How To Recover Data From Corrupted Hard Disk?

Summary: If you’re a hard disk owner, you won’t be new to operational issues. Invariably, hard disks develop problems that eventually lead to data loss. While trying to access a corrupted hard disk, you’ll see errors like “The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable”. It could appear as RAW in the Windows disk management utility, or it may fail to boot (if internal). And as owners of data ourselves, we know how frustrating that could be.

So, to solve your problem, this blog gives you a complete guide on how to recover data from a corrupted hard disk.

Why does your Hard Disk get corrupted?

Getting down to the source of the issue will help you solve the problem. So you may be wondering what are the reasons for the hard disk to be corrupt. Hard drive failure can happen due to the following reasons.

  • Electronic Disruptions: A massive current surge or a sudden power failure may corrupt your hard disk. This can be detected through a startup failure.
  • Virus Intrusion: Viruses are malicious codes that tend to damage the file system on your hard disk.
  • Damaged Master Boot Record (MBR): If the boot sector (the hard disk sector that contains MBR) of your internal hard disk gets damaged, the disk turns corrupt and fails to boot or load the operating system (OS).
  • Human Error: A simple wrong move, like the incorrect OS installation, can corrupt your hard disk. So you should be very careful when you’re dealing with hard disks or any media devices.
  • Bad Sectors: An HDD has millions of sectors that store data. Sometimes, the sectors become damaged, (bad sectors) which means you can read or write data on that sector. Too many bad sectors result in hard disk corruption.
  • Age and Usage: When a hard disk is used for a long time, it gets deteriorated and may get corrupted due to this deterioration.
  • Unsafe Removal (if external): Unsafe removal of external hard disks from the system may also result in corruption.

You now know what the reasons are for the hard disk to be corrupt. If you want to recover data lost due to hard drive corruption, follow the methods mentioned in this post.

Additional Reading: External hard drives are more susceptible to damage, Ways to prevent them from being damaged

How to Recover Data from Corrupted Hard Disk

You can stop wondering how to recover data from corrupted hard disks. We have X easy-to-do solutions for you. Read on to learn all about corrupted hard disk recovery.

Method 1: Run SFC Scan

If you’ve lost data from an internal hard disk as it fails to boot due to corruption, you can use System File Checker (SFC). It is a Windows command-line utility that is necessary to fix broken Windows system files and restore the data.

To do this, follow the steps given below:

  • Press the power button to turn ON your Windows system
  • The moment you see the manufacturer’s logo, power OFF your system by pressing the power button again
  • Repeat this process 3 times
  • Turn ON the system 4th time and let it load completely this time
  • This would open a screen “Choose an option”.
  • From this screen, do the following:

Click Troubleshoot >Advanced options >Command Prompt

This would launch the Command Prompt window.

[NOTE]: If your system is bootable but your files are lost due to disk corruption, you need not follow the above-given steps to launch Command Prompt. Instead, you can launch Command Prompt by typing cmd on the text box at the bottom-left corner of your desktop. Next, right-click the command prompt and choose Run as administrator to launch the Command Prompt window.

  • Before running SFC Scan, type DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth command and press the Enter key
  • The above step is applicable for Windows 11, 10, 8.1, or 8. (For other Windows versions, this step is not necessary.)
  • Now, Type SFC / scan now and press Enter

[NOTE]: Do not close the Command Prompt window until the verification is 100% complete. You can see scan results after this process. If you’re using an external hard disk, this method may not work for you. To fix an external hard disk, connect the corrupted HDD to another working Windows system and use the methods that follow.

[NOTE]: If the corrupted hard disk is internal, you can use a USB enclosure to convert it to an external hard disk.

Additional Reading: How to Fix External Hard Disk Not Detected in Windows

Method 2: Use Windows Error Checking Tool

If the first method doesn’t work for you and you’re still wondering how to recover data from a corrupted disk, method 2 may be useful for you.

Windows has a built-in error-checking tool. This tool monitors disk errors and tries to fix them. You can use the tool to fix minor corruption of the hard disk. Follow the given steps for corrupted hard disk recovery:

  • Open Windows Explorer on the system to which you’ve connected the corrupted hard disk
  • Right-click the hard disk (partition), select Properties
  • Choose the Tools tab
  • Click the Check button

[NOTE]: You can use the same steps to check and fix issues on other partitions of the hard disk.

  • Restart the system and see if you can access your data.

If you can’t you may need to move on to the next fix.

Method 3: Run CHKDSK Command

CHKDSK is a command-line utility that can fix hard disk file system corruption and other disk-related issues. This helps you to restore data from a corrupt hard disk.

Follow the steps given below:

  • Launch Command Prompt as an Administrator on the system to which your corrupted hard disk is connected.
  • Type the below-given command on Command Prompt window, and hit Enter.

chkdsk /f /r x:

Where x is the disk letter of a hard disk partition

/f fixes errors

/r identifies the bad sectors and tries to read information from them.

recover data from corrupted hard disk-Command Prompt

  • Run the same command for other partitions as well by using their respective disk letters, and restart the system.
  • Now check if you’re able to access data on the hard disk.

Method 4: Use Disk Management Utility to recover data

This method works best if your hard disk has been logically damaged. The Disk Management Utility technique works on both Mac and Windows OS. Here’s how to recover data from a corrupted hard disk using this technique.

  • Press Windows + X. Then select the “Disk Management” option.
  • In this dashboard, look for a crashed hard drive.


  • If the hard drive shows up on this window, you can format it. This will help to fix errors in your hard disk and could help you recover lost data.

Method 5: Avail Professional Data Recovery Service

If the issue persists even after trying the above methods, and you’re still thinking about how to recover data from a corrupted hard disk, it means that the hard disk is severely damaged. And when it comes to such dire circumstances, it’s best to trust the experts. Like the ones at Stellar.

Stellar data recovery experts are adept at retrieving information from a variety of devices. And this includes corrupted hard disks. Our experts boast of an unmatched success rate of 80%. So you can rest easy knowing that your data will return to your hands.

Stellar’s data recovery centre is the first and only Class 100 Clean Room lab in India. The benefit of this is that your hard disk’s internal components won’t get contaminated with microscopic dust particles. If it does, there’s another chance for it to get corrupted.


Hard disks may get corrupted due to various reasons. When this happens, you lose the data stored on it. To prevent hard disk failure, use effective anti-virus software to safeguard it from viruses. You should always “safely remove” the external hard disk before ejecting. And ensure that you properly shut down your PC instead of directly powering it off.

Despite the best care, there is a possibility of hard disk failure. If that happens, you can try fixing it by using Windows built-in utilities mentioned in this post. However, if this doesn’t help, you need to seek the help of hard disk recovery experts. Stellar’s service will help you fix the issue and recover data from a corrupted hard disk.


1. Can you recover corrupted files?

It is possible to recover corrupted files. But the ease with which you can recover the file depends on how the file got corrupted. Most situations call for a DIY solution. But in extreme cases, you may need to consult a data recovery expert.

2. What happens when a file is corrupted?

By definition, a corrupted file is one that has been altered by hardware or software failure. This can occur due to accidental reasons or purposely due to an attacker. Corrupted files are rendered incomprehensible. This is why you’re not able to read or write on the disk.

3. What happens when your hard drive fails?

The first sign of a hard drive failure is a boot error in the case of internal hard drives. And for external, you’ll see the message “USB Device malfunctioned”. If this happens often to your device but you’re able to correct it when reconnecting the device, watch out. It may be the preemptive sign of a hard drive that’s about to fully fail.

Additional Reading: Different Types Of Hard Drive Failure and Data Recovery Solutions

4. How long do hard drives last?

On average, hard drives last for about 3-5 years. After that, you will start noticing signs of the disk getting old and starting to fail. Regularly check the health of old hard drives and take backups if needed.

5. Do hard drives fail if they’re not used?

One of the most common reasons for hard drive failure is leaving it unused. This can cause mechanical failure or spindle-bearing failure. These eventually lead to a corrupted hard disk. And then you’ll find yourself searching for how to recover data from a corrupted hard disk.

Additional Reading: Recover Data From A Corrupted Hitachi Hard Drive

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