How can I recover data from an external hard drive?

by on September 20, 2011

Q: Are there any “How To” instructions to recover data from an external HD.
I work for a church ‘s Television Ministry and one of our 2TB external became defective.
We stored a lot of important video footage on it, and it became defective before we had a chance to back it up.
I received quotes from professionals to recover the data, but we cannot afford the fee of $500 or $1200.
Is there something I can try in-house to recover the data?
Thank you for your help in advance!

5 Responses to “How can I recover data from an external hard drive?”

    What do you mean by defective? Are you able to access the drive at all? Does it make clicking noises or something like that?


    No I cannot access the drive, and yes it is making clicking noise when first turned on.


    Here are some things you can try.

    1. Remove the drive from the external case and flip it over. You should see a green circuit board. Look at it for signs of burns or damage. Also smell it to see if it smells like burnt plastic. If so you may be able to replace this circuit board for yourself. See this youtube video:

    Also, on that video you’ll notice that the hard drive he is working on has a silver circle on the side of it. This is a sticker. Remove it in a clean environment and examine the inside of the sticker. If there is a lot of debris attached to the sticker, your drive may have suffered a head crash and has major physical damage. If so the data is likely not recoverable at all.


    Thank you very much for the advice.
    I did swap the board on the HD with another identical board.
    Now the computers “dings” when I plug in the drive.
    But it does not show up as a drive in My Computer.
    When I open Disk Management, the drive is there and a message comes up stating that “You must initialize a disk before Logical Disk Manager can access it”
    No matter which option I choose MBR or GPT — I get the “Incorrect Function” response.
    What can I do, if anything to have the computer recognize and read it?
    Thank you again very much for your help!



    The Incorrect function message likely means the drive still has internal damage. You’ll need to consult with a professional as I don’t think there is much else you’ll be able to try yourself.