How to Fix External Hard Drive Not Showing Up on iPad [2024]

Are you experiencing the external hard drive not showing up on iPad issue? Luckily, this post will offer you several methods to fix this issue. Besides, you’d better back up your iPad in advance before troubleshooting the problem.


By May / Updated on May 31, 2024

Share this: instagram reddit

Why is my iPad not reading my external hard drive?

External hard drive not showing up on the iPad even if the symbol is flashing periodically? It shows up only after I restart my iPad Pro 2020 every single time i.e., once unplugged I have to restart the iPad for it to show up again even though it showed up the first time.

- Question from Apple Community

Why External Hard Drive Not Showing Up on iPad?

For various reasons, some iPad users may need to connect an external hard drive to their iPad for transfer, backup, or restore data. However, some of them have reported the issue: external hard drive not showing up on iPad. “Why is my external hard drive not showing up on iPad Pro”? Some possible reasons are as follows:

Reason 1: Connection issues between your iPad and the external hard drive
Reason 2: Different file system format of your external hard drive and iPad
Reason 3: Your iPad not having sufficient battery power and available storage space
Reason 4: External hard drive not compatible with your iPad (a wrong or outdated iOS version)

External Hard Drive Not Showing Up on iPad

How to Fix External Hard Drive Not Showing Up on iPad

If you are facing the issue of "external drive not showing up on iPad", you can try the following methods to resolve the problem.

Method 1: Check the Power and Connection

  • Verify Power Supply: Ensure that the external hard drive has an adequate power supply. If it requires external power, make sure it is properly connected and turned on.
  • Check USB Cable: Inspect the USB cable for any signs of damage or looseness. A faulty cable can prevent the hard drive from being recognized. Consider using a different USB cable to eliminate the possibility of a faulty connection.
  • Test Different USB Ports: Try connecting the external hard drive to different USB ports on your computer. Sometimes, certain ports may have issues or limitations that can affect device detection. Testing different ports can help identify if the issue lies with a specific port.

Check Connection Between External Hard Drive and iPad

Method 2: Restart iPad

Sometimes, a simple restart can fix a glitch. You can restart your iPad by pressing and holding the power button until the Slide to power off slider appears. Turn it off, wait a few seconds, and then turn it back on. By doing this, you may resolve the "hard drive not showing up on iPad Pro" issue.

Restart iPad

Method 3: Update iOS

To ensure optimal compatibility and functionality, it is essential to have the latest version of iOS running on your iPad. An outdated iOS version can occasionally lead to compatibility issues. To check for available updates and install them if needed, you should open the Settings app on your iPad > tap General > select Software Update. If an update is found, tap the Download and Install option to begin the update process.

Update iOS

Method 4: Check the File System Format

If you have previously used the external hard drive with a different device or computer, it may have a partition or formatting issue that prevents the iPad from reading it. iPads typically support the exFAT and FAT32 file systems. If your hard drive uses a different format, such as NTFS, it may not be recognized by the iPad.

In this case, you should reformat the external hard drive to a compatible format using a computer. Here is a full guide on how to do that:

Step 1: Plug the external hard drive into your PC and check the drive letter of the external device.

Step 2: Type Command Prompt in the Windows search box > Right-click it to choose Run as Administrator > Type the command and press Enter after each command:

  • diskpart
  • list disk
  • select disk * (Replace * with your external drive letter.)
  • list partition
  • select partition * 
  • format fs=fat32
  • exit


Format File System to FAT32

Bonus: Backup iPad Before Fixing External Drive Not Showing Up

When you encounter the “external hard drive not showing up on iPad” issue, you can try the four methods above to solve your problem. However, it is worth noting that performing these methods can easily lead to data loss, so it is quite important to make a backup of your iPad in advance.

FoneTool is free and safe iPhone transfer and backup software that can help you back up your iPad data easily and quickly. Why choose FoneTool? Some benefits of using this tool are listed below:

Comprehensive Data Backup: FoneTool allows you to make a full iPad backup, including photos, videos, contacts, messages, notes, and more, ensuring that all your important information is stored safely before your fix the external drive not showing up on iPad issue.
Offline Backup: Unlike iTunes, iCloud, or other cloud services, you can use FoneTool to perform the backup process without an internet connection, so you won’t encounter the “iCloud or iTunes stuck on backup” issue.
Compatibility and Support: FoneTool is compatible with various iPad models and iOS versions. Additionally, FoneTool provides dedicated customer support to assist you in case of any questions or issues during the backup process.

Now click the download button to get FoneTool free and follow the on-screen instructions to install it on your PC. Once installed, follow the detailed steps to back up your iPad.

Download FreewareWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 1: Establish a safe connection between your iPad and PC with a USB cable > Launch FoneTool > Navigate to the Phone Backup section > Choose the Selective Backup option > Click Get Started.

Choose Selective Backup

 The Selective Backup option lets you selectively back up iPhone/iPad, while the Full Backup option helps you perform a comprehensive backup of all your iPad’s data, such as photos, videos, music, messages, apps, and more.

Step 2: Click the icons of each type of file to choose the desired files you wish to back up > Click OK to confirm.

Choose Files for Backup

Step 3: Click the Backup Storage Path option to choose a destination to save your iPad backup > Click Start Backup to initiate the backup task.

Click Start Backup

In addition to backing up your iPad, you can use FoneTool to transfer your data from one iPad to another iPad or PC.

The Bottom Line

After reading this post, do you know how to fix the external hard drive not showing up on iPad issue? Hope these methods in this post do help you solve the problem. However, it’s important to note that performing these methods may have a risk of data loss. Therefore, it is essential to back up your iPad data in advance. FoneTool is a safe and reliable backup tool that can help you backup and restore your iPad easily and quickly. Try it out!

May · Editor
May is an editor who is passionate about sharing computer tips and providing reliable solutions, specializing in iOS/Android and file backup and recovery. In her spare time, May enjoys watching movies, going shopping, or chatting with friends.