External Hard Drive not Recognized

On several occasions, you may encounter a message displaying “External hard drive not recognized” when you try to plug in your external file drive. Sometimes your Windows 10 computer may fail or refuse to recognize an external hard drive even after it confirms a successful connection. This is a common Windows 10 error that most users encounter with external hard drives.

Here you’ll learn what can cause the external hard drive to fail and how to fix the issue.

External Hard Drive and File Explorer

When you receive the message “external hard drive not recognized,” the external hard drive may fail to show up in File Explorer. This can be unusual because an external hard drive will typically be shown in File Explorer together with the list of all other disks on the computer.

External hard drive in File explorer

Some users report that the external hard drive shows up on their computer but not on My Computer in Windows 10.

When you’re unable to find the hard drive on the list of other drives on your PC, there could be many reasons for this unusual occurrence. Usually, the problems occur because of outdated device drivers or when the device driver is corrupted. Other reasons why the problem may occur include:

  • File system issues
  • Issues with the USB driver
  • Connection issues – USB port dead or not working
  • Unallocated PC disk space
  • Malware or virus infection.

The simplest ways to know if the problem of “external disk not recognized” is related to your PC or the particular external drive includes:

Unplugging the USB device from the port where you plugged it and plug into another port on the same PC; then check if you can now view its contents. If you can now view it, then that USB port could be having a problem.

Unplugging the external drive (USB) from the computer and plug it into another computer and check if you can now see the disk and view its contents. If it shows up on the other computer, then the problem could be on your computer.

If the USB status remains unchanged, and it is still unrecognized, you may want to try several other methods listed below.

How to Fix External Hard Drive not Recognized

Here is a summary of what you can do to fix “external hard drive not recognized” on your PC:

  • Use PC Repair tool
  • Update/uninstall/rollback device driver
  • Update the Windows built-in drivers
  • Reinstall your computer’s USB controllers
  • Update your PC’s Operating System
  • Disable USB selective suspend setting
  • Enable legacy USB support in BIOS
  • Scan your PC to kill viruses or malware on your PC

Note: For a more detailed guide and information on how to fix the external drive not recognized, read this Outbyte.com blog post.

Is External Drive Showing on Disk Management?

To be sure that there is a problem with either the external drive or the computer, check if the external drive shows up on your Windows Disk Management. If you cannot see it, then there might be a problem with the drive or your PC.

However, if the external drive is showing up in Disk Management, check its status. You may notice that it is showing up in the Windows Disk Management as offline, unallocated, or not initialized. Many users described this as the computer detecting external hard disk but not showing it in My Computer.

In this case, you may need to fix the problem.

Bottom Line

The “external hard drive not recognized” problem is common among Windows 10 users. It could be caused by a number of reasons, most of them related to Windows disk or device drivers. If you encounter this problem, use the solutions we’ve provided to fix it and continue working on your computer normally.

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