In this practical guide, we’ll show you what you can do if your external hard drive in Windows is no longer recognized, and how to fix Windows external hard drive not recognized problem.
Windows external hard drive not recognized: Check USB connection
If your computer does not even show the external hard drive, you should check if you are using the correct USB port. If your computer shows the disk but does not let you access it, skip the paragraph and read on in the second paragraph.
If you use a USB 3.0 hard drive, you must also connect it to a USB 3.0 interface (blue).
If the USB port is correct, you will find in another article tips on how your computer displays your hard drive again.
Windows external hard drive not recognized
- If your external hard drive is no longer recognized as usual, this can be due to a variety of causes. For this reason, first check whether Windows has recognized your external storage medium in Disk Management.
- In the Start menu, open the “Control Panel” window and under “Category” set the view to “Small icons”. Then click on “Administration”.
- Now start the option “Computer management”. To open Computer Management in Windows 8.1, right-click on the Windows icon.
- Select the “Disk Management” function under “Data Storage” on the left.
- As soon as you have opened the “Disk Management”, a list with all connected drives and the respective partitions appears on the right side. If Windows has successfully detected your external hard drive, it will be displayed here. A progress bar lets you see if there is a problem.
No access to external hard disk even though it is detected
- If Windows has detected your external hard disk in “Disk Management”, you can at least rule out a possible USB cable failure and know that your external storage medium otherwise works without any problems. Therefore, check whether your external hard disk has an initialization at all.
- If your external hard drive has been detected then it is listed under “Computer Management” in the “Disk Management” section. Although you can now see your drive with your particular disk, the drive now lacks a drive name, such as the drive letter (H) (See picture).
- To access your external hard drive again, your hard drive requires initialization by a drive letter. Therefore, right-click on the missing name and select the “Change drive letter and path” command. You will see that no drive letter is displayed.
- Therefore, go to “Add” and choose a free letter. Assigned letters are not even available for selection.
- Now your external hard drive has a drive name and is freely accessible to you again.
Format external hard drive for access
- If this step does not work as expected, your hard drive may not be formatted correctly for your operating system.
- Go back to “Disk Management” and click on the “Format” command.
- Now select a drive letter and you will have access to your external hard drive again.
In case of emergency: Buy new external hard drive. If none of this helps, your hard drive is most likely broken.