Data Recovery by Device

External Hard Drive Data Recovery

External hard drives have come a long way in recent years. The products on today’s market offer a fantastic blend of capacity, portability, speed, connectivity and ruggedness. But even with all those qualities, data loss can still happen. When an external hard drive fails, you may lose access to precious memories and critical business files, and that can be disruptive and devastating. Fortunately, there are ways to regain access to the data you need.

Customized External Hard Drive Recovery

We understand that data recovery incidents come in all shapes and sizes.

Ontrack’s engineers are equipped with the expertise to successfully recover data from external hard drives that have fallen victim to circumstances ranging from mechanical failure and accidental drops to fire and water damage.

External Hard Drive plugged into a laptop

The Difference Between a Hard Drive and an External Hard Drive

Unlike general hard drives (HDDs) or solid-state drives (SSDs), external hard drives connect to your computer via a USB.

Their portable nature makes them easy to use and convenient for transporting data between machines, however, it also creates a large risk for data loss due to being continuously plugged and unplugged to various devices and dropped or roughly handled.  External drives often employ encryption to protect the data that is stored on the drives and Ontrack has developed tools to help recover data from these special drives.

Why Ontrack Data Recovery

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Multiple Service Offerings

Ontrack offer's flexible service offerings to meet your unique needs and budgetary considerations. Our experts are on standby 24/7/365.

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Complete Transparency

We want you to have control over your data recovery process. You'll know exactly what can be recovered before paying.

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Unrivaled Global Expertise

Backed by the world’s largest R&D team, we have the knowledge and ability to address your unique data recovery needs.

No External Hard Drive Brand Too Big…or Small

Ontrack can recover data from any type or brand of external hard drive*. With repair authorizations from Western Digital, Fujitsu, Seagate, Samsung, and Toshiba, our data recovery experts can even do so without voiding your device’s warranty.

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Hard Drive Brands

Western Digital






*Don’t worry if your external hard drive is missing from the list. Ontrack’s engineers perform daily data recovery from all types and brands.

Contact one of our dedicated data recovery specialists for help determining the best plan of action for your external hard drive recovery today. 

What Our Customers Say About Our Data Recovery Services

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4-Step Data Recovery Process

We ensure that our process is transparent, quick and safe. You’ll be informed every step of the way for complete peace of mind.

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Contact us 24/7 worldwide to obtain a free data recovery consultation and written price quote.

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Free Evaluation

The entire evaluation process is transparent with no hidden costs. Once we receive your device, our engineers recommend the best solution, send a fixed price quote and an overview of service levels and delivery schedules.

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Data Recovery

With your approval, we recover your data based on your chosen service level. Through our secure portal you can track the status of your recovery and view a list of recoverable files.

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Data Return

Once your data has been recovered, we’ll send it back to you on an encrypted external device via next day delivery.

What Causes Data Loss?

Determining the cause of data loss is always the first step in a successful recovery process.

This is because the cause (even more than the symptoms) will help you and any experts you speak with to identify the course of action that:

  1. Is most likely to be successful
  2. Will get the largest volume of lost data back (or the most valuable data)
  3. Is most time-efficient for you or your provider
  4. Is most cost-efficient for you

Aside from accidental deletion, which is pretty self-explanatory (and often straightforward to rectify), file corruption is one of the most common and relatable issues.

This happens when the data within a file or storage device is altered from its original state. That forces it to either behave differently (for example, an image file might suffer from reduced quality or missing pixels) or become completely inaccessible. We count both as data loss.

Smashed Hard Drive

Common causes of hard drive corruption

Corruption happens for a number of reasons.


Corruption is more likely to happen on an older hard drive. This is because the data within it degrades over time to the point where files become unreadable. This kind of degradation can happen during operation or even on a storage device that is rarely used.


Despite what you might read in ransomware emails, viruses cannot physically damage your storage device. However, they can damage the data within your storage device enough to make it unreadable.

Interruption during writing

Anything that disrupts the writing process (copying files, saving document changes etc.) can cause data to become incomplete, making it inaccessible or compromised. Common examples of causes include:

  • A sudden loss of power (hence why most operating systems ask you not to power off when installing or updating a program)
  • Impact damage from a drop, even a small one
  • Extreme temperatures (both hot and cold)
  • Unplugging a drive while it is in the process of writing data

Common symptoms of hard drive corruption

It’s unlikely that files will just go missing as a result of corruption. You’ll usually notice other symptoms, which can include:

  • Sluggish performance: Files take longer to load, save or copy
  • “Blue screen of death” (BSoD): The operating system fails to boot up (this happens when your operating system files are stored on the corrupted device)
  • The drive isn’t recognized: Nothing happens when you connect your device to a computer
  • The Operating System may prompt to run CHKDSK or other file system repair tools.
Customized External Hard Drive Recovery

Mechanical failure

External hard drives (including both SSDs and HDDs) can also suffer mechanical failures that stop them from functioning correctly and prevent file access. Examples of mechanical failures include head crashes and motor failures. Again, these become more likely as a device gets older as the hardware components within it degrade, although failure can also be caused by physical damage like a drop or exposure to extreme conditions. Due to their portable nature, external drives are also far more prone to damage from bumps or drops than a drive that’s stored inside a physical computer.

You may experience symptoms similar to those above, although mechanical failure tends to result in a device making clicking and/or grinding noises. Listen carefully to your device as it may not always be obvious when this is happening.

Ontrack cleanroom engineer working on an external hard drive

Ontrack is here to help you

We have more than 35 years of experience helping individuals and businesses recover lost data from external hard drives.

Customer service is important to us, too. We’re committed to giving you complete control over your data recovery service: that means telling you what can be recovered before you pay anything, letting you know exactly what it’ll cost and giving you a choice of turnaround times to suit your budget.

Get in touch to learn more about our services or request a free data recovery estimate to begin your recovery.

How Fast Do You Need Your Data Back?

Our team of trusted experts are on standby to help. We offer flexible service offerings to meet your unique needs and budgetary considerations.



10 business days



Average of 3 business days



Average of 12-24 hours

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any fees for Ontrack Tech Support?

Ontrack Tech Support is free, and available Monday - Friday from 7:30 am - 6:00 pm Central Standard Time (CST).

Can Ontrack be trusted to handle extremely sensitive data?

Yes. Ontrack's Labs are ISO 27001 Certified. Ontrack also receives an annual SOC 2 (formerly SAS 70 II) report from a certified audit firm.

Does Ontrack look at the data on my external hard drive?

No. Ontrack does not open any of your files. Our data recovery experts simply generate a file report.

How much will it cost to recover data from my external hard drive?

Data recovery costs vary depending on the severity of each data loss incident. For more information, contact an Ontrack specialist to request a free data recovery quote.

What will be included in the evaluation report?

Your free, no-obligation evaluation report will provide an estimate of how much of your data we expect to recover, how long we think the recovery will take, and how much it will cost. There are no hidden costs, and we aim to have the report with you within 4 hours.

Experiences that matter

Ontrack has extensive experience with all types of data loss scenarios. Our goal is to provide our customers with peace of mind in the event of data loss due to hardware failure, human error, natural disasters or cyberattacks.



In the business



Customers and growing



Of recovered data


Of data files recovered over the last twenty years... and more and more every day!

Start your data recovery now with a free consultation.

Contact our team of experts.

KLDiscovery Ontrack Limited, Nexus, 25 Farringdon Street, London, EC4A 4AB, United Kingdom (see all locations)