External Drive Recovery

Lost data on your external hard drive? Don't panic. Try our easy recipe to recover your files.

Difficulty: Level 1 (easy peasy)

Hands On Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 60 minutes for a 250GB drive Total Time: 70 minutes


  • 1 external drive with data you need to recover
  • 1 PC - laptop or desktop
  • ReclaiMe File Recovery software


  1. Connect the external hard drive to a PC
  1. If you are offered to format the external drive, click Cancel.
  1. Download, install, and launch ReclaiMe File Recovery.
  1. Select the drive and click Start.

Typically, your device is listed under the USB devices section.

If you do not see your drive in ReclaiMe, probably there are some problems either with USB shell or hard drive itself. Anyway, the first thing to try is to remove the shell and connect the drive to a PC.

  1. Preview several recovered files, preferably photos.
  1. Buy the license key and activate the software.
  1. Select the top-level folder and click Save. Point to some location on the PC, NOT on the drive you are recovering from.

Expert tips

  • If you recover data from a large external disk (the size is about 1TB and larger), it is better to do the recovery on a desktop PC, for a small external drive a laptop is also OK.
  • Fairly often you can see some recovered files in RAW folder to which ReclaiMe File Recovery puts files and fragments which cannot be placed to the original folder tree. Typically, most of the files in RAW folder are of low quality; however, you still look through it just in case something important is there.
  • Before recovering data from an external hard drive you should think about additional storage to copy the recovered data to. You need free space at least equal to the size of data you need to recover.
  • If ReclaiMe File Recovery shows the message that your drive has dropped offline, it means that there are some problems either with USB connection or hard drive itself. If this happens often, you should consider connecting the drive directly to a SATA port of the motherboard because USB tends to get stuck on bad sectors while SATA just skips them.
  • If you suspect the mechanical damage to the drive like clicking sound, you should clone the drive first and then do the recovery on the clone.
  • Often external hard drives are encrypted with special software. If you know the encryption key, file recovery from an encrypted hard drive is the same as in case of a regular hard drive. However, if the encrypted key is lost or you cannot remember it, you will not be able to get access to the data stored on the disk. Please, refer to the External Drive Recovery site to get more information about specifics of data recovery from encrypted hard drives.
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