The External hard drive can be detected but not opening, how to solve it

Jean updated on Jan 22, 2021 to Storage Media Recovery | How-to Articles

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but not open on Windows PC, the proper reasons are permission, access denied, file system errors and device driver outdated.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.

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 it unless files were safely restored. Can I fix this issue without losing my files?"

Being different from an unrecognized external hard drive, the causes of "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 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 (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 to enables you to access data on an inaccessible storage device.

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 the external hard drive, run EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard and choose the exact drive where you lost data. Click Scan.

select external hard drive

Step 2. Scan for lost data

The software will start immediately to scan all over the selected drive for all lost data. During the scan, you could see more and more data showing up in the results.

scan external hard drive

Step 3. Preview and recover data

After the scan is over, check the scan results for the desired data. You can preview the file by double-clicking on it. Click Recover and choose another location to save the recovered data.

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 detected but not opening error (4 methods)

How to rectify the external hard drive detected but not opening 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 PC and reconnect the external hard drive to your PC if necessary.

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

Applies to: resolve device driver outdated, not opening issue

  • 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.

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

Applies to: fix corrupted file system or existing errors, making 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.

Here is the example of using 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 you don't have any technical know-how and want to minimize data risks, using third-party software could be a better choice. The Command line is suitable for computer professionals since wrong commands can cause severe problems. Therefore, we strongly recommend you try an automatic command line alternative.

EaseUS Tools M is a practical computer fixing tool that is safe and light-weighted. It's a perfect alternative to CHKDSK command. Use this one-click tool to solve your computer issues.

To fix file system error or disk error:

Step 1: DOWNLOAD EaseUS Tools M for Free and install it.

Step 2: Open the software and select the "File showing" option. 

Step 3: Choose the drive and wait for repairing. After the operation completes, click the "View" button to check the drive. 

select the drive and check off file system error

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 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: Connect the external hard drive to the PC. Run EaseUS Partition Master, right-click the external hard drive, and choose "Format".

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 1

Step 2: Set a new Partition label, new File system (NTFS/FAT32), and Cluster size for the external hard drive, then click "OK".

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 2

Then you will see a warning window, click "OK" in it to continue.

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 3

Step 3:Click the "Execute Operation" button in the top-left corner to review the changes, then click "Apply" to start the formatting process.

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 4

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

To sum up, to unplug the external hard drive by using safely remove method, update disk driver timely, fixing file system error and use 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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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

"The first thing you'll notice about EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro is that its interface is very clear and uncluttered, with only a small collection of self-explanatory controls. You won't find lots of extra options hidden in a system of hidden menus, either; what you see really is what you get."techradar

"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, so 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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