Hard drives are the simplicity of data storage. As convenient and portable as these removable drives are, they remain susceptible to malfunction. Hard drive not showing up or being recognized by a computer is one of the common problems that most users face. A number of possibilities could be responsible for the said issue, which varies from user to user.
However, the ones that are more likely to make the external drives undetectable are caused by an unallocated hard drive, drive letter conflicts, corrupt/outdated drivers, or hardware problems.
The following article contains solutions that would work in most cases. So to get your hard drive up and working again, all you have to do is implement the methods given below, and hopefully, you’ll not have to deal with the issue again.
Related: 15 Ways to Fix 100% Disk Usage in Windows
How to Fix Hard Drive Not Showing Up in Windows PC
Before you do anything or proceed further with the troubleshooting methods, make sure that your hard drive is inserted correctly. Check if it has a physical power button that needs to be turned on for the computer to recognize it. You should also try plugging the external drive into different USB ports, and if possible, test it on another computer.
Sometimes it’s the hardware that is unable to establish a connection with the external drive, and we waste time fixing the issue on the system level. Furthermore, keep in mind that your hard drive shouldn’t be physically compromised or damaged by any means.
Method 1: Enable Device
If your hard drive, which you are trying to access, is disabled in the Disk Manager, it will not show up in the File Manager. To make sure it’s not the case with you, follow the given instructions:
- First, search for the Device Manager, and click on “Open.”
- Double-click on the Disk Drives to expand the drop-down menu.
- Hover over to your hard drive you are having an issue with (in most cases, you’ll find it with an exclamation mark on it) and choose “Properties.”
- Select the “Driver” tab and click on “Enable Device.”
- To save changes, hit the “OK” button.
Now check if you can find your hard drive showing up.
Method 2: Troubleshoot Disk Driver
An outdated or corrupt disk driver is often the culprit behind the external storage devices not getting recognized by Windows. To rule out the possibility of the hard drive driver causing the issue, we have to reinstall its driver or update it.
- Search for Device Manager and open the first result that shows up.
- Expand Disk Drives, and right-click on your hard drive option.
- Select “Uninstall device” and confirm your choice when asked.
Although Windows will automatically reinstall the device driver upon restarting the PC, it is advisable to manually update the driver, especially when the problem persists.
You can download the latest driver from your hard drive manufacturer’s website. Simply run a Google search, and you’ll find the appropriate web link to download from. Most of the time,,, you’ll get an executable file (.exe) and that makes it effortlessly easy to install the driver as all you have to do is click on the file icon and then follow the onscreen instructions. But in case you have downloaded a zip file, first, you’ve to unpack it and then follow the steps given below to install the driver.
- Using the Windows search bar, look for Device Manager and open it.
- Expand the Disk drives option, right-click on the hard drive and choose “Update driver.”
- Select Browse my computer for driver software and click on “Browse.”
- Click on Browse, locate and select the extracted driver folder, and click on OK.
- Check the “include subfolder” option.
- Click on “Next” and wait while the driver gets installed.
See if now your PC can detect the hard drive. Or restart your PC first and then try.
Method 3: Troubleshoot using Disk Management
In many cases, your computer will detect the hard drive as you plug it in, but it won’t show in File Manager. It will only be available through Disk Management. So to make your hard drive recognized and its content accessible, you will be required to make the following changes.
Set Drive Online
- Type “disk management” in the search bar and open Create and format hard disks partitions.
- Check if you can find a disk with an “Offline” label. Right-click on it and select “Online.”
Now you will be able to find your hard drive in the File manager, but only if it was previously configured. If not, you’ve to perform the following steps as well.
- Open Disk Management window.
- Right-click on the disk that appears either as “Unknown” or “Not initialized,” and select “Initialized Disk.”
- Next, choose the disk you want to initialize and select the GPT (GUID Partition Table) option.
- Hit the OK button.
After initializing the disk, you will have to further partition and format it to make it usable. Formatting the drive to a particular file system will erase all the data, so make sure you have the backup.
Import Foreign Drive
When you try to access a previously configured dynamic disk on another computer that does not support it, such as all Windows home editions, it will appear as a foreign disk in Disk Management. To make the Dynamic disk and its content accessible through File Manager, you have to import it. It’s advisable to keep a backup of your data when you are engaging with disk management operations.
- Open Disk Management.
- Right-click on the disk having a “dynamic” or “foreign” label and choose “Import foreign disks.”
- For “Disks groups,” select Foreign disk group (1 of 1 disks.)
- Lastly, to save changes, click on OK.
Once done, go to the File Manager, and you should find your hard drive there.
Configure New Partition
A storage drive that is both online and initialized, but still, if you can’t find it in File Manager, it indicates the likelihood of the unformatted partition. In this case, you will require to create a partition to make the drive usable. Below is the how-to-do:
- First, head over to the Disk Manager wizard.
- Right-click on the disk drive that shows Unallocated space and select “New Simple Volume.”
Note: As we go on formatting the partition, it will delete everything from the hard drive, so keep that in mind before proceeding.
- Click on Next.
- If you want you can specify the volume size for the partition using the “Simple volume size in MB” option or click on Next to continue.
- Tap on “Assign the following driver letter” and choose a letter using the drop-down menu.
- Hit the Next button.
- Select “Format this volume with the following settings,” and using the drop-down menu choose the following options:
File system: NFTS
Allocation unit size: Default
Volume label: give any descriptive name for the drive, such as ‘data.’
- Next, check the “Perform a quick format” option.
- Click on Next and then Finish to end the process.
Once you have configured the partitions, the drive will become available to you and can be accessed easily.
Assign Drive Letter
Removable drive partitions with the missing drive letter also tend to not appear in File Manager. So if your computer isn’t recognizing a hard drive, it might be a case of drive letter conflict.
- To fix this problem, search for Disk Management, and click on the relevant result that appears.
- Right-click on the hard drive’s partition with no drive letter and select Change Drive Letter and Paths.
- Click on the “Add” button and choose Assign the following driver letter.
- Next, using the drop-down menu you can select the desired drive letter.
Also, keep in mind that 2 storage volumes can have the same drive letter, but if you connect both drives simultaneously, Windows will automatically assign a new drive letter to one of the drives.
- Click on OK, and you are done with this step.
If your hard drive has any issues regarding the disk management system, it should be fixed by now, considering you’ve implemented the changes mentioned above.
Method 4: Use DiskPart Command Line
In some rare cases, you may find your hard drive showing up in Disk Management, but the storage volume will not be usable, which means formatting the disk won’t work. Therefore, in such circumstances, you can go for Windows “clean” command. It will erase everything from the removable drive and bring it to a completely unformatted state where you have to configure it from scratch.
So once you have tried everything you could do to fix the problem with your hard drive, but unfortunately, the efforts seem to go into vain. As a last resort, you may want to opt for the DiskPart command-line method.
- To get started, type “cmd” in the Windows search bar and select “Run as administrator” for Command Prompt app.
- Now to launch the DiskPart tool, type the following command and hit Enter.
- Next, to see the list of available disks, type the following command and hit Enter.
- Type in the following command to select the hard drive that’s not showing up on the PC.
select disk 1
Here, we have selected disk 1 as an example. Make sure you choose the right drive otherwise, you may end up formatting the wrong disk and thus losing all your data that won’t be retrieved.
- Lastly, type the command given below and click Enter to completely erase everything from your hard drive.
Don’t close the DiskPart command Window yet.
As mentioned earlier, “clean-ing” your hard drive will not only erase data from it but everything, including partition and type. So, you’ll have to configure it from starting that will require drive initialization, formatted partition, and assigning a drive letter. You can do it manually using Disk Management (for steps, refer to method 4) or continue using the following commands under the DiskPart tool.
- Type the following command to create a partition and hit Enter.
create partition primary
- Next, type the following to select the newly created partition and hit Enter.
select partition 1
- Command to set the partition as active.
- Command to format the partition with the NTFS file system.
- Command to assign a drive letter.
You can replace “Z” with another drive letter if you wish to.
- Type the following command and hit Enter to complete the hard drive configuration process.
If you have followed all the steps correctly by now, you will be able to access your hard drive.
For the users who have tried all the methods mentioned above, and there are no signs of their PC detecting the hard drive, that means their drive has probably gone dead. In that case, unfortunately, there isn’t much you coud do.