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How to Fix External Hard Drive Not Showing Up

How to Fix External Hard Drive Not Showing Up

Have you ever been in a situation where you plug in your external hard drive, only to find that it is not showing up on your computer? This can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you have important files that you need to access or backup. In this article, I’ll walk you through multiple methods to troubleshoot and fix the issue, specifically focusing on solutions that have worked for me. From basic checks to using specialized software like Disk Drill, we’ll cover it all. By the end of this article, you should be well-equipped to solve this problem. For Mac users specifically, you might also find this Reddit thread on External hard drive not appearing on Mac useful.


Common Scenarios:

Power Issues 🔌

  • If your external hard drive is not turning on or shows no signs of power, it could be due to power issues.

Often, an external hard drive might not show up simply because it is not getting enough power. This is particularly true for larger drives that require more power than what a single USB port can provide.

File System Errors 📂

  • Sometimes, file system errors can cause your external hard drive to become unreadable or invisible.

If the file system of the external hard drive is corrupted, your computer might not be able to read it, making it seem as though the drive is not there at all.

Outdated Drivers 🚫

  • An outdated driver could be the root cause of your external hard drive being invisible to your computer.

Computers rely on drivers to interact with hardware correctly. If the drivers related to your USB ports or the external hard drive itself are outdated, your computer might not recognize the device.


Step-by-Step Guide. External Hard Drive Not Showing Up:

Method 1: Checking the Power Supply 🔌

  • Ensure the external hard drive is properly connected to your computer.
  • If you are using a desktop, connect it to the rear USB ports as they tend to offer more stable power.
  • Try using a different USB cable to rule out a faulty cable.
  • If your drive has an external power source, double-check to see that it is plugged in and switched on.

Note: Many larger external hard drives require more power than what is provided by a single USB port.

Conclusion: Power issues are easy to overlook but can often be the simplest fix for a drive not showing up.

Method 2: Disk Management in Windows ⚙

  • Press ‘Windows + X’ and select ‘Disk Management’ from the list.
  • Look for your external hard drive in the list of drives.
  • If you see it, try reassigning a new drive letter by right-clicking and selecting ‘Change Drive Letter and Paths.’
  • Follow the prompts to assign a new letter.
  • Refresh and check if the drive is now visible in ‘This PC.’

Note: This method is for Windows users. The process differs slightly for Mac users.

Conclusion: Using Disk Management can be an effective way to resolve visibility issues caused by drive letter conflicts.

Method 3: Using Disk Utility on Mac 🛠

  • Open ‘Disk Utility’ from your Applications/Utilities folder.
  • In the left sidebar, look for your external hard drive.
  • If it appears but is greyed out, select it and click ‘Mount.’
  • If ‘Mount’ doesn’t work, click ‘First Aid’ to run a diagnostic and fix errors.
  • Once the process is complete, check to see if the drive shows up on your desktop.

Note: This method is specifically for Mac users. Windows users should refer to the Disk Management method.

Conclusion: Disk Utility offers robust tools for diagnosing and fixing common issues with external drives on Mac.

Method 4: Updating Your Drivers 🚀

  • Open ‘Device Manager’ by right-clicking the Start button and selecting it from the list.
  • Expand the categories to find your external hard drive or USB controllers.
  • Right-click on the device and choose ‘Update driver.’
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to search for updated driver software.
  • Once updated, restart your computer to see if the drive is now visible.

Note: Sometimes the system might not automatically identify the most recent driver, so double-check the manufacturer’s website.

Conclusion: Keeping your drivers up to date is crucial for the smooth operation of connected devices.

Method 5: Changing USB Ports 🖧

  • Unplug the external hard drive from the current USB port.
  • Try plugging it into a different USB port on your computer.
  • If you are using a USB hub, plug the drive directly into the computer instead.
  • Wait a few seconds to see if the drive is recognized.
  • Check ‘This PC’ or ‘Finder’ to see if the drive shows up.

Note: Different USB ports can have different power outputs, which might affect the visibility of the drive.

Conclusion: Sometimes a simple change in the USB port can resolve the issue immediately.

Method 6: Using Disk Drill App 💻

  • Download and install Disk Drill from the official Disk Drill website.
  • Open the app and allow it the necessary permissions to access your drives.
  • Select your external hard drive from the list of available drives.
  • Click ‘Recover’ to start scanning for lost files or fixing the drive.
  • After the scan is complete, follow the steps to recover or repair the drive’s data.

Note: While Disk Drill is a powerful tool, it may take some time to scan larger drives thoroughly.

Conclusion: Disk Drill is an excellent option for both recovering lost data and repairing issues that cause your drive to be invisible.


Precautions and Tips:

Actions to Ensure Drive Health 🩺

  • Regularly update your operating system and drivers.
  • Always safely eject your external hard drive to prevent data corruption.
  • Use a reputable antivirus to scan both your computer and external hard drive.
  • Back up essential data to multiple storage devices or cloud services.
  • Avoid using your external hard drive in extreme temperatures to prevent hardware damage.

Maintaining the health of your external hard drive is crucial for its longevity. Regular updates, safe ejection, and a healthy environment can go a long way in preventing issues.


Backup and Recovery

Backing up your data regularly can save you a lot of headaches down the road. Cloud storage services like Google Drive or Dropbox offer excellent options for redundant backups. Besides cloud storage, consider using another external drive for secondary backups.

Using Disk Drill is an excellent way to recover lost files or repair corrupted ones. The software supports a variety of formats and is highly user-friendly. Utilize their comprehensive tutorials available on the Disk Drill Knowledge Base to understand various functionalities and maximize the utility of the software.

If you’re faced with file system errors, you can also consider using the built-in tools like CHKDSK in Windows and First Aid in Mac’s Disk Utility to scan and fix common issues.

When using external hard drives, it’s wise to consider the type of file system you are using. NTFS is commonly used for Windows, while HFS+ or APFS is optimized for Mac. For cross-platform compatibility, consider using exFAT. The choice of file system can affect the performance and reliability of your drive.

If your external hard drive has sustained physical damage, the best course of action is to consult a professional data recovery service. Services like Seagate Data Recovery and Ontrack offer specialized solutions for physically damaged drives.


Troubleshooting an external hard drive not showing up can be a bit daunting, but with the right methods, you can resolve the issue and regain access to your important files. From checking power and USB connections to using tools like Disk Drill, there are multiple ways to tackle this common problem. If you’ve tried everything and still can’t resolve the issue, professional help is always an option. Persistent issues should be addressed with preventive measures such as regular backups and safe ejection practices. If you found this guide helpful, you might also want to explore more detailed data recovery options and read forums for user experiences.


It could be due to a variety of reasons like outdated drivers, power issues, or a corrupted file system. Start by checking the connections and trying different USB ports.

First, reconnect the drive and restart your computer. Ensure drivers are up-to-date via Device Manager and check if the drive is recognized under Disk Management.

Navigate to Disk Utility to check if the drive is listed. Ensure it's mounted and repair any errors using the 'First Aid' feature.

Yes, a malfunctioning USB port can prevent the drive from being recognized. Try connecting the drive to another port or a different computer.

Absolutely, a damaged or faulty cable can disrupt the connection. Replace the cable and attempt to reconnect the drive.

Viruses can corrupt or hide the drive's partitions, making it invisible. Run a comprehensive virus scan using reliable antivirus software.

Restart your computer and enter BIOS settings. Look for the drive under storage devices to ensure it's being detected at a hardware level.

Right-click on the drive and select 'Initialize Disk.' Choose the appropriate partition style and follow the prompts to initialize the drive.

Use data recovery software to retrieve important files. Reputable tools are available and can help restore data even if the drive isn't recognized.

For detailed guides and resources, visit sites like Seagate and Western Digital.