How to Recover Deleted Files from External Hard Drive

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Have you accidentally deleted some work documents from your external hard drive and are you desperate because you don't know how to recover them? Don't be alarmed (or at least not right away!)... with a bit of luck, you might be able to solve the problem. Maybe you don't know it, but there are several software programs out there that are just right for the purpose in question. Using them you can recover deleted files from an external hard disk in a simple and painless way. If you're interested in this (and given the circumstances I assume you are), read on to find out more.

In fact, in the following lines I will go into more detail on the topic by illustrating all those that in my humble opinion are the best software in the category in question. There are some for both Windows and Mac, both free and paid. Moreover, in most cases they are quite easy to use even for those who, a bit like you, do not consider themselves exactly a "geek". It's great, isn't it?

Well? May I ask what you're still doing standing there? Sit comfortably in front of your trusty computer and immediately start focusing on the information below. Obviously, I can't give you the absolute certainty that you will eventually be able to recover your files (it all depends on whether the space previously occupied by the deleted files has been rewritten or not) but, as they say, trying doesn't hurt. Are you ready? Yeah? Great. Let's cut the chatter and get to work. Good "work"!

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard (Windows/macOS)

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is one of the best data recovery software. It is compatible with all popular editions of Windows (as well as macOS) and can recover data from hard drives, SSDs and external drives in just three steps. It also supports recovery of data from deleted, hidden, lost or RAW partitions and is compatible with all popular file systems.

There are various editions of the software: the Free one, which allows recovering up to 2GB of data at zero cost; the Pro one, which costs 66.69 euros, eliminates all the limitations of the Free version and also offers free updates for life; the Pro + WinPe one, which costs 95.14 euros and also allows recovering data when the system doesn't boot (via a WinPE boot disk) and, finally, the Technician one, which costs 279 euros, includes all the features of the Pro + WinPE edition but can also be used to offer technical assistance to its clients.

To download EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard to your computer, go to the official website of the program and click the Free Download button, if you want to get the Free version, or one of the Free Trial buttons, to download the free trial of one of the full editions of the software. To purchase a license, locate the edition of the program you think is best for you, click the Free Trial button and follow the on-screen instructions.

When the download is complete, start the obtained .exe file and, in the window that opens, click the Yes button first and then OK and Next. Then accept the conditions of use of the software, by pressing the Accept button, and finish the setup by pressing Confirm, Install and Complete. If you do not want to provide anonymous usage statistics, uncheck the Join the Software Usage Analysis program box.

Now, to recover data from external hard drive with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, launch the program, bring the mouse cursor to the drive icon of your interest and click on Scan button, to start searching for deleted files that can be recovered.

When the scan is finished, browse the folders listed in the left sidebar, check the boxes related to the files you want to recover, click on the Recover button (bottom right corner), select the folder to export them to and give OK, to confirm.

If you would like to speed up the search for files you are interested in, click on the Filter button (top right) and choose which items to view: All Files, Recent Files, Lost Files, Trash, Pictures, Documents, Video, Audio or Email.

Alternatively, you can activate an Advanced Filter and set up a custom filter to display your search results. Easier than that?

Wise Data Recovery (Windows)

The first among the useful resources to recover deleted files from external hard drive that I wish to tell you about is Wise Data Recovery. It is a program that allows you to recover deleted files from external and internal hard drives and USB flash drives, all in a quick and easy manner. It supports Office documents, photos, videos and many other types of files. It is free and only works on Windows.

To serve your purpose, the first step you need to take is to connect to the Wise Data Recovery website and click the Free Download button, to download the program to your PC.

When the download is complete, open the obtained .exe file and click on Run and click on Yes. In the window that appears on the desktop, select I accept the terms of the license agreement and click on Next twice, then on Install and to finish click on Finish.

Click Yes and you will see the main Wise Data Recovery window on your desktop. Now select the external hard drive to recover files from using the drop down menu at the top left and click the Scan button to start a drive scan.

At the end of the procedure, put a check mark next to the names of the files to be restored (to preview them, just click on their name) and press the green Recover button at the bottom right. Next, select the folder to export the items to and click OK to complete the operation.

Keep in mind that the only recoverable files are those marked with the green stamp next to their name. If a deleted document does not appear in the list of files found by Wise Data Recovery, it means that it cannot be restored.

Recover (Windows)

If you want to get a "second opinion" on the recoverable files from your external hard drive and try to restore them with another program, install Recuva. This is another software belonging to this category and in your language. It allows you to recover deleted files from external hard drives and other media using a simple wizard. It is only available for Windows and is free of charge (but there may be a paid variant with extra features). Ah, I almost forgot, it was developed by the same software house of CCleaner, the famous program to "do the cleaning" on your PC (if you remember well, I told you about it in detail in my guide on the subject).

You're asking me how to help you? I'll show you. First, connect to the Recuva website and press the Free Download button at the bottom of the Recuva Free section. Then click on the link, and then on the Start Download button, so that you can start downloading the software.

When loading is complete, open the obtained .exe file, click Yes, select your language or from the language selection menu at the top right of the desktop window and click the Install button. Then click the Run Recover button. If you want to avoid installing any additional programs during setup, remember to remove the tick from the appropriate items that may appear.

Now that you see the Recuva window on your desktop, click on the Next button, leave the All files item to find any kind of files removed from the foreign disk and press Next. If you prefer to narrow the search field by setting a specific file type, first select the desired option from the list: Images, Music, Documents, Videos, Compressed, Email.

Then select the In a specific position option, press the Browse... button and indicate the path to your external hard drive from the window that appears. Then press Next and Start again.

The search procedure for files deleted from the hard disk will start and once completed you will be shown the list of items removed from it that have been found. Then tick the box next to the name of the items you want to recover (if you want to preview them first, press the Switch to advanced mode button), click on Recover..., select the folder where you want to save the files and press OK twice.

If the list of files to recover is particularly long and you can't find the items you need, you can help yourself with the search field at the top right of the program window, typing in the name (if you remember it) of the reference item.

Also in the case of Recuva, keep in mind that only files with the green dot next to the name can be recovered 100%, while those with the orange dot may be damaged. Files with red dots are almost completely unrecoverable.

Puran File Recovery (Windows)

None of the resources I've already told you about convinced you in any particular way or did neither Wise Data Recovery nor Recuva have the desired effect? Then you can try to recover deleted files from your external hard drive using Puran File Recovery. It's a simple portable program (so it works without installation and can also be run from pendrive) that allows you to recover deleted files intentionally or erroneously from hard drives, USB sticks, memory cards, CDs, DVDs and smartphones. It is free (but only for personal use) and is specific for Windows.

To use it, go to the program's website, scroll down and click on the Download This Utility button, then click on the Download button next to the variant suitable for the Windows version, so that you can download the program to your computer.

When the download is complete, extract the compressed archive obtained in any position of your PC and start the .exe file that is inside it. Then click on Yes and OK twice in a row.

Now that you see the software window on your desktop, select from the list of drives at the top of your hard drive and press Scan button below to start the scanning process. Then click OK in response to the alert indicating the total number of deleted files that have been found.

Now select the files you want to recover by checking the box that you find at the bottom of the program window (if you want to preview them first, click on the name). You can also filter the view by type using the drop-down menu in the middle.

Then press the Recover button at the top and select the Just Recover option from the menu that opens. Finally, indicate the location where you want to save the files to be recovered and press OK.

If you can't find the files you wanted to recover, select the Deep Scan box in the top right corner before starting the scanning process, so that you can perform a deeper scan. If instead you want to perform a search according to specific parameters, click on the Edit button on the right, then on Add and set all the filters of the case.

Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery (Mac)

Do you use a Mac? In that case, the resources I told you about in the previous lines are not suitable because they are specific to Windows operating systems. To recover deleted files from external hard drive on Apple branded computer you therefore need an ad hoc resource like Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery. It is a free program capable of recovering deleted files from Mac internal drive and from external drives. It is very easy to use and has proved to be quite effective.

To use it, first connect to the program's website and then click the Free Download Now! button to start loading the software on your Apple computer.

When the download is complete, open the obtained .dmg file and, from the Finder window that you will see on your desktop, drag the Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery icon into the Applications folder of macOS. Then go to the Applications folder on your Mac and start the program by right-clicking on its icon and choosing Open Twice in a row to get around Apple's limitations on unblessed developers.

Now type in the password for your Apple account, click OK and you will finally see the main Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery screen. Now, select the Undelete option, click on the entry related to the external drive from which you want to recover deleted files, press the Start Search button and wait for the disk scan to start and complete.

When the process is complete, to recover deleted files expand the Lost File Results folder located in the left sidebar and select the file type you want to restore. If a file that you want to recover is not located in Lost File Results folder, try to search for it in Lost or its source folder by selecting the respective paths from the Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery sidebar.

Then place a checkmark next to the names of the items to be recovered, press the Save Files button in the upper right corner and choose the folder to copy the files to. By going to the File type tab you can browse the files directly by their extension, instead using the search bar at the top you can search "on the fly" for the items to be recovered by their name, while clicking on the name of each file in the list you can preview it.

Please note that even in the case of Mac and Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery, not all the recoverable files are always intact, so they may not be opened properly after recovery operation. In order to understand which files are actually recoverable and to avoid wasting valuable time, help yourself with the previews and try to avoid those that have a much lesser weight than they really should be.

Other useful solutions

The solutions to recover deleted files from external hard drive that I proposed in the previous lines didn't convince you? In that case, before throwing in the towel for good, I invite you to consult my article on hard disk recovery, and my post on how to recover deleted files from external hard disk, through which I have provided you with further useful solutions.

Other posts of interest to you might be the one about how to recover deleted files, the one about programs to recover deleted files and the one about recovery of damaged hard drive data. Take a look at it!

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