How can I recover data from an external hard drive that was dropped and is no longer recognized in Windows?

Kate Hughes April 16, 2012

Someone dropped my Seagate external hard drive. Not sure which model exactly at the moment, as I do not have it with me.

It was off when it was dropped. It switches on, sounds normal, doesn’t tick, click, buzz, beep, nothing! Laptop and desktop can’t recognise it, even when the HDD was removed from the casing and connected directly to the motherboard – nothing.

I seriously doubt I could even find a company that does data recovery in Zimbabwe, so any tips on how I can at least try to get all my stuff off it would be awesome.

    August 20, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Hello, I would start by checking if the external drive is recognized by linux. Most times if the drive is not completely dead, you would be able to see/recover the data stored in it. You could try Knopix live cd:

    -- download the live cd from the following link:

    -- burn the image to a cd
    -- insert disk in tray and make sure to setup your system to start by cd/dvd
    -- see if it recognizes it. If it does, you could transfer the data on your drive to a different folder in your computer or burn it to cd/dvd.

    or you could use the ubuntu live cd and follow the same steps above:

    Keep in mind that you also have the option of copying the image and make a usb stick bootable. You would have to make sure to change boot order to start from usb. Hope it helps.

  2. priya
    August 3, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Hi I have a similar problem.
    I was transferring data from my laptop to the external hard drive (for backup) when the system hung! And after that, the external hard drive crashed or something ( i really dont know!!) and when I would connect it, a message would pop up asking me to format the disk. But since I wanted to retrieve all the data on the disk, I declined. And now the disk doesn't even get detected in My computer, all though it does show in Device Manager.
    It is very important data that I would like to retrieve ASAP, can anybody help me with this? Thanks!

    • susendeep dutta
      August 9, 2012 at 4:06 pm

      Go to Device management and uninstall the driver and restart your PC.After that allow your PC to detect your external HDD and install it or else if it requires manufacturers' drivers then install it.

      You can also use Easeus data recovery software to recover upto 1 GB data for free -

      Data recovery for more than 1 GB size requires upgrade.

  3. Frank Scanman
    July 9, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Before disassembling the usb drive first try Knoppix Live DVD. Make sure your BIOS is set to first boot your dvd drive than your harddisk. Download it here;

    Then there is Ultimate Boot CD is a collection of utilities for performing hardware maintenance. It does include several distributions, including INSERT and Recovery Is Possible. Download here

  4. Oron Joffe
    April 16, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    Kate, I've recently had to deal with several hard discs that match this description... Your description of the sound suggests that this is not a mechanical failure (which can only be repaired by a specialised data recovery company, if at all). It's more likely to be a fault with the controller, which is the printed circuit board attached to the bottom of the hard disc. It is easy to replace, though  there are a couple of things to watch out for.
    -  First, you must get an  ABSOLUTELY IDENTICAL controller to the one on your hard disc. Not only the model must be the same, but the part number and the firmware version must be the same too. To find a supplier, Try googling the part number and take it from there. In the UK, the price of a second hand controller ranges from next to nothing on eBay to about the price of a cheap hard disc from specialist suppliers.- The controller is attached with small Torx screws (usually size 5 or 7). Make sure you have the right size torx screwdrivers before you start, and when you work, make sure not to lose the screws while you are carrying out the operation.- The process itself is simple: remove screws, remove printed circuit board, fit new board, fasten screws, but you should have a look at a video showing the process on Youtube just to be 100% confident. Also, make sure to discharge any static electricity from yourself by grounding yourself (come back to us if you  need more info on this).Good luck!

  5. Mike
    April 16, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    A hard drive doesn't necessarily have to make abnormal sounds to be subject of an mechanical defect ~ ticking, clicking and beeping are just common indicators.

    Your first step should be to determine whether the hard drive is recognized at all:

    Connect the hard drive directly to SATA/IDE and boot into the BIOS. Common keys to enter the BIOS are "DEL", "F1", "F2", "F10" ~ it should be stated on the screen during boot.
    Navigate through the BIOS ~ within one of the menus you should find a list of all connected SATA/IDE devices.

    If it does show up in BIOS try a Linux system to see whether it's detected there.

    If it doesn't show up in the BIOS although it seems to be powered on (e.g. spinning) the most likely problem is a controller defect.Common recovery strategy is to get an identical drive of the same manufacturer, model and size - if possible even the same manufacturing cycle (year, month) and firmware. Then disassemble the controllers and use the new one on the old drive ~  it should work but doesn't have to.

    Unfortunately at this point you still can't rule out a defect of the reading heads, some internal motor etc. which still is the most likely problem after being dropped.

    I don't know any recovery service in Zimbabwe per se but Kroll Ontrack does world wide service. As renown professionals in the field their service costs quite a bit.

  6. ha14
    April 16, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    well you can try on MAC, Linux
    if still not recognized then you should look for companies...if not oversea companies...Good luck
    you can buy the same HDD then perhaps use parts from there?

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