How to Guides

How to Fix or Recover a Corrupted Hard Drive

Posted by
Yevgeniy Reznik
May 31, 2024
Reviewed by
min. read
Table of Contents

If your hard drive is crashing, displaying error messages, or making your data unreachable, you might be dealing with a corrupted hard drive. A corrupted hard drive happens when the data on a drive is changed, damaged, or becomes inaccessible. 

It can be the result of malware, improperly ejecting the drive, connectivity issues, bad sectors, system crashes, and drive failure, among other things. Data corruption on your storage device makes files partially or completely unreadable, meaning you can’t access or easily recover your data. 

While fixing a corrupted hard disk drive (HDD) using command prompts like the CHKDSK utility is possible, such troubleshooting strategies can be risky — improper commands can lead to logical damage and data loss. If your data is important, we recommend contacting a hard drive data recovery company before attempting something like this on your own. 

Our hard drive repair services can help you determine how your hard disk was corrupted and work toward fixing the issue — so there’s no guessing game or unnecessary risk to your important files.

Whether your hard drive was corrupted due to a software error, old age, physical damage, or a virus, we cover the steps to fix or recover a corrupted hard drive.

Causes and Symptoms of a Corrupted Hard Drive

Whether it’s an external drive or internal drive, when a hard drive is corrupted, that means the data on the hard drive is lost or inaccessible. A failing or damaged hard drive that malfunctions or slowly stops working can easily turn into a corrupted hard drive. 

causes and symptoms of a corrupted hard drive

Here are some of the most common causes of corrupted hard drives:

  • Power surges
  • Virus or malware
  • Bad sectors
  • Failing hard drive
  • Crashed applications
  • Sudden shutdowns
  • Physical damage to the hard drive
  • Software errors

Symptoms of a corrupted hard drive include:

  • Inaccessible drive
  • File error messages
  • Windows event IDs; 153, 129, 157, 55, 98
  • S.M.A.R.T. notifications
  • Strange noises

If you’re having trouble accessing your data, your hard drive may be corrupted. 

How to Troubleshoot a Corrupted Hard Drive 

Hold off on attempting difficult DIY methods or frantically pressing buttons. Panicked DIY attempts could result in deleted files, lost data, and a worse situation than when you started. The good news is your data is likely still recoverable. If you want to try to troubleshoot, or at least confirm the issue, we outline the steps to safely approach that below. 

6 steps to troubleshoot a corrupted hard drive

Step 1: Confirm the Hard Drive Is Corrupted

First, ensure the hard drive is properly connected to your computer. You may want to check to see if the hard drive works normally in another USB port or if it works on another computer to confirm the issue is with the hard drive and not with your computer or the connection.

If that doesn’t work and your files are inaccessible, try the next steps. Corruption can occur when the drive is about to fail, so recovering important data early on is essential.

Step 2: Scan Your Drive for Malware

Scanning an external hard drive for viruses typically won’t delete data. If you think that your hard drive may be impacted by malware, scan it using a reputable anti-malware tool like Malwarebytes. 

It’s best to run the scan with your computer in Safe Mode. Restart your computer and then run it again to see if that clears it or if there are remaining threats. Using additional tools like AdwCleaner can help remove any potentially suspicious or dangerous material left over. 

Step 3: Use CHKDSK Utility with Caution

Before you type in the CHKDSK prompt and press Enter, keep in mind that the first attempt is the most crucial for reversing data loss. Each time you try it after the first one increases the risk of damage or overwriting your files, which means you could lose more data. 

Even though CHKDSK is a popular command prompt to diagnose and repair hard drives, using it incorrectly can lead to more issues. If you’re not comfortable using command prompts, contact a professional. 

 If you do try to use CHKDSK, avoid interrupting it while it’s working. 

Use the same process below to run the CHKDSK command on a PC that runs on Windows 10, Windows 11, or earlier versions:

  1. Click the Start button >
  2. Type cmd >
command prompt on Windows
  1. Right click Command Prompt >
  2. Choose Run as Administrator and allow the app to continue to make changes to your computer >
  3. Insert this command “chkdsk X: /r” but replace X, which represents the drive letter, with the drive letter associated with the hard drive.
  4. You may be asked to do a system restart if you’re running CHKDSK on a system drive. In that case, you’d type “y” to indicate yes, you want to run the system and initiate the system restart so it can run the command. You’ll then restart your PC.
right click command prompt on windows

Step 4: Consider Data Recovery Software

Choose a quality data recovery software to recover data that may have been corrupted on your hard drive. If you’re dealing with extensive corruption, logical or physical, it’s better to seek help from a professional data recovery specialist who has the expertise to fix corrupted hard drives. 

Step 5: Contact a Data Recovery Service

If the files on your hard drive are important and you don’t want to risk lost data, contact us for hard drive recovery services. Troubleshooting yourself could make your data more difficult to recover, or, worse, unrecoverable. 

We have a 96% success rate, and our experts have handled data recovery in all types of situations. If we can’t recover your data, we won’t charge you.

Contact us today by either calling 0800 102 6925 or filling out our online form to get a free quote and guidance for your issue. You can bring your device to a location near you or send it in with a prepaid shipping label. Either way, your device is safe in our hands, and we’ll ensure there won’t be further damage. 

Avoid Reformatting the Drive

We don’t recommend reformatting your drive to attempt to recover corrupted data. Reformatting your hard drive will erase its contents, making your data unrecoverable. Let our professional data recovery services help you recover your lost files. 

Tips to Prevent Hard Drive Corruption

It isn’t always possible to predict when or if your hard drive will be corrupted, but taking good care of your device helps prevent this from happening. Here are some strategies to prevent future hard drive corruption: 

  • Complete regular backups. Backing up your data means you’ll always have a copy available in the event something does happen to your drive.
  • Use reliable power sources. A faulty power source can cause both logical and physical damage to your drive, making it more liable to fail.
  • Keep the operating system and software up-to-date. Your OS and software continually update to fix bugs and operate more efficiently. Keeping these essentials up to date ensures your device will function at its best.
  • Download safe antivirus software. Reliable antivirus software not only protects your device from potential threats, but also identifies and sometimes eradicates active cyberattacks before they have the chance to cause damage.
  • Use cooling systems or clear vents to prevent overheating. Keeping your device at an appropriate operating temperature prevents malfunction.

Recover Your Data From a Corrupted Drive

It’s scary to deal with a corrupted drive, especially if you know your important files are in jeopardy. Remember, don’t panic — the best thing you can do is take your device to experts, like the team at Secure Data Recovery, straight away. The sooner you get your device in our hands, the better the chances are that we’ll get your data back. 

Our experts have a 96% success rate with data recovery. We’re so confident in our services that we offer a No Data, No Recovery Fee guarantee — you don’t pay unless we get your data back. Reach out today and see how we can help.

How to Guides
Yevgeniy Reznik

Lab Manager

Yevgeniy Reznik is Laboratory Operations Manager at Secure Data Recovery Services in Cleveland, Ohio, and has more than a decade of experience as a data recovery engineer. He graduated from Cleveland State University with a degree in computer science and spent 15 years as an IT entrepreneur and small business owner before joining the company.