Fix The External Hard Drive Can be Detected But Not Opening

When the external hard drive is detected but not open on Windows PC, the proper reasons are permission, access denied, file system errors and device driver outdated. This page includes solutions on how to resolve external hard dive not detected but not opening issue without losing data by the help of EaseUS file recovery software.

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Table of Contents

Issue: My External Hard Drive Is Recognized But Won't Open

"Recently, I connected my 64GB external hard drive to the computer, it didn't appear as normal in the 'My Computer' folder. Instead, it shows up as an unknown device in Device Manager.

My external hard drive detected but cannot open? I have so many important files on the drive, so I can't format the drive unless the files were safely restored. Can I fix this issue without losing my files?"

Being different from an unrecognized external hard drive, the causes of the "external hard drive detected but cannot open" error seems to be more commonly discussed. Here is a list of symptoms when the external hard drive or other storage devices become inaccessible:

The listed issues may occur to most older devices, to resolve these issues, you can follow guides in Part 1 to restore and extract data from the device first and refer to Part 2 for specific solutions.

As for a new external hard drive, users may meet the last listed issue and they just need to initialize the device to make it accessible. 

Part 1. Restore Data from Not Opening External Hard Drive (Only 3 Steps)

How are you going to access saved data on the external hard drive which is not opening on your Windows computer? Professional data recovery software - EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard enables you to access data on an inaccessible storage device.

EaseUS External Hard Drive Data Recovery 

  • Recover lost documents, photos, audio, music, emails, and more from external hard drives 
  • Recover files from corrupted USB drive, emptied recycle bin, memory card, SD card, digital camera, and camcorders
  • Support data recovery from inaccessible, corrupted, and damaged external hard drives
 Download for Win Recovery Rate 99.7%
 Download for Mac Trustpilot Rating 4.4

With it, you can fully scan and recover data from the inaccessible hard drive in 3 steps:

Step 1. Choose the external hard drive

  • Since you're going to recover data from an external hard drive, you need to correctly connect the drive to your Windows computer.
  • Run EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard and choose the exact external drive where you lost data.
  • Click Scan.
select external hard drive

Step 2. Check the scan results

The software will immediately start scanning the selected drive for all lost data. During the scan, you can see more and more data showing up in the results. The Filter feature is there for you to quickly locate the files of one kind, such as Pictures, Word/Excel/PDF documents, Videos, etc.

scan external hard drive

Step 3. Preview and recover data

  • Double-clicking a file will allow you to preview its content.
  • Choose the file(s) and click Recover.
  • Select a different drive to save the recovered files instead of the original one. 
preview and recover data

After this, move on to Part 2 and find an effective solution to make the external hard drive accessible again on Windows 10, 8, or 7. 

Part 2. Fix external hard drive won't open error (4 methods)

How to solve the external hard drive detected but not showing up error and make your device work perfectly again? Here, we've collected 4 reliable methods that can help:

Method 1. Gain administrator permission (3-4 minutes)

Applies to: remove device inaccessible issue without access permission

The process of getting access permission on Windows 10 and 8 is similar, only a tiny difference on Windows 7 and older OS.

Step 1. Open This PC, right-click the inaccessible external hard drive, and select "Properties".

Step 2. Go to Security, click "Edit" and click your username under Group or username.

Fix external hard dive access denied in Windows 10.

Step 3. Check all boxes under the Allow column, click "OK" to confirm, and "Apply" to keep all changes.

Make inaccessible external hard drive detectable in Windows 10/8.

Reboot the PC and reconnect the external hard drive to your PC if necessary.

You May Also Interest In:

If you are having a similar issue on your hard drive, you may directly try the fixes below. 

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How to Fix Hard Drive Not Showing Up in Windows

Are your hard drives, be it new or old, internal or external, not showing up in File Explorer or Disk Management? Follow to learn how to make your hard drive showing up again in Windows 11/10/8/7 without losing data.

Hard drive not showing up

Method 2. Update the external hard drive driver (3-5 minutes)

Applies to: resolve device driver outdated, not opening issue

If you can't access your external hard drive on Windows 10, this method is also worth trying.

Step 1. Connect the external hard drive to the PC.

Step 2. Right-click on This PC/My Computer icon, select Manage and go to Device Manager.

Step 3. Expand Disk drivers, find and right-click on the external hard drive, choose "Update driver".

Update external hard drive driver.

Step 4. Select "Search automatically for updated driver software" and wait patiently till the process completes.

Reboot the PC and reconnect the device if the system requires it.

Method 3. Check and fix file system errors (4-5 minutes)

Applies to: fix corrupted file system or existing errors, making the device not opening

To do so, you can either use disk error checking tools or cmd command to check and fix existing file system errors on your device.

Note: Running chkdsk can hopefully fix the file system errors, however, it can also result in total data loss. So, perform data recovery in advance, and then continue with the CMD method

Here is the example of using the CMD command to fix file system errors:

Step 1. Press Windows + R keys simultaneously to invoke Run. Type cmd in the empty box and hit Enter.

Step 2. Type disk part and click OK to bring it up.

Step 3. Type chkdsk G: /f /r /x and hit Enter. (Replace G with the correct drive letter of the external hard drive that is not opening.)

Exit the command prompt and safely eject your external hard drive. After some seconds, try reconnecting it and see if you can open it normally.

If command line is not your ideal choice, you can apply this command-line alternative tool - EaseUS CleanGenius. Use this one-click tool to fix the file system error on your hard drive.

Step 1.  DOWNLOAD EaseUS CleanGenius on your computer for free. 

Step 2. Run the software. Click "Optimization" on the left panel, and then choose "File Showing" . 

select the file showing option

Step 3. Go to "Choose drive" and select the drive with a file system error. Check the "Check and fix file system error" option and click "Execute".

fix file system

Step 4. Wait the EaseUS CleanGenius completes the repairing process. After that, click the "here" to view the result.

fix file system

Method 4. Format external hard drive, change the file system to NTFS

Applies to: resolve unsupported, unrecognized file system causing device unopenable

Mostly, NTFS and FAT32 are the default file system of external hard drives and USB devices. Sometimes, if the operating system doesn't support a specific file system, the device will not open.

To resolve this issue, you can format the device to NTFS or FAT32 by using disk management or a free format tool. Here is an example of changing the external hard drive file system by using the EaseUS free format tool - Partition Master Free. Only 3 steps will make it work again:

Step 1. Right-click the hard drive partition and choose the "Format" option.

Step 2. In the new window, set the Partition label, File system, and Cluster size for the partition, then click "OK".

Step 3. You can see a warning window, click "OK" to continue.

Step 4. Click the "Execute Operation" button in the top-left corner, then click "Apply" to start formatting the hard drive partition.


Wait for the formatting process to complete. Then you can unplug and replug the external hard drive, reusing it to save files again.

The Bottom Line

To sum up, to unplug the external hard drive by using the safely remove method, update disk driver timely, fixing file system error and use an adaptable file system on storage devices, you can safely avoid the device is detectable but not opening issue.

Also, don't panic when you meet this issue. Turn EaseUS file recovery software to restore and export valuable files first, and then apply 4 methods on this page to make your device usable again.

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Updated by Cedric

Cedric Grantham is one of the senior editors of EaseUS who lives and works in Chengdu, China. He mainly writes articles about data recovery tutorials on PC and Mac and how-to tips for partition management. He always keeps an eye on new releases and likes various electronic products.

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Written by Jean

Author Jean has been writing tech articles since she was graduated from university. She has been part of the EaseUS team for over 5 years. Her special focuses are data recovery, disk partitioning, data space optimization, data backup and Mac OS. By the way, she's an aviation fan!

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