How do I fix a corrupted Seagate drive?

What Causes Corrupted Seagate Drives?

There are several common causes of corruption on Seagate drives:

File system errors can occur if the drive is disconnected improperly or experiences an unexpected shutdown. This can lead to inconsistencies in the file system structure on the drive. Improperly formatted drives are also prone to file system issues (

Bad sectors develop when areas of the physical disk become damaged and unusable. Attempting to access these bad sectors will lead to data corruption. Bad sectors often spread over time as the drive deteriorates (

Virus or malware infections can modify and corrupt files stored on the Seagate drive. Malicious programs intentionally target and damage data to render it inaccessible.

An unexpected power loss or improper drive ejection during a read/write operation can lead to partially written data being corrupted. The drive firmware or OS then struggles to make sense of the inconsistent data.

Hardware failure of disk components like the read/write heads, motor, or PCB can lead to corrupted access attempts. As mechanical parts degrade, data errors increase.

How to Diagnose a Corrupted Seagate Drive

There are several common signs that indicate your Seagate drive may be corrupted or damaged:

Error messages when accessing the drive

You may get error messages like “Drive not accessible” or “You need to format the disk before you can use it” when trying to open the drive in Windows File Explorer. This typically means the file system on the drive has become corrupted. Seagate USB External drive diagnostics

Inability to open files

If you can see the files and folders on the drive but get errors when trying to open them, the drive’s file system or sectors where those files are stored may be damaged. Running chkdsk may help repair this issue.

Missing or inaccessible partitions

If some or all of the drive’s partitions are missing or inaccessible in Disk Management, the drive’s partition table may be corrupted. This can sometimes be repaired using data recovery software or Seagate’s tools.

Unusual slowness

A significantly slow Seagate drive can indicate problems reading data from the platters. This could point to physical damage or corrupted firmware. Updating drivers and firmware may help.

Back Up Important Data

If the corrupted Seagate drive contains any important personal files or documents that need to be recovered, it is critical to back up this data before proceeding with any repairs. Connect the corrupted Seagate drive to another working computer using a direct USB, Thunderbolt, or eSATA connection.

Use trusted data recovery software such as Recoverit Data Recovery ( to scan the drive and find any retrievable files. The software will allow you to preview found files before choosing which ones to selectively extract and save to another location.

Be sure to save the recovered data files to a different healthy drive, not back onto the corrupted Seagate drive itself. Prioritize recovering important documents, photos, videos, or other personal files, before attempting any repairs on the corrupted drive.

Try the Drive Repair Tool

Seagate provides their free Seatools diagnostic software that can help repair corrupted drives.1 This software runs various tests to diagnose issues and has options to fix some drive problems. To use Seatools:

  1. Download Seatools for Windows or Mac from the Seagate website.
  2. Connect the Seagate drive to your computer.
  3. Open the Seatools app and select the drive you want to test.
  4. Run the “Basic Tests” to diagnose any issues.
  5. If problems are found, select the “Fix All” option to repair corrupt sectors.

Seatools will thoroughly test the drive hardware and attempt to repair any errors with the file system or bad sectors on the disk. This often resolves many corruption problems with Seagate drives. However, if the drive fails these repairs, more advanced troubleshooting may be required.

Reset the Drive

Resetting the drive involves completely erasing and reformatting the drive. This will remove any corruption, but it will also erase all data stored on the drive. Before resetting, be sure to back up any important files you want to keep.

To reset the drive, first connect it to your computer. Then open Disk Management in Windows (press Windows Key + R and type “diskmgmt.msc”). Right click on the corrupted Seagate drive and choose “Format”. Make sure to select NTFS as the file system.

This will completely wipe the drive and reformat it from scratch. Once completed, the drive should function normally again without any corruption. However, you’ll have to copy any files you backed up back onto the drive.

Resetting is an option if corruption is severe and you’ve exhausted other options like using the drive repair tool or updating firmware. Just be aware that you will lose all data on the drive.

Replace Damaged Sectors

Hard drives can develop bad sectors over time that may lead to data corruption. Bad sectors occur when areas of the disk platter become damaged and unreadable by the drive head. Seagate’s SeaTools for Windows includes a “Fix All” option under “Basic Tests” that can map out bad sectors to prevent them from being accessed.

Mapping out bad sectors isolates corruption to small portions of the disk that are no longer usable. The SeaTools repair tool will mark these sectors as unavailable in the drive’s internal mapping table. This prevents the operating system from attempting to store data in bad sectors again. Running SeaTools can often resolve corruption issues by avoiding parts of the disk that have gone bad.

According to Seagate’s support article “What do I do if my drive reports bad sectors?”, formatting the drive after mapping out bad sectors may further isolate corruption to only those portions of the disk. This approach essentially creates a fresh file system without the bad areas present.1

However, any data previously written to bad sectors will likely remain inaccessible. While mapping out sectors can prevent further issues, already corrupted data may be irrecoverable.

Update Firmware

Updating your Seagate drive’s firmware may help fix corruption issues. Seagate periodically releases firmware updates that address bugs, improve performance, and fix drive errors.

According to Seagate’s Firmware Update Utility Instructions and FAQ, updating the firmware can resolve detected issues with the drive, including corruption problems. The firmware update utility loads the new firmware directly onto the Seagate hard drive.

Before updating, be sure to back up your data. Then download the Seagate Firmware Update Utility for your specific drive model from the Seagate website. Follow the instructions to install the utility and update the firmware. This should install the latest firmware release, which may contain fixes for any bugs causing corruption.

Updating firmware is worth trying to address sporadic corruption problems with a Seagate drive before exploring more involved solutions. Just be sure to use the Seagate-provided utility, as incorrect firmware can also lead to further issues.

Replace Cabling

One potential cause of a seemingly corrupted Seagate drive is bad or loose cabling between the drive and the computer. A cable that is worn out or not properly connected can cause issues that appear similar to a corrupted drive.

Before assuming the drive itself is corrupted, it’s a good idea to try swapping out the cables and ports used to connect it. Switch to a different USB cable or try connecting the drive to another USB port on the computer. If using an external power supply, change out that cable as well.

Loose connections or fraying/damaged cables are known to cause sporadic issues with external drives. Replacing cables essentially mimics the electrical connections of a brand new drive. If the apparent corruption disappears after switching cables, the drive itself likely isn’t corrupted, just the connection between it and the computer.

Replacing cables and ports is an easy first troubleshooting step when dealing with potential Seagate drive corruption. It can prevent unnecessary drive repairs or data recovery procedures if the underlying issue is just a faulty or loose cable.

Try a Different Computer

One troubleshooting step to try is connecting the Seagate drive to a different computer. This can help isolate whether the corruption issue is tied specifically to the original machine or if it persists across multiple computers.

For external drives, simply unplug the USB or other connection cable from the original computer and plug it into another one. If it’s an internal drive, you would need to install it in another desktop computer or connect it to another laptop using a hard drive enclosure or adapter cable.

Once connected to the second computer, check if the drive is detected in the operating system and can be accessed normally. If the drive works fine on the other computer, the corruption is likely tied specifically to the original machine. This points to a software or hardware issue on that computer rather than a problem with the drive itself.

However, if the Seagate drive continues to show corruption or errors on other computers as well, this indicates there is a deeper issue with the drive hardware or firmware. At that point, solutions like updating drivers, firmware, or disk repair tools may be required, or the drive may need to be replaced if it cannot be repaired.

Trying the drive on different computers is a simple step that can quickly determine if the corruption is isolated or more widespread. It can help narrow down the root cause before spending time on more in-depth troubleshooting of the drive itself.


Replace the Drive

If all other troubleshooting steps fail to fix your corrupted Seagate drive, the issue is likely caused by physical damage to the hardware. Hard drives can fail due to a variety of factors including age, excessive heat, physical shock, firmware bugs, and manufacturing defects.

According to Backblaze, most hard drives start to show signs of failure around the 3-5 year mark. Drives that receive heavy usage may fail sooner. Portable external drives are especially prone to failure from being constantly plugged/unplugged and transported.

If your Seagate external drive is several years old and has been subjected to frequent transport and handling, physical damage is the probable cause of corruption. In this case, replacing the drive is the only option.

To replace the drive, purchase a new compatible Seagate model. Be sure to choose a drive with equal or greater capacity. Once you have the new drive, connect it to your computer, reformat it, and transfer your data from backup.

Replacing your external drive will breathe new life into your storage and backup needs. Be sure to implement regular backups going forward to avoid data loss when your next drive eventually fails.