How To Recover Data From An External Hard Drive

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Here I will show you a way to recover data from an external hard drive. External hard drives come in a few different types. The two types from which we can recover data at home are the usual 3.5 or 2.5-inch hard drives enclosed with a case that has a SATA or PATA to USB adapter. If the adapter fails a computer will not recognize the hard drive, but the hard drive will be still operational. Also, there can be a situation when the hard drive inside fails to load its firmware and does not talk to the interface. However, we can still succeed by taking it out and using FileScavenger file recovery software.

Let’s take the enclosure apart. I will take apart a Freecom external hard drive.


First of all we need to remove the rubber pads that are underneath the case. Depending on the model there could be no pads but just some screws.

After we have removed the pads and unscrewed a few screws we can slide it out.

There will be a metal plate that we need to lift up.

There can be some differences in the construction of the enclosure, but almost always the hard drive interface and the hard drive are enclosed in a metal casing which we need to take apart. It is usually not difficult.

Now we see the hard drive, the interface electronics and cables.

Carefully detach the wide cable and then the power cable (red, black and yellow wires). If following the correct procedure we should first detach the power cable and then just deal with the data cable (the wide cable).

Detaching the data cable.

Detaching the power cable.

I will get a good old SATA/ PATA to USB adapter. You can get one from eBay for a tenner I think. However, be careful with power cables as they are made in a hurry and sometimes come apart easily.

First connect the interface and then connect the power.

Now this setup is ready for data transfer. In case the computer can’t see the hard drive I recommend using FileScavenger.

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