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How to repair external hard drive that is not detected

How to repair external hard drive that is not detected

repair external hard drive

Thanks to plug and play technology, connecting an external hard drive to your computer is now quite simple and straightforward. All you have to do is plug it in, wait a couple of seconds and it should be detected and displayed in File Explorer. Unfortunately, sometimes it doesn't show it and this can be worrying. In these cases, you need to know what to do, otherwise you risk not being able to access the important files on your hard disk. If this is your problem, in this guide we will see how to repair external hard drive that is not detected by the Windows computer.

Repair external hard drive

However, in this guide we have provided several steps which will hopefully help you resolve any issues related to the external hard drive that is not detected or displayed.

Check the cables and ports

The simplest thing you can do is make sure cables and ports are working properly. If you connect an external hard drive and it is not detected, one of the reasons may be a defective cable or a damaged port. This can be easily resolved by replacing the cable with another and seeing if the problem persists.

You can also control the port by connecting another device, such as a keyboard, mouse, microphone or webcam, and see if your computer can detect it. If it detects it, then you know that the doors work well and that perhaps you need to go to the next step.

Also, if you're using a hub (which is quite a popular accessory these days), try disconnecting the hub and connecting the external hard drive directly to your computer's USB port. This is due to the fact that the hubs manage multiple and peripheral connections, some cheaper models may have compatibility problems or poor power management, and may not be able to provide enough energy to power the unit, thus preventing it from being detected.

Checking the external hard drive on another computer

If there is a reason why SSDs are gaining popularity, due to the fact that they do not contain moving parts. This differs from more traditional HDDs that still use rotating discs. Over time, wear can cause the unit to stop working, which means that the unit not detected is not a software problem but a hardware problem.

If you have access to another computer, try connecting the external hard drive to that computer to see if it can be detected. If so, it means that there may be some software problems on the first computer. If it is still not detected, then there is the possibility that perhaps, only perhaps, the hard drive itself may have some problems, including the drive itself or the controller is broken.

Switch to a supported file system

Due to the presence of multiple operating systems such as Windows, Mac and Linux, there are times when the drive may be formatted in such a way as to only support the file system of a platform. For Windows users, supported file systems include NTFS, FAT32, exFAT or ReFS.

In order for a Mac-formatted external hard drive to work on Windows, you will need to format it on a supported file system. Unfortunately, this process usually involves cleaning the drive completely, so the best way to do this is to format it at the beginning before you start putting content on it. In addition, formatting it in a file system that supports multiple platforms simplifies life even if you switch from Windows to Mac (see our guide here on how to write NTFS disks on Mac or how to open external hard disk not recognized by Mac).

  • On the computer with Windows, open Start
  • Search for "Create and format hard disk partitions"And opens"Disk management"
repair external hard drive formats
  • Right click on the drive you want to format and click "Format"
format external drive
  • In "File System", Select"NTFS"If you plan to use it exclusively with Windows or"exFAT”If you want to be able to use it together with Windows and Mac.

Correctly configure the partition of a drive

Sometimes, when you connect a new external hard drive to your computer, it may not be detected because its partition is not configured correctly. This can be easily resolved by following these steps.

  1. You open Start
  2. Search for "Create and format hard disk partitions"
  3. If the drive doesn't have a partition, it should show space "Not allocated"
  4. Right click and select "New simple volume”And follow the steps
  5. Select the "Assign the following drive letter"
  6. Click on the drop-down menu and choose a letter of your choice
  7. Click on Come on
  8. Select β€œFormat this volume with the following settings”And use the default settings
  9. Click on Come on
  10. Click on end

Update the disk drivers

Sometimes, when a drive is not detected, it may be due to the fact that the drivers may not be updated. Fortunately, updating drivers is a quick and simple process and these are the steps you can follow to update drivers (also applicable for other peripherals and hardware connected to your computer).

  • You open Start
  • Search for "Device management"
  • In Disk drive, right-click on the drive whose driver you want to update
update external drive

Select Update driver

update external disk driver
  • Select β€œAutomatically searches for an updated driver"
  • Give it a minute or two to look for drivers to install

Reinstall the external disk driver

In case the automatic driver update does not work, or if there are no new drivers found, you can try reinstalling the device drivers to see if it helps us.

You open StartSearch for "Device management"In Disk drive, right-click on the drive whose driver you want to reinstall

Uninstall drivers

Select β€œUninstall device"

uninstall hard disk
  • Click on β€œUninstall"
  • Disconnect the external hard drive from the computer
  • Reboot your computer
  • Reconnect the external hard drive, where Windows should recognize it and reinstall the drivers again.


If everything fails and you have tried the above mentioned steps to repair external hard drive, it is possible that there is a hardware failure. If there are important documents and files in the unit, it is possible to attempt data recovery and it may also be time to consider the idea of ​​buying a new unit.