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How to Fix External Hard Drive Not Showing Up

How to Fix External Hard Drive Not Showing Up

Have you ever encountered the frustration of plugging in your external hard drive only to find that it doesn’t show up on your computer? This issue can be daunting, especially when important data is at stake. Fortunately, there are several methods to troubleshoot and resolve this problem. In this article, we’ll explore various techniques, from simple checks to more advanced solutions, including the use of tools like Disk Drill App. By following these steps, you’ll increase your chances of recovering your external hard drive and accessing your valuable files once again. For more insights and community experiences, don’t forget to check out the discussion on this [Reddit page](External hard drive won’t show up), where users share their tips and solutions for resolving this issue.


Common Scenarios:

Initial Connection Issues 🤔

  • One of the most common reasons your external hard drive doesn’t show up is due to initial connection problems.
  • This includes faulty USB cables, USB ports, or even the external hard drive not being powered properly.
  • Ensuring proper connections can often resolve the issue immediately.

When you first connect your external hard drive and it doesn’t appear, it can be due to several initial connection failures. This might be caused by a damaged USB cable, a malfunctioning USB port, or the drive itself not being properly powered. Make sure to check these basics to rule out any simple connection issues before digging deeper.

Driver Problems 🚫

  • Driver issues are another frequent cause of an external hard drive not appearing.
  • This can happen due to outdated, missing, or corrupted drivers.
  • Updating or reinstalling the drivers can resolve many detection problems.

If your external hard drive isn’t showing up, it’s possible that it may have a problem with its drivers. An outdated, corrupted, or missing driver can prevent your operating system from recognizing the device. Updating or installing the necessary drivers can often resolve these issues.

Partition and File System Issues 🔄

  • Partition or file system issues might also prevent your external hard drive from showing up.
  • This can occur due to improper formatting or corruption in the drive’s partition table.
  • Using disk management tools can help identify and fix these issues.

Another common scenario is that the external hard drive might be suffering from partition or file system issues. These problems can be due to improper formatting or corruption within the drive’s partition table. Utilize disk management tools to diagnose and resolve these issues.


Step-by-Step Guide. External Hard Drive Not Showing Up:

Method 1: Check Physical Connections 🔌

  • Make sure the USB cable is securely connected to both your external hard drive and your computer.
  • Try connecting the external drive to a different USB port on your computer.
  • Use a different USB cable to rule out cable issues.
  • If possible, connect the external hard drive to another computer to see if it’s recognized.

Note: Ensure that the external drive is properly powered, especially if it requires an external power source.

Conclusion: Checking physical connections is a simple but crucial first step. Often, issues arise from loose or faulty connections.

Method 2: Update or Reinstall Drivers ⚙

  • Go to the Device Manager on your computer.
  • Expand the Disk drives category and locate your external hard drive.
  • Right-click the drive and select Update driver. Follow the prompts to update the driver.
  • If updating doesn’t work, select Uninstall device and then restart your computer. The system should reinstall the driver automatically.

Note: Visit the manufacturer’s website for the latest driver updates if necessary.

Conclusion: Updating or reinstalling drivers can resolve many detection issues caused by corrupted or outdated drivers.

Method 3: Use Disk Management 🛠

  • Press Win + X and select Disk Management.
  • Check if your external hard drive appears in the list of connected disks.
  • If it does, check if it has a drive letter assigned. Right-click the drive and select Change Drive Letter and Paths to assign a letter.
  • Look for partitions that may be marked as Unallocated. If found, right-click and select New Simple Volume to create a new partition and assign a drive letter.

Note: Be careful not to format the drive if it contains important data, as this will erase all information on it.

Conclusion: Disk Management is a powerful tool that can help identify and resolve partition-related issues.

Method 4: Scan for Hardware Changes 🔄

  • Open the Device Manager by right-clicking on the Start button and selecting Device Manager.
  • Click on the Action tab and select Scan for hardware changes.
  • Wait for the scan to complete and check if your external hard drive appears in the Device Manager list.
  • If it appears, right-click and select Update driver or Enable device if it’s disabled.

Note: This method forces your computer to re-detect all connected hardware, which can resolve recognition issues.

Conclusion: Scanning for hardware changes can help your computer identify and connect to devices that were previously not detected.

Method 5: Use Disk Drill App 🛠

  • Download and install Disk Drill App from their official website: Disk Drill.
  • Launch Disk Drill and select your external hard drive from the list of available disks.
  • Click on the Recover button to start the scanning process.
  • Wait for the scan to complete and follow the prompts to recover your files.

Note: Disk Drill is a powerful data recovery tool that can retrieve lost files from external hard drives that are not showing up.

Conclusion: Using specialized tools like Disk Drill can help recover data from problematic external hard drives.

Method 6: Check Power Supply 🔋

  • Ensure that your external hard drive is connected to an adequate power source.
  • Use a different power cable or adapter if available.
  • If your drive has an external power source, make sure the power indicator on the drive is on.
  • Try connecting the drive to a different power outlet to rule out power issues.

Note: Insufficient power can prevent an external hard drive from being recognized by your computer.

Conclusion: Checking the power supply ensures that your external hard drive is receiving the necessary power to function correctly.

Method 7: Change USB Port Settings 🔀

  • Go to the Device Manager and expand the Universal Serial Bus controllers section.
  • Right-click on each USB Root Hub and select Properties.
  • Navigate to the Power Management tab and uncheck the box next to Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power.
  • Click OK and restart your computer.

Note: Disabling this setting prevents your computer from powering down USB ports, which can help in recognizing the external hard drive.

Conclusion: Adjusting USB port settings can resolve issues where the computer doesn’t recognize the connected drive due to power-saving features.


Precautions and Tips:

Essential Tips and Precautions 📝

  • Always safely eject your external hard drive to avoid corruption.
  • Regularly update your computer’s drivers and operating system.
  • Use Disk Drill App and other data recovery tools for problematic drives.

To prevent issues with your external hard drive, it’s crucial to always safely eject the drive to avoid data corruption. Regularly updating your drivers and operating system ensures that your computer can properly interact with your external devices. Additionally, having data recovery tools like Disk Drill can be invaluable for retrieving lost data from problematic drives.


Additional Information

When troubleshooting an external hard drive that is not showing up, it’s important to consider various factors that could be causing the issue. Apart from the steps already discussed, one can also check for signs of physical damage on the drive. If there are any visible damages or unusual sounds coming from the drive, it might need professional repair.

Another possible reason for an external hard drive not being recognized is compatibility issues. Ensure that your operating system supports the file system of the external hard drive. For example, some drives may be formatted for Mac (HFS+) and won’t show up on Windows without special software, and vice versa. Using compatible software can resolve these issues.

Viruses and malware can also cause detection issues. Running a full system scan using reputable antivirus software like Malwarebytes can diagnose and remove any harmful software that might be interfering with your external hard drive. For more detailed virus scans and protection, consider using Kaspersky.

For advanced users, opening the Command Prompt to use disk-related commands like chkdsk can identify and fix disk errors. This command checks the health of your disk and attempts to fix any logical file system errors. Be sure to back up important data as this process can sometimes result in data loss if the corruption is severe.

Lastly, considering a firmware update for your external hard drive may also help. Some manufacturers provide firmware updates that can fix known bugs and compatibility issues. Always refer to the manufacturer’s website for the latest firmware and instructions on how to apply it.

Following these steps and regularly maintaining your external hard drives can help prevent and resolve many common issues, ensuring your data remains safe and accessible.


In conclusion, dealing with an external hard drive that doesn’t show up can be challenging, but it can often be resolved with a series of steps and checks. From verifying physical connections and power supplies to updating drivers and using tools like Disk Drill, there are multiple ways to troubleshoot and fix the issue. Additionally, following best practices and tips can prevent future occurrences, ensuring your valuable data remains accessible. For further troubleshooting, you can refer to community discussions and other resources, like those available on Reddit for more insights and experiences from fellow users. Remember, patience and thoroughness are key in resolving hardware issues effectively.


First, ensure all cables are securely connected. Then, try plugging the drive into another USB port or a different computer.

Access your computer's Disk Management tool to see if the drive appears. If it does, you may need to assign a drive letter.

Yes, outdated or corrupt drivers can cause recognition issues. Updating or reinstalling the drivers may resolve the problem.

This often happens if the drive is unallocated or needs formatting. You can format it in Disk Management to make it usable.

Absolutely. A damaged or faulty USB cable can prevent the drive from being detected. Try using a different cable.

Yes, tools like CHKDSK and third-party software can diagnose and repair file system errors on external hard drives.

Yes, if an external drive requires more power than your USB port supplies, it may not be detected. Use an external power adapter if needed.

In Disk Management, right-click the unallocated space, select “New Simple Volume,” and follow the prompts to format it.

System updates can occasionally cause compatibility issues. Rolling back drivers or system updates may resolve the visibility problem.

For more detailed troubleshooting, visit Seagate or Western Digital support homepages for expert advice.