How To Fix Hard Drive Not Recognized Error [Solved]

A hard drive not showing up can be irksome. It can happen to both external hard drives and second internal hard drives.

In this article, we discuss how to fix the hard disk not recognized problem.

How To Know Hard Drive Is Not Showing Up?

There is no error message from Windows. As far as the OS is concerned it does not even know there is a hard drive (or it would have shown).

These are the possible cases:

1. An internal hard drive is not showing up

You have two hard drives, and one is not showing up in Explorer. Of course, the system drive has to show up otherwise how did you boot the device?

2. An external hard drive is not showing up

You plug in an external hard drive or USB, and it fails to recognize.

3. Explorer shows the drive, but it has no letter allocated

This shows that the drive is recognized by the device but not initialized.

4. The hard drive has a yellow exclamation mark next to it

This happens because BitLocker encryption is not enabled. Read more about how to recover data from BitLocker encrypted hard drive.

What To Do In Case Of An Unrecognized Hard Drive?

Internal Hard Drive Not Recognized 

1. Test The Setup And Cables

The steps you follow in the case of the new and old drives are the same if the hard disk is not recognized.

Step 1.

Reboot and enter the BIOS by pressing F1, F2, F10, and Del (as set by the manufacturer).

Note – Before the OS loads you can see a screen “press F2/Del etc to enter BIOS”.

BIOS shows a list of all hardware. Is the drive recognized?

If not, then every BIOS has a reset option that usually reads “Load Optimal Defaults” or similar. Select it and press F10 to save and exit (you cannot click any option in BIOS).

Does it work?

fix hard drive not recognized error

Step 2.

Check the power connection from the power supply. Remove the plug and insert it in again.

SATA disks (any disk purchased post-2005) can be hot-swapped. This means both connections can be removed while the device is powered on.

PATA disks (very few have survived almost 20 years) cannot be hot-swapped.

A computer has 2-4 SATA (or PATA) power connectors. If one does not work, use another.

If you need an extra SATA power cable but don’t have one in your computer, you can temporarily remove the SATA power connector from the DVD drive and use it to power a hard disk. Not ideal, but an effective workaround.

If you are sure power is available, check if the SATA data cable between the drive and the motherboard is firmly affixed. There are at least 2 PATA (for older motherboards) and 4–8 SATA ports, so you have plenty of choices.

Additional Reading: How To Fix Internal Hard Drive Not Detected

External Drive Not Recognised 

External hard drive not recognized is more common due to USB ports breaking down.

It is connected through USB ports.

Remove the device and reconnect it to the USB port. You may restart your computer once so that the system has no legacy issues.

Try a new USB port. Most laptops have 2-4 and desktops 4-8 USB ports.

Open Device Manager and check if it says whether the device is working properly. Also, open Disk Management and see if it shows an external drive.

Try with another laptop or desktop. It also helps if you connect to a different operating system like Android or Mac. If the external hard drive is unrecognized by two or more devices, it might have a problem.

2. Check For Updates

Microsoft Updates cause an enormous problem at times. A device might stop functioning suddenly.

  • Open Settings
  • Click Update & Security
  • Select Windows Update
  • Click View Update History

Installed the new update before the hard drive stopped functioning?

Windows Updation

If yes, then right-click on it and Uninstall.

3. Assign A Drive Letter

Every drive has a letter allotted to it. The system partition is by default C.

The desktop allocates the rest of the letters and adds the partitions.

If that is not the case, often simply clicking on the drive would make Windows throw up a prompt and ask what letter has to be allocated to it.

If that does not happen, follow these steps:

  • Right-click on the Start icon
  • Click Disk Management
  • Right-click on the drive whose letter you would like to change
  • Click Add and choose a letter (that is not in use by any other drive)
  • Click OK

Disk Management

4. Run Hardware And Devices Troubleshooter

  • Click on Start
  • Open Settings > Update and Security > Troubleshoot > Hardware & Devices
  • Click on “Run the troubleshooter

5. Use Stellar Data Recovery Service

Unrecognized hard drive problems can go quite deep.

The fault very often lies in the tiny PCB board attached to the hard drive or SSD. A tiny component might have burned out, a capacitor or resistor worth less than a cent.

Yet the massively complex nature of modern electronics (SATA power cable has 15 pins and data cable has 7) means the tiniest flaw can bring the entire drive to a standstill.

You need an expert to take the drive apart and recover the data.

Stellar Data Recovery Service offers a trained pool of experts who are adept at exactly that task. Since 1993, Stellar has acquired vast experience in data recovery and has India’s first and only Class 100 Clean Room Lab.

Why Choose Stellar Data Recovery Service?

  • An inventory of 15,000 hard drives.
  • 40,000 successful operations each year.
  • A success rate of 80%.
  • ISO 9001 and 27001 certified service.
  • Can recover data from any type of data storage device.

Go ahead, and call now and let professionals handle the rest.


1. What are the primary steps after I find the hard drive is not detected?
  • Update drivers of hard drive
  • Faulty data cable
  • Faulty power cable
  • Change USB port
2. What if BIOS shows no hard drive?

If BIOS shows no hard drive, then check the power and data cable.

If still, it shows no hard drive, something might be physically wrong with the drive (PCB has shorted or the drive has completely stopped working).

3. What is USB and how does it affect hard drives?

USB is an input and output port. It can handle several devices like USB drives, external drives, printers, cameras, phones, keyboards, mice, etc. devices. Any device used through USB needs no separate driver. The difference between internal and external drives is that internal drives can transfer data at top speed. Read more about how to recover data from USB flash drives.

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