Fixed: Unable to Copy Files to External Hard Drive Windows 11

When you try to copy files to external hard drive on Windows 11 but find out in vain, you can refer to the below article to troubleshoot the issue.


By Maggie Updated on May 9, 2024

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Need to fix: Unable to transfer files to my external hard drive

Hi, I have a Toshiba Canvio Basics 1tb external hard drive and I have problems in transferring files from my PC to it. Its format is exfat. When I transfer files, it always freezes in 0% copying. When I tried to transfer files from HDD to PC, it worked okay. I don't know what's the problem.

Such occasions are normal. When you find out unable to copy files to external hard drive Windows 11, the problems lie with your computer, your files, or external hard drives. If you cannot make sure what’s the root, now fix it one by one as the previous user case shows.

How to fix it when you are unable to copy files to external hard drive Windows 11

If you are unable to copy files from external hard drive Windows 10/ 11 or other OS systems, the wise option for you is executing checks from the simple one.

# 1. Check the connection

Ensure that the external hard drive is properly connected to your computer. Make sure the USB or other connection is secure.

# 2. Check the free space on the disk

An explanation for being unable to copy files to a USB or external drive could be insufficient free space on the device. If the available space is less than what you need to copy the files, the copying process will not work.

# 3. Check Windows version

If you're using an outdated version of Windows, you may encounter issues when trying to backup files to external hard drive windows 11. In such situations, it's crucial to verify whether your Windows operating system is up to date.

Step 1. Press Win + I to open the Settings window.

Step 2. Choose Update & Security and go to the Window Update tab.

Step 3. Click on the Check for updates button in the right panel.

Step 4: Wait for the process to finish and install any update it found.

# 4. Restart Windows Explorer🔥

If you find that you're unable to copy or move files in Windows, one potential solution is to restart Windows Explorer.

Step 1. Press Windows + X and locate Task Manager from the context menu.

Step 2. Find and right-click Windows Explorer under the Processes section.

Step 3. Select Restart from the context menu.

Task Manager Restart

Wait for the Windows Explorer restart and try to copy or move files again.

# 5. Scan for Virus and Malware

If you suspect that your computer may have been infected by a virus or malware and this is causing file copying or moving issues, it's essential to conduct a thorough virus and malware check to address the problem.

Step 1. Press Win + I to open the Settings window.

Step 2. Choose Update & Security and select Windows Security from the left sidebar.

Step 3. Click Virus & Threat Protection from the right panel.

Step 4. Click Scan options under the Current threats setion in the pop-up window.

Scan Options

Step 5. Select Full scan and click on the Scan now button.

Full Scan Scan Now

Step 6. When the scan process is finished, your computer will restart. Then, you can try if you can copy or move files can work normally.

# 6. Run SFC Scan or DISM Scan🔥

The System File Checker (SFC) is a useful tool that can scan and repair corrupted system files, which can often resolve issues, including those related to access denied errors. If you suspect corrupted or lost files are causing your problem, you can follow these steps to run SFC.

Step 1. Press Win + R to open the Run window.

Step 2. Type cmd in the box to open Command Prompt and set Run as administrator.

Step 3. Type sfc/scannow and hit Enter.


Wait for the scan to finish. If there are any corrupted files, they will be repaired during the process.

If the SFC scan doesn’t fix the problem, you can try the DISM scan then.

Step 1. Open Command Prompt and also set Run as administrator.

Step 2. Type DISM /online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth and press Enter.


Step 3. Then, type DISM /online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth and hit Enter.

DISM Restorehealth

# 7. Run CHKDSK

If you encounter difficulties in copying files to an external hard drive or other data storage devices, it could be due to a bad sector on your hard disk. In such cases, running the CHKDSK command can help you identify and repair these issues.

Step 1. Press Win + R to open the Run window.

Step 2. Run Command Prompt and set Run as administrator.

Step 3. Type chkdsk /f /r /x and hit Enter.


Step 4. Input Y and hit Enter to confirm the check.

# 8. Take ownership of the folder🔥

Step 1. Right-click on the file or folder and select Properties.

Step 2. Then switch to the Security tab and click on the Advanced button.

Security Advanced

Step 3. Click Change on the Owner tab, then input the account name and click Check Names.


Step 4. Click the OK button.

Step 5. Check Replace owner on subcontainers and objects.

Replace Owner on Subcontainers and Objects

Step 6. Click Apply and choose OK in the pop-up window.

Step 7. Click OK again to close the window.

# 9. Reformat file system🔥

When you encounter a situation where unable to copy files from USB drive or its frozen, there's a possibility that the drive might be improperly formatted or facing software issues. One potential solution is to reformat the drive to NTFS. Keep in mind, though, that this action will result in the loss of all data stored on the disk, so it should be considered a last resort.

Step 1. Go to This PC and right-click the external hard drive.

Step 2. Choose Format. When a menu appears, select NTFS under File System.

Format USB

Step 3. Click Start to begin formatting your external hard drive.

Reliable tip: backup files to external hard drive Windows 11/ 10/ 8🔥🔥

If you are tired of the whole troubleshooting process and want to find a quick fix, how about considering backup your files to external hard drive via professional backup and restore software like AOMEI Backupper Standard. Here are some advantages of it:

✔It is free but reliable and safe.
✔It supports not only file backup, but also partition backup, system backup and disk backup.
✔You can write comments to your backups and set up email notifications.
✔You can backup your files at fixed intervals (daily/weekly/monthly/ event trigger and USB plug-in mode) and choose a way to perform a scheduled backup.
✔It supports various storage devices, you can backup files to external hard drive, local disks, NAS and Share, and Cloud, etc.
✔It has great compatibility with the operating system (Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10, 11, XP, Vista, etc.)

Now try on this best free backup and restore software.

  • Before you start, please download and install it on your computer.
  • Connect the external disk with sufficient storage and make sure it can be detected properly.
Download FreewareWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 1. Open AOMEI Backupper to select Backup > File Backup.

File Backup

Step 2. Click Add File or Add Folder, then select the files or folders to be backed up.

Add Files Folders

Step 3. Choose the external hard drive as the backup destination.

Select Destination

✍Tips: You can choose Options, Schedule Backup or Backup Scheme to get more settings.
▶Options: You have the option to enable email notifications, pick the compression level for the backup file, and select your preferred method for splitting the backup, among other choices.
▶Schedule Backup: You can configure file backups to occur automatically at scheduled intervals, such as daily, weekly, monthly, event triggers and USB plug in mode as you need.
▶Backup Scheme: You can choose different backup methods: full/incremental/differential backup. Both of the latter methods can save you storage space on the target disk. But differential backup is only available after upgrading to AOMEI Backupper Professional. You can also delete old backups automatically so that you won't be bothered by insufficient disk space due to multiple backups.

Step 4. Click Start Backup.

Start Backup

✍Tip: If you're looking to back up a substantial volume of files to a cloud drive, you can explore the Cloud Backup feature, which is compatible with AOMEI Cloud. AOMEI Cloud offers 1TB of complimentary storage from the moment you create an AOMEI account until 15 days have elapsed.


Here are 9 ways to fix to troubleshoot if you are unable to copy files to external hard drive Windows 11. A quicker and more reliable way is to backup your files to external hard drive via professional AOMEI Backupper. This software is simple and user-friendly enabling even non-technical users to fulfill their goals.

Maggie · Editor
Maggie is a technical editor from AOMEI and troubleshoots technical problems against data protection. She has received professional and systematic technical training. With a focus on user experience, security, and problem-solving, she always puts herself in the readers' shoes and provides them with valuable technical insights.