PC Not Showing External Hard Drive: How to Fix?

By Puja Chatterjee on March 01, 2023

An external hard drive is not supposed to or designed to last forever, but it is expected that as long as it does, you can use it to its fullest potential. If, at any point in time, it does not show up on your PC, you will not be able to access it.

Well, do not fret, and there is no reason to think that all the files stored on the drive are lost. Here are some easy fixes to this specific issue, which is quite a normal occurrence, to be precise.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Why Does a PC Not Show an External Hard Drive?

There can be several probable reasons for an external hard drive not showing up on a PC, and it is not always that the drive itself is dead. There can be issues with the USB ports or even in the partitions or formatting of the hard drive.

Here are some other valid reasons for an external drive to be invisible on a PC:

Fix PC Not Showing External Hard Drive

How to Fix PC Not Showing External Hard Drive?

Some of the most common and simple fixes for an external hard drive not showing up in a PC are to check that it turns on, to use another system, to use Disk Management or CHKDSK tools, to reinstall or update drivers, to format the drive, and many more.

Assuming that the external hard disk is not damaged and powers on properly, (which will call for a complete replacement), but is still not detected, here are the fixes in detail, applicable in Windows 10 or 11.

Method 1: Checking the USB Port and Cable

A lot of times, a faulty cable or port may not allow the PC to detect an external hard drive. Therefore, checking them is one of the simplest solutions of all for resolving the issue.

STEPS TO FIX:

plugging it into a different USB port

Checking the USB port and cable

Method 2: Using Windows Troubleshooter

Often, a problem with the hard drive or its connection cannot be detected by a user easily. In that case using the Windows troubleshooter is perhaps the best way to go ahead.

This useful tool will detect, fix and inform about the issue.

STEPS TO FIX:

Additional troubleshooters

However, in the recent systems, you may not find it there. For that, you will need to follow these steps:

open Command Prompt

msdt.exe – id DeviceDiagnostic

This will bring up the Hardware and Device troubleshooter. Click on Advanced, and make sure it is checked. This will help you to find the reason and act accordingly to fix the issue.

In most of the times, you will need to do the following:

In the Hardware and Device troubleshooter, perform an automatic repair.

perform an automatic repair

Wait for a few seconds for changes to be applied and a new window Select a device to troubleshoot appears. Click on ‘Unknown USB Device (Device descriptor Request failed) has error’ option and then on Next.

Select a device to troubleshoot

Finally, close the troubleshooter.

close the troubleshooter

Method 3: Edit Power Plan

There may be issues in the power settings that may also prevent the external hard drive from being detected by the computer system due to inadequate power supply.

Therefore, if the above methods do not work, it is good to focus on the power plan and make the necessary adjustments.

STEPS TO FIX:

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Edit Power Plan

When it is done, simply restart your PC and insert your external hard drive. It will be detected now.

Method 4: Using Disk Management to Give the Drive a New Letter

Sometimes, the PC cannot detect an external drive because it may not have a proper drive letter.

In such a situation, it is good to give a new name to the external drive and resolve the issue, permanently. For this you will have to use the Disk management tool in your computer.

STEPS TO FIX:

Using Disk Management to give the drive a new letter

Click on Disk Management

Healthy

Change Drive Letter and Paths

Click on the Add button

Add Drive Letter or Path

As you can see in the Healthy (Primary Section), your external hard drive is now recognized by the PC as Drive G.

Drive G

You can see this when you double-click on the My PC window.

double-click on the My PC

Method 5: Initialize or Re-initialize the Drive

The functionality of the drive may not be as desired by the computer system which will make it detectable.

Therefore, it is paramount that you ensure that the functionality of the drive is proper, and if it is not, it is restored, in a few quick and easy steps, either by initializing or re-initializing the external hard drive.

This is extremely important when you are using a brand new external hard drive.

STEPS TO FIX:

In order to make the drive recognizable, follow these steps:

New Simple Volume

New Simple Volume Wizard

Enter the volume size

Completing New Simple Volume Wizard

All these, however, can be left to Windows to do automatically and set defaults according to the best possible options.

Method 6: Format the Drive

The external drive you are using may not be formatted properly and therefore may not be detected by the PC.

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So, you may need to format the drive as well to make it recognizable, especially if you have formatted it before in a file system that Windows cannot recognize. First, ensure that the external drive is connected.

STEPS TO FIX:

Format the drive

Perform a quick format

Click on the OK button again when the confirmation window appears

Method 7: Check Driver Errors

There may be some errors in the drive that the computer system may not be able to deduce and hence not detect. In such a situation, you will need to use the Device Manager and fix the issue.

STEPS TO FIX:

Check driver errors

Update Driver option under Universal Serial Bus controllers

Search automatically for updated driver software

Follow the instructions to complete the process.

Method 8: Run CHKDSK

There may be some hidden issues in the hard drive that you may not be able to detect, just as the computer cannot.

In such a situation, there is another useful tool to use to fix the issue – the CheckDisk command-line utility built in Windows.

The CHKDSK, in short, can also help you a lot to troubleshoot the issue of an external drive not getting detected by Windows or cannot be accessed.

STEPS TO FIX:

This will check the issue and might even resolve it, apart from informing the error in just a few seconds’ time.

Conclusion

So, now you know that an external hard drive may not show up on your PC, and there is no reason to panic. As mentioned in this article, these are the easy and quick steps to follow to resolve the issue.

Try one or a couple of them if you ever face this specific issue, depending on the cause and the specific situation.