Home > How to Tips

How to Recover Files from External Hard Drive on Mac [New]

Updated on Wednesday, February 21, 2024

iBoysoft author Anna Yuan

Written by

Anna Yuan
Professional tech editor

Approved by

Jessica Shee

English Français Deutsch やまと Español Português

5 Ways to Recover Data from External Hard Drive on Mac

Summary: This article from iBoysoft elaborates on how to recover files from an external hard drive on a Mac, including using Mac's native features and external services. If you don't want to go through all methods, you can use iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac to recover deleted or lost files from an external hard drive on Mac.

recover files from external hard drive on Mac

External hard drives serve as essential companions for many Mac and MacBook users, expanding storage capacity and providing a means to store backups. Like all digital storage devices, external hard drives are not immune to data loss. For example, you accidentally deleted important files or your external hard drive suddenly stops working on your Mac. Any data loss scenario will raise your concern about your files and make you wonder how to recover files from an external hard drive.

This article offers a comprehensive walkthrough on performing Mac external hard drive recovery. By following the steps carefully, you can recover data from your external hard drive on a Mac as well as repair a corrupted external hard drive.

 Warning: Stop using your external hard drive immediately. Every time you save a file to your external hard drive, you increase the risk of the new data overwriting the previously deleted data. Once the new data is stored on the physical storage units of the deleted data, there is no way you can recover deleted files from the external hard drive. 

How to recover data from an external hard drive on a Mac

Recovery MethodsWhen to ApplySpecific Operations
Put files back from Mac TrashFiles are moved to TrashOpen Trash bin > Locate the deleted file > Right-click and choose Put Back
Restore files from Time Machine backupYou have Time Machine backupsConnect two external hard drives with Mac > Open the folder that experienced data loss > Enter Time Machine > Locate the lost file > Select the file and click Restore
Recover files with data recovery softwareFiles are no longer recoverable with Trash or Time MachineInstall iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac > Connect the external hard drive with Mac > Open software and scan the disk > Preview found files > Select files you want to recover and click Recover
Repair failing external hard driveThe external hard drive is showing signs of failureConnect the external hard drive with Mac > Open Disk Utility > Select the drive and choose First Aid > Click Run
Recover data with a data recovery serviceThe external hard drive is physically damaged or you run out of recovery optionsContact a recovery service for an initial estimate > ship the external hard drive > receive a new storage device containing the recovered data 
 

Table of Contents:

5 Ways to restore deleted or lost data from an external hard drive on Mac

To effectively address diverse data loss scenarios, it's crucial to apply appropriate methods. Using the right approach will significantly enhance the speed and success of your data recovery endeavors. Read carefully before you jump into each method. 

Let's start with deleted file recovery from an external hard drive on a Mac.

Method 1. Restore deleted files from Mac Trash

Unlike Windows (deleted files from external devices will skip the Recycle Bin), macOS will temporarily hold the deleted files from external storage devices in the Trash can. If you haven't manually emptied the Trash bin, you will have a great chance to restore deleted items easily. 

 Note: If you set up the Trash to remove your deleted items after 30 days and the files have been deleted over 30 days, they won't be stored in the Mac Trash.

It is very easy to restore deleted external hard drive data from Mac Trash. Here is how:

Step 1. Open the Mac Trash by clicking its icon.

Step 2. Locate the files you want to recover.

Step 3. Drag the file to the desktop or any folder on your Mac. If you want to recover the file to your external hard drive, you need to plug the disk into your Mac, right-click on the file, and select Put Back. The deleted file will be restored to the original folder on your external hard drive.

recover files from external hard drive on Mac with Trash

It is simple to recover deleted files from an external hard drive on a Mac, isn't it? Share this quick trick with more people.

 

Method 2. Recover files from an external hard drive on Mac with Time Machine

You will feel relieved if you regularly back up your Mac computer with its native backup and restoration feature called Time Machine. Time Machine not only backs up your Mac's internal hard drive but also creates a copy of the files on external storage devices that connect to the computer when backup is happening. 

If the lost file has a Time Machine backup, it is simple to retrieve it by following the steps below.

Step 1. Connect the external hard drive that stores the Time Machine backups and the other external hard drive that used to contain the lost files to your Mac computer. You will need both external hard drives to complete the recovery.

Step 2. Open the folder on the external hard drive that contained the deleted or lost files. 

Step 3. Launch Time Machine by clicking the Time Machine icon in the menu bar > Enter Time Machine. If the Time Machine icon doesn't show up in the menu bar, open the Apple menu > System Settings > Time Machine, and tick the box "Show Time Machine in menu bar".

Enter Time Machine

Step 4. Use the timeline at the edge of your screen or the Up/Down arrows to locate the backup that contains the file or files you want to recover.

Step 5. Select the file or files you want to recover and click the Restore button. The selected item(s) will be restored to the original location on the external hard drive.

recover files from external hard drive with Time Machine backups

Method 3. Recover deleted files with Mac data recovery software 

If your deleted data is no longer recoverable from the Mac Trash bin and you don't have a backed-up copy for it, a data recovery application may help you get your important data back. To achieve the best Mac external hard drive data recovery results and avoid further data loss or disk damage, it is highly recommended that you choose reliable data recovery software for Mac.

iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac is a powerful file recovery software to recover deleted files from an external hard drive on Mac, no matter whether the files are accidentally deleted or completely inaccessible as long as they are not overwritten by new data.

Best Mac Hard Drive Recovery Software - iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac

  • It features a simple user interface for general computer users to perform easy data recovery.
  • It can deal with a wide variety of data loss scenarios from hard drives - file deletion, disk formatting, disk corruption, etc.
  • It has top-notch recovery capabilities with its advanced scanning algorithms.
  • It supports 1000+ file formats and all mainstream hard drive brands, which means it can work with the type of your device and files you have lost.

 Read-only & risk-free

 

Use the following steps to recover files from an external hard drive with iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac:

Step 1. Download and install iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac on your Mac computer. The software is fully compatible with the latest macOS.

Step 2. Connect the external hard drive that suffered from data loss to your Mac.

Step 3. Open iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac and select the external hard drive from the list in the app's main interface.

iBoysoft hard drive recovery software

Step 4. Click Search for Lost Data to start scanning the external hard drive for files.

Step 5. Select a file and click the Preview button after the tool has found all files.

Step 6. Select the recoverable files you want to restore and click Recover

recover files from external hard drive with Mac data recovery software

Step 7. Choose a safe location, not the affected external disk, and click Recover.

The selected files will be restored to the location you choose. Recovery may take a while if you have a large size of files. Keep your Mac computer on and the external hard drive connected all the time.

Is data recovery software helpful? Share the article to your social media to help other people recover data from an external hard drive on Mac.

 

Method 4. Repair a corrupted Mac external hard disk

If you have an external hard drive that is showing signs of failure, for example, it triggers an error message when you are trying to open it, you should repair the problematic external hard drive on Mac with Disk Utility. Disk Utility is a native tool in macOS to manage and troubleshoot detected storage devices.

Its First Aid function can verify and repair errors in the partition table, file system, or other parts of your disk. Use the process below to attempt external hard drive repair on Mac:

Step 1. Connect the external hard drive to your Mac.

Step 2. Start Disk Utility by opening the Finder > Applications > Utilities.

Step 3. Choose the external disk from the left panel and click on First Aid.

Step 4. When a window is prompted to ask you to continue, click Run

Run First Aid on Mac to fix corrupted external hard drive

Step 5. Click OK after First Aid completes checking and repairing any found errors.

Then you can attempt to open the external hard drive and see if all lost files have been restored. Keep in mind that you should back up this external drive or copy its data to another device to avoid data loss. 

Method 5. Recover lost data with an external hard drive recovery service

If you have tried all data recovery options and none of them works, a specialized hard drive recovery service might be your last hope. In case of physical damage on the external hard drive that caused the lost information, a data recovery service is the only way to salvage your important data.

The recovery technicians in a hard drive recovery center will use dedicated equipment and software to examine your external hard drive and retrieve recoverable data on a new storage device. However, this data recovery option is the most expensive, so you should get a quote before shipping your external disk. 

We will appreciate it if you can help us spread the words.

 

Conclusion

When data loss happens to your external hard drive, don't panic. Stop saving any new data to the external hard drive and use the several ways illustrated above to recover files from your external hard drive on Mac as soon as possible. 

iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac makes Mac hard drive recovery easy by effectively scanning your external hard drive and recovering deleted or lost files.

FAQs

A

Try to disconnect the external hard drive and reconnect it with another computer to see if the external device is detected. If not, you may need to recover data from a backup or consult a data recovery service to attempt the recovery.

A

The most effective way to find the missing files on your external hard drive on Mac is using a data recovery tool. iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac can give your disk a thorough scan and recover your missing files quickly.

A

If the macOS operating system cannot recognize your external hard drive, you had better recover files using a backup or a manual data recovery service.

A

Yes, it is. Data recovery software can recover erased data from a formatted external drive as long as it has not been overwritten by new data. Just connect the drive to your Mac and let recovery software scan the disk for recoverable data.

People Also Ask

Read More Questions