External Hard Drive Not Recognized After Unplugging

Abruptly unplugging an external USB hard drive without safely ejecting will easily cause serious problems, such as the external hard drive not recognized anymore or the hard drive becomes inaccessible. In this post, you can find the best solutions to solve the unreadable, unrecognized, or inaccessible hard drive issues with detailed steps, and also the data recovery solution to export data from an external hard drive.

Table of Contents

Reformat the corrupted external hard drive

Solution: Reformat the corrupted external hard drive

If Disk Management fails to fix external hard drive not recognized after accidental unplugging on Windows, the last choice is to reformat the corrupted external hard drive. But reformatting will clean all data stored on the external hard drive. Here recommend you the EaseUS hard drive recovery software.

See more methods...

This post offers help for people who unplugged an external hard drive but later find that the drive is no longer recognized or detected by Windows, or Windows can still read the hard drive but asks you to format the disk before you can use it.

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
Fix 1. Temporarily show up
  • Assign a drive letter to the external hard drive...Full steps
  • Update or reinstall drivers in Device Manager...Full steps
Fix 2. Recover data from hard drive Download EaseUS hard drive recovery software...Full steps
Fix 3. Permanently fix the problem You can make changes in the Registry to make your external hard drive appear properly...Full steps

No matter which case could happen to you after inappropriately pulling a frequently used external hard drive out of the computer, it's not expected by us all. Usually, abruptly unplugging an external USB hard drive without safely ejecting will easily cause serious problems, such as the external hard drive not recognized anymore or the hard drive becomes inaccessible after unplugging. On this page, you can find the best solutions to solve the unreadable, unrecognized, or inaccessible hard drive issues with detailed troubleshooting steps, and also the data recovery solution to export data from an external hard drive that you cannot access right now after unplugging.

How to temporarily show up the external hard drive

It's because the upcoming two methods to make Windows detect your removable hard disk again is not 100% working for Windows recognizing the drive the next time you unplugged the drive and plug it again into the computer. You can take it as a temporary fix, for the purpose of extracting important data from there.

Method 1. Assign a drive letter to the drive

First of all, check if the drive is visible in the Disk Management or Device Manager.

To access the Disk Management: hit Start, in the run box, type diskmgmt.msc and hit Enter.
To access the Device Manager: hit Start, in the run box, type devmgmt.msc and hit Enter.

Good luck if the external hard drive is there. All you have to do to make it appear on your computer, follow the guide below.

Step 1. In the Disk Management, right-click the external hard drive (it shall be displayed as "unallocated" state), and select "Change Drive Letter and Paths" from the menu.

assign a drive letter to fix external hard drive not recognized after unplugging

Step 2. Choose a drive letter that has been not used for the current drive, such as E, F, G... and click OK to save the change.

Method 2. Update or reinstall drivers

Step 1. Open Device Manager > Expand Universal Serial USB controllers.
Step 2. Locate and right-click on the external drive and select Update Driver Software.
Step 3. Select Search automatically for updated driver software and Windows will help you update the latest drivers automatically.

update driver to fix external hard drive not recognized after unplugging

How to recover data from the external hard drive

As soon as the hard drive is showing up again on your computer, go directly to download EaseUS hard drive recovery software to export data from the hard drive to another safe location. Since the hard drive may have developed bad sectors or some other hardware issues after accidentally unplugging, you're recommended to do data recovery instead of data backup at this moment.

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

How to permanently fix the hard drive not recognized error after unplugging?

Welcome to the final part of troubleshooting an unrecognized external hard drive after unplugging due to improper removal from the computer. According to the feedbacks of people who were caught up in the same situation, by making changes in the Registry will help make your external hard drive appear properly on your computer and permanently solve the non-detection problem.

Step 1. Hit Start, type regedt32 and click OK.
Step 2. Backup your registry by going to file > export.
Step 3. On the left side, go to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class\{4D36E967-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}.
Step 4. If you see any upper filter or lower filters at the right side, delete them.

People Also Ask

1. How to fix external hard drive not recognized after unplugging on Mac?

Chances are that frequently unplugging an external hard drive without properly ejecting will cause hard drive corruption, as a consequence, not recognized the next time you plugged it in the Mac. When a Mac drive isn't showing up as normal, try to change a connection cable or a USB port, and reboot your Mac for several times.

2. Why is my external hard drive not detected?

Most of the cases of an external hard drive being not detected by Windows, it's the fault of human errors or software/hardware corruption. When you cannot find the connected hard drive in Windows Explorer, try to verify if Disk Management can locate the hard drive and display it there. See how to fix external hard drive not detected.

3. Is it bad to unplug hard drive without ejecting?

Many people would argue that they didn't receive bad results as they always directly unplug a connected hard drive, USB flash drive or SD card from their computer. Surely, sometimes abruptly unplugging a drive without ejecting would not show some bad symptoms, but it's all about time. The more frequently you did that improper thing, the more likely your hard drive will get corrupted and damaged in the future.

4. How do I format my hard drive that doesn't show up?

To format a hard drive that is not showing up, you should try to locate the drive in Windows Disk Management.

  • In Windows 10. go to This PC - Manage - Disk Management
  • In Windows 7, go to My Computer - Manage - Disk Management

Right-click on the hard drive partition and choose Format..., follow the format wizard to complete the formatting process.

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Updated by Gemma

Gemma is member of EaseUS team and has been committed to creating valuable content in fields about file recovery, partition management, and data backup etc for many years. She loves to help users solve various types of computer related issues.

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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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