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How to Recover Data from Mac Hard Drive after it Dropped?

Vishal  | Updated on February 11, 2021 | Mac hard drive recovery   | 2 Comments   | 5 min read

Summary: This blog post shares the specific methods (ways) to help Mac users recover their data from a dropped hard drive.

Accidentally dropping a hard drive can cause device malfunction and result in loss of the data stored on it. A 'physically' dropped external hard drive would often need professional help for data recovery and device repair.

But, there may be cases wherein the dropped hard drive still gets detected on the Disk Utility (macOS).

In these cases, using a specialized data recovery software for Mac can help you recover the lost data from the dropped hard drive.

How to Recover Data from Mac Hard Drive after it Dropped?

Common Scenarios for External Hard Drive Dropped (Mac Users Attention)

Technical forums have discussion threads wherein iMac & MacBook users describe the various ways in which they’d dropped their external hard drives. Some of these include:

  1. Picked up the MacBook, forgetting that an external hard drive was attached to it. The hard drive fell on the floor, and now it’s not getting detected in the Finder. It shows a flashing white light with humming sound.
  2. The external hard drive fell off from the desk. After that, it’s not working on Mac. It’s not getting detected after you plug it into the system.
  3. The external hard drive makes a beeping or clicking sound after it fell down from a table.
  4. The external hard drive fell down from a table and gets powered on. Apparently, the dropped hard drive still works, but it’s not getting recognized by Mac. It appears to be spinning, but soon makes a clicking sound and stops.
  5. The external hard drive fell down from your pocket, and its casing came off. Now it makes a beeping noise when you connect it to the Mac.

All these scenarios depict that your external hard drive is damaged and not functioning properly. You can try out the following methods to fix the issue.

Fix 1: Try Connecting the External Hard Drive to Another Mac

Try connecting the hard drive to another Mac. If it gets detected there, you can easily take a backup of your data from the hard drive and then replace the damaged drive.

Fix 2: Use a USB – SATA / IDE adaptor

Note: Try this method only if you have the prerequisite experience and technical know how.

  1. Connect the hard drive to another Mac using the SATA to USB converter. This will make the hard drive as an external HDD.
  2. If the hard drive is not SATA compatible or supports PATA/IDE 3.0, then you need to buy a compatible disk cable to connect it.
  3. Once you have connected it to another machine, go to the Disk Utility tool. If all the cables, USB port cable are attached properly, the hard drive will get recognized.
  4. Now you can copy the data and files from the hard drive to the system immediately.

Fix 3: Use a Commercial Data Recovery Software

Note: Use this method if you’re able to mount the dropped hard drive on the Disk Utility

If you are lucky and your hard drive does mount on the Disk Utility, then use a commercial Mac data recovery software such as Stellar Data Recovery Professional (Mac) to recover all your lost data. The DIY software is equipped with an interactive GUI and recovers data in 3 simple steps.

Here’s how you can recover your data using this product:

Step 1. Download & install the software. Launch the software


Step 2. Select the type of data to recover or customize the scan accordingly. Click Next.

Stellar Mac data recovery

Step 3. Choose the damaged Mac drive from the list of available storage devices. Click Scan.

Select the Location

Step 4. The software begins scanning your chosen drive.

Stellar Mac Data Recovery - Scanning

Step 5. When the scanning completes, the recoverable data will be displayed in the left-hand panel. Double-click a file to launch Preview and select the desired files for recovery.

Stellar Mac Data Recovery - Preview

Step 6. Click the Recover option and provide a destination to save the recoverable files.

Stellar Mac Data Recovery - Browse Location

Fix 4: Move the read/write head of the external hard drive to their original position

Caution: This method is meant only for data recovery Professionals and not home users.

  1. Remove the screws on the back of the external drive using the T6 screwdriver.
  2. Take off the hard drive casing and keep it aside.
  3. Check if the read/write heads have hit the disk and stuck there.
  4. If yes, move them back to the starting position where they are supposed to be when the hard drive starts. Use the T6 screwdriver and the central spindle to do so.
  5. Be careful not to scratch the surface of the platters.
  6. Make sure that platters can move freely.
  7. Put on the cover back again to test the hard drive.
  8. If everything goes correctly, you should be able to detect the hard drive.

Fix 5: Avail Data Recovery Services

If you’re unable to detect the hard drive even after trying out all the above methods, it means the hard drive is physically crashed. You need to immediately reach out to a professional data recovery service provider who has the technical expertise and infrastructure to recover the lost data. When choosing a data recovery service, it’s crucial to consider track record, data care capabilities, physical infrastructure, and data privacy as the key qualifying parameters. For instance, a Class 100 clean room is an essential need for secure data recovery in case of physical cases of data loss. Likewise, the emphasis on maintaining data privacy is critically important.


The blog outlined a few methods to recover data that’s lost when an external hard drive is dropped on a hard surface such as floor. The physical impact of hard surface not just affects the life of the storage device but also integrity of the files stored on it.

The various methods shared in this blog post can help you deal with these hard drive issues, after it has fallen down, and recover the lost data. These methods include — connecting the hard drive to another Mac, using a USB – SATA / IDE adaptor, trying out a Mac data recovery software, and opening up the hard drive casing to reset the head assembly position.

In case none of these methods works, it means that your hard drive is physically crashed. Immediately reach out to a professional Data recovery service provider to recovery the lost data from such crashed hard drives.

  1. Mike J Mourphy June 25, 2019
    • Vishal June 26, 2019

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