External Hard Drive Doesn't Appear – How To Fix & Recover Data

External hard drive, also known as mobile hard disk/drive, is a kind of rather common data storage medium. Due to its biggest feature – good portability, external hard drive is used widely around the world to store & exchange data. Storing important private data, backing up system/valuable data and exchanging files between computers & different devices are three main functions of external hard drive. Thus, we can draw a conclusion that external hard drive is indispensable for many people.

However, we can't ignore the troublesome issue – external hard drive doesn't appear after you connected it to a computer. This is not a rare issue; it has ever happened to many people and will be happening to more.

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When you connect your external hard drive to a computer via a USB port, trying to access data, manage files or update the backup, you may disappointedly find that it is not even showing up. You'll definitely be freaked out at this time, wondering if there are any ways to fix the problem or at least to recover files from external hard drive not showing up.

That's also what we care about. So in the following content of this article, we'll do mainly three things for you:

1. Introduce the problem - external hard drive not showing up.
2. Show you how to recover files from external hard drive with MiniTool data recovery software.
3. Tell you how to fix an external hard drive that won't read with several practical ways.

Chapter 1: Take A Closer Look At "External Hard Drive Doesn't Appear"

People who are suffering from external hard drive not showing up in My Computer error must be eager to know the effective ways to make external hard drive show up and work as usual. Besides, if there are some files useful for them stored on the external hard drive, they also want to know how to recover data from non-detecting hard disk (since they are not willing to or can't afford to lose those data).

Our suggestion is completing external hard drive data recovery firstly before you try the possible means to fix the error, in case of any unexpected data loss situations. In consequence, we'll talk about how to recover data from external hard disk which is not working normally.

External Hard Disk Files Recovery on Windows

We can divide the external hard drive does not appear issue into mainly 2 types.

1. In many cases, the external hard drive not showing in Windows Explorer would appear in Disk Management; this is what we called external hard disk detected but not showing in My Computer.

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2. However, there are also other cases that you can't see the external hard drive in Windows Disk Management; this is known as external hard drive not showing in Disk Management.

In case 1, you should take immediate action to recover data while in case 2, you have no choice but to use the possible methods we'll mention in chapter 2 to try to solve the problem and show the external hard drive on my computer.

How to recover external hard disk data when it is not detected:

Step 1: get MiniTool Power Data Recovery.

We advise you to acquire a Personal License for MiniTool Power Data Recovery since we guess there is a large amount of data waiting to be recovered in the external hard drive.

Of course, you can use the free edition to scan your external hard drive and recover files from it, but you need to notice that you are not allowed to recover more than 1GB of data with the free edition. (We'll take Personal Edition for example in the following steps)

Step 2: install and launch the software to choose a proper module.

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In the main interface, 5 functional modules will be provided: "Undelete Recovery", "Lost Partition Recovery", "Damaged Partition Recovery", "Digital Media Recovery" and "CD/DVD Recovery". If your external hard drive shows up as RAW in Disk Management (the file system is corrupted or the volume doesn't contain a recognized file system), you should choose "Damaged Partition Recovery".

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However, if your drive becomes unallocated, not initialized or unknown (partitions are lost), you should resort to "Lost Partition Recovery".

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What if your external hard drive becomes dead suddenly (external hard drive not working)? This post tells all you should do to recover useful files from the dead external hard drive. Besides, it gives you some suggestions on how to protect your external hard drive effectively.

Step 3: select your external hard drive to scan.

After entering the operating interface of "Damaged Partition Recovery" and "Lost Partition Recovery", the first thing you should do is locating your external hard drive by looking at the "Volume", "Type", "Capacity" and "Information" columns.

Then, you have two choices in "Damaged Partition Recovery": the first one is "Full Scan" and the second is "Open". Here, we strongly suggest that you choose "Full Scan", which will find more files for you.

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Well, in the "Lost Partition Recovery" module, you have no choice but to click on "Full Scan" button to detect files stored in your external hard drive.

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Step 4: browse the scan results and select the parts you want to restore.

When the scan is finished, all the found files will be displayed in the software interface, no matter you're using "Damaged Partition Recovery" or "Lost Partition Recovery". Now, you ought to take a look at them carefully to determine which ones need to be recovered and which ones don't. Please remember to add a check mark to the square box in front of the found files and folders. Then, click on "Save" button to choose a storage place for them.

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note You have to keep in mind that you shouldn't choose the original external hard drive as the storage destination; otherwise, data overwriting may occur and bring unnecessary troubles.

Step 5: go to check the recovered files to put an end to the recovery work.

After you set a directory to save files, the recovery process will be started automatically. And when the recovery is completed, a window will pop up in the software to inform you that your selected files have been saved to the place you set. At this time, you may go to the target place to check whether you have got back all the files you need from the external hard drive. Then, decide to do another round of scan or close the software directly.

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If it is your USB flash drive (not USB hard drive) that is not detected on the computer, you'd better read USB Flash Drive Not Recognized – Don't Worry Too Much to learn how to recover files and how to solve the problem in different cases.

Recover Data from External Hard Drive Not Recognized on Mac

If you find the external hard drive doesn't show up on Mac and want to recover files from it on a Mac, you need to turn to MiniTool Mac Data Recovery, instead. It provides four functional modules for you to recover data from external hard drive on Mac: "Undelete Recovery", "Damaged Partition Recovery", "Lost Partition Recovery" and "Digital Media Recovery".

We also advise you to get the Personal License for MiniTool Mac Data Recovery since the free edition only allows you to recover no more than 1MB of data but the average file size is going to exceed 1MB.

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After getting the license, you ought to use it to register the software and start recovering files from external hard drive on Mac. The steps of external hard drive data recovery on Mac are basically the same as that of external hard disk files recovery on Windows.

External Hard Drive Not Showing on Windows 7

"Hello guys, I have a problem. Whenever I plug in my external hard drive (1TB Maxtor) in my pc, it doesn't show up. It has always been working, but since I've installed Windows 7 yesterday it doesn't work anymore. So it HAS to be something to do with Windows 7. Anyone knows any solution? Please help me, because all my documents are stored on this external hard drive and I need them on this pc. Thanks"

- posted by Pimjong on SevenForums

Pim said that he's external hard drive works well until he has installed Windows 7 the day before. Now, this drive doesn't show up when he plugs in it to the computer. On this occasion, he should go to the Windows Disk Management tool to check whether the external hard drive appears in this place or not. Then, decide to recover data at first or try to fix the error directly.

Chapter 2: 7 Ways to Fix External Hard Drive Not Showing Up Error

After the investigation, we find external HDD not detected problem is mainly caused by the following seven reasons. And we give the corresponding countermeasures for each case. You can try them one by one no matter you want to find an external hard drive on a Mac or on a Windows system.

Get My Computer to Recognize a USB Device

1. Assign/change a drive letter.
When a drive letter is missing, the corresponding hard drive will not appear in the computer. Besides, when there's a conflict between the external hard drive letter and the local drive letter, it will not show up on the computer, either.

At this time, you only need to assign a drive letter to your external hard drive or change a letter for it to solve the problem. You can adopt both the built-in disk management tool and the third-party manager like MiniTool Partition Wizard to accomplish this task.

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2. Reinstall/Update the USB driver.
Sometimes, the driver of your external hard drive may be corrupted or outdated, so you need to reinstall or update the USB driver to solve the problem.

How to reinstall USB driver: open Device Manager in your favorite way -> expand "Disk drives" -> select your external hard drive -> right click on it -> choose "Uninstall" from the context menu -> click on "OK" button in the pop-up confirm window.

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As for how to update the USB driver, the steps are similar; you should also open Device manager and find your external hard drive. But after that, you should choose "Update Driver Software…", instead of "Uninstall". Of course, you can choose to disable and re-enable the USB controller to have a try.

3. Power on the external hard drive.
If your external hard drive is not provided with sufficient power supply, it can't show up on computer. This is a common phenomenon.

Under such circumstances, you should power on the external hard drive which has its own power switch or separate power cable.

4. Don't use USB hubs.
The reason why we advise you to avoid USB hub is also related to power supply. Some USB hubs are not able to provide enough power supply to the external hard drive.

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So, you'd better avoid plugging the USB drive into a USB hub. In contrast, you should plug the external hard drive directly into one of your computer's USB ports.

5. Try a different USB port or computer.
When the USB port on the computer that you have used to connect your external hard drive is dead, you can't see the drive on the computer no matter what you do. Besides, when the system driver of your computer has problems, you will fail to see the external hard drive on this computer anyhow.

You should try a different USB port or computer in this case to exclude the problem.

6. Repair the system built-in drivers.
  • Press F8 or another button to enter the safe mode during the boot process; select restart or shutdown the computer and power on it later to enter the normal mode (to repair the registry).
  • If the problem persists, please enter safe mode again to choose system restore in order to restore your system to an earlier point when there's no such problem.

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  • If the problem persists, please use the system disk to repair; open the command prompt, enter "SFC / scannow", press "Enter" and insert the original system disk to repair system automatically.
  • If the problem persists, please set the CD-ROM as the first boot device in the BIOS; then, insert the system installation disc and press R key to select repair installation.
  • If the problem still persists, we advise you to reinstall your OS.

7. Set parameters in CMOS.
For people who have never used USB external devices on the current computer, even if they have installed the driver properly, the system still cannot detect USB hard disk. This is because the CMOS port of motherboard is closed by default.

At this time, you should set it as enabled: reboot to enter the CMOS settings window -> find "PNP/PCI CONFIGURATION" -> make "Legacy USB Support" enabled (different computers are slightly different in terms of expression).

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As for how to fix the problem when hard drive won't show up on Mac, please refer to this post.

Chapter 3: Summary

Believe it or not, the external hard drive doesn't appear is not a rare problem; it bothers a lot of computer users. Since this problem is very complex, we can't ensure that you can fix the error by using the ways we mentioned here. But we strongly suggest that you should firstly recover files from external hard drive with MiniTool Power Data Recovery/MiniTool Mac Data Recovery (this has helped numerous people get back the missing files). Then, try the methods one by one to see if your problem can be fixed properly or not.

Please feel free to leave a short message below if you have any questions.


Common problems related to partition recovery and our solutions: