10 Quick Ways | Fix Hard Drive Spinning But Not Detected

Get 10 practical fixes to solve the external hard drive spinning but not detected error. There is also a quick way to recover deleted files from your internal or external hard drives.


By Lori / Updated on April 2, 2024

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HDD (Hard Disk Drive), is a fundamental component of computers. It serves as the primary data storage device, storing all your digital content such as documents, pictures, apps, and operating systems, and so on. They consist of spinning disks or platters, read/write heads, and an actuator arm, allowing data access through magnetic changes on the disk's surface.

hard disk drive

But here comes the problem, some users have reported that their hard drive spinning but not detected by Windows. The external hard drive makes a lot of noise while spinning, but the PC cannot detect it.


“So why is my Seagate external hard drive not showing up? And how do I fix HDD spinning but not detected?”

Don’t worry, it is a very common problem. Luckily, we now have 10 of the efficient fixes for this problem. Using these techniques, you can certainly solve these problems in no time.

Why Is My External Hard Drive Spinning but Not Showing Up?

💥 Faulty connections: Loose or damaged cables or connectors between the hard drive and the motherboard can prevent detection.


🎇 Virus infection: If your computer gets infected when you click on a link or an unsafe web page, it may cause external hard drive spinning but not detected in Windows 10.

🧨 No drive letter: If you don't have a drive letter it won't be detected. Only disks with a specified assignment drive letter will be recognized by Windows OS.

🎊 Outdated drivers: Outdated, or incompatible storage drivers can hinder proper communication between the hard drive and the system.

🎡 Hardware issues: Physical damage to the hard drive, such as a malfunctioning motor or read/write heads, can cause it to spin but not be recognized.

🎑 Incompatible file systems: If the file system of the HDD is not NTFS or FAT32, two common systems recognized by most PCs, your Windows OS may display it as "RAW".

🎆 Bad sectors: Software and physical failures can cause unreadable bad sectors to form on a drive. Even a new hard drive can have bad sectors. So fixing bad sectors on external hard drives is essentially to resolve external hard drives not showing up.


🎐 Corrupted file systems: The file system of your drive may be corrupted or not supported by Windows.

Part 1. How to Fix Hard Drive Spinning But Not Detected? (10 Ways)

After understanding the reasons why your external hard drive is not showing up. Then, let’s perform how to fix the hard drive is spinning but not detected.

The first thing you need to do is check the hard drive connection. If your hard drive or cable connections are in good condition. Then, you need to restart your computer after unplugging the hard drive to confirm it.

If you still worry about the hard drive spins up but not detected, there may be another problem. Please follow the effective 10 fixes below.

Fix 1. Check and Change Another USB port/Adapter

The external hard drive spinning but not reading may be related to your disk, you can remove the hard drive from the adapter and try connecting it with another cable or a different USB port. Or you can reset BIOS settings related to your hard drive adapter to default.

If you find a problem, you can replace or install a new USB port or hard drive adapter.

Fix 2. Check and Remove Viruses via Virus & Threat Protection

Viruses or malware might infect the computer’s performance and prevent your hard drive from being detected. You can run a virus scan on your computer to troubleshoot problems and remove ransomware viruses.

Step 1. Go to Windows Settings Update & Security Windows Security and select Virus & threat protection.

Virus Threat Protection

Step 2. Click the Scan options under the Current Threats section.


Step 3. Choose the Full scan and click Scan now. It will start to scan and remove viruses currently on your hard drive.


Fix 3. Run Windows Safe Mode

To determine the source of this error, you can run your Windows in a safe mode because this mode only launches default settings and basic device drivers. Precisely, if the Windows operates smoothly in the safe mode, it indicates there is something wrong with your external HDD instead of your Windows.

If not, you could continue using the following methods to fix problems on your connected HDD. Follow the steps below to start your Windows in safe mode:

🌟Tip: This method is a practical way to diagnose and potentially fix the White Screen of Death.

Step 1. Turn off your PC > power on > When you see the manufacturer’s logo, power off again. Repeat this cycle three times, and you can enter the Win + RE (Windows Recovery Environment).

Step 2. In the Choose an option screen, click Troubleshoot Advanced options.


Step 3. Under the Startup Settings tab, click Restart first. After that, you can press F4/F5/F6 to start your PC in Safe Mode with Command Prompt.


Fix 4. Run Windows System Troubleshooter

Hard disk spinning but not detected in BIOS may be caused by outdated Windows updates. Windows PCs have built-in troubleshooting tools that help you find and fix different Windows errors, especially Windows update issues. Now, please follow these steps to check and update the Windows operating system:

Step 1. Press the Win + I to open Settings, and choose Update and Security.


Step 2. Click Troubleshoot > Additional troubleshooters.


Step 3. Go to Windows Update and click Run the troubleshooter. It will automatically locate problems and fix them.


Step 4. After the process, you can restart your Windows PC and try to run Windows Update again.

Fix 5. Assign a Drive Letter to Undetected External Hard Drives

Usually, Windows automatically assigns a drive letter to all connected storage drives. Sometimes your Seagate external hard drive spinning but not detected because of a lack of drive letter or missing drive letter.

In this case, you could assign a new drive letter via Disk Management to solve this problem. This way can also effectively solve the issue of secondary hard drive is not detected correctly. Please follow the steps:

Step 1. Press Win + X and select Disk Management to open this Windows built-in utility.


Step 2. Click on the hard drive and click Change Drive Letter and Paths.


Step 3. Choose the Add option to add a drive letter for the undetected hard drive.

Step 4. Click Assign the following drive letter to name the drive letter for the undetected hard drive.


Fix 6. Update the Hard Disk Driver

Outdated drivers are also a reason for hard drives spinning but not detected. You could go further to Device Manager to update the hard disk driver. Here are the steps:

Step 1. Type Device Manager in the search bar on your computer and open it.

Device Manager

Step 2. Locate your hard drive and expand it.

Step 3. Right-click it, and select the Update Driver button.


Step 4. Click Search automatically for updated driver software.


Fix 7. Run the Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter

The Hardware and Device troubleshooter in Windows is designed to detect and resolve hardware-related problems, including driver issues. If you are experiencing your Seagate external hard drive not showing up in Windows 10, follow the steps below to identify and fix hardware problems.

🌟Tip: If your SD card not showing up in Windows, you can also use it this way.

Step 1. Press Win + I to open Windows SettingsUpdate & Security.


Step 2. Click Troubleshoot on the left, then click Run the troubleshooter under the hardware and Devices tab.


Fix 8. Check the PC Supports the HDD File Format or Not

Incorrect HDD file format or using HDD for the first time may also cause the external drive not showing up. So to initiate the hard drive into the right format, do this:

  • The formatting process will erase all data on your hard drive. If your external hard drive data is valuable and there is no backup, it is recommended that you use this free and reliable data backup software for Windows - AOMEI Backupper to back up your data before disk formatting.

Step 1. Connect your external HDD to the Windows > press Win + X and select Disk Management. Right-click the connected hard drive. Then, select Format.

Step 2. In the Format window, select NTFS file system and click OK.

Step 3. Then, you will see a warning message, saying the formatting process will erase all data on it. Click OK again.

RAW File System to NTFS

Fix 9. Run Clean Command

Disk cleaning can let your PC work smoothly and eliminate some errors in your Windows. If incompatible file systems prevent your external hard drive from not showing up, here are the steps to run a clean command to solve this issue.

Step 1. Connect the external hard drive to your PC > press Win + R and type diskpart in the Run box. Then press Enter or click OK to open the Command Prompt window. Type list disk in the prompt and press Enter.

Step 2. Now, type the following command prompt one by one and press Enter after each one.

  • list disk
  • select x (x refers to the disk number of your connected SD card.)
  • clean (The clean command can wipe out all the data on your SD card.)
  • create partition primary
  • format fs=ntfs quick (or format fs=fat32 quick)
  • exit


Fix 10. Repair HDD's Bad Sectors via CHKDSK

Bad sectors on your hard drive can cause data loss or even cause the hard drive to stop working. In this case, you can check and mark the bad sectors by executing the CHKDSK command and then repair the detected bad sectors.

  • /f: Fix file system and directory issues, ensuring smooth operation.
  • /r: Recover readable/recoverable data from corrupted parts of the physical hard drive (while also running chkdsk /f).
  • /x: Dismounts a drive so that it can be checked and fixed (while also running chkdsk /f).

Many users have reported issues where CHKDSK deleted files while fixing bad sectors on external hard drives. To safeguard your data, it's advisable to recover data from hard drives with bad sectors before running CHKDSK. This precaution helps prevent potential data loss during the repair process.

Step 1. Connect the external hard drive to your PC > type cmd in the search bar > click Run as administrator to open the command prompt window.


Step 2. Type chkdsk *: /r and press Enter to scan and repair bad sectors. Replace *with the drive letter of your external hard drive.


Although the CHKDSK command is useful for detecting and repairing disk errors, it is not suitable for non-technical users. So why not try this free partition management software - AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard to check and fix errors on your external HDD?

Part 2. How to Recover Data from Hard Drives without backups

After going through the above 10 fixes, you might have solved the hard drive spins but not detected errors easily. Regardless of your situation, you may find that you have lost valuable files and want to recover deleted files from external hard drives. We recommend you use an efficient and leading external data recovery tool MyRecover to get your disk data back.

Professional Data Recovery Software
  • Recover 200+ formats: It can recover deleted Microsoft Word, Excel, PPT, PDF, PPTX, JPG, PNG, MP4, MOV, MP3, CDA, 7Z, ZIP, MSG, EML, and more.
  • Filter and recover disk data quickly without losing quality. You can also preview them before beginning data recovery.
  • Support all brands of hard drives: Seagate, Acomdata, Asus, Buffalo, Hitachi, Maxtor, Toshiba, LaCie, SanDisk, Samsung, ADATA, Transcend, etc.

Let’s have a try. Please refer to the following steps to recover data via MyRecover!

Step 1. Download and run MyRecover on your Windows. Hover the mouse over the drive not detected, and click Scan.


Step 2. MyRecover will scan your hard drive automatically and thoroughly to locate all the found data. You can use the Search Box or the Filter feature to quickly locate the files you want.


Step 3. You will see a list of data that MyRecover found on your hard drive. Choose your desired files to recover and click Recover x files.


Step 4. Select a new location to save the recovered files and click Select Folder to confirm it. Then, you recover data from the hard drive.

🌟Tip: You can recover data from Transcend external hard disk for free, up to 500MB. Once exceeded, please upgrade to the advanced editions to enjoy unlimited data recovery.

In the End

Don’t worry about your hard drive spinning but not detected. You just need to follow the 10 fixes above to fix it. When you find data deleted or missing, you can also recover lost data simply by using reliable data recovery software like MyRecover. This recovery way has a high success rate and fast speed.

More importantly, don't forget to protect your data by regularly file backups created by this free AOMEI Backupper Standard. If you lose data, you can effortlessly and quickly restore your files.


Is there a way to tell if my hard drive failure is mechanical or logical?
If the drive is spinning but not detected, it might indicate a logical issue. Mechanical failures often involve unusual noises like clicking or grinding sounds.
What if my hard drive is under warranty?
If the hard drive is under warranty, contact the manufacturer's customer support for possible replacement or repair options.
How do I recover data from a hard drive that won't spin?
Yes, data recovery is possible. The first thing you should do is to fix the hard drive that doesn’t spin. What’s more, if you want to recover deleted files but without backups, you can use MyRecover to easily recover lost data from your external hard drive.
Lori · Editor
Lori receives professional technical training since joining AOMEI, and aims at helping users troubleshoot problems on data recovery and protection. She focuses on simple, efficient and practical methods, and provides professional advice. Being able to help readers and users is her ultimate goal.