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How to Fix External Hard Disk Slow to Respond in Windows 11/10/8/7

Updated by Roxanne on Aug 30, 2021
Written by Tracy King

Top 5 Ways to Fix a Slow External Hard Drive in Windows 11/10/8/7

Several solutions can be performed to fix this issue if your external hard disk is slow to respond or open. Here are the top 5 external hard drive slow and unresponsive solutions:

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
Fix 1. Defragment external hard drive Connect your external hard drive to your Windows 10 computer. Open "This PC"...Full steps
Fix 2. Clean up large files Download and install EaseUS CleanGenius. Select " Cleanup" on the main screen...Full steps
Fix 3. Check corrupted files Open EaseUS Partition Master on your computer. Then locate the disk, right-click the partition...Full steps
Fix 4. Replace the cable If you connect your disk to the front panel USB port, try connecting it to USB ports...Full steps
Fix 5. Remove viruses Open your antivirus scanning tool (e.g., AVG). Select the "Scan" option...Full steps

My External Hard Drive Is Slow to Respond

"Hi, there. Do you know how to fix a USB 3.0 external hard drive slow speed on Windows 10? I have a Seagate USB 3.0 external hard drive with 1TB space. It has worked for more than two years, and almost all my data like videos, images, worksheets, etc. are all saved on the drive. But recently, when I tried to transfer or save a new file to the external hard drive, it became very slow to respond. 

It takes a very long time to load on Windows 11/10 and even becomes extremely slow to respond when I try to copy or transfer a new file or image to the external hard drive. I don’t know why it comes so slow, and how can I fix the slow speed on my external hard drive?"

It seems that storage devices such as external hard drive, USB, or SD card with slow response or slow transfer rate issues have become one of the top concerns among ordinary users. So what can you do when your external hard drive or USB devices become extremely slow? Buy a new and bigger external hard drive to replace your current one? It is not a wise choice. Here are some cost-effective methods for fixing the external hard drive very slow to respond to issue in Windows 10/8/7. 

Also read: How to fix hard drive slow suddenly

Fix 1. Defragment External Hard Drive to Optimize the Performance

If you haven't run disk defragmentation for a long time, your external hard drive and hard drive could be slower than before. Thus, the first thing to do is to run disk defragmentation. Fragmentation makes your hard disk do extra work that can slow down your computer and hard drive. Disk Defragmenter in Windows rearranges fragmented data so your disks and drives can work more efficiently. To defragment external hard drive:

Step 1. Connect your external hard drive to your Windows 11/10 computer.

Step 2. Open "This PC", right-click your external hard disk and select "Properties".

Step 3. Select "Tools > Optimize". Then, select the drive again, and the drive will be optimized automatically.

defragment slow external hard drive

Fix 2. Clean Up Large Files on the Slow External Hard Drive

A very frequent reason for the disk to go slow – even if it is not external – is the heavy load. For example, at the same time, you may be downloading several torrent files to your disk, watching a film from the same disk, and checking the same disk for viruses. Thus, you can speed up the slow external hard disk by cleaning up unnecessary large files or stop some programs.

Professional disk cleanup software - EaseUS would help you remove slow speed, low transfer rate, or slow to respond issues from your external hard drive, USB or SD card, etc. devices with just a few simple clicks. Just free download, install it on your PC, and follow guidelines here to speed up your slow to respond external hard drive now.

Step 1. DOWNLOAD EaseUS CleanGenuis for free and install it on your Windows PC.

Step 2. Launch EaseUS CleanGenuis. Select Cleanup on the main screen, and click Scan to start scanning.

large file cleanup - 1

Step 3. When the scanning process completes, select useless large files and click Clean to clean large files.

large file cleanup - 2

Step 4. When EaseUS CleanGenius completes cleaning the files you choose, click Done to finish the process.

large file cleanup - 3

Fix 3. Check and Repair Corrupted Files that Slows Down the Disk

If corrupted system files or bad sectors exist on the storage devices, it may also slow down the device transfer rate. You can quickly check file system errors and repair them with EaseUS free partition tool. This free tool can check and fix external hard drive error easily. It also has many other highlights:

Steps to check and repair file system errors:

Fix 4. Check and Replace the Cable to Fix Slow External Hard Disk

Sometimes, the USB cable can cause the disk to respond poorly. You can examine the USB cable and power lead when you connect your external hard drive to your PC.

Step 1. If you connect your disk to the front panel USB port, try connecting it to USB ports in the back panel instead. 

Step 2. Use USB 3.0 instead of USB 2.0. You might be using a USB 3.0 device in a USB 2.0 port, which often doesn't work. Switch to a compatible port and try again!

Fix 5. Check and Remove Viruses from Your PC or External HDD

Another problem that can cause the disk to respond slowly is viruses and malware. Your hard drive can get a slow error if your computer or external hard disk is infected with a virus. Even you are not a victim, and you should have a tool to protect your device from virus attack.

Step 1. Open your antivirus scanning tool (e.g., AVG).

Step 2. Select the "Scan" option to find the virus. If there isn't an option, select the specific partition and let the tool to scan (this differs between security suites).  

remove virus from slow external hard drive

After the scan, you can deal with these viruses with the help of your antivirus tools.


Whenever you are faced with a slow external hard drive, you can gain better performance with any one of these solutions. If you still have a problem, you may format the external hard drive to NTFS and wipe all data on the drive to optimize its performance. Just one thing that you need to keep noticed: formatting will clear all data on your drive. So if you have valuable data on your slow external hard drive, please export and back up hard drive data to a secure storage device first.

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Updated by Roxanne

Roxanne is one of the main contributors to EaseUS and has created multiple posts on digital devices like PCs, Mobile phones, tablets, Mac, etc. She loves to share ideas with people of the same interest.

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Written by Tracy King

Tracy joined in EaseUS in 2013 and has been working with EaseUS content team for over 7 years. Being enthusiastic in computing and technology, she writes tech how-to articles and share technical solutions about Windows & Mac data recovery, file/system backup and recovery, partition management and iOS/Android data recovery.

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