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Best Way to Fix External Hard Drive Not Showing Up in Windows

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external hard drive

One day I was browsing through a forum for recent technology updates, and I happened to see one query. It says: I have a Lenovo Yoga running Windows 10, only one USB port, and a WD My Passport Ultra external hard drive. When I plug it in, I can see it in Device Manager (tried uninstalling and plugging back in, didn’t work), and also Disk manager, but I can’t see it on my file explorer, can’t drag any files onto it or really access it at all to back up my computer.

Usually, when you connect one external hard drive with your PC, you should be able to find it in File Explorer and have access to it. But due to different reasons, there are times users fail to find the disk and thus can’t access the external hard drive. Don’t worry, this post will offer practical solutions to troubleshoot this issue. Let’s get it started.

Recover data from external hard drive

According to Micro Center Electronics, one thing you need to pay attention is data recovery from the problematic drive. Since you have no idea what’s the reason behind this issue, you should recover data as soon as possible just in case of any data loss. Here I would recommend iBoysoft Data Recovery. This data recovery software is powerful, virus-free, and also user-friendly. It can recover data from corrupted, inaccessible, and formatted drives. Once you finish recovering the necessary data, you are free to go.

Quick fixes to troubleshoot external hard drive not showing up

Fix 1: Check the power of the external hard drive

To make it clear, you can first check whether the drive is spinning or not. If you can feel it spinning, then it means the drive is good for function. However, if it doesn’t give you any response, you can switch to other USB ports or even try out another cable. See does it work now?

Fix 2: Reboot your PC

Sometimes a quick reboot can fix everything, be it frozen screen or inaccessible drives, but make sure you’ve saved all data before turning off your computer. After that, you can safely eject your external hard drive, and select the Windows icon or “Start” in the left corner at the bottom of the screen. Find the Power icon and click “Restart”. After rebooting, connect the drive again and try to find it in File Explorer.

Fix 3: Test the drive on a Mac device

An incompatible file system can also result in an external hard drive not showing up in Windows. APFS and HFS+ file systems are exclusively designed for Mac devices while exFAT and FAT32 are generally used for both Windows and Mac computers. If you plug in a Mac-formatted drive into Windows, you’ll get a message saying ‘You need to format the disk in drive before you can use it. To test if it’s the format that causes the issue, you can just try this disk on another Mac device.

If there’s no problem using the disk in macOS, which means you can find it in Finder, then the disk is formatted for Mac. To make it compatible with your Windows computer, you can back up all important data and then reformat the disk into exFAT or FAT32. After that, it should work on both devices. If it’s still not working, you can move on to the next fix.

Fix 4: Update driver

Another software issue is the driver. Though Windows 10 updates the driver automatically, there are still chances that it doesn’t work well with your external hard drive. Or you can miss or ignore the pop-up update notifications. Don’t be anxious, this can be solved easily, just update drivers in Device Manager. Here’s how:

  • Search for “device manager” on the taskbar.
  • Select “Device Manager”. Double-click “Disk drives” to expand the category. A yellow exclamation point will be next to the problematic drive.
  • Right-click the problematic device and select “Update driver software”.
  • Click “Automatically search for drive software online…”.

After updating the driver, you can restart your computer and connect the drive with it.

Bonus reading

Some of you might wonder what are the contributors to the external hard drive not showing up. Here’s a list that you can check one by one.

  • Loose connection between the drive and the PC.
  • Outdated drivers.
  • The incompatible file system of the external hard drive.
  • Third-party malware or virus attack.



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Salman Ahmad is a seasoned writer for CTN News, bringing a wealth of experience and expertise to the platform. With a knack for concise yet impactful storytelling, he crafts articles that captivate readers and provide valuable insights. Ahmad's writing style strikes a balance between casual and professional, making complex topics accessible without compromising depth.

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