Fix 'Hard Drive Is not Showing Up or Recognized' in Windows 10/8/7

Roxanne updated on Sep 17, 2020 to Resource | How-to Articles


Sometimes the hard drive is not showing up in This PC but available in Disk Management. Sometimes internal, external, and new hard drives become unrecognized or totally undetected in varying degrees. Based on the specific situation, you will have different solutions to try. In some cases, data loss is unavoidable to fix the problem, so data recovery software - EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is offered to prevent permanent loss.

If you have come across the very same issue, don't fret. Here I will provide you with practical fixes for the following three common cases:

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
New Hard Drive Not Showing Solution 1. Initialize Disk and Create Partitions;
Solution 2. Check Disk Connect, Update Driver...Full steps
Hard Drive Not Showing Up Windows Solution 1. Change Drive Letter; (5+ Solutions)
Solution 2. Recover Data, Create Partition...Full steps
Hard Drive Not Showing Up in Prompt Right-click Start > Open Disk Management > Right-click device and select "Format" ...Full steps

Hard drives, be it new or old, internal or external, may not show up in File Explorer or (and) Disk Management after you connect the device to your computer. Actually, hard drive not showing up is one of the most frequently occurred issues that are troubling users. 

Part 1. New Hard Drive Not Showing Up

Before explaining the possible reasons why your new hard drive is not detected in Windows, I need you to check whether your new hard drive is not showing up in File Explorer only or in both File Explorer and Disk Management:

Step 1. Right-click "This PC" and choose "Manage".

Step 2. Go to "Disk Management".

You will find the hard drive missing in Disk Management or it shows up as not initialized and unallocated space. Pick up the suitable fix to make your new hard drive work now.

Solution 1. Initialize the New Disk and Create Partitions

Applies to: Fix new hard drive is not showing up in File Explorer only issue.

If you see your new hard drive in Disk Management, it may not show up in File Explorer because:

You should feel relieved in such a case. Unlike the hard drives that are integrated with your computer, the hard disk you purchase separately may not always be pre-formatted and ready for use. The new hard disk may be uninitialized or it's initialized but there is no partition on it. As you may know, a disk with no partitions won't show up under File Explorer. Therefore, all you need to do is to initialize your new hard drive and then partition the disk to make the new hard drive ready for data storage.

Step 1. Initialize the Disk

  1. 1. Right-click "This PC" (in Windows 10) and choose "Manage".
  2. 2. Go to "Disk Management", right-click your new hard disk, and choose "Initialize Disk"
  3. 3. In the dialog box, select the disk to initialize and choose MBR or GPT partition style.

Initialize the new hard drive

Step 2. Create Partitions on the Disk

  1. 1. Right-click "This PC" and choose "Manage" > "Disk Management".
  2. 2. Right-click the unallocated space and choose "New Simple Volume..."
  3. 3. In New Simple Volume Wizard, click "Next" to continue.
  4. 4. Follow the wizard to specify the volume size, assign a drive letter to the volume, and then format the partition.

Partition the new hard drive

After creating a partition(s) on your new hard drive, you've made your disk for use and it will show up in File Explorer for you to access.

Solution 2. Check Disk Connection, Update Driver and Enable in BIOS

Applies to: Fix new hard drive is not detected in File Explorer or Disk Management

The causes could boil down to three factors:

  • Connection issue
  • Driver issue
  • Incorrect BIOS settings

Connection issue may result from a dead USB port and (or) a problematic cable; The Driver issue derives from an outdated driver; And the incorrect BIOS settings mean the new hard drive is disabled in BIOS. Then the solutions should be quite clear in your mind: check connections, update device drivers, and enable the device in BIOS.

Step 1. Check the Connection Between the Hard Drive and the Computer

  • Connect your hard drive with SATA cable instead of USB cable
  • Change the cable/port
  • Connect your new hard drive to another computer and check whether the problem remains

Step  2. Manually Update Hard Drive Driver

Since the new hard drive is not detected by Disk Management, you can't update the device driver using the regular way (right-click the device and choose "Update driver").

You need to visit the official site of the hardware support center and download the driver according to the product you bought.

Step 3. Enable the New Hard Drive in BIOS

If your new hard drive is disabled in BIOS, the OS won't be able to detect it and it won't show up in Windows. Hence, checking whether your hard drive is disabled in BIOS is also necessary.

  • Restart your computer and press the BIOS key (depending on the computer you use) until you enter BIOS.
  • Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to choose "Integrated Peripherals" and hit "Enter".
  • Use the arrow keys to select "USB Controller". If it is disabled, change the option to "Enabled".
  • Save and exit BIOS. Afterward, restart your computer and see whether your new hard drive is detected.

In rare cases, you get a problematic new hard drive and it won't appear in Windows. Luckily, the device is always still under warranty, you can replace it directly.

Case 2. (Used) Hard Drive Not Showing Up in Windows (Without Error Prompt)

A used internal or external hard drive not showing up in Windows is much more common than a new one. When you connect a hard drive to your computer and try to access the files on it via This PC, you just find the hard drive is not showing up. Similar to the last case, you first need to check whether the device is detected Disk Management, which is a diagnostic step in deciding what the possible cause is.

Step 1. Right-click "This PC" and choose "Manage".

Step 2. Go to "Disk Management".

Do you see your hard drive in Disk Management? Choose one of the following solution to make your old hard drive detectable without losing data.

If a hard drive which has been used before is missing in File Explorer but appearing in Disk Management, it may be caused by:

  • Drive letter conflict
  • Unallocated space
  • Device driver issue

The following solutions are based on the three hard drive errors.

Solution 1. Change Drive Letter (for Used Hard Drive)

Applies to: Fix hard drive not showing up in File Explorer only.

When the drive letter of your hard disk is conflicted with the drive letter of one partition on the computer, the hard drive will not show up under File Management. Besides, if you check the drive in Disk Management, you will find that the hard drive appears without a drive letter.

If your hard drive appears in Disk Management without a drive letter, changing the drive letter will solve the not showing up issue. 

Step 1. In Disk Management, right-click the volume and select "Change Drive Letter and Paths".

Step 2. In the new window, click "Change".

Step 3. Assign a new drive letter to your USB and click "OK".

Change drive letter

Solution 2. Recover Data and Create New Volume

Applies to: Fix hard drive not showing up in File Explorer only.

As mentioned above, if the whole disk is unallocated space, the hard drive will be missing in File Explorer, too. That's because there are no partitions on the disk yet or the existing partitions on the disk are lost accidentally.

If a used hard disk suddenly becomes unallocated space, that's just unusual. Unallocated space is a state that cannot be used to store data. To utilize the space, you need to create a partition(s) on it. Generally speaking, the space on a used hard drive won't all be unallocated space. Thus, what happens to your hard drive could be accidental deletion, virus attack, or other unknown reasons that cause partition loss on your disk. In such a case, you will need to perform data recovery from the unallocated space first, and then create a new volume(s) on the disk in order to use it for data storage.

# 1. Recover data from unallocated space on hard drive

Professional hard drive recovery software - EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is capable of performing lost partition recovery, deleted recovery, formatted, and more. This software will recover your files as soon as possible as you apply it to scan the unallocated hard drive space.

(The unallocated space on your disk will be marked as a lost partition in EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard. Select it as your target partition to scan.)

Step 1. Select and scan hard drive.

On EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, select the drive where you lose your data and click "Scan". Wait patiently until this program finishes the scanning, it will find all your lost data on the drive.

select and scan the hard drive

Step 2. Find and preview found files on the selected drive.

Check "Deleted Files", "Lost Files" or use "Filter", "Search" to find the lost files on the selected hard drive. You can double-click to open and check the found files.

Preview lost hard drive data

Step 3. Recover and save lost hard drive data.

Select all found lost hard drive files, click "Recover" and browse another secure location to save them. Click "OK" to confirm and finish the recovery process.

recover data from hard drive

#2. Create a new partition

After retrieving all your precious files, now you can create a new partition to make your hard disk usable again.

Step 1. In Disk Management, right-click the unallocated space and choose "New Simple Volume".

Step 2. Follow the wizard to finish the remaining process.

Create new partition

Solution 3. Update Device Driver

Applies to: Fix hard drive not showing up in File Explorer only; Also works to fix hard disk not detected by Disk Management

Although an outdated driver always causes a hard drive not showing up in Windows at all, neither in File Explorer nor Disk Management, it's also possible that it will be marked as unallocated space in Disk Management. Another way that you can try is to update the device driver, which I have explained in detail above.

Step 1. Right-click "This PC" and choose "Manage".

Step 2. Click "Device Manager" then expand "Disk drives”. Find and right-click the problematic USB drive and select "Update driver"

Step 3. Click "automatically search for driver software online".

Step 4. Wait for the driver to be updated, then reboot your computer. Afterward, you can try to reconnect your hard drive to PC and check whether the USB drive shows up or not.

Update hard drive driver in Disk Management

When a hard disk is not detected by Disk Management, it won't appear under File Explorer, either. This could result from: 1). Problematic connection; 2). Outdated device driver; 3). Damaged hard drive.

I'm sure you can understand why the hard drive is missing in Windows when such problems arise. So let's move to the solutions directly.

Solution 4. Check the Hard Drive Connection

Applies to: Fix hard disk not detected by Disk Management.

There is more than one method you can do to check the connection between the hard drive and the computer.

  • Change the cable
  • Connect your hard drive to the computer via another port
  • Connect to your hard drive to another computer

In the situation where you notice the hard drive works with one computer while fails to be detected by another, you can try to update the USB driver of the computer in which the hard drive is not showing up.

Step 1. Right-click "This PC" and choose "Manage".

Step 2. Click "Device Manager" then expand “Universal Serial Bus Controllers”.

Step 3. Right-click "USB Root Hub (USB3.0)" and select "Update driver" > "Search automatically for updated driver software".

Step 4. Restart your computer.

Update USB port driver

Solution 5. Fix Damaged Hard Drive

Applies to: Fix hard disk not detected by Disk Management.

The worst situation is that your hard drive is seriously damaged, either physically or logically. Logical bad sectors and physical corruption may make a hard drive not detected in Windows. Learn how to fix a corrupted hard drive here.

Case 3. (Used) Hard Drive Not Showing Up with Prompt (USB Device Not Recognized)

The last case is that you receive the error prompt saying "USB device not recognized" while connecting your (external) hard drive to the computer. Case 2 and Case 3 are almost identical except for one condition - the hard drive becomes RAW. Therefore, other than applying the solutions presented above, there is one more fix for you.

When the file system of a hard drive is damaged or not compatible by the computer, it will show up as RAW since the computer cannot recognize it and you may receive the prompt presenting "USB device not recognized". All you need to do is to recover data from the RAW hard drive and then format the disk to make it usable again. To format your hard drive:

Step 1. Right-click on the "Start" icon > Type computer management > click on "Computer Management". 

Step 2. Click "Disk Management" in the bar on the left-hand side, then find the device in the drive viewer.

Step 3. Right-click on the USB flash drive, select "Format" to directly format the USB drive to make it usable.

Format hard drive

Related Issue: Hard Drive Not Showing Files

Instead of not showing up in Windows at all, a hard drive may not show files thought they still exist. This problem is less serious compared with the hard drive missing in Windows since the files are always recoverable. Files on a hard drive or another storage device may disappear due to three reasons:

  • Files are hidden by malware or a virus
  • Files are deleted accidentally
  • The file system of the hard drive is not recognized by the computer

This should remind you that you can try showing hidden files, recovering deleted data, and format the hard drive to fix a hard drive that is not showing files. For more details, read the article about the pen drive not showing files in the computer.

The Ending Line

Sometimes, when you plug in your external hard drive or USB devices, you may find that it is completely unrecognized or not showing up on your PC. The hard drives not showing up has frustrated a large number of users.

Luckily, with the troubleshooting fixes on how to access the missing hard drive on Windows 10/8/7/XP/Vista computers without losing any data, you should feel relieved since you can handle the problem easily by yourself. If you can't figure out what the cause is, you can try the solutions in order. Besides, the fixes for hard drive or flash drive not showing up on Mac are also provided, read it for reference if you are troubled by the same or similar issue.

FAQs About Hard Drive Not Showing  Up

Besides offering solutions for New or Used hard drive not showing up issue in File Explorer or Disk Management, this page also discusses the causes of hard drive not recognized error. In this part, we will continue to unveil some top concerned questions on Google and leave a brief answer below each question. 

If you are having the same doubts, read on and find the answer here now:

1. Why is my hard drive not showing up in Windows?

The reasons for new hard drive and used hard drive not showing up are different. The specific reasons are as follows:

Causes of new hard drive not showing up:

Causes of used hard drive not showing up:

  • 1). Drive letter conflict
  • 2). Partition loss: hard drive shows as unallocated space
  • 3). Hard drive driver outdated
  • 4). Problematic connection
  • 5). Damaged hard drive

2. What do I do if my internal hard drive is not detected?

As shown on this page, there are many ways that you can try to fix the internal hard drive not detected issue.

For a new hard drive, you can first initialize the disk and then create partitions on the drive. 

For a used hard drive, you can try these tips as shown on this page in Case 2:

  1. 1). Change the hard drive letter;
  2. 2). Recover lost partition data and create new partitions;
  3. 3). Update hard drive driver;
  4. 4). Check hard drive connection, enable it in BIOS;
  5. 5). Repair damaged hard drive

3. How do I get Windows 10 recognized a new hard drive?

Be it similar to the provided solutions on this page, when a new hard drive is not detected or recognized on Windows 10, you may also mainly try the following tips:

Check new hard drive connection > Initialize new hard drive and create partition > Update drive letter > Enable it in BIOS.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why choose EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard?

"EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is the best we've seen. It's far from perfect, partly because today's advanced disk technology makes data-recovery more difficult than it was with the simpler technology of the past, but it's fast and efficient..."PCMag

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"Recover lost files, even after deleting a partition or formatting your drive."Macworld

2. Why cannot I recover 2GB data for free?

It is recommended to check the version installed is Free or Trial because they are different versions.

Trial has data preview function but cannot save any files, while the Free version enables to recover 2 GB files. The default free space is 500 MB and you may share the product on social media to get another 1.5 GB.

3. Why cannot the recovered files be opened?

A file is saved as 2 parts on the storage device: directory info (which is comprised by file name, time stamp and size info, etc.) and data content.

If the files with original file names and folder structures cannot be opened, one possible reason is the corrupted directory info. There is still a chance to recover the data content with the RAW Recovery method in our software.

4. Why isn't it suggested to recover the files back to the original drive?

The storage structure of the lost files would be altered or damaged by any changes on the drive. If you save the recovered files back to the same drive, the original data structures and data content would be corrupted or overwritten, which causes permanent data loss. So you should prepare another disk to save the files.

5. How can I check whether my data is recoverable or not before purchase?

The Free version helps you save 2GB files to better verify the recovery quality of our product before purchase.

6. How long does it take to scan the drive?

It strongly depends on the capacity of your hard drive and the performance of your computer. As reference,most drive recoveries can be completed in around 10 to 12 hours for a 1-TB healthy hard drive in general conditions.

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