If your external hard drive isn’t showing up in Windows, it’s possible to fix it with a few tips. External hard drives are very useful for backup, especially if you don’t rely too heavily on cloud hosting. After all, they allow you to create your own private cloud. So what do you do when you plug in an external hard drive to USB and Windows doesn’t recognize it? See some solutions to the problem and learn how to recover files from an external hard drive that won’t open.
👉 How to extend the life of your external HD? Check out our tips
An external hard drive is a convenient way to store files, but its use is not without errors. — Photo: Playback/Markus Spiske/Unsplash
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Check if there is a problem with the USB ports
Before looking for a solution to any HD problems, it’s important to check that everything is OK with your computer’s USB ports. Connect the flash drives and other USB devices, check if they work normally and if so, continue with the other steps.
Update your device drivers
The simplest solution to external hard drive recognition problems is to update the device drivers. This problem often occurs on older versions of Windows, such as Windows 7, and on computers that do not connect to the Internet frequently.
Step 1. Open Device Manager in Windows;
Step 2. Find your external HD under “Disk drives” and click on it. Select “Update Driver”.
Update external HD drivers — Photo: Reproduction/Paulo Alves
Fix file system errors
Another possible solution is a tool native to Windows, which can search and correct errors in the file system of a disk connected to a USB port.
Step 1. Right-click your HD in Windows Explorer and select “Properties”;
Accessing the properties of your primary disk — Photo: Reproduction/Paulo Alves
Step 2. On the “Tools” tab, click on “Check” in the “Error Checking” option;
Windows Debugging — Photo: Reproduction/Paulo Alves
Step 3. If Windows doesn’t fix it, try repairing and recovering the damaged files with programs like Stellar Phoenix and Recuva.
Format or create a new partition
In some cases, Windows disk manager recognizes the HD, but it appears that there is no partition, as if all its internal space is free, although its files are still there. Attention: this process will delete all your data, but there is a good chance that you can get it back later.
Step 1. Open the start menu and look for the option “Create and format hard disk partitions”;
Open the disk manager — Photo: Reproduction/Paulo Alves
Step 2. Click on the unallocated space of the HD and create a new simple volume;
Create a new partition on a seemingly empty HD — Photo: Reproduction/Paulo Alves
Step 3. The create partition wizard will open, move to the size selection screen. Select the partition size in megabytes;
Select partition size — Photo: Reproduction/Paulo Alves
Step 4. Assign a drive letter;
Choose a drive letter — Photo: Reproduction/Paulo Alves
Step 5. Choose a file system (preferably NTFS) and a name for the label. Complete on the next screen;
Select file system and label name — Photo: Reproduction/Paulo Alves
Step 6. Use Recuva to recover deleted files after the hard drive is formatted.
Use formatting that Windows recognizes
If you’ve used an external hard drive on a Mac, chances are it was HFS+ formatted in OS X, especially if you backed it up with Time Machine. In such cases, Windows will not recognize your HD, but the files will still be there.
Step 1. Download HFSExplorer and import all files from HFS+ formatted hard drive to computer;
Importing files from HD to HFS — Photo: Reproduction/Paulo Alves
Step 2. Format using NTFS or FAT as the file system, following the same procedure as above.
One of those steps is to restore your hard drive and make it recognizable to Windows, even if that means formatting it and restoring files using a recovery program.
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