How to fix fatal errors on external hard drives for good

Madalina Dinita
by Madalina Dinita
Former Managing Editor
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Fatal Error External Hard Drive
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The external hard disk is one of the most sensitive computing accessories mainly because it usually stores crucial backup information.

And so, we rarely wish to experience problems with it, not least the dreaded fatal error external hard drive error.

Well, the good news is that this error is not necessarily a death sentence- as most people think and it’s always possible to not only restore the data but also fully recover the hard drive.

So, what triggers this issue and how can one fix the fatal error external hard drive problem?

What triggers fatal errors on external HDDs?

The hitch has a number of triggers:

  1. The hard disk may no longer be recognized by the disk management utility in windows may be because of an invalid partition table.
  2. For many external hard drives, an incompatible/malfunctioning USB cable will, on occasion, introduce this error.
  3. Major performance problems as a result of factors such as bad sectors or corrupted files can also give rise to the snag.
  4. Mechanical damage suffered after an accidental fall or from mishandling
  5. Firmware and malware mishaps.

How can I fix fatal errors on external HDD?

Users have reported successfully removing this error using the following solutions:

  1. Restart Everything
  2. Swap the USB ports
  3. Ensure that the drive is Receiving power
  4. Change the USB Cable
  5. Try a Different PC
  6. Rescan The Disk
  7. Check the Device Manager for Hard Drive Issues
  8. Scan the Hard drive for Errors
  9. Run Further Disk Tests

Here are the steps to follow for each solution.

Solution 1: Restart Everything

It may sound simplistic but restarting the entire systems does help in some instances.


  1. Shut down the PC.
  2. Turn off the external hard disk (the types that use a separate power cord).
  3. Turn your PC back on.
  4. Switch the hard disk back on.

The annoying message may go.

Solution 2: Swap the USB ports

Sometimes USB hard disks receive insufficient power from some USB ports,or have functional issues with certain ports.

USB hubs are particularly susceptible to this.

Furthermore, sometimes the ports on the PC may serve differently, so trying a couple of different ports can be beneficial.

So, disconnect the disk from the current USB port and connect it directly on one port on your computer (not on the hub).

Solution 3: Ensure that the drive is Receiving power

For external Desktop hard drives, plugging the power cable directly into the wall outlet (instead of the UPS-universal power supply- or a power-strip stabilizes power supply.

For portable drives, using a USB power booster cable can help supply extra power.

Solution 4: Change the USB Cable

Strangely, USB cables fail every so often, so try to plug in the hard disk with another USB cable.

The hard drive manual usually highlights a list of compatible cables.

Run a System Scan to discover potential errors

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— RELATED: 5 best universal USB cable kits for your Windows computer

Solution 5: Try a Different PC

This is pretty straightforward.

To eliminate the possibility of the present PC being the cause of the fatal error external hard drive fault, plug the concerned hard disk into a laptop or any other accessible machine.

The hard drive may work here meaning there’s something wrong with the original PC.

Solution 6: Rescan The Disk

Sometimes the error disappears after the hard disk has been rescanned for errors.


  1. Unplug the disk.
  2. Replug it back in.
  3. Select Action then Rescan Disks (when prompted).

Solution 7: Check the Device Manager for Hard Drive Issues

  1. Press and hold down (or right-click) on the Start button.
  2. Select Device Manager on the context menu.
  3. Locate any device with an exclamation mark next to it (or other peculiar issues).seagate fatal error device discovery
  4. If the hard drive appears here, right-click on it then uninstall how to repair fatal device hardware error

(This will require the hard drive to be reinstalled before any fresh attempt to access the contents).

  1. The rest of the options can also be useful. For example, selecting update driver software will initialize the hard drive drivers update, another potentially handy remedy.

Solution 8: Scan the Hard drive for Errors

The windows hard drive error checking tool-Chkdsk- can help in detecting and sometimes repairing some of the root causes of the problematic matter.

Steps (Windows 10):

  1. On your keyboard, Press on the Windows key + E(simultaneously). This opens the Windows 10 explorer window.
  2. Click on the This PC tab (on the left pane).
  3. From the list of drives that are displayed, Right-click on the relevant external hard drive then choose Properties.
  4. Now click on Tools from the properties window.
  5. Under the error checking area, click on the Check fatal device hardware error sd cardand finally click scan drive.

The computer will run through the steps without further interruptions.

 How to Run the CHKDSK from Cmd

This Windows-centric utility can also be launched from cmd (as an administrator).


  1. Right-click on the Start
  2. Right-click on Command Prompt (Admin) from the menu list.fatal device hardware error wd passport
  3. Type cd\then press ENTER.
  4. Now type chkdsk c: /r then press ENTER (replace c with the appropriate external drive letter). Remember to include the spaces as shown.the request failed due to a fatal device hardware error ssd
  5. The CHKDSK process starts as soon the above command is e

The system will inspect the chosen drive and go ahead to repair any discovered misconfigurations.

Solution 9: Run Further Disk Tests

Some manufacturers like Western Digital, Transcend, and Seagate have specific diagnostic tools for external hard drives like the WD drive utilities.

Owners of hard disks from these companies can thus visit the respective websites and download this troubleshooting software for further tests.


If the hard drive is still not being recognized after all these, then it’s most likely seriously damaged and may need to be replaced.

It’s always advisable to try and backup all data (where possible) or to use data recovery software to retrieve important information before discarding the disk.


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