drive breaks. How can you recover your files? Also read: How to clone a hard drive.

If you have access to your files, it’s a good idea to make a backup right now.

Strange noise

If the disc makes a strange noise, it is better to leave the disc completely alone so that no further damage is caused. Unfortunately in this case you will have to leave the file recovery to a professional company.

If the disk does not make a strange noise, you can sometimes do something yourself to retrieve your files. An external hard disk is really just an internal hard disk in a housing. It is possible that there is nothing wrong with the disk itself, but that there is a connection problem.


With a screwdriver you can carefully remove the disc from the housing. If you see that the cable has come loose from the connector, you can plug it back into the hard drive. Then check if the external hard drive works again.

If the cable is not loose, there may be a problem with the connectors on the housing. Remove the drive from the enclosure and plug it directly into the USB port of the computer with a SATA USB adapter.

SATA-to-USB cable
With a SATA-to-USB cable you can quickly connect your hard drive or SSD to your PC.


If you have access to your files, it’s a good idea to make a backup right now. Since there is nothing wrong with the disk itself, you can put it back in another housing, if you wish.

If you don’t see any files, there is a problem with the disk and you can try using recovery software to get your files back. If that does not work, it is time to engage a professional company.


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