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

Abby Haines updated on Oct 23, 2019 to Resource | How-to Articles

Summary

Internal, external, and new hard drives become unrecognized in varying degrees. Sometimes the hard drive does not show up in This PC but is available in Disk Management. Other times it is nowhere to be found. 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.

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. If you have come across the very same issue, don't fret. Here I will provide you with three commonest cases, the potential causes, and the corresponding fixes.

PAGE CONTENT:
Case 1. New Hard Drive Not Showing Up
Case 2. (Used) Hard Drive Not Showing Up in Windows (without Error Prompt)
Case 3. (Used) Hard Drive Not Showing Up with Prompt (USB Device Not Recognized)

Case 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.

Situation 1. New Hard Drive Not Showing Up in File Explorer Only

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.

Procedure 1: Initialize the Disk

Step 1. Right-click "This PC" (in Windows 10) and choose "Manage".

Step 2. Go to "Disk Management", right-click your new hard disk, and choose "Initialize Disk"

Step 3. In the dialog box, select the disk to initialize and choose MBR or GPT partition style.

Initialize the new hard drive

Procedure 2. Create Partitions on the Disk

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

Step 2. Right-click the unallocated space and choose "New Simple Volume..."

Step 3. In New Simple Volume Wizard, click "Next" to continue.

Step 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.

Situation 2. New Hard Drive 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.

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

The methods to check the connection include:

  • 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

Fix 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.

Fix 3. Enable the New Hard Drive in BIOS

In addition to booting up your computer, BIOS also manages the communications between your computer operating system and the attached devices like your hard drive. 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.

Step 1. Restart your computer and press the BIOS key (depending on the computer you use) until you enter BIOS.

Step 2. Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to choose "Integrated Peripherals" and hit "Enter".

Step 3. Use the arrow keys to select "USB Controller". If it is disabled, change the option to "Enabled".

Step 4. 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 two situations to follow.

Situation 1. Hard Drive Not Showing Up in File Explorer Only

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

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. 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. 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. So the solutions are as follows:

Fix 1. Change 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

Fix 2. Recover Data and Create New Volume

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.

To recover data from the unallocated space:

Recovering data from a lost partition is easy with the help of the hard drive recovery software - EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard. It is capable of performing deleted file recovery, formatted data recovery, partition lost recovery, disk corruption recovery, and more. When your hard drive partition is lost unexpectedly, apply the software to recover your files as soon as possible. (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

To 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

Another way to try when you see your hard drive showing up as unallocated space in Disk Management 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

Situation 2. Hard Disk Not Detected by Disk Management

When a hard disk is not detected by Disk Management, it won't appear under File Explorer, either. This could result from:

  • Problematic connection
  • Outdated device driver
  • 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.

Fix 1. Check the Connection

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

Fix 2. Update Device Driver

Similar to the new hard drive not showing up in Windows, you need to update the device driver manually by going to the support center of your hard drive manufacturer. Then download the driver according to the product you purchased.

Fix 3. Fix Damaged Hard Drive

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.

 
 

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