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How I Recovered Files from an Unreadable External Hard Drive

Even backups can fail. Here I listed the steps I took to recover files, photos and videos from an external hard drive that would not read or even show up on two Windows 10 computers

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An insurance rep who knew me from BNI texted me because she couldn’t get any data off of her external hard drive. The hard drive contained wedding videos and tax information so the data needed to be recovered.

A Few Tricks I Tried to Get The External Hard Drive to Show On Windows in File Explorer

  • Plugged the external hard drive into a different USB port. Even if all the ports work this sometimes makes a difference.
  • Disabled antivirus software. I’ve even had antivirus software block printers as they began printing.
  • Restarted the computer with the external hard drive plugged in to a usb port.
  • The next step would have been rebooting into Safe Mode, but it was a corporate computer and required an admin password.

What Finally Worked to Get The External Hard Drive to Read?

I took one of my own computers out of my laptop case. It was an older model so I had installed an operating system called Lubuntu which is Linux based on it. Lubuntu is a great operating system for older computers. It uses less resources thus freeing up resources to run programs, websites and videos. It’s so secure right now I do not run antivirus software on it. Because of the freed up resources it speeds up older computers and gives new life to them. The operating system itself is free, but most people hire someone to install it since it takes some know how.



In this case I used the Linux based operating system because it’s a lot more forgiving than Windows 10 PCs for reading plugged in devices. Sure enough the external hard drive popped up almost immediately on the Lubuntu based computer. I copied all the files with a simple drag and drop process to a 256gb flash drive .

Important Advice to Prevent Data Recovery Emergencies

I instructed my in-home computer client to have important data in at least two different places. Further I advised her to make sure one of those places was off-network. In other words placing that flash drive in a drawer and not keeping it connected to the computer satisfied being off-network. Keeping your important file and photo backups on an external hard drive plugged into your computer risks power surges and computer viruses. Keeping your backup off-site is even better in case of fire.

Enjoy your computer, but be proactive.

Rick
J. Richard Kirkham B.Sc.
www.ProactiveComputerSupport.com
JustMe@MobileComputerSupportOahu.com
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