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How to Use an External Hard Drive on Windows 10

Thinking about how to use an external hard drive on Windows 10? This article will provide a detailed guide on this with straightforward instructions.

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Updated by Sherly on Jan 19, 2024

How to use an external hard drive? On this page, you can learn how to add and use an external drive to your computer. EaseUS will explain these topics to you in detail.

An external hard drive is a portable storage device connected to a computer or other compatible devices externally. The basic purpose of using an external hard drive is to store important data from your computer, including games, movies, or other heavy software programs. It's a popular choice because of its advantages, such as:

  • Portable: external hard drives can be connected to almost any laptop or computer because they have USB ports.
  • High storage capacity: the capacity of an external hard drive is much larger than a USB, and we can use it to store large files, lots of photos, entire programs, etc.
  • It's a good backup destination: you can use an external hard drive to back up important files and programs. After a system crash, you can easily connect the external hard drive to another computer to recover important data.
  • Upgrading is easy: when your external hard drive runs out of storage space, you can easily replace it with a larger hard drive without installing any hardware.

Using an external hard drive on Windows 10 is essential to store important data from your computer. This automatically overcomes problems of low storage issues within your computer, which increases system speed and may also help with data backups. But how can you access an external hard drive on Windows 10?

How to Add an External Hard Drive on Windows 10

You must connect an external hard drive to your computer through a data cable. After this, move into the File Explorer to access your connected external hard drive. Meanwhile, if you want to use an external hard drive for a new project or if your external hard drive is new, here are some actions you need to take.

Guide 1. Format an External Hard Drive on Windows 10 for New Projects

Guide 2. Initialize a New External Hard Drive on Windows 10

If your hard drive is not a new one, you can format it to get more space for your new projects; if your external hard drive is new, you need to initialize it before you can use it.

Guide 1. Format an External Hard Drive on Windows 10 for New Projects

Formatting an external hard drive on Windows 10 is necessary to execute new projects. After all, it helps prepare the drive for use within a specific operating system, removing existing data, resolving compatibility issues, and addressing potential errors or corruption within the drive. To format the external drive, you will need EaseUS Partition Master. This tool can one-click format an external hard drive efficiently and is suitable for beginners. Install this tool and follow the simple and easy steps here:

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  • Right-click the external drive or USB you intend to format and choose "Format".
  • Set the Partition label, File system (NTFS/FAT32/EXT2/EXT3/EXT4/exFAT), and Cluster size, then click "OK".
  • Click "Yes" to continue.
  • Click the "Execute 1 Task(s)" button and click "Apply" to format the hard drive partition.

Guide 2. Initialize a New External Hard Drive on Windows 10

If you buy a new external hard drive, you will need to initialize it before you can use it. But don't worry; EaseUS Partition Master can initialize a new external hard drive with simple clicks. This tool is compatible with all Windows versions, and its clear interface makes the initialization easier. Get this tool installed, and then follow the guide below:

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Step 1. Open EaseUS Partition Master and got to Partition Manager.

Step 2. Right-click the target disk - HDD or SSD and select "Initialize to MBR" or "Initialize to GPT". Click "Execute Task" and "Apply" to save the changes.

0:00-0:18 Initialize to MBR; 0:19-0:44 Initialize to GPT;

This tool can also help with the following tasks:

How to Use an External Hard Drive on Windows 10 

When we successfully add an external hard drive to the computer, what can the external hard drive do for us on Windows 10?  Generally, external hard drives can have three broad uses on Windows 10: back up data on the external hard drive, use an external hard drive as an extra storage device, and create a Windows To Go Workplace.

1. Back-Up Data

Data is important because it may be sensitive or confidential. Meanwhile, there is a risk of data loss, for which you may need to back up the data in an external drive. To do this type of data cloning in the external drive, use EaseUS Partition Master and follow the guide below:

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Step 1. Select the source disk.

  • Click the "Clone" from the left menu. Select the "Clone OS Disk" or "Clone Data Disk"  and click "Next".
  • Choose the source disk and click "Next".

Step 2. Select the target disk.

  • Choose the wanted HDD/SSD as your destination and click "Next" to continue.
  • Read Warning message and confirm "Yes" button.

Step 3. View the disk layout and edit the target disk partition size. 

Then click "Continue" when the program warns it will wipe out all data on the target disk. (If you have valuable data on the target disk, back up it in advance.)

You can select "Autofit the disk", "Clone as the source" or "Edit disk layout" to customize your disk layout. (Select the last one if you want to leave more space for C drive.)

Step 4. Click "Start" to start the disk cloning process.

2. Extra Storage Device

After you connect the external hard drive to your computer, you can transfer files to the external hard drive. Here is a tutorial on how to use an external hard drive as additional storage in Windows 10.

Step 1: Press Win + E simultaneously to open File Explorer.

Step 2: Select the folder or file you want to move and press Ctrl + X to cut it.

select items to back up

Step 3: Click and select your external hard drive from the left action panel, then press Ctrl + V to paste folders and files to this external drive.

3. Create a Windows To Go Workplace

Windows To Go lets you boot and run Windows from a USB flash drive or external hard drive so you can take it anywhere. So here's what an external hard drive can do with Windows 10.

Notice:
It should be noted that the Windows To Go function is only available in Windows 8/8.1/10 Enterprise Education editions.
Also, the external hard drive needs to be at least 32 GB with a USB 2.0 and faster USB connection.

The following is the specific operation method.

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

Step 2: Search for Windows To Go and click it from the results.

click windows to go

Step 3: Select an external hard drive to create a Windows To Go workspace and follow the guide to complete the process.

You can then connect the external hard drive to another computer and boot Windows 10 from the external drive while you're on the go.

Share this article and let others know how to use an external hard drive on Windows 10.

 

Why Does Windows 10 Can't Recognize My External Hard Drive

Even after connecting your external hard drive to your computer, you may still experience that Windows 10 can't recognize the external device. Surely, this does appear annoying because you won't be able to store or back up your data. But what causes such an issue? Let's find the possible reasons:

1. Damaged USB Cable

It's very much possible that the USB data cable you're using to connect the external drive to the computer is damaged. This way, a connection won't be established within both devices because of a damaged wire.

2. Hard Drive Failure

Your external hard drive may have suffered physical damage or become corrupted due to malware issues or wrong formatting. This causes hard drive failure, and ultimately you won't be able to establish a connection within devices, which automatically disrupts your data transfers. 

3. Outdated Drivers 

Make sure that your computer's USB drivers remain updated. It's because outdated or incompatible drivers can cause connectivity issues with external devices. The drivers can be updated via Device Manager or by visiting the manufacturer's website for your computer.

4. Drive Letter Conflict

Windows assigns drive letters to connected storage devices. So if there is a conflict with the assigned drive letter, the external hard drive may not be visible in File Explorer. In Disk Management, you can try assigning a new drive letter to the external hard drive.

You can solve this issue by overcoming the above-mentioned reasons. However, if your problem persists, follow this link to discover more reliable yet efficient solutions. The following article can help you learn more about the lifespan of an external hard drive.

related articles

External Hard Drive Lifespan: How to Prolong It [5 Ways]

An external hard drive has many uses and gives us great convenience. But can you use it forever? Without a doubt, the answer is no. However, do you know the external hard drive lifespan?

prolong the lifespan of an external hard drive

Conclusion

External hard drives are a great way to store your important data from Windows 10. This not only helps increase storage space in your computer but also assists in data backups. Overall, this article discussed different ways how to use an external hard drive on Windows 10. You also learned about EaseUS Partition Master, which helps create data backups in an external drive, and format/initialize/resize an external hard drive.

Use an External Hard Drive on Windows 10 FAQs

Although this article has already provided you with thorough insights on how to use an external hard drive on Windows 10. If you still need more information to clear doubts, maybe these FAQs help:

1. How do I get Windows 10 to recognize my external hard drive?

To get your external hard drive recognized on Windows 10, you have to initialize it first. These steps will help you:

Step 1: Click the 'Win + X' key from your keyboard and select 'Disk Management.' From the window, right-click on the disk with 'Not Initialized' and choose 'Initialize Disk.'

Step 2: Select between 'MBR' or 'GPT' as partition style for your disk. Click 'OK' at last.

2. How to open an external hard drive on a PC?

To open your external hard drive on your PC, connect it to your computer via a USB data cable. Once connected, move into 'File Explorer' and access your external hard drive.

3. Why my external hard drive is unable to get recognized?

There are many reasons why your external hard drive won't get recognized. This includes damaged USB cables, faulty hard drives, driver issues, connection problems, wrong drive formatting, drive not Initialized, and more.

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About the Author

Updated by Sherly

Sherly joined EaseUS in 2022 and she has always loved writing articles and enjoys the fun they bring. She receives professional training here, focusing on product performance and other relative knowledge. She has written over 200 articles to help people overcome computing issues.

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