Ubuntu – How to recover data from a clicking/dying external drive


Windows asks me to reformat every time I plug it into my computer, so I fired up Ubuntu via VirtualBox (selecting the external hard drive in the USB settings for VirtualBox beforehand) to see if I can access it there.

Does anyone have any suggestions for me? I have over 1TB of data on this drive and do not want to lose it. When I plug it into an electrical outlet, the light turns on, and when I plug it into my laptop, I can feel it clicking.

Best Answer

In case the drive holds important data that need to be rescued:

Stop using the drive

Any drive access will further worsen the hardware defects and thus decrease the likelihood of being able to recover data. If the data are vital we should let professionals do the job.

Having said this, we can try to rescue the drive content from an image copy of the data that in the best case we have obtained with a last read access e.g. with ddrescue. This should not be done from a virtual machine (boot a live system instead). See also the following questions and answers here:

How to recover data from a failing hard drive?
External hard drive failing, is backup recovery possible?
Recover files from NTFS drive with bad sectors

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