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What to Do When Your External Hard Drive Is not Showing Up

What to Do When Your External Hard Drive Is not Showing Up

Dealing with an external hard drive that’s not showing up can be quite nerve-wracking, especially if it contains crucial data. But don’t worry, there are several ways to troubleshoot and fix the issue. From simple checks like verifying connections to more advanced solutions like using the Disk Drill App, this guide has got you covered. Whether you encounter this problem frequently or this is your first time, this article will provide step-by-step instructions to resolve it. For a community-driven discussion and more tips, you can visit the helpful Reddit thread on External hard drive missing. Read on to explore effective methods to get your hard drive back on track.


Common Scenarios:

Loose or Damaged Connections 🔌

  • If your external hard drive is not showing up, the first thing to check is always the connections.
  • Ensure that the USB cable is securely connected to both the external hard drive and the computer.
  • Try a different USB port on your machine.
  • Also, make sure the drive’s power supply (if it has one) is working properly.

There have been numerous instances when simply tugging on the cable or using a different port resolves the issue. This is because USB cables and ports can occasionally wear out or accumulate debris.

Drive Conflicts and Hidden Drives 🛠

  • Sometimes, the external hard drive might have a drive letter conflict, or it might just be hidden.
  • Open Disk Management in Windows by right-clicking on ‘This PC’ and selecting ‘Manage’.
  • Under Disk Management, look for your external drive; it might be there but without a drive letter.
  • Assign a new drive letter to the drive by right-clicking it and selecting ‘Change Drive Letter and Paths’.

Hidden drives or drive letter conflicts are common, especially when the same external hard drive has been used on multiple computers. Disk management tools in both Windows and macOS can help uncover these hidden or conflicted drives.

Outdated or Corrupt Drivers ⚙

  • Another potential issue could be outdated or corrupt drivers.
  • Open Device Manager on Windows by right-clicking on ‘This PC’ and selecting ‘Manage’.
  • Look for the external hard drive under ‘Disk Drives’.
  • If you see a yellow exclamation mark, right-click and choose ‘Update Driver’.

Driver issues are often overlooked but critical. Official websites of hard drive manufacturers often provide driver updates and troubleshooting steps. Always ensure your drivers are up to date for better hardware compatibility.


Step-by-Step Guide. External Hard Drive Not Showing Up:

Method 1: Check USB Connections 🔗

  • Verify that your external hard drive is securely connected to the USB port of your PC.
  • Inspect the USB cable and the ports for any visible damage.
  • Try connecting the drive through another USB port or use a different USB cable.
  • If possible, connect the drive to another computer to rule out issues with your original machine.

Note: Using a high-quality, shorter USB cable helps rule out any cable-related issues more efficiently.

Conclusion: Most often, the problem is a loose or faulty connection. Secure and functional connections can resolve the issue right away.

Method 2: Use Disk Management 🛠

  • Open Disk Management by right-clicking ‘This PC’ and selecting ‘Manage’.
  • Under Disk Management, locate your external drive.
  • Right-click on your drive and choose ‘Change Drive Letter and Paths’.
  • Assign a new drive letter that isn’t being used by other devices.
  • Click ‘OK’ and check if the drive now appears in ‘This PC’.

Note: Ensure you select a unique drive letter to avoid conflicts with existing drives.

Conclusion: Using Disk Management can reveal hidden drives and resolve conflict issues, making the drive accessible again.

Method 3: Update Drivers ⚙

  • Open Device Manager by right-clicking ‘This PC’ and selecting ‘Manage’.
  • Expand the ‘Disk Drives’ section and locate your external hard drive.
  • If there’s a yellow exclamation mark, right-click and choose ‘Update Driver’.
  • Select ‘Search automatically for updated driver software’.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the update.

Note: It’s always a good idea to restart your computer after updating drivers.

Conclusion: Updating drivers often resolves compatibility issues and can make your external hard drive recognizable by your system.

Method 4: Use Disk Drill App 💻

  • Download and install Disk Drill from the official website.
  • Launch the application and connect your external hard drive.
  • Click on ‘Search for lost data’ to initiate a scan.
  • Wait for the scan to complete and review the found files.
  • Recover desired files and save them to a different drive.

Note: Disk Drill is a powerful tool designed to recover lost or hidden data from various storage devices.

Conclusion: Using Disk Drill can not only recover lost data but also help in identifying and resolving issues with your external hard drive.

Method 5: Run a Troubleshooter 🛠

  • Open Windows Settings using the Start Menu.
  • Navigate to ‘Update & Security’ and select ‘Troubleshoot’.
  • Under ‘Additional troubleshooters’, select ‘Hardware and Devices’.
  • Click ‘Run the troubleshooter’ and follow the on-screen instructions.
  • Restart your computer to see if the issue is resolved.

Note: Windows troubleshooters are helpful in automatically detecting and resolving hardware issues.

Conclusion: Troubleshooters can diagnose and fix problems without requiring extensive user intervention, making them a quick and effective solution.

Method 6: Check Partition 🗂

  • Open Disk Management by right-clicking ‘This PC’ and selecting ‘Manage’.
  • Locate your external hard drive.
  • Right-click on the unallocated space and select ‘New Simple Volume’.
  • Follow the wizard to create a new partition.
  • Assign a drive letter to the new partition and format it.

Note: Be cautious as this method will delete any existing data on the drive.

Conclusion: If your hard drive was not partitioned, creating a new partition can make it usable again.

Method 7: Check for Malware 🦠

  • Download a reliable antivirus program, like Avast or Malwarebytes.
  • Install and run a full system scan.
  • If the antivirus detects any threats, follow the instructions to remove them.
  • Restart your computer and check if your external hard drive appears.

Note: Always keep your antivirus software updated to protect against the latest threats.

Conclusion: Sometimes, malware can block drives from being recognized. A thorough scan can resolve such issues efficiently.


Precautions and Tips:

Maintain Your External Hard Drive Regularly 🧰

  • Regularly check USB cables and ports for wear and tear.
  • Always safely eject your external hard drive before disconnecting.
  • Keep your system and drivers updated to ensure compatibility.
  • Periodically run disk checks and defragmentation to maintain optimal performance.

Proper maintenance can prevent a majority of issues related to external hard drives. Always store your drive in a safe and clean environment to prolong its lifespan.

Backup Your Data 📁

  • Use cloud storage or another external hard drive for regular backups.
  • Enable automatic backup features on your operating system.
  • Consider using backup software for more comprehensive solutions.
  • Keep multiple copies of crucial data in different locations.

Backing up your data ensures that you have access to your important information even if your external hard drive fails or gets lost. Regular backups are a crucial habit for data safety.


Helpful Tips

When dealing with an external hard drive not showing up, it’s crucial to understand some underlying principles and best practices. Firstly, ensuring that your drive is configured correctly can save you from a lot of headaches. Tools like Disk Drill can be particularly useful, not only for recovering lost data but also for providing diagnostic tools to check the health of your drive.

Keeping your drivers up-to-date is another practice that can’t be overstated. Outdated drivers can cause numerous issues, from the external hard drive not being recognized to more severe system instability issues. Always download drivers from the manufacturer’s website or through trusted sources.

Moreover, ensuring your system is free from malware is essential. Not only can malicious software prevent your hardware from functioning correctly, but it can also corrupt important data. Regular scans using reliable antivirus programs can help keep your system clean.

Consider using other high-authority resources for detailed step-by-step guides and advanced troubleshooting. Websites like HowToGeek and TechRadar offer reliable and comprehensive information.

Finally, being proactive by maintaining your external devices and ensuring they are backed up can prevent most issues. Regularly checking the health of your drive using built-in system tools or third-party applications like Disk Drill can provide insights into potential problems before they become critical.


Troubleshooting an external hard drive that isn’t showing up doesn’t have to be a daunting task. From checking simple connections and updating drivers to using advanced tools like Disk Drill, there are multiple methods to address the issue. Regular maintenance, proper storage, and reliable backups are your best defense against data loss. For more detailed discussions and troubleshooting tips, check out the Reddit thread on External hard drive missing. Remember, often it’s a combination of these methods that brings about the best results.


Issues could include a faulty USB port, a damaged USB cable, or the drive not being initialized. Try using a different USB port or cable to troubleshoot.

Try connecting it to another computer to see if the issue persists. If it does, you might need to check disk management settings or update your drivers.

Go to Disk Management by right-clicking ‘This PC’ and selecting ‘Manage.’ If the drive is listed there but unallocated, you may need to initialize it.

For Macs, open Disk Utility by navigating to the Applications folder and then Utilities. If the drive appears but isn’t mounted, you can mount it manually.

Yes, a corrupted file system can prevent an external hard drive from being recognized. You may need to use disk repair tools to fix the file system.

Formatting the drive can resolve file system issues that might be preventing it from being recognized. Be sure to back up data before formatting.

Clicking noises often indicate mechanical failure. Immediate data backup and professional repair might be necessary as the drive could be near failure.

Software solutions like chkdsk in Windows or First Aid in Mac’s Disk Utility can repair some issues. Ensure you have the latest drivers and system updates.

Malware can sometimes interfere with drive recognition. Running a comprehensive virus scan and removing detected threats might resolve the issue.

Regularly update your operating system and drivers, safely eject your drive, and use reliable antivirus software to prevent corruption or malware. For more detailed solutions, you can refer to resources from Seagate or Western Digital.