How to Fix External Drive or USB Not Showing/Recognized Problem
Removable drives (USB flash drives or external hard drives) should be easy to use. However, in some cases, you can connect the drive to a Windows computer or other device with a USB port and your external hard drive will not be visible.
There are many possible causes for this problem. Drive partition issues, incorrect file system usage, USB port shutdown, Windows driver issues. In the worst case scenario, the movement itself can be dead.
Let’s see how to diagnose an external drive that was not detected by Windows. This guide is also available in video.
Drive Should Be Powered If It Needs
This is a preliminary step, but it is worth checking out. Almost all flash drives and many external hard drives do not require a separate power supply and are powered via USB. However, some external desktop units have their own power cord or at least one physical power switch.
If you do not see the external hard drive in this case, there may be a problem with the power cord. Connect another socket or, if possible, replace the cable. Before moving, look at the flashing lights on the unit showing activity.
External Hard Drive Still Not Get Recognized?
If you don’t see your hard drive, try these points in turn. First, make sure that Windows detects your hard drive when you connect it. If the removable drive is not connected to the computer, connect it.
Check the drive in Disk Management
Open the Disk Management Tool. To do this, press Windows + X (or right-click the Start button) to open the Power User menu and select Disk Management from the list. You can also open this utility by opening the Run dialog box in Windows + R and typing diskmgmt.msc.
As the name implies, Disk Manager lets you view all the hard drives that are connected to your computer. You can see disk sizes, partitions, and other information.
In the Disk Management window, you will see the external drive, probably under the master and sub drive. Even if it does not appear in the [This PC] window because it does not contain a partition, it will appear as [Removable].
If your drive is listed here, go to Section 4, “Creating a New Volume and Assigning a Drive Letter”. Create or customize partitions appropriately so that Windows and other devices can access them.
If you still don’t see your external drive, keep going. You need to determine why the drive is not recognized. This could be a hardware problem, a driver problem, or a drive failure.
Try A Different USB Port
The problem may not be with the device, but with the port you use to connect to the computer.
Try removing the drive from your current USB port and connecting it to another port on your computer. If it works on one USB port and not another, the USB port may not work
If you connected the drive to a USB hub, try connecting it directly to your computer. Some USB hubs do not provide enough power for the external drive to work.
What if my drive does not appear in Disk Management after trying both of these steps? It is difficult to know for sure if a drive is malfunctioning or if there is a problem with your computer. If another computer is nearby, connect the hard drive and check for it.
If the drive does not work on the computer to which it is connected, it is likely that the drive itself has failed and needs to be replaced. When trying another machine, be sure to see it appear in the Disk Management window of this computer, and not just on that computer, as described above.
Troubleshoot The Issues With Driver
If the drive is displayed on another computer (or you do not have another computer for testing), Windows may have a problem with your device driver. This can be verified using Device Manager.
In the same menu [Windows + X] mentioned above, there is a shortcut in [Device Manager]. You can also open it by typing “devmgmt.msc” in the [Run] dialog box.
Expand the Tray Trays category and look for devices next to them with a yellow exclamation mark. If you see this symbol, the device has a problem with the driver.
Right-click the problematic device, select Properties, and check for error messages. This error message will help you fix the problem. We recommend that you search Google for the error message found.
Driver problems are often difficult to fix. If the problem occurred recently, perform System Restore to undo your changes.
If this does not work, use the Update Driver button to install an updated driver. However, there are few new drivers available for general purpose devices such as flash drives. Instead, we recommend checking the manufacturer’s website for specific external hard drives.
There are many other options in the driver menu for a drive in Device Manager. The Rollback Driver button cancels recent driver updates, but it probably won’t have any effect if System Restore didn’t work.
As a last resort, remove the device from the system using the “Uninstall” button. Hopefully, when restarted, Windows will reinstall the driver and adjust it correctly when the drive reconnects.
Create a New Drive Volume
If you see the device in Disk Management in step 1 or if you see the device in any of the above troubleshooting steps, you can initialize and use the drive. In addition to displaying basic information, Disk Manager can fix problems in the drive partition and in the file system.
If the removable drive only displays “unallocated” space, you must create a new partition. This makes it available for Windows and other operating systems. To do this, right-click anywhere in the “unallocated” space, select “New Simple Volume”, and run the wizard to create a new partition.
If the drive is partitioned (meaning there is no “undistributed” space) and still does not appear, make sure you have a drive letter. This is done automatically, but if you manually remove the drive letter, you may not be able to access the drive in Windows.
To change the drive letter, right-click the removable drive partition and select Change drive letter and path. If you do not yet have a letter on your device, click Add to select it. If so, click Change and try again.
The second half of the alphabet, such as “G” or “J”, is the standard for removable disks and works well.
Format the Drive Completely
If the drive appears to be partitioned but cannot be accessed, it can be partitioned with another file system.
For example, you may have configured the drive with the APFS XFS file system on Linux or Mac. Windows cannot read these file systems. Therefore, you must reformat the drive with the new NTFS or old FAT32 file system so that Windows recognizes it.
To reshape a partition with Disk Management Utility, right-click the partition and select and format it.
The configuration erases all files on the drive, so you must copy important files to another device before continuing. If you have configured the drive on a Linux or Mac machine, move the drive to a computer that is running this operating system and back up your files before formatting.
When formatting, you can give the drive a new name if necessary. Leave the allocation unit size to default. No problem if you uncheck the box and “Run a quick format”. Most importantly, you need to choose a file system. The choice depends on the type of unit and intended use.
If you have a small flash drive, it can be formatted as FAT32. In most cases, this is the best option. FAT32 cannot store files larger than 4GB and only supports volumes of up to 2TB, but you are unlikely to encounter any of these issues using a flash drive. Most importantly, FAT32 is compatible with all types of devices, such as cameras, multimedia players, game consoles, etc.
NTFS is the latest standard for Windows, but you won’t get anything when you use it on a flash drive. Many older devices are not NTFS compatible. Therefore, it is recommended to format FAT32 for flash drives and SD and NTFS cards for large external hard drives.
There are two other file system options. ExFAT is a Microsoft file system that supports files larger than FAT32, but is not very compatible. If you’re interested, compare FAT32 with exFAT. FAT is outdated and can be ignored.
Your External Drive Completely Fixed And Showing Up
After this procedure, when your external hard drive is not visible, most disk recognition problems that may occur can be resolved. If you tried the drive on multiple computers and these steps do not appear in the Disk Management window, the drive may have failed.