External drive not showing up or not being recognized? 6 fixes to try (2023)

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Removable media like USB sticks, SD cards, and external hard drives should be easy to use with your computer. But in some cases, you may connect your drive to a Windows PC or other device with a USB port and find the external hard drive not showing up.

This problem has several possible causes: partitioning problems on the external drive, using the wrong file system, dead USB ports, or driver problems in Windows. In the worst case, the drive itself could be dead.

Let's take a look at what to do if your external hard drive isn't showing up in Windows.

1. Make sure your external drive is turned on

This is a preliminary step, but it's worth taking a look at. Almost all flash drives and many external hard drives do not require a separate power source - they are powered via USB. However, some external desktop drives have dedicated power cords, or at least a physical switch.

If you do and your external hard drive doesn't show up, there could be a problem with your device's power cord. Try plugging it into a different outlet or change the cord if possible. Be aware of signs of activity, such as B. flashing lights on the device or hum of motion within the device before proceeding.

If you don't see any sign that the drive is working no matter what you do, the device could be dead. make sure you know themSigns that your hard drive is failingso you can catch it early in case it happens again.

Assuming your device turns on but still doesn't show up, check the following items in order.

2. Check the drive in Disk Management

First you need to check if Windows recognizes the hard drive when you plug it in. Connect the removable drive to the computer if it is not already there.

Then open thedisk managementTool. To do this, presswin + x(or right-click the Start button) to open and select the Power User menudisk managementof the list. You can also open thepick upconverse withvictoria + Rand enterdiskmgmt.mscto open this utility.

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(Video) How to Fix External Hard Drive Not Showing Up

As the name suggests, Disk Management allows you to view all hard drives attached to your computer. it allows youCheck disk sizes, partitions and other information.

You should see your external drive in the Disk Management window, probably under your primary and secondary drives. even if it's not thereis pcSince it does not contain partitions, it should be here asremovableVolume.

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If you see the unit here, skip to Section 5 below. There, partition and/or properly format your drive for Windows and other devices to access.

If your external drive still doesn't show up in Disk Management, continue. You need to determine why your drive is not recognized. You might have a hardware issue, driver issue, or a dead drive.

3. Try a different USB port and computer

The reason your external drive is not being recognized might not be your device but the port you use to connect it to your computer.

Disconnect the drive from its current slot and try connecting it to a different USB port on your computer. If it works on one USB port but not another, you may have a dead USB port. To seeHow to Diagnose and Repair Dead USB Portsif you suspect

If you connected the drive to a USB hub, try connecting it directly to your computer. Some USB hubs do not provide enough power to power an external drive.

What if the drive doesn't show up in Disk Management even after these two steps? It's hard to know for sure if the drive is faulty or if the computer has a problem. If you have another computer nearby, try connecting the external drive to it to see if it recognizes it.

If the drive doesn't work in any computer you connect it to, the drive is probably dead and needs to be replaced. If you try another machine, don't just checkis pc🇧🇷 Make sure it appears in your computer's Disk Management window as described above. Even if it works, the drive may not show up in File Explorer if it doesn't have a volume that Windows can identify.

(Video) 【Fixed】External Hard Drive Not Showing Up in My Computer

4. Device Driver Troubleshooting

If the drive shows up on other computers, or if you don't have another computer to test it with, Windows may have a problem with your device driver. You can verify this with Device Manager.

You will find a link todevice administratorunder the samewin + xmenu mentioned above. You can also enterdevmgmt.mscin the Run dialog box to open it.

In Device Manager, expand theunitsCategorize and search for devices with a yellow exclamation point next to them. It's a good idea to check this outuniversal serial bus controllersection too.

If you see the error icon for an entry, this device has a driver problem. Right click on the device with the problem, select itFeaturesand note the error message indevice status🇧🇷 This information can help you solve the problem.

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we exploreHow To Fix This Device Cannot Start (Code 10) Errorlike thisFixes for "Unknown USB Device", which provides good steps for troubleshooting drivers. There are some more general steps you can take if these guides don't work for your problem, although driver issues can be difficult to fix.

If the problem started recently,try running system restoreto undo the changes. If that doesn't help, you can right click on the affected device in Device Manager and use theupdate driversbutton to install an updated driver.

However, this rarely finds a new driver for generic devices like flash drives. Instead, you can search the manufacturer's website for a specific driver for your external hard drive; see oursWindows Driver Update Guidefor more help.

oConductorinstructions appearing inFeaturesEach device's menu in Device Manager has a few different options.rollback controllerroll back any recent driver updates (if applicable), which probably won't have any effect if system restore doesn't work.

As a last resort, you can use theuninstall deviceButton to remove the device from your system. After the reboot, Windows will reinstall the driver and hopefully set it up correctly when you reconnect the drive.

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5. Create a new disk volume

If your device appeared in Disk Management at #. #2 above, or one of the troubleshooting steps above caused Windows to recognize it, you can initialize the drive before you can use it. In addition to displaying basic information, the Disk Management tool can also fix partition and file system problems on your disk.

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If your removable disk only showsnot assigneddisk space, you need to create a new partition on it. This allows Windows and other operating systems to use the device. To create a new partition, right-click anywhere on thenot assignedspace selectnew simple volumeand follow the wizard to create a new partition.

Once the drive has a partition, you can see it on theis pcpanel and use it normally.

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If your drive is partitioned (meaning it's something other thannot assignedspaces) and you still can't see it anywhere in Windows, make sure it has a drive letter defined. This should happen automatically, but if for some reason you manually removed the drive letter, the volume may not be accessible in Windows.

To change the drive letter, right-click the removable disk partition and selectChange drive letters and paths🇧🇷 If the device does not have a letter yet, click onAddand choose one. If so, clickchangeand try another.

A little further down the alphabet likeGRAMSoj, is standard for removable media and works fine. Avoid earlier letters likeAmiC, which are reserved by Windows for other purposes.

After changing the drive letter, you may want to do thisshow all drives on this pcto make sure it shows up.

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6. Format the external drive

If the drive appears to be partitioned but Windows still can't access it, it's probably partitioned with a different file system.

For example, you may have formatted the drive with the ext4 file system on Linux or APFS on a Mac. Windows cannot read these file systems. You must reformat the drive witha file system that Windows can access, such as NTFS, exFAT or the old FAT32 for Windows to recognize it.

To reformat a partition in the Disk Management utility, right-click and select itFormat.

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(Video) How To Fix External Hard Drive not showing up or detected in Windows 10

RealiseFormatting will erase all files on your drive, you must copy all important files on it to another device before proceeding. If the drive is formatted for use on a Linux or Mac computer, take it to a computer running that operating system to back up the files before formatting.

When formatting, you can rename the drive as you like. Leaveallocation unit sizeAsmodel🇧🇷 Seeking outPerform a quick formatchecked is also good. More importantly, you must select aFile System🇧🇷 Which one you should choose depends on the type of device and the purpose for which you are using it.

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What file system should I choose for an external drive?

If you have a small flash drive, it probably came formattedFAT32🇧🇷 Although old, this file format is still used for small storage devices due to its wide compatibility. However, it is not a perfect choice.

FAT32 has a maximum file size of 4 GB and only supports volumes up to 2 TB. It is unlikely that you will encounter any of these problems when using a flash drive, but there are still limitations. The main reason to use FAT32 is that it works with virtually any device such as cameras, media players, game consoles, and more.

exFAT, on the other hand, is a more modern successor to FAT32. It's not as ubiquitous as FAT32, but it's free from the file size limitations of the old format. exFAT also performs faster in tests.

Therefore, unless you have a specific compatibility reason for using FAT32, we recommend exFAT for small removable drives, such as flash drives. we havecompared FAT32 and exFATif you are interested in a deeper analysis of the differences.

The other option isNTFS🇧🇷 This is the modern standard file system for Windows, but it is of no use if you use it on a flash drive. Many older devices do not support NTFS and there is a lot of unnecessary overhead on smaller drives.

It's okay to use NTFS for large external hard drives that you only use with Windows computers. However, if you want to use the hard drive with other computers, choose exFAT.

(Video) How To Fix External Hard Disk Not Detecting In Windows (No Drive Letter)

Now your external drive will be recognized and will reappear!

Following this process when external hard drives don't show up should resolve most hard drive detection issues you'll encounter. If you've tried the drive on multiple computers and it never appeared in the Disk Management window after these steps, the drive is probably dead. You can take it to a computer repair shop to make sure, but at this point you can be pretty sure it's dead toast.

Fortunately, there are many great external drive replacement options that don't cost a lot of money.


1. How to Fix External Hard Drive Not Showing or Not Detecting in Windows 10/8.1/7
(MJ Tube)
2. 5 Ways to Fix External Hard Drive Not Showing Up on Windows
3. How to fix an external drive not detected in Windows
4. External hard drive / USB does not show up in File Explorer Windows 10 / Windows 11
5. External Hard Drive Not Showing up or Detected in Windows 11/10
6. How to Fix External Hard Disk Detected but Not Opening Issue?
(Wondershare Recoverit Data Recovery)


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