Ultimate Guide on External Hard Drive Not Showing Up or Recognized in Windows 10/11

How to fix the external hard drive not showing up or being recognized in Windows 10/11? Read this tutorial to get feasible ways to solve external hard drive not showing up in Windows Explorer and Disk Management.


By Lora / Updated on April 3, 2024

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External hard drive not showing up in Windows 10

External hard drives are used commonly in daily life because it's convenient for users to take needed files anywhere with external hard drives. When you plug them in, they will appear on your computer. However, in some cases, the external hard drive can't be recognized by computers. Kinds of factors can cause this issue.

External hard drive not showing up in Windows 10 error has various symptoms and causes. In the worst-case scenario, the external hard drive may be completely dead. If you encounter the same problem, the first thing is to fix this issue and get your files back.

Symptoms of external hard drive not recognized

If your external hard drive has one of these symptoms in the following, it means the drive is experiencing an error or malfunction. You have to pay attention to those signs and move your important files to other storage devices. Otherwise, your external hard drive will not show up or be recognized on computers. 

  • The drive makes a clicking or humming noise.
  • Some disk errors or frequent program crashes happen when using the external hard drive.
  • The disk lacks a drive letter or shows RAW in Disk Management.
  • A yellow exclamation mark appears on the hard drive.
  • Error messages frequently appear while running a hard drive.
  • The computer operates some strange orders.

Why is my external hard drive not showing up?

The external hard drive not detected error is caused by a number of factors. By getting to know the reasons for the external hard drive not showing up, you can have an early warning on this issue and keep the external hard drive healthy.

Sometimes, it can be caused by small problems, which can be fixed easily with a quick scan. However, in more server cases, if your hard drive is physically damaged or broken, you'd better send it to a repair center or manufacturer to repair.

Connection problem. If the connections are loose, the computer can't detect the external hard disk. A bad cable or USB port can cause wrong connections.
Outdated or corrupted drivers. The drivers make it possible for your operating system to recognize your external hard drive. If the drivers are outdated or corrupted, your external hard drive not showing up occurs.
Malicious or infected files in the system. If there are some malicious files, the external hard drive can't be used normally.
The data stored in the external hard drive might have been corrupted.
Your external hard drive might be formatted with the Apple HSF+ file system, so Windows computers can't detect it.

Knowing the possible reasons for the external hard drive not showing up, you need to find feasible methods to fix the "hard drive not detected" error.

When you found your external hard drive not showing up, you need to go to Disk Management to check the status of the hard drive. Right-click the Start menu and click "Disk Management".

How to fix External hard drive not showing up in Windows Explorer

If you can see your drive in Disk Management, but the external hard drive not showing up in Windows Explorer, it means the collection is no problem, you need to take some methods to make it visible again in Windows Explorer. 

Method 1. Update/ reinstall your drivers

Windows will run into driver issues, which makes external hard drives not detected. Drivers enable your external hard drive to interact with your computer. The external drive will not show up or function properly unless drivers are reinstalled or updated.

If they've already been updated, try reinstalling them in case they've become corrupted recently. Follow the steps below to update or reinstall drivers.

Step 1. Right-click the Start menu and click "Device Manager".

Step 2. Find "Disk drives" and then right-click it. Choose "Properties".

Step 3. Select the Driver tab and click "Update Driver". If updating the driver doesn't work, you can try to click "Uninstall Device".


Step 4. Choose "Search automatically for drivers". Windows will search for the best available driver and install it automatically.


Method 2. Troubleshoot Devices and Hardware

Windows includes a number of troubleshooters that specialize in resolving specific issues. For external hard drives not showing up, there is a troubleshooter that can be used to scan for and resolve hardware-related issues. You can run a scan with the troubleshooter to ensure that there is nothing that can be fixed automatically.

Step 1. Type CMD in the search bar, and select "Run as administrator".

Step 2. Input the command "msdt.exe -id DeviceDiagnostic" to launch the troubleshooter.


Step 3. Click "Advanced" and tick "Apply repairs automatically". Then click "Next". After the scan is finished, you can check the detailed information to find potential issues.

Method 3. Assign a drive letter

If you see your external hard drive in Disk Management with an asterisk, it will make your external hard drive not recognized by Windows. In this case, you need to assign a drive letter to fix it. It's easy to reassign a drive letter or change the existing one.

Step 1. Right-click the Start menu and choose Disk Management.

Step 2. Right-click on the external hard drive and choose "Change Drive Letter and Paths…".


Step 3. Click "Add". If you have a drive letter before, please click "Change".


Step 4. Select a drive letter from A-Z, and then click "OK". You will see your external hard drive in Windows Explorer again.

Method 4. Recover lost partitions from external hard drive

If you find your external hard drive is labeled "Unallocated", it means the partitions in the external hard drive were lost. To recover the partitions and data, it's recommended to use professional partition recovery software to quickly search and find them back. You'd better stop using the external hard drive

AOMEI Partition Assistant, as a multi-function partition manager, helps users restore deleted or lost partitions in a fast search and full search. As long as the data stored in partitions haven't been overwritten, the lost partitions and data will come back together.

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Step 1. Download and launch AOMEI Partition Assistant on your computer. Select "Partition Recovery Wizard" on the left panel to get into the partition recovery wizard.


Step 2. Select the external hard disk that you want to recover the lost partitions.

Step 3. Tick "Fast Search" the first time because it's faster than Full Search.


Step 4. Select the lost partition and click "Proceed". And then click "Finish" in the pop-up window.


Method 5. Format the Drive in Disk Management

When your external hard drive shows RAW in Disk Management, it means there is a file system error with the drive. In this case, you'd better format the external hard drive to a feasible file system. Remember that this method will erase all your data on the external hard drive. It's the last resort to fix the external hard drive not showing up.

Step 1. Press Win + X and select "Disk Management".

Step 2. Locate your external hard drive and right-click it, select "Format".


Step 3. Confirm the file system as NTFS, and tick "Perform a quick format". Click "OK".


How to fix the External hard drive not showing up in Disk Management

If you find the external hard drive not showing up in Disk Management, it means the connection between the hard drive and the computer has some problems. You can try the following three methods to fix the external hard drive not showing up in Disk Management.

Method 1. Try another USB port

If the external hard drive can't be detected by computers, you can try to plug it into another USB port.

It's possible that the USB port is failing or that the specific drive is being picked. If you're using a USB 3.0 port, try a USB 2.0 port.

Method 2. Use an Alternative Windows PC

If the external hard drive not showing up still exists, you can use another computer to plug your drive. If this doesn't help, try plugging it into a Mac. The drive may be not formatted for the computer you're attempting to use, in which case you'll need to copy the data to another drive.

Method 3. Disable USB Selective Suspend in power options

In Windows systems, computers will power down to save power if individual USB ports are not in use. This works well most of the time, but sometimes, it may be closed even if the USB port is needed. To solve this problem, you need to disable USB selective Suspend entirely to check whether your hard drive can be detected.

Step 1. Search the control panel in the search bar.

Step 2. Click "Hardware and Sound"> "Power Options">" Change plan settings"> "Change advanced power settings".


Step 3. Click "USB selective suspend setting" under USB settings. Disable the "On battery" and "Plugged in" options.


If those three methods don't work, your external hard drive has physical problems or is dead. You'd better send it to the repair shop to fix it.

Recover deleted/lost files from external hard drive

After you fix your external hard drive, what do you do if you find some files are lost? Sometimes files get lost or deleted due to accidental deletion, virus attacks, disk formatting, etc. It's easy to get lost data back if you have available backups. Otherwise, you need a professional data recovery tool to help you recover deleted or lost files from external hard drives.

MyRecover is that one! It's an easy and efficient Windows data recovery freeware. It not only restores deleted and lost files from internal/external hard drives but also keeps the deleted files' original filename, format, directory, and quality.

Step 1. Download and install MyRecover on your computer.

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Step 2. Connect the external hard drive to the Windows PC. Hover the mouse over the drive saved deleted files before, and click Scan.


Step 3. The software will scan the drive from quick scan to deep scan automatically. You can search needed files by file names, type, size, and date modified. You don't need to wait for the scanning process to complete.


Step 4. Go to Deleted files or Other missing files to find the deleted or lost data.


Bonus tips to protect the external hard drive

External hard drives easily get logical or physical damaged because they are based on standard hard drives. If you drop them to the ground, they may be broken. The most important are the files stored in external hard drives are difficult to get off. Therefore, here are some useful tips on how to protect external hard drives.

  • Avoid bending the USB cable too much when using the external hard drive because it's easy to damage the USB port.
  • Eject external hard drives correctly. Do not plug and unplug them directly, especially when transferring files.
  • Back up your vital data from external hard drives with backup software. You could try this backup freeware-AOMEI Backupper to keep your data safe.


External hard drives are useful for saving and transferring data. Once it has some problems, data loss happens. Hopefully, you could fix the external hard drive not showing up in Windows 10/11 with the methods above. If your partitions from external hard drives are deleted or lost, AOMEI Partition Recovery Wizard can find them back with simple clicks. If the files in external hard drives are deleted or lost, MyRecover Windows data recovery software can be your best choice.

If the external hard drive still is not detected by computers, it's suggested to change to a new hard drive. In our daily life, the best way to protect data is to put files in different places. You can back up important files to other storage devices. Available backup can save data easily.

Lora · Editor
Lora is an editor of AOMEI Technology. She is also a tester and editor of AOMEI Data Recovery Tools. -- "Keep testing, write the most useful tutorials for helping people recover the lost data for Windows and phones" is the most meaningful thing for her. Dedicated to creating helpful tutorials, she hopes her tutorial can assist users to effortlessly solve data loss problems on their personal computers and mobile phones.