Top 6 Ways: Fix External Hard Drive not Showing up in Windows 11

You can learn why external hard drive not showing up in Windows 11 and the top 6 ways to fix the problem effectively and securely. You can also learn how to better protect your external hard drive.


By Jonna Updated on December 26, 2023

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Why is My External Hard Drive not Showing up in Windows 11?

Now, users are more careful in choosing hard drives, and external hard drives, as a portable hard drive, are favored by the majority of users because of their large capacity and easy portability. It is widely used to store personal data or backup data.

But sometimes, when you connect your external hard drive with Windows 11 or other devices, you will find that the external hard drive is not showing up in Windows 11. This situation is likely due to the following reasons:

  • The USB port does not work.
  • The device driver is out of date.
  • The drive file system is not compatible.
  • The external hard drive has not been initialized.
  • There is no drive letter on the hard disk partition.

How to Fix External Hard Drive not Showing up in Windows 11

After understanding these reasons, how do I fix Windows not recognizing my external hard drive? The following article will introduce six methods to solve Windows 11 HDD not detected or  not showing up for you in turn. Each method includes a detailed graphic tutorial. You can choose according to your own needs, or you can try these solutions in turn. I believe there is always a way to help you solve the problem.

👉 Fix 1. Change USB Port🔥
👉 Fix 2. Update the Driver
👉 Fix 3. Assign a Drive Letter
👉 Fix 4. Initialize Your External Hard Drive🔥
👉 Fix 5. Format External Hard Drive
👉 Fix 6. Run Windows 11 Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter🔥

Fix 1. Change USB Port

When you encounter Toshiba/WD/Seagate external hard drive not showing up on Windows 11, the USB port may be faulty. You can first change the USB port according to the method below to see if it can be solved. If the problem is still not resolved, you can try the other methods below.

Step 1. Plug the external hard drive into another USB port or computer.

Step 2. If it shows up on another port, the original USB port is dead or doesn't accept the drive for whatever reason. Sometimes this can be caused by mismatched USB ports (for example, using a USB 2.0 port).

Fix 2. Update the Driver

If the drivers installed for your external hard drive are outdated or infected with bugs, chances are your Windows 11 PC won't recognize it. In this case, the best solution is to update the drivers, which you can do by following the steps below. This not only eliminates internal disk errors but also help fix internal hard drive not showing up in Windows 11 or hard drive keeping disappearing in Windows.

Step 1. Press Windows + S to launch the Search menu, enter Device Manager in the text field, and right-click on the relevant search result.

Step 2. Now, double-click on the Disk drives entry here.

Click The Device Driver

Step 3. Right-click on the problematic drive, and select Update driver from the context menu.

Click Update Drivers

Step 4. Next, select Search automatically for drivers from the options in the Update Drivers window.

Search Automatically For Driver

Step 5. Wait for the OS to locate and install the best available driver for the drive.

Fix 3. Assign a Drive Letter

For a device to be listed in File Explorer, it should have an assigned drive letter. If not, make sure to assign one and the issue of Windows 11 not recognizing the external hard drive will be resolved. The following are the detailed operation steps.

Step 1. Press Windows + R to launch the Run command, type diskmgmt.msc in the text field, and either click on OK or hit Enter to launch Disk Management.

Step 2. Now, verify if the malfunctioning drive has a letter associated with it. If not, right-click on it and select Change Drive Letter and Paths from the context menu.

Change Drive Letter And Path

Step 3. Click on the Add button to proceed.

Step 4. You can now either choose a drive letter from the dropdown menu or go with the one selected by default, and then click on OK.

Assign Drive Letter

Fix 4. Initialize Your External Hard Drive

External hard drive not showing up in File Explorer may be caused by the external hard drive is not initialized, so it can not be recognized by Disk Management. You can follow the guide below to initialize disk before using it:

Step 1. Open the Run dialog by pressing Win + R, input diskmgmt.msc, and click OK to access Disk Management.

Step 2. Locate the target drive, and right-click it to choose Initialize Disk. Then, choose a partition style as needed and hit OK.

Initialize Disk

Step 3. After that, right-click the unallocated space, select New Simple Volume, assign the drive letter, and format the volume.

Fix 5. Format External Hard Drive

If the external hard drive is an old one, format it may be helpful for the external drive not showing up in Windows 11 issue. Here is what to do:

Step 1. Open This PC on Windows 11, right-click the external hard drive to format.

Step 2. Choose the target File system, tick Quick Format, and hit Start.

Format USB

Fix 6. Run Windows 11 Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter

Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter is a utility that comes with Windows system. It is capable of fixing issues related to hardware and device. You can also use it to solve external HDD not showing up in Windows 11.

Step 1. Open the Run dialog, type in msdt.exe -id DeviceDiagnostic and press Enter.

Open Device Giagnostic

Step 2. Click on Next to run the troubleshooter. Select the relevant response when prompted to complete the troubleshooting process. After that, check if the external hard drive not showing up in Windows 10/11 is resolved.

Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter

How to Better Protect Your External Hard Drive

After fixing the issue of external hard drive not showing up in Windows 11, you can read on to learn how to better protect your external hard drive. You can choose a safe and professional backup software to help you. AOMEI Backupper Standard is a good choice. And it has the following advantages.

  • 4 backup solutions: It provides system backup, disk backup, partition backup, and file backup to meet all your backup needs.
  • Scheduled backup: It allows you to set a fixed time interval (daily/weekly/monthly) to run backup tasks automatically.
  • Different methods: You can choose full backup or incremental backup to perform your scheduled backup.
  • Different backup locations: You can backup your external hard drive to HDD, SSD, USB drive, cloud, network, etc.
  • Multiple operating systems: It not only supports all Windows PC systems, including Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP/Vista, etc.

Step 1. Download AOMEI Backupper Standard, install it, and open it. You can click Backup > Disk Backup.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Disk Backup

Step 2. Click Add Disk to choose the external hard drive you want to backup.

Add Disk

Step 3. You need to select the destination for your disk backup and then click Start Backup.

Select Backup Destination

Options: You can enable email notification, choose the compression level for the disk backup and select splitting ways you want, etc.
Backup Scheme: You can select a backup scheme and it will help you save the target disk space by deleting the older backups. It is available in the professional version.


This post explains why external hard drive not showing up in Windows 11 and the top 6 ways to solve this problem effectively and safely. After you solve this problem, in order to better protect your external hard disk, you can use the professional backup and restoration software AOMEI Backupper Standard to help you back up your external hard disk regularly. You can choose different backup methods, paths and backup locations according to your needs.

In addition, this software is a professional cloning software. It provides multiple functions such as system clone, partition clone and disk clone, so you can clone HDD to SSD or clone USB drive to SSD easily. You can download this software now to explore more.

Jonna · Editor
Jonna joined AOMEI in 2021 and has become a professional in the areas of computer backup and restoration, disk cloning, file synchronization, etc. She maintains a keen eye for the latest technology trends, ensuring that the information provided is always in step with industry developments.