External Hard Disk Drive Not Recognized, How to Fix It

External drives are the simplest way to transfer the stored data from one device to another. Usually, these USB drives are easy to handle, but at times, you might face connection issue with Windows PC or any other device, where the USB port is not able to not recognize the connected external drive. There could be a number of causes of this problem, such as driver issues in Windows, dead USB ports, partition issues on your external drive, wrong file system, etc. The worst case could be the dead drive itself.

Here are the steps you can follow to resolve the above-explained problem applied for both USB flash drives and larger external hard drives:

Is the External Hard disk drive visible in Disk Management?

First, determine whether Windows detects the external hard disk drive when it’s plugged to the USB port. Connect you targeted drive to your system, at times some of the external hard drives need to switch on to get activated. Moreover, some removable hard drives might have to be plugged in with some separate power cable to get access.

  1. Now, open the Disk Management, where you will be able to see all the connected external drive listed under the Disk Management window. This list includes all the connected drive, even those drives that are not appearing in your Computer window due to partition issues.
  2. If your connected drive is listed here, you need to format it properly so that your system or other devices can recognize and access it.
  3. In case, your drive is not listed in Disk Management window then, continue to the next section to make your drive visible.

Making External Hard disk Visible in Disk Management  

If the Windows does not recognize the external hard drive, then possibly your computer has a faulty USB port, an outdated driver, or above all you might have a dead drive.

Follow the steps to determine the actual problem:

Check the USB port

  • Unplug the drive from the current USB port and try to connect the drive to another USB port on your computer. If it works then, you might have a dead USB port. Or if you are using a USB hub, then try to connect the drive directly to the computer instead as some USB hubs don’t provide enough power to run the external drive.
  • If still the drive doesn’t appear in the Disk Management even after skipping the USB hub and connect it directly to another USB port, then either your drive itself is bad or the computer is having a problem. In order to clarify this confusion, you need to connect your drive to another computer, check whether it is detected.
  • If still it doesn’t work, then also check whether it appears in that computer’s Disk Management window, if not then possibly your drive itself is faulty and need to be replaced.

Outdated or un-installed Driver

  • In the event that the external hard drive does work on another computer then possibly your Windows has a driver problem. Check for the driver using Device Manager.
  • Go to under Disk drives and check the driver for all the devices next to them. If a yellow exclamation mark is there, then you have a driver problem. To update the drive right-click the device with a yellow exclamation mark, go to Properties, and check the error message. This message can surely help you fix the problem.
  • If you are unable to understand and fix the problem then you might use Google to search the problem. In case the problem started recently, you can also use System Restore or install an updated driver using the Update Driver button. To revert any changes use the Roll Back Driver button or uninstall the device from your system using Uninstall button.

Partitioning or Formatting issues with the Drive

  • Windows Disk Management tool is used to fix the partition & file system related issues. If the drive has a partition issue and is full of “unallocated space,” then you need to create a new partition on it. You can do this using Windows operating system.
  • In order to initiate this, right-click inside the unallocated space and choose ‘New Simple Volume’ and follow the wizard to create a new partition.
  • In case your drive is partitioned properly and still not able to show it, then make sure you have set a drive letter to access it on Windows. Usually, this happens automatically, but at times you need to do it manually when the drive does not show up on Windows with a drive letter.
  • To create a new drive letter right-click on the removable drive’s partition, choose ‘Change Drive Letter and Paths’ and add a drive letter.
  • If you still can’t access the drive then possibly it may be formatted as NTFS. There are some devices that can’t read the NTFS file system as they only follow FAT32 file system. In order to fix this problem, simply reformat the NTFS partition as FAT32.

If the above-mentioned process resolves most of the disk recognition issues, but still the issue persists “Hard disk drive not recognized”  by any computer then it’s probably dead.  Then you need to use a Hard disk Recovery Services to procure the stored data from the External hard disk.