External storage is where you back up your most important information. But what if your drive doesn't show up when you plug it into your computer?
Removable external storage, such as USB flash drives, SD cards, and external hard drives, is very useful for storing data and backing up. Many people choose to keep backups of their important data there.
In certain circumstances, when you connect external storage to your Windows PC with a USB connection, the device does not appear or is not detected. This is a common problem that many people face when trying to use an external hard drive.
Causes of an Unreadable or Unrecognized External Hard Drive
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The hardware here includes a USB cable to the hard disk. If one of the hardware components is damaged, it will impact the overall performance of the drive.
To operate properly, external hard drives need power. If you have a USB 3.0 external hard drive, attach it to a USB 3.0 port. The USB 2.0 port may not provide enough power to allow operation.
System files are not supported
Windows will not recognize drives formatted using unsupported system files.
Corrupt or outdated drivers
Drivers allow your operating system to connect with external hard drives and other devices. If the driver is damaged or out of date, it will cause the operating system to cannot recognize it.
Repair Unrecognized or Not Detected External Hard Disk Drive
If you are facing the issue that the External Hard Drive is not recognized, appears, detected, working, or accessible after plugging it into Windows 11, the methods below will guide you to fix it.
- Check Your Device
- Make Sure Your External Hard Drive Is On
- Try Another USB Port
- Restart Windows
- Check Drives in Disk Management
- Update External Hard Drive Drivers
1. Check Your Device
Before trying some of the other methods, first, check your external hard disk or external storage.
Check whether the USB cable for connection to the PC is damaged or not. If the cable is damaged or broken, replace it with a new cable. And then, also check if the USB port is dirty or dusty, clean if there is dirt.
Plug the device back in to see if that solves the USB not working issue on Windows 11.
2. Make sure your External Hard Drive is On
External Hard Drives need the power to work. Some drives may be powered by a computer's USB port and others may require additional power from an AC adapter.
Most flash drives and many external hard drives do not require a separate power source because they are powered via USB. In contrast, some desktop external drives include a separate power cable or at least a power switch.
If you have a USB 3.0 external hard drive, attach it to a USB 3.0 port. The USB 2.0 port may not provide enough power to allow operation.
And if you plug into a USB hub, try connecting directly to the PC and see if it works. Also, if your drive requires external power, make sure it is plugged in when in use.
If you see no sign that the drive is operating, the device may be shut down. Know the warning signals of a failed drive so you can catch it early if it happens again.
3. Try Another USB Port
Most laptop and desktop computers have multiple USB ports, and even in the worst-case scenario, one of them won't work. You can also check the BIOS to see if the USB port is disabled, and if it is, enable it.
If you are sure that your device is operating properly, the problem may be with the USB port you are using. Simply remove the USB drive from the port you're currently using and insert it into another. If it works on one USB port but not the other, you may have a faulty USB port. You can also try it on another computer.
4. Restart Windows
Restarting the computer will refresh your operating system. If the computer is under a lot of pressure, or some other unexplained error occurs, the drive may not appear. Refreshing the system by restarting will give the computer a second chance to detect the device.
Restarting the computer will also force Windows to install the missing drivers. If your USB is not detected by Windows 11.
Unplug your external hard drive first and then restart your computer. Give Windows time to display properly before you try to plug in the external hard drive again.
5. Check the Drive in Disk Management
To see if Windows recognizes the external hard disk, you can use Windows Disk Management. To open it on Windows 11, you can do this by:
- Press the keyboard key (WIN + X).
- Select the “Disk Management” option.
Disk Management allows you to view all the hard drives connected to your computer. In the list, you should be able to see all linked drives. It allows you to check disk size, partitions, and other data.
If your hard disk has not been partitioned or formatted, partition and format it so that the drive appears in File Explorer. Note, partition and format will delete data, if any.
And if you have a new drive, it probably hasn't been initialized and isn't ready for use with a Windows computer. Perform a hard drive initialization and when the drive is initialized, all data on the disk is deleted.
6. Update External Hard Drive Drivers
You can try updating device drivers and then check if they work normally. To update the hard drive driver, follow the steps below.
- Open “Device Manager”. Press the keyboard keys (WIN + X) and select the Device Manager option.
- Expand on the “Disk Drives” section.
- Right-click on the drive that is having problems and select “Update Driver”.
- Once the drivers are updated, close the Device Manager, and restart your PC.