External Hard Drive Photo Recovery

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Maybe you decided to turn your photography hobby to a profession. From memory card to USB flash drive, your external storage devices start to pile up as your portfolio grows. Hence, you decide to purchase an external hard drive where you will store both the breathtaking and beautiful photos you have captured to date. However, like many of us, at some point you realize that some photos are missing on your external hard drive.

You may have accidentally deleted photos from your external hard drive. The image files may have gotten corrupted due to virus, mishandling, or carelessness. This external hard drive photo recovery guide will show you how to recover deleted or formatted photos and videos from an external hard drive.

an external hard drive

External hard drives are surprisingly prone to data loss

Published: Mar 23 2012
Updated: Feb 18 2013

Note: After you realize that you need to recover deleted photos from your external hard drive, it is highly advised that you avoid using the external hard drive for the time being. You may not be able to see the photos, but missing photos are still most likely still on your external hard drive. They are simply moved to some hidden location. By continuing to use the hard drive, you risk writing over those pictures you are trying to recover. When this happens, you will not be able to restore the deleted external hard drive photos anymore, even with the the best photo recovery software in town.

Double check first

Sometimes the pictures are actually still on the hard drive or on the computer that it was most recently connected to. Before you go any further, check your recycle bin while your external hard drive is connected. You may also try connecting the external hard drive to another computer as there may be a problem with computer you are using to access the hard drive.

Scan for missing files

Next we’ll try using software to recover the pictures. For this guide we’ll use Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery which is available for both Windows and Mac.

Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery is a secured application can recover deleted or lost photos as well as audio and video files. It works even after the external hard drive has been formatted. It can also restore deleted photos from other types of storage devices, like memory card, USB flash drive, and memory stick. So keep it around even after you recover lost pictures from your external hard drive.

  1. Make sure that your hard drive is connected to your computer and launch Photo Recovery. After the program opens, begin by loading the Recovery Wizard.
  2. You will be asked to choose a drive. Your external hard drive is most likely listed under Removable Devices. If you are unsure, you can double check in the My Computer section on Windows or Mac desktop.
  3. Choose the file types you wish to recover. If you are unsure which format your pictures were in, leave all options checked.
  4. Scan the drive. Click Scan and let the program do its thing.
  5. Choose the pictures to recover. You will be shown thumbnails of all the photos Photo Recovery found. Click the ones you want back and save the to a different storage device, preferably the computer that you are using.

Now you should have all of your pictures back. Next time back up more often and consider a cloud backup service, like Mozy.


I got all of my missing pictures back when I thought they were gone forever. Now I want to help you get yours back too. Me on Google+

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