External Hard Drive Not Working/Responding/Showing Up? How to Get Hard Drive Working Again

Tracy King updated on Jan 21, 2021 to Storage Media Recovery | How-to Articles

This article provides you with 100% working methods to fix "external hard drive not working/responding error" without losing any data. If your external hard drive is not working, fails to respond or becomes undetectable, download EaseUS disk data recovery software here with 100% working methods to repair your not working external hard drive in Windows 10/8/7 PC and restore data now.

An external hard drive is a device that used to back up your most important files and data, but if it suddenly stops working or responding, don't worry. On this page, we'll focus on the external hard drive not working issue and you'll learn:

Applies to: Fix external hard drive, USB drive, SD card, internal HDD/SSD, etc., not working or responding error on Windows PC.

Quick Guide - Fix External Hard Drive Not Working/Responding Error in 3 Parts:

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
Part 1. Connect Not Working External Drive Change USB cable, USB Port > Change PC > Check Power Management ...Full steps
Part 2. Restore Data Run software > Scan external hard drive > Recover data...Full steps
Part 3. Fix Not Working External Drive Method 1. Check Disk Error
Method 2. Format External Hard Drive to NTFS
Method 3. Create New Volume...Full steps

No matter what brands of devices you are using such as WD Elements external hard drive, Seagate external hard drive, SanDisk or Toshiba hard disks, etc, just follow this article to get your problem solved with the provided methods here now.

Causes of External Hard Drive Not Working/Responding

Is your external hard drive suddenly not working for no reason? Is your external hard drive suddenly cannot be detected or recognized by your PC or laptop? Relax!

You don't have to buy a new external hard drive and give up all the precious data. First, check the causes that make your external hard drive not working:

  • Problematic connection
  • RAW, invalid or unsupported file system 
  • Drive letter conflict or no drive letter
  • No partition
  • Not initialized
  • Outdated disk driver
  • USB Root Hub is outdated
  • Disk is physically damaged
  • ...

Don't worry if you don't know what exactly causes your external hard drive not working. Continue reading, we've collected 100% working fixes here to help you fix the external hard drive to work normally again without losing any data.

Part 1. Make Not Working External Hard Drive Detectable

Applies to: Fix external hard drive not showing, not detected error due to connection problem.

Mostly, when your external hard drive suddenly doesn't work or fails to show up on your computer, you should first check the device connection between your external disk and your computer.

Now, follow to make the not working external hard drive detectable and show up on your PC again:

#1. Check and Change External Hard Drive Connection Cable

The first thing that you should do is to check the external hard drive USB connection cable:

  • If the connection cable is loosened, reconnect external disk to PC and tight it.
  • Is the external USB connection cable broken or damaged, switch a new cable, and reconnect the disk to PC.

#2. Change a USB Port or Connect to a New Computer

If the USB connection cable is not broken, try to reconnect the external drive to your PC via a new USB port and check if the computer detects your disk.

If still nothing shows up, change a computer and reconnect the external drive.

#3. Check Power Management for USB Hub

If it doesn't work after changing the USB port or cannot be read by a new PC, try the quick fix below to repair an unrecognizable external hard drive:

Step 1. In Run (Windows + R), type devmgmt.msc and hit Enter.

open device manager in the Run

Step 2. Open Device Manager > expand "Universal Serial Bus controllers".

Step 3. Right-click USB Root Hub > Properties > Power Management > uncheck "Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power".

allow the computer to turn off this device to save power

If your external hard drive is physically damaged or broken, take it to a nearby maintenance center for a manual repair.

After following the above 3 tips, your computer should be able to detect and recognize your external hard drive now. You can try to open the drive and access the data.

If you still cannot access the data, don't worry. Move to Part 2 and we'll offer you the best hard disk data recovery software to help you quickly access and restore all valuable data on immediately.

Part 2. Recover Data Before Fixing External Hard Drive With Not Working Error

After making the external hard drive detectable, we suggest you recover data from the drive first as some measures may bring secondary damage to your data on the disk. After this, we'll offer you some reliable methods to fix the external hard drive in the next part.

3 Steps to Recover Data from External Hard Drive

To recover data from your external disk, you'll need reliable HDD recovery software for help.

 EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard with its powerful capacity allows you to scan and recover data from the external hard drive which is not working properly in only 3 steps. 

See how to restore data from the external hard drive on your own:

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

Don't save the recovered data on your external hard drive before fixing and making it work normally again.

Part 3. How to Fix "External Hard Drive Is Not Working/Responding" Error

Let's see how to repair the not responding external hard drive or undetectable external hard disk drive now. 

To help you find the right fix for the "external hard drive not working" error in Windows 10/8/7, please open Disk Management and check the state of your external hard drive:

  1. #1. Check and Fix Disk Errors on External Hard Drive - Disk Contains Corrupted File System Error
  2. #2. Format External Hard Drive to NTFS - Disk Shows RAW or Unsupported File System
  3. #3. Create A New Partition in External Hard Drive - Disk Displays as Unallocated
  4. #4. Assign a New Drive Letter to External Disk - Disk Shows as "New Volume" with No Drive Letter
  5. #5. Initialize External Disk and Create a New Volume - Disk Is Unknown, Not Initialized
  6. #6. Update Disk Driver
  7. #7. Update Universal Bus Controllers 
  8. #8. Run Antivirus Software
  9. #9. Turn to External Hard Drive Manufacturer or Repair Center for Help

Method 1 to Method 7 can fix most external hard disk not working issue, and if none of them work, turn to Method 8 and Method 9 for help. Let's start the external hard disk repair process.

Method 1. Check and Fix Disk Errors on External Hard Drive

Applies to: Fix external hard drive not working due to unknown disk error or corrupted file system.

Mostly, when an internal or external hard drive contains an unknown error or corrupted file system, the Windows computer will not be able to detect or open the drive.

Here you have two options to check up the disk and fix internal errors on a not responding external hard drive:

Option 1. Run Partition Manager Freeware to Fix External Hard Drive Not Responding Error

Download and install  EaseUS Partition Master Free on your PC.

Step 1. Open EaseUS Partition Master on your computer. Then locate the disk, right-click the partition you want to check, and choose "Check File System".

Check Partition - Step 1

Step 2. In the Check File System window, keep the "Try to fix errors if found" option selected and click "Start".

Check Partition - Step 2

Step 3. The software will begin checking your partition file system on your disk. When it has completed, click "Finish".

Check Partition - Step 3

Option 2. Run CMD to Manually Fix External Hard Drive Errors

Step 1. Type cmd in the Search box, right-click to open Command Prompt.

Step 2. Type diskpart and hit Enter.

Step 3. Type chkdsk /f /r /x g: and hit Enter to let the checking process to run.

 Replace g with the drive letter of your external hard drive.

Step 4. When it's finished, type: exit and hit Enter to finish the process.

After this, your not responding external hard drive should now show up. If it still doesn't work, go on with an easier chkdsk alternative.

Option 3. Run CMD Alternative to Fix External Disk File System Error

The Command line is suitable for computer professionals since wrong commands can cause severe problems. Therefore, we strongly recommend you try EaseUS Tools M.

It is a practical computer fixing tool that is safe and light-weighted. To fix file system error or disk error:

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 2. Format External Hard Drive to NTFS to Repair Not Working External Disk

Applies to: Fix external hard drive not working, detecting or responding error due to RAW or unsupported file system.

If your external or internal hard disk shows as a RAW or unsupported file system in Disk Management, the best way is to format the disk to a recognized format.

External hard disk shows as RAW

In order to make sure that the external hard drive is secure for storing new data again, you can format it to repair the not working drive to be usable again with Windows disk management:

Step 1. In Run (Windows + R), type diskmgmt.msc and hit Enter.

open disk management

Step 2. Go to Disk Management, right-click the external hard drive, and select "Format".

format external hard drive in disk management

Step 3. Choose a file system like NTFS or exFAT and tick "Quick format". Click "OK" to start the formatting.

After this, your external hard drive is viable for saving data again.

Method 3. Create A New Partition in External Hard Drive

Applies to: Fix disk displays as unallocated in Disk Management that make external hard drive not working.

Mostly, when your external hard disk shows as unallocated, it means that there is no partition in the disk. As a result, the computer cannot recognize it. To fix this issue, you need to first recover data from the disk first (as shown in Part 2).

Then, you can follow the steps below to create a new partition, making the external hard drive working again:

Step 1. Connect the unallocated external hard drive to your PC and open Disk Management.

Step 2. Right-click on the unallocated space of the external hard drive, select "New Simple Volume".

Windows 10 disk management 2

Step 3. Set partition size, drive letter and file system (NTFS), etc.

Windows 10 disk management

Step 4. Click "Finish" to complete the process.

Method 4. Assign a New Drive Letter to External Disk 

Applies to: Fix disk shows as "New Volume" with no drive letter that causes external hard drive not responding.

Step 1. Go to Disk Management and right-click on your external hard drive.

Step 2. Go and select a new drive letter by clicking "Change", and click "OK" to confirm.

change drive letter for not working external hard drive

Then not responding external hard drive can be read and detected now.

Method 5. Initialize External Disk and Create a New Volume

Applies to: Fix "Disk Is Unknown, Not Initialized" that cause external hard disk not working nor showing up. 

Step 1. Right-click "My Computer" > "Manage" to run Disk Management.

Step 2. Here, right-click the Unknow external hard drive and click "Initialize Disk".

Step 3. Select the disk(s) to initialize and choose MBR or GPT partition style, and click "OK" to confirm.

Initialize the hard drive to fix disk unknown not initialized error

Now the drive is recognized as unallocated and if you have vital data saved there, revert to Part 1 and apply EaseUS data recovery software for help.

Step 4. Then right-click on the unallocated space on your external hard drive and create a new volume on it.

Method 6. Update Disk Driver

Applies to: Force not responding external hard drive to show up and work by updating disk drivers.

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

Step 2. Click "Device Manager" then expand "Disk drives".

Step 3. Find and right-click the problematic external drive and select "Update driver".

Step 4. Click "automatically search for driver software online".

Update hard drive driver in Disk Management

Method 7. Uninstall Universal Bus Controllers

Applies to: Fix external hard drive not working issue by updating Universal Serial Bus controllers drivers.

Step 1. Open "Device Manager", find and expand Universal Serial Bus controllers

Step 2. Right-click on the USB controllers of your external drive and select "Uninstall device".

Reinstall WD USB controllers to make it work again.

Step 3. Repeat to uninstall each USB controller one by one. Then restart the computer.

While rebooting PC, Microsoft will automatically reinstall the USB controllers software for your not working external hard drive.

Method 8. Run Antivirus Software

Applies to: Fix virus or malware that causes your external hard drive not working.

Sometimes, viruses or malware infections may also cause your device to malfunctioning. So it is to your external hard drive. When you tried all the above fixes, but the drive is still not working, you can try to run antivirus software to unlock the drive:

Step 1. Install and run antivirus software on your computer.

Step 2. Scan and unlock the external hard drive.

Step 3. Wait for the cleaning process to complete and restart PC.

After this, reconnect your external hard drive to the computer and check if you can use it again.

Method 9. Turn to External Hard Drive Manufacturer or Repair Center for Help

The last option that you can try is to contact your external hard drive producer or a local disk repair center for help. It could be the outdated firmware or disk driver that is outdated. For this issue, your disk support team can resolve and make your disk work again. 

As for external hard disk data recovery, a local disk repair center or manual data recovery service can do. Here you may also try EaseUS Data Recovery Service.

Do You Need Specialized Data Recovery Services?
You may need further help for tough data loss situations like reformatting drive, RAW disk, partition loss, repartition failures and system boot error. Consult with EaseUS Data Recovery Experts for cost-efficient one-on-one manual recovery service. They could offer the following services after FREE diagnosis:
1. Unformat the drive
2. Repair the RAID, RAW disk or operating system
3. Recover lost partition (the one that cannot be recovered by software)

To Sum Up

On this page, we explained the causes of external hard drive not working, not responding, and not detectable error. To make things easy for you, we divided the whole process into 3 parts:

Part 1. Make external hard drive detectable; Part 2. Recover data from the external hard drive; Part 3. Fix not working external hard drive with respective solutions.

The methods offered in this article can also be applied to repair and fix SD cards, memory cards, USB drives, flash drives, or hard drive partitions, etc devices with not responding/working or undetectable issues.

It's recommended that you should create an extra backup of your files to another secure location, like Cloud drive. When you lost data on your disk, always remember to let EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard help.

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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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