PC Not Showing External Hard Drive: How to Fix?

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Fix PC Not Showing External Hard Drive

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

  • Often, using a different port for the drive may make it visible once again.
  • You may also check whether or not the drive itself is powered up, enabled and mounted properly.
  • You may need to update the drivers because they are outdated at times, as well as troubleshoot the device and hardware.
  • There may be a few minor corruptions in the drive itself preventing it from being recognized, and this can be resolved by a simple and quick scan.
  • Using the CHKDSK feature of Windows or Disk Management for troubleshooting and other checks may also resolve the issue very easily.

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:

  • The hard drive drivers in Windows may be outdated or incompatible.
  • The file system itself may be wrong or improperly managed.
  • There may be minor corruptions or bad sectors on the drive.
  • The disk controller of the drive may be physically damaged.
  • The PC itself may have viruses, malware or technical glitches.

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.

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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:

  • First, try plugging it into a different¬†USB port. If it works there, then the earlier port may be dead or need repairing.

plugging it into a different USB port

  • Secondly, try using a different¬†USB cord¬†or cable. This will often resolve the issue because, as you may know, USB cords often fail just at the time when you need them the most.

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:

  • Go to Settings
  • Click on Update and Security
  • Click on¬†Additional troubleshooters
  • Look for Hardware troubleshooter

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

  • Type in the¬†command¬†–¬†msdt.exe ‚Äď id DeviceDiagnostic

msdt.exe ‚Äď 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 ‚ÄėUnknown USB Device (Device descriptor Request failed) has error‚Äô 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:

  • Go to the Start menu or Search bar
  • Type¬†Edit Power Plan
  • Click on the app
  • Click on Change advanced power Settings
  • Find USB setting on the new window
  • Select USB selective suspend setting
  • Disable this option
  • Click on Apply and then click on OK

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.

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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:

  • Go to My Computer,¬†This PC¬†or My PC
  • Right-click on the icon
  • Click on the Manage option on the pop-up window

Using Disk Management to give the drive a new letter

  • Click on¬†Disk Management¬†on the left-hand side panel

Click on Disk Management

  • Look at the bottom part for a¬†Healthy (Primary Partition), which is not detected

Healthy (Primary Partition)

  • Right-click on it
  • Click on¬†Change Drive Letter and Paths

Change Drive Letter and Paths

  • Click on the¬†Add button

Click on the Add button

  • In the¬†Add Drive Letter or Path¬†window click on Assign the following drive letter
  • Click on the letter drop down beside it
  • Assign the letter G (since the letters C to F are usually taken)
  • Click on the OK 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:

  • Connect the drive to the PC
  • Open Disk Management as before
  • Right-click on the external drive saying ‚ÄėNot initialized‚Äô at the bottom part
  • Click on¬†Initialize disk
  • Click OK

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

  • Right-click on the unallocated space at the bottom in the¬†Disk Management¬†window.
  • Click on the New Simple Volume option.

New Simple Volume

  • Click on the Next button in the¬†New Simple Volume Wizard.

New Simple Volume Wizard

  • Enter the¬†volume size¬†of the hard drive in megabytes.

Enter the volume size

  • Click on the Next button again.
  • Assign a drive letter as before.
  • Click on Next.
  • Finally, click on¬†Finish¬†on the New Simple Volume Wizard.

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.

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:

  • Open Disk Management once again as mentioned earlier
  • Right-click on it
  • Select format
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Format the drive

  • Choose a file system
  • Check Perform a quick format
  • Click on the OK button

Perform a quick format

  • Click on the OK button again when the confirmation window appears

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:

  • Press the Windows and X keys together on your keyboard
  • Select¬†Device Manager¬†from the list
  • Click on the Disk Drives category to expand it
  • Look for any devices with a yellow exclamation mark beside it indicating the issue
  • Right-click on it
  • Select Properties

Check driver errors

  • Choose the Update Driver option under¬†Universal Serial Bus controllers

Update Driver option under Universal Serial Bus controllers

  • Select ‚ÄėSearch automatically for updated driver software‚Äô option in the¬†Update Driver¬†window

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 ‚Äď 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:

  • Go to Start and open Command Prompt as before
  • Select Run as Administrator
  • Type the command – chkdsk /f X: where X: indicates the drive that is not being detected.

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.

About Puja Chatterjee

AvatarPuja Chatterjee, a distinguished technical writer, boasts an extensive and nuanced understanding of computer technology. She is an esteemed graduate of the Bengal Institute of Management Studies (BIMS), where she honed her skills and knowledge in the tech domain. Over the span of more than 12 years, Puja has developed a deep expertise that encompasses not only technology writing, where she articulates complex technical concepts with clarity and precision, but also in the realm of client relationship management. Her experience in this area is characterized by her ability to effectively communicate and engage with clients, ensuring their needs are met with the highest level of professionalism and understanding of their technical requirements. Puja's career is marked by a commitment to excellence in both written communication within the tech industry and fostering strong, productive relationships with clients.

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Puja Chatterjee
Puja Chatterjee, a distinguished technical writer, boasts an extensive and nuanced understanding of computer technology. She is an esteemed graduate of the Bengal Institute of Management Studies (BIMS), where she honed her skills and knowledge in the tech domain. Over the span of more than 12 years, Puja has developed a deep expertise that encompasses not only technology writing, where she articulates complex technical concepts with clarity and precision, but also in the realm of client relationship management. Her experience in this area is characterized by her ability to effectively communicate and engage with clients, ensuring their needs are met with the highest level of professionalism and understanding of their technical requirements. Puja's career is marked by a commitment to excellence in both written communication within the tech industry and fostering strong, productive relationships with clients.
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