How to Recover Data from External Hard Drive on Mac

Practical Options to Fix External Hard Drive Not Showing Up on Mac (Seagate & WD Disks Incl.)

I’m running a MacBook Pro and have a Seagate external hard drive. And I have many photos and movies on an external device. About a week ago I formatted it accidentally on my Mac and found that it was empty. All files had disappeared. I’m eager to know if there is any external hard drive data recovery for Mac to recover data from the external hard drives. Please Help!

Those mentioned above was the question Mac users raised in a forum, and I found that more than the questioner, there are also many users who don’t know how to perform external hard drive recovery. And there are many external hard drive issues discussed in forums and Quora. In this article, I will talk about some common external hard drive issues and solutions and then show you how to recover data from external hard drives on Mac easily.

Common External Hard Drive Issues and Solutions

There are a number of reasons for hard disk failure. Below is a list of common external hard disk issues and solutions that everyone should know:

1. External hard drive formatted

Sometimes, your Mac may ask you to format your external hard drive or you may format it accidentally when connected to Mac.

Solution: Try other USB ports or connect them to another operating system to see if the problem exists. If it still exists or you already formatted your device, you can follow the below guide to rescue your data from the external hard drive first.

2. The external hard drive didn’t show up or was invisible

This is the most common issue with the external hard drive. When you plug in your external hard drive on your Mac, it doesn’t show up. This usually happens because your Mac can’t read a Windows formatted HD.

Solution: Try other USB ports to connect or plug in it into the PC. If it still doesn’t show up, check if the volume is visible. And follow the instructions from the below screenshot to make it visible.

2. The external hard drive didn’t show up or was invisible

3. Virus threat of external hard drive

When a virus or malware program attacks the hard disk, the disk’s system may get infected which results in hard disk failure. Sometimes it even causes data loss.

Solution: Use an anti-virus app to find and delete the infected files on your drive. Update your Mac system on a regular basis and update the anti-virus program frequently so that it can detect almost all kinds of viruses and malware programs on your external hard drive when connected to your Mac.

4. External hard drive mount failure

Sometimes your external hard drive appears in Disk Utility but not in Finder or on the Desktop. In Disk Utility, you only can format it. Much worse, you can’t boot and erase it.

Solution: This situation might be complex, and the solution may depend on the brand of your external hard drive. For example, Seagate’s external hard drives always have an issue. If you get one, you can download a drive for Mac OS 10.9+ here to solve the problem. For other external hard drives, you can contact their Tech support.

No matter what issues you come across, the data on external HD is always the thing you want to get. If unfortunately, you lose data during the process, you can follow the below guide to recover data from your external hard drive.

How to Recover Data from External Hard Drive on Mac

The most common practice for users to deal with external hard drive data loss issues is sending it for repair or giving it up. Recovering data from an external hard drive is not as hard as you imagine. To recover files from an external hard drive on a Mac easily, you need an external hard drive for data recovery.

External Hard Drive Data Recovery Software

There are many data recovery software that can recover data from external hard drives. MacDeed Data Recovery is one of the best external hard drive recovery software that can help Mac users recover their lost, deleted, formatted, or inaccessible data from the external hard drive on Mac. Here are the main features of this external hard drive data recovery software:

  • Recover almost all kinds of data including images, videos, audio, documents, emails, and more.
  • Restore files or data lost due to deletion, formatting, system error, virus attack, etc.
  • Support data recovery for other data storage media, including internal hard drives, USB flash drives, SD cards, optical media, memory cards, digital cameras, iPods, etc.
  • Support for HFS+, FAT16, FAT32, exFAT, ext2, ext3, ext4 and NTFS file system.
  • Preview data to locate your lost files and check their quality before recovery.
  • Works with a wide variety of external hard drives from many brands. The list includes Seagate, Toshiba, Western Digital, DELL, Hitachi, Samsung, LaCie, and many other external hard drives.
  • Recover files to a local drive or cloud (Dropbox, OneDrive, GoogleDrive, iCloud, Box)

It’s amazingly fast, accurate, and a breeze to use. It is compatible with Mac OS 10.12 or later. You can try it and follow below several steps to restore data from the external hard drive.

Try It FreeTry It Free

Steps to Recover Data from External Hard Drive on Mac

Step 1. Connect your external hard drive to your Mac and launch MacDeed Data Recovery on your Mac so that you can complete subsequent steps.

Select a Location

Step 2. Choose the external hard drive to scan. Then click the “Scan” button to start the scanning process.

files scanning

Step 3. Recover data from the external hard drive. After scanning, it will list all of your lost files on the left. You can click the filename to preview it in the window. Then select the files you want to recover and click “Recover” to begin recovering deleted files from the external hard drive.

select Mac files recover

Try It FreeTry It Free

How to Protect External Hard Drives from Data Loss

We’ve all got many gigabytes of valuable data backed up to external hard drives. Some of us have never lost any data due to a hard drive failure; while some, ahem, one of my friends, have had some sort of hard drive issue and lost weeks or months’ worth of archives. How to prevent an external hard drive from data loss? Below are some tips or tricks:

  • Always store your external hard drive in a secure place. Treat it like it’s made out of glass. Do not store your external hard drive where someone can easily take it away. When using an external HDD, the drive must be located on a flat, level, and non-slip surface.
  • Always use an outlet with a surge protector when you plug in your external hard drive. Some hard drives draw power directly from your laptop. This is a more convenient solution.
  • Use the USB plug properly. Most external hard drives are connected to a computer using a USB plug. When removing a USB cable from a device, use the Remove Device option properly and pull gently from the cable connector.
  • Please back up your external hard drive files at other storage media whenever needed.
  • Consider cloud storage as an important backup means, so you can access your data from any Internet-enabled device in the event of an emergency. While some cloud services like Dropbox, and OneDrive offers free online storage for you to store files.


In conclusion, if you lose your important data from an external hard drive due to unknown reasons or you don’t have a backup to recover, you can always try MacDeed Data Recovery to recover data from the external hard drive:

  • Recover photos, audio, documents, videos, and other files from the hard drive
  • Support recovering data from hard drive under data loss situations including mistaken deletion, improper operation, formation, hard drive crashes, etc
  • Support all kinds of storage devices like SD cards, HDD, SSD, iPods, USB drives, etc
  • Preview files before recovery
  • Quickly search files with keyword, file size, date created, and date modified
  • Recover files to a local drive or cloud platforms
  • Easy and fast to use

Download it below and start your external hard drive recovery process.

Try It FreeTry It Free

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 4.7 / 5. Vote count: 6

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.