[Self-Check-and-Repair]: How to Repair External Hard Disk Not Detected in Windows 10

Follow the guide in this article so you can check and repair the issue of external hard disk not detected in Windows 10 by yourself. The solutions to external hard disk not detected on this page is also applicable to other type of storage devices that are not detecting, showing up or recognizing: HDD, USB flash drive, pen drive, SD card, etc.

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Page Table of Contents

Updated By


Approved By

Evan Galasso

Updated on

09 May 2024

Min Reading

9 Min

External hard disk, regarding its large capacity but low price nowadays, is still a popular choice for Windows and Mac users to store massive data, save backups and wirelessly transfer files from one computer to the other. Wirelessness means that you don't rely on Internet connection because a physical USB or eSATA connection will enable you to copy, transfer, exchange data across an external HDD and a running machine!

So, first and foremost to make full use of an external hard disk on a computer, it has to be correctly connected, and then be detected and recognized. What if your external hard disk not detected once hooked up? Does this the same case to you? This page now gets you covered towards every possible way to fix an external hard disk not detected in Windows 10. 

external hard disk not detected

Check Where Goes Wrong & Apply 3 Quick Fixes

The culprits that lead to an undetectable external hard drive can be those in following:

  • Virus infection
  • Loose connection
  • Not working USB port
  • Insufficient power supply
  • Outdated, corrupted or unstable driver
  • Drive letter confliction
  • Corrupted or incompatible file system

To have an easier start, you cannot miss some simple tricks at first, which have turned out to be incredibly effective for most affected users.

#1. Change another USB port for connection

If the external hard disk is recognized by other USB ports, you got a failed USB port then. You can leave this page without worrying about the hard disk, and go to the other page to know how to fix a USB port not working.

If none of the USB ports on your computer can recognize the external disk, we can confirm that the storage device now has an issue. You need to read through the article to test every possible fix.

#2. Disconnect the power supply

It's like doing the thing from scratch. Turn off your Computer, disconnect the power cable from your computer (disconnect all other external USB deivces as well, if there had any). After a while waiting, connect the power cable and turn on your computer. Now the computer system should be in a clean state and ready to read the external hard disk. Still nothing happens? Go on reading.

#3. Check in Windows Disk Management

Most of the case when we say a connected drive not detected, recognized or not showing up, it's in the Windows File Explorer here.

hard drive partitions in file explorer

But the situation like this is not the real sign of a not detected external drive. Sometimes, the external hard drive that is missing a file system (RAW file system), or the one that loses the drive letter or turns to unallocated space won't show up in the Explorer, but we can find it in Windows Disk Management.

In Windows 10, follow the two paths to open Disk Management:

  • This PC > Manage > Disk Management, or
  • Press Windows + R keys together, type diskmgmt.msc and press Enter.

Did you see any weird drives there? Any strange status or characters you found in the disk map represent your external hard drive not properly displaying in the computer, seemingly not detected by Windows.

hard drive partitions in file explorer

Over a half person could find their external hard drive in Disk Management, but the access to the drive data has been completely cut off. Before applying further troubleshooting methods to let Windows detect an external hard disk, try to recover precious data in advance. 

Recover Data from A Detected External Hard Drive in Disk Management

Your external HDD or USB storage devices that are displayed in Disk Management are usually inaccessible. Besides the RAW file system and unallocated state we mentioned, it can also display it as a disk unknown, not initialized. There are clear solutions to each kind of not detecting hard drive state, however, you must perform data recovery at first because operations coming next are likely to endanger data, making it very difficult to be retrieved. 

EaseUS EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard can assist you with a complete external hard drive recovery in three steps. Watch a profound video tutorial guide in the end part if you're willing to spend a few more minutes on the data recovery part.

Click the below button to download EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Windows, and follow the wizard to install it on your computer.

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Follow the 3-step guide to recover data from external hard disk not detected in Windows 10:

Step 1. Choose and scan the external hard drive

  • Download and install EaseUS Data Recovery on your PC or laptop. 
  • Connect the external hard drive to your computer.
  • Run EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard and choose the external drive from External drives list. Then, click "Search for Lost Data". 
select external hard drive

Step 2. Check the scan results

  • EaseUS data recovery software will immediately scan the selected drive for all data, including deleted, corrupted, and existing data.
  • You can use the Filter feature to quickly locate the files of one kind, such as Pictures, Word, Excel, PDF, videos, emails, etc.
scan external hard drive

Step 3. Preview and recover data

  • Double-clicking a file from the scanned results to preview.
  • Choose the files you want and click "Recover".
  • Select a different drive to save the recovered files instead of the original one.

💡Tip: You can restore data on the local disks, external hard drives, and also the cloud storage.

preview and recover data

After the self examination with the above guidance, and the required data has been tansferred to a safe location, now it's time for you started all over again to reconnect the drive, and finally let it show up in Windows 10.

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Create A New Simple Volume

This is for the case that your external hard disk not detecting in Windows Explorer but showing unallocated space in Disk Management.

Step 1. Right-click on the unallocated space area on your external hard disk and choose "New Simple Volume..."

create new simple volume step 1

Step 2. You'll be welcomed to the new simple volume wizard window, click Next.

Step 3. When specify volume size, you can just leave the default settings for volume size unchanged, and click Next.

Step 4. Assign a proper drive letter to the hard disk by choosing one from the drop-dewn list, and click Next.

Step 5. Format the drive by choosing a compatible file system. The external hard disk is usually formatted with NTFS or exFAT. Choose one and tick the option "Perform a quick format" to quickly get the format process done. Click Next.

create new simple volume step 2

Step 6. You're completing the new simple volume wizard. Once confirmed, click Finish.

Format External Hard Drive with A Recognizable File System

In contrast, this way to fix external hard drive not detected is when the drive has been partitioned to several chunks. If it's one of the partitions on the external hard drive not normally showing or detected by Windows, it's probably because the file system is corrupted or missing. What's more, if you're using an Apple APFS hard drive on a Windows 10 computer, Windows can't read it because it's the file system that exclusively for macOS system. All those reasons will make Windows fail to read the external hard drive you've connected, by correcting the file system may get you out of trouble.

Formatting will ease data on the selected drive. Any one who didn't create a backup before the problem arised, use EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard to export some critical files from the currently inaccessible drive before executing the formatting steps.

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Step 1. Right-click on the external hard drive partition where goes trouble and choose "Format..."

format external hard disk not detected

Step 2. Enter a volume label you prefer, choose NTFS or FAT/FAT32 file system for the partition and perform a quick format. Click OK.

Step 3. Confirm to format the partition by clicking OK.

Update Outdated and Corrupted Driver

The last resort that our average computer users can handle is to troubleshoot driver issues. It's kind of a complexing method, but if you can calm down and spend a few minutes to learn, the not detecting issue can hopefully be resolved at this step.

You'll update driver for an external storage device in Windows Device Manager. Here is how:

Step 1. Press Windows + R keys to bring up the Run ox, type devmgmt.msc in the box and hit Enter.

open device manager

Step 2. Expand the Disk drives section. Did you any devices with a yellow/red exclamation point next to them? If you see a symble likewise there, that device in large extent has a problem with its driver. Right-click on it and choose Properties.

update driver to fix external hard disk not detected

Step 3. Under the Driver tab, you can first try with Update Driver and click OK.

update driver for external hard disk

Step 4. Once completion, restart the computer for Windows to automatically install the latest and compatible driver for your external device.

If updating driver fails, try the next time uninstall and reinstall driver in the step 3.

Video Guide for External Hard Drive Data Recovery

Physical hard drive issues like this one is always confusing people from all walks of life. Part of the external hard disk not detected problem can be fixed with the suggested solutions. However, some may find the solutions not working for their case. That's normal because the damage degree determines the possibility of full repair. Any time when you feel incapable to deal with the storage drive on your own, ask for a service to make it.

The lucky thing is, no matter whether your drive is fixable or not, as long as the Disk Management can detect it, you can apply EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard to perform a full data recovery, without causing further loss upon a failed hard drive.

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  • Updated by

    Cedric Grantham is a senior editor and data recovery specialist of EaseUS. He mainly writes articles and how-to tips about data recovery on PC and Mac. He has handled 10,000+ data recovery cases and is good at data recovery of NTFS, FAT (FAT32 and ExFAT) file systems, and RAID structure reorganization. …
  • Approved by

    Evan Galasso is a digital forensics and data recovery engineer with over 10 years of experience in the field. He presents opinions on the current state of storage media, reverse engineering of storage systems and firmware, and electro-mechanical systems of SSDs and HDDs.…
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