Best external HDD recovery software [2020 Guide]

Ivan Jenic
by Ivan Jenic
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Hard drives are external storage solutions designed to serve as formidable backup points for computer files, programs, settings and documents. A typical hard drive often serves as the convenient backup storage medium keeping files safe in the event of computer system crash and subsequent data loss.

So, what do you do if your “formidable” backup option also loses some or all of its files? This post provides you with some of the best external hard drive recovery software, to facilitate the recovery of the lost files.

Data loss on computer systems is quite common. However, it is not as common on external hard drives. Nevertheless, it happens. Usually this is the result of accidental deletion or formatting, damage or corruption. In this case, swift recovery becomes very essential. Read on to get a good grip on some of the best available tools, which can easily be employed to run such recoveries.


External hard drive recovery tools for PCs


Paragon Backup & Recovery 17

best external hard drive recovery softwareParagon Backup and Recovery 17 is the latest version of the Paragon Backup and Recovery software, which serves as an upgrade to Paragon Backup and Recovery 16.  It was released by Paragon Software on 10th July, 2018. The software, just like its earlier versions, is designed to recover lost, corrupted or deleted files from hard drives and other file storage hubs.

At present, the external hard drive recovery software is the primary data backup and recovery tool of over six million people across the globe.

Basically, the software supports 64-bit Windows versions, ranging from Windows Vista to Windows 10. This makes it an ideal backup software for Windows, as it’s 64-bit support enables it to handle large amount of RAM. Also, it hosts various backup and recovery features like WinPE-based recovery media, disk backup, flexible restore, and more.

Furthermore, the software is versatile and can support variety of hard drives (SSD, HDD, AFD), USB drives, storage disks, memory cards and other storage media. Also, it hosts a flexible design that supports all file systems, including FAT 16, FAT 32, NTFS, ReFS and more. This makes Paragon Backup and Recovery 17 one of the best available recovery (and backup) tools.

Lastly, Paragon Backup and Recovery 17, which is the newest version of the Paragon’s flagship, is offered free of charge to users, for their personal use. There is, however, an avenue for users to upgrade to the premium version, Paragon Hard Disk Manager, at a license fee of $49.95. You can get more information about the software on their website.

— RELATED: The 11 best tools for flash drive file recovery on Windows 10


Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery

best external hard drive recovery softwareStellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery is a data recovery tool, specially designed for Windows PCs, ranging from Windows 10 to Windows XP. It is arguably the most popular external hard drive recovery software in the market. The software is a product of Stellarinfo, a renowned software repair solution provider.

It hosts advanced data recovery features, which make it suitable for recovering various types of files, ranging from videos to audio files to documents.

Furthermore, the software is a versatile recovery tool that can be employed to recover deleted or damaged files from internal storage, external hard drives, USB drives, memory cards and more. In fact, it can also recover lost Windows partitions. Basically, Stellar Phoenix supports various file modules; including NTFS, FAT, FAT16, FAT32 and ExFAT.

Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery offers a form of “freemium” license package to users. This means there is the free version, as well as the premium (paid) version.

The free package (with 1GB storage) is essentially designed for “home or personal use”, while the premium package, which offers more advanced features, is designed for professional use (with unlimited recovery-storage capacity).

The software’s paid version goes for $79.99 and $199 for the professional version and the technician version respectively. The smallest premium plan, the Standard version, goes for $49.99. You can get the software by logging on to Stellarinfo’s website.

— RELATED: Top 6 antivirus with data recovery



best external hard drive recovery softwareRecuva is a product of Piriform, a globally known software repair/solution provider. It is one of the most employed external hard drive recovery software in the market, and it is especially suitable for Windows PCs. The software is supported on Windows versions, from XP to Windows 10.

Recuva is basically a delete-recovery tool i.e. it is equipped to undelete deleted files on both internal and external storage media. Hence, it is especially suitable for recovering accidentally deleted files from computers, external hard drives, pen drives, memory cards and so on.

Also, like most data recovery tools, Recuva works perfectly well with all FAT and NTSF (file) platforms, and it is able to recover audio files, videos, photos, documents and other file types (and formats). In fact, it is equipped to run deep scans, and retrieve or at least, identify every file you’ve ever deleted on your hard drive.

Furthermore, Recuva, despite being an ‘undelete’ tool, is designed to permanently erase any file you want to delete from your hard drive or computer. In this regard, a Recuva-deleted file is technically irrecoverable, as the software ensures every trace of such file is completely and permanently erased from your hard drive.

On a final note, Recuva offers a “freemium” pricing package to users. The free version is available for $0, albeit with limited features. The premium version (Recuva Pro), on the other hand, is available at a fixed price of $19.99. You can download the external hard drive recovery software from their website.

— Editor’s Note: If you’re interested in other data recovery tools, check out our wide collection of guides.


Hetman Partition Recovery

best external hard drive recovery softwareHetman Partition Recovery is one of the leading external hard drive recovery software today. It hosts an advanced set of features which makes it suitable for recovering lost data and partitions from Windows PCs (and a host of other desktop brands).

It has relatively low system requirements. Hence, it is supported on virtually all Windows versions, from the old Windows NT to the latest Windows 10.

Like most external hard drive recovery software, Hetman Partition Recovery supports virtually all file system variants, specifically NTSF and FAT (including FAT 16 and FAT 32).

In light of this, it is able to recover video files (MP4, 3gp and others), audio files (MP3), photographs (PNG & JPEG) documents (docx, PDF, Excel, PPT) and so on. In fact, it is able to recover archive files like zip files, .iso, .cab and others.

In addition, the recovery software’s applicability is not specific to hard drives. It can also be employed to recover corrupted file and formatted partitions from other external storage media like Flash drives, SD cards, disk drives and others.

Interestingly, it has the capability to run up to 100% recovery rate on all files. Also, it hosts a set of sophisticated algorithms, which enable it to recover files that are lost to malware or virus attack(s).

Furthermore, the software is fairly easy to use, as it hosts an in-built recovery wizard that provides simple, start-to-finish, guidelines on data recovery. Hence, anyone, irrespective of technical know-how, can employ the software to recover lost, damaged or corrupted files from external hard drives. It also presents files in read-only format, which makes it uneditable, thereby ensuring the original contents are intact upon recovery.

Conclusively, Hetman Partition Recovery offers a brief free trial period to new users. Its enterprise plan’s license fee goes for $99.99. You can download the recovery software for free from their official website.

Download Hetman Partition Recovery

— RELATED: 5 best Windows 10 boot repair software to revive your PC in 2019


Data loss is practically inevitable, as there are innumerable ways a file can be lost. These could range from accidental deletion or formatting to malware or virus infection. Hence, backing up files is highly essential to file/data safety.

However, at times, due to a host of factors, backed up files (on external hard drives) could be lost or simply inaccessible.

In such events, this article has provided some of the best external hard drive recovery software available, which can easily be employed to facilitate the recovery of such files.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2019 and has been since updated for freshness, and accuracy.