Recovering Data Since 1993

External Hard Drive Not Showing Up, How to Recover files?

At times, when you plug in an external drive into your system you won’t be able to see it in the ‘Computer’ screen or AutoPlay in Windows. Here, you will be able, to take a look at ways to resolve external hard drive not showing up issues and make it accessible for use on Windows running systems.

The problem starts when you plug in an external USB drive to your system, and nothing happens. At times, you might hear the USB connection sound as well, but still, AutoPlay doesn’t run, when you check the drive in ‘Computer’, you don’t see any external drive here. Usually, this problem occurs when Windows named the drive to a letter that is already in use.

External hard drive not showing up

Steps to locate inaccessible or invisible external hard drive in Windows 10, 8, 7

  1. To fix the above-explained problem, you need to open ‘Disk Management’.
  2. In the disk management window, a list of all the connected external drives and the existing ones along with their complete details will be visible. Here, you will be able to determine the drive you’re trying to access by its size and format type.
  3. Now, right-click on the drive, select ‘Change Drive Letter and Paths’ option and then click on the Change button.
  4. Select a drive letter from the available alphabets to rename it. Make sure the selected drive letter is not already in use.
  5. A warning dialogue prompted and asked you to change the drive letter. Click Yes.
  6. Now, you will be able to see the changed the drive letter
  7. After the successful process, you’ll be able to see the AutoPlay screen asking what you want to do with the drive and ‘Computer’ also displays the drive that can be accessed.

Following these steps will most probably resolve the external hard drive not showing up the issue. But what if the drive is not showing in the Disk Management as well?

Making Windows Recognise the Drive when it doesn’t appear in ‘Disk Management’

If Windows doesn’t list your external drive in the Disk Management, then possibly there could be a problem with USB port, a driver problem with Windows or you are using a dead drive.

Check USB port:

  • First, try to plugging your targeted drive into another USB port on your computer. If it works then, you might have a dead USB port. In case you are using a USB hub then try to connect the drive directly to the computer instead of as some USB hubs don’t provide sufficient power to function external drive.
  • If still, the drive doesn’t appear in Disk Management then connect it to another computer’s USB port instead to check whether the drive itself is bad or the computer has certain issues. Make sure you have checked whether the drive appears in the computer’s Disk Management window. If not then you are using a dead drive that needs to replace.

Update the driver

  • If the external hard drive does work on another computer then your Windows itself may be having a driver problem. You can determine it using Device Manager.
  • Open Device Manager and check for devices with a yellow exclamation mark next to them. If you can find out a yellow exclamation mark, then there must be a driver problem. Right-click the device with a yellow exclamation mark and choose Properties, and go through the error message. This error message can help you resolve the issue.
  • To resolve such problem, you can also run System Restore or can also use the Update Driver button to install an updated driver. To revert any changes, select the Roll Back Driver button or use Uninstall button to uninstall the device from your system. Hopefully, this will configure your external drive correctly when you reconnect the drive.

Partitioning and Formatting the Drive

At times the unpartitioned drive is also a reason for becoming invisible or inaccessible external drive. When the drive is full of “unallocated space,” then you need to create a new partition on it to show visibility. Windows Disk Management tool can fix this partition and file system issue. Therefore, use Windows operating systems to do it.

Right-click inside the unallocated space, select New Simple Volume and follow the wizard to create a new partition.

In case the drive is partitioned, but still, you can’t access the drive from another device, then probably it is not formatted as NTFS. At times many devices can’t read the Windows NTFS file system. To fix this problem format the drive with the FAT32 file system.

Note: This process will remove all the stored files on your external drive, therefore first try to copy the important files to another drive. In case you are unable to access the data, recover it with an efficient partition recovery software and then only format the drive after successful backup.

Use Professional Software

Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery – Professional is a highly recommended tool that is capable enough to restore inaccessible files from the external hard drive. Its simple and intuitive interface doesn’t require any technical knowledge to run it properly. Due to its highly positive reviews most professional use this utility to recover data from their inaccessible external drive.

Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery - Professional

Overall, whenever you face any inaccessibility issues with your external drives, then it is always better to go with a reliable Partition Recovery Software instead of trying different methods to make it accessible as it might end up with a data loss situation.



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