How to recover data from an external hard drive

In this guide we will tell you how to recover information from an external hard drive with Recuva, a very effective free application.

If you have lost important data on an external hard drive, don’t worry. There are solutions to recover your files. In this article we will explain how to recover information from an external hard drive in a simple and effective way , without having to be a computer expert. Read on to find out the steps you must follow to recover your files in less than you imagine.

Index of contents

  • Is it possible to recover data from an external hard drive?
  • Recover data from an external hard drive with Recuva
    • Install Recuva
    • Choose the file type
    • Specify a location
    • Select the type of search
    • recover your files

Is it possible to recover data from an external hard drive?

Before proceeding, it is crucial that we make a clarification. To know what are the real possibilities you have when it comes to recovering your files , it is necessary to distinguish between a permanent deletion or one that is not.

The deletion is permanent in the following cases:

  • An erasing tool has been used. These programs are responsible for doing a complete cleaning on the hard drive, formatting it several times and copying large blocks of files to replace the previous ones. We are talking about software designed to protect the privacy of users.
  • The hard drive or SSD is irreversibly damaged. When the storage device has suffered a mishap or has been expressly disabled, it is quite difficult to recover information.
  • Files have been overwritten. In the event that a long time has passed since you deleted the file, there is less chance of recovering it. Because? Mainly, because the most recent data has surely taken its place.

But what if you have sent the file to the recycle bin and then emptied it? In that case, the file has not yet been completely removed from disk . Rather, it has been marked in such a way that the file system can substitute another one when necessary. The space it occupies is free, but the information is still there.

This applies even when you format the drive . After running this process, many of the files on the drive can still be recovered.

Recover data from an external hard drive with Recuva

Recuva is a free application that allows you to recover data from an external hard drive. Of course, it is not infallible and it does not always meet its objective. Now, if it’s not long since you deleted the file or directory, you have a good chance of restoring it thanks to this tool.

Install Recuva

Having made the appropriate presentations, it is time to explain how to install Recuva . These are the steps:

  1. Access the Recuva website.
  2. There, choose the version you prefer. With the free version you will have more than enough to recover files from an external hard drive.
  3. Download the corresponding file by clicking on Download.
  4. Find the folder where the file was downloaded, usually called “Downloads.”
  5. Run the EXE file to start the installation.
  6. Once installed, you will be able to use Recuva to recover your lost files.

Choose the file type

Recuva comes in the form of a wizard. Each step will allow you to configure the scanning of deleted files to the millimeter.

The first step is to choose the type of file you are looking for. These are Recuva’s search filters:

  • All files: Locate all recoverable deleted files.
  • Pictures. Browse the drive to locate deleted images in formats like JPG, PNG, or GIF.
  • Music. Find deleted sound files with the extension MP3, WAV, ACC and others.
  • documents. Search for recoverable deleted documents. The usual formats are DOCX, PDF or XLSX.
  • Video. Find recoverable deleted video files in formats like MKV or MP4.
  • compressed. Locate compressed files, such as ZIP or RAR.
  • emails. Examine deleted emails in specific email clients, such as Outlook or Thunderbird.

Although the All files option is generic, we recommend that you check the most appropriate option depending on the format of the files you have lost. This way you will avoid having a list of deleted files that is too long to process easily.

Specify a location

Recuva allows you to search for deleted files in all these places:

  • I’m not sure. Default option that searches the entire storage, useful if you are not sure of the location of the file.
  • On my media card or iPod. Check this box to search for recoverable deleted files on external storage, memory cards, or iPod.
  • In My Documents– Search for recoverable deleted files in the Windows “My Documents” folder.
  • In the Recycle Bin– Search for recoverable deleted files in the Recycle Bin.
  • In a specific location– Search for recoverable deleted files in a specific location that you can select using the Browse button .
  • On a CD / DVD– Option to search for recoverable deleted files on CD or DVD. This is generally used on rewritable discs.

We recommend reading our two guides:

  • Best hard drives on the market
  • Best SSDs on the market

Since we are talking about recovering deleted files from an external hard drive, the most convenient option is In a specific location . It is the only one that will allow you to choose a unit from the file explorer. You can also use On my media card or iPod .

Select the type of search

On the next wizard screen you can choose between two types of search:

  • Deep Scanor deep search. The time to complete it is long, but it increases the chances of recovering files from an external hard drive. You must check  Enable Deep Scan to enable it.
  • normal. Shallow search that runs in less time. It does not provide as many chances of finding the file.

Keep in mind that you can do a normal search first, and then a deeper one. If with the first one you manage to restore the file in question, you will have gained some time.

recover your files

When you’re done parameterizing Recuva’s search, it’s time to wait. At the end of the process, all the recoverable files are displayed in a list. Those that are in green are those that are in good condition. Those marked in yellow and red are corrupted in part or in full.

The last step is to select all the files you want to recover and save them to another location.

Have you managed to recover files from an external hard drive with Recuva? Or do you prefer to use other applications to recover documents or videos ? Leave us your comments a little below. We read you!


by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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