[10 Proven Fixes] External Hard Drive Not Showing Up or Recognized

Updated to Troubleshooting Tips by William on Nov 28, 2022 | Approved by Daryl Baxter

Many computer users choose to use external hard drives as a way to transfer items from one computer to another. However, some users may experience external hard drives not recognized on Windows 11/10 or Mac machines. This can be a frustrating experience, particularly if the user needs to access essential files stored on the external disk. For such problems, this article will provide valuable solutions for the external hard drive not showing issues.

Quick Navigation
Part 1. Why is My External Hard Drive Not Showing Up on the Windows/Mac?
Part 2. Fix External Hard Drive Not Detected in Windows 11/10/7
Part 3. Solve the Problem of the External Hard Drive Not Showing Up on Mac
How to Resume Data from External Hard Drive That's Not Showing Up or Detected
Part 5. How to Avoid External Hard Disk Not Loading/Access Denied

Why is My External Hard Drive Not Showing Up on the Windows/Mac?

While external hard drives are a great way to store and back up data, they can occasionally run into problems. One common issue is that this disk is not appearing in Finder or File Explorer. Although initially, you may think that the external hard drive not showing up is a random or USB port problem. However, it is not that simple, and there are many common reasons why the external hard drive does not recognize in Windows 10/11 or macOS, such as:

Whatever is causing the problem. Don't worry; we will provide comprehensive external disk not recognized solutions to help you next.

Fix External Hard Drive Not Detected in Windows 11/10/7

If you've ever plugged in an external hard drive only to have it not show up on your computer, you know how frustrating it can be. Fortunately, there are many solutions to fix it. Please read on:

Ways 1. Check USB Port or Cable

USB ports are likely to cause a mess from time to time, so it's helpful to troubleshoot the USB port. Below are three possible alternatives you can opt for:

Ways 2. Check & Fix the Drive in Disk Management [3 modes]

In computing, Disk Management is a built-in program for setting up, configuring, and maintaining storage devices and disk partitions. If your external hard drive does not show up in the drive list after connecting it to the computer using a USB, you can check its status and fix it here.

Methods 1. Create A New Letter for the Disk

When you connect it to the computer using a cable, the new hardware icon is shown in the lower right corner of the screen. But this external hard disk cannot be seen in the resource manager. Then it may be the cause of the drive letter conflict. You can use the following way to solve it:

  1. Right-click the "This PC" icon on the desktop and select the Manage option.
  2. In the left menu of the new window, click "Storage" > "Disk Management."
  3. Right-click on your external drive in the right panel and choose the "change drive letter and paths" option.
  4. Click the "Change" button in the pop-up window and follow the wizard to select a drive letter that has not appeared before.

Methods 2. Set Online

If you can see your external hard drive in Disk Management, but its status is shown as "Offline," then you can fix it by selecting it, right-clicking, and selecting "Online."

Methods 3. Initialize External Hard Drive

If it shows "unknown," then you need to initialize it to fix the external hard drive not showing up.

Note: Initializing a disk will delete every information stored on it. If they are not backed up, use data recovery software to restore the files before starting the initialization process.

  1. Right-tap on the unrecognized external hard drive.
  2. From your context menu, select "Initialize Disk."
  3. From GPT and MBR, select a specific partition style.
  4. Tap the "OK" to affirm the process. Wait till the operation finishes.
  5. Right-click the Unallocated Volume. Then click "New Simple Volume" and follow the wizard to complete the process.

Ways 3. Reload/Update the External Hard Disk

Sometimes the USB device is displayed as a yellow exclamation mark in the device manager, and there is no external device reminder in the lower right corner of the screen. In this case, you need to reload the driver to solve the problem of an external hard drive not detected in Windows 10/11. The following are the specific steps:

  1. Simultaneously press the "Win+X" keys, and in the window that appears, click "device manager."
  2. Double-click "Universal Serial Bus controllers" in the list.
  3. Right-click on your external hard drive in the expanded menu and select "Uninstall device."
  4. Reconnect it after disconnecting it from the computer.

If it still fails, you can also choose the "update drive" in the menu of step 3 to solve the problem of Windows 10/11 not recognizing external hard drive.

Ways 4. Run the Troubleshooter

The Windows Troubleshooter can be a helpful tool if you're having problems with your drive. This built-in utility can diagnose and fix common issues automatically, like external hard drive not showing up in Windows 10 or 11. Follow the steps to resolve this issue:

  1. Hit the Windows key and type CMD.
  2. Select "Command Prompt" in the results and click "run as the Administrator" to open it.
  3. Type "msdt.exe -id DeviceDiagnostic" and hit enter.
  4. In the newly opened window, click the "Apply repairs automatically" option and click Next.
  5. The troubleshooter will scan the system for any problematic issues. After done, you can see detailed information to know the overview of your scanning procedure.

Ways 5. Set CMOS Parameters

Incorrect setting of the CMOS parameters of the computer motherboard will also lead to failure to recognize the external hard drive. However, it is turned off by default. To do this, you need to restart, enter CMOS, and set "Assign IRQ For USB" to "Enable" in the "PNP/PCI CONFIGURATION" column. Save the settings and restart, then use a USB cable to connect this disk to the computer to check whether it can be identified.

Ways 6. Modify Registry Entries

The PC Registry is a central repository for all sorts of information about a computer's configuration (from the list of installed programs to the details of hardware configuration). Therefore, you can add a NoDrives entry in the registry to fix the external hard drive not recognized issue.

  1. Press and hold "Windows + R", and enter the command "regedit" in the pop-up window to open this program.
  2. Navigate to "HKEY_ CURRENT_USER" > "Software" > "Microsoft" > "Windows" > "CurrentVersion" > "Policies" > "Explorer", right click on the right and select "New" > "Binary Value."
  3. After naming it "NoDrives," double-click on it and set the value to "0"
  4. Click "OK" and restart your computer.

Ways 7. Disable USB Selective Suspend Setting

Windows offers a USB selective suspend setting that allows users to shut down the power of individual USB ports to save power. However, it can sometimes go wrong, and even if you need to use this USB port, it will lower its voltage, causing the problem of the external hard drive not showing up. Therefore, you can disable it with these steps.

  1. Open "Control Panel" and click "Hardware and Sound."
  2. Click the "Power options" in the right pane.
  3. Click "Change plan settings" behind Balanced.
  4. In the new window, click "Change advanced power settings."
  5. From your dropdown list, expand your "USB settings," go forward with the "USB selective suspend setting," and disable it.
  6. After you are done, click on 'Apply' and reboot the PC.

Ways 8. Run Anti-virus Program

Viruses and other malicious software are the most common threats to our computer systems. They can wreak havoc on our external hard drives, causing them to slow down or even cannot be loaded. In some cases, they can also delete or encrypt essential files. Check your PC for this:

  1. Head to Settings and then Update & Security > Windows Security > Virus & threat protection.
  2. Choose "Start actions" and start the prevention proce.

Ways 9. Format the External Disk

Sometimes, the external hard drive not recognized due to a missing or corrupted file system, and you need to format it to fix the problem. However, formatting will erase all saved items. So first follow the steps below before starting the method for external hard disk data recovery.

  1. Open "Disk Management."
  2. Right-click on the drive and select "Format" from the menu.
  3. Set the name and file system type and click "OK."
  4. Click "OK" to confirm the formatting process.

Ways 10. Use CMD Clean the Drive

In some cases, formatting it still doesn't solve the problem of the external disk not showing up. If so, you'll need to use the command line to clean it completely and regain full capacity.

  1. Run "Command Prompt" as administrative.
  2. Type "list disk" and select your external drive from the list.
  3. Finally, type "clean" and hit enter.

Solve the Problem of the External Hard Drive Not Showing Up on Mac

If you're using a Mac, you're in luck. Apart from the typical method for fixing an external hard drive not showing up, you need to look at far fewer troubleshooting methods. The following are the specific solutions:

Ways 1. Check Finder Preferences

Sometimes, this storage device is normal, but you have not allowed it to be displayed. To do this, you can follow the steps below to make the external hard drive appear on your Mac:

  1. Open Finder and find Preferences.
  2. Click Sidebar in the top menu.
  3. Swipe down and find the Device option.
  4. Click the CheckBox in front of External Disks to select it.

Ways 2. Mount External Hard Drive

If the drive shows up in Disk Utility but doesn't display in the sidebar or desktop, you'll need to mount it to resolve the issue.

  1. Open "Disk Utility."
  2. Select your external hard drive in the list on the left.
  3. Finally, click "Mount" in the top menu.

Ways 3. Use First Aid

First aid is a function option in Disk Utility. It can check your drive for errors and repair them. To do this, you must select your external disk in Disk Utility and click on the "First Aid" option at the top. Finally, follow the wizard to complete this repair task.

Ways 4. Erase Your External Hard Drive

If the above methods to solve an external hard disk not showing up on Mac have failed, you can also erase it and reassign a file system for macOS to fix the problem. You need to click the Erase button to complete the process. If the drive is only used on a Mac, then you can also choose the APFS file system. This allows it to perform at its best.

Above are all the methods to solve the problem of the external hard drive not recognized on Windows 11/10 and Mac. If that doesn't work, there's a good chance that your drive is physically damaged. For this, you can only replace it with a brand new one.

How to Resume Data from External Hard Drive That's Not Showing Up or Detected

If your files are lost due to the solutions above, don't worry. You can rely on iBeesoft Data Recovery. It is a top-class tool that can restore files from a formatted, unmounted, displayed as RAW, or not showing-up external hard drive, not to mention accidental deletion. It can also recover deleted from an SD card, disk, Pendrive, and more.

Download for Windows Download for macOS
  1. Ensure you attach a flash drive to your PC.
  2. Install and launch iBeesoft data recovery software on your system. It's not a matter of concern whether you're a Windows or Mac user since this tool is available for both.
  3. Choose your external hard drive and tap on "Scan."
  4. After scanning, select your lost items and tap on "Recover" to save them.

How to Avoid External Hard Disk Not Loading/Access Denied

Many people have experienced the frustration of an external hard drive not showing up on their computer. However, you can take a few measures to prevent it not showing up on your computer and keep running smoothly.

These simple tips can prevent the most common external drive errors and keep your data safe.

Conclusion

This article will guide users with possible fixes to get through external hard drive not showing up. With these ways, you should be able to get your external hard drive up and running again in no time. In addition, data loss may occur during the repair process. We recommend using iBeesoft data recovery software for Mac or Windows to quickly regain access to your critical lost files.