Skip to main content
Windows 10

What to do if Windows does not recognize the external hard drive

Let's see the possible solutions to the problem of Windows does not recognize the external hard drive. If you're in this article, it's because you just bought a new external hard drive (or had one before) and you can't interact with it to store or retrieve files. This article at the same time is applicable if Windows 10 does not recognize USB


External hard drives are a good tool to have portable storage units with large storage capacities. Basically it is almost always a mechanical hard disk inserted in a box with a USB interface so that it can be used externally and with the possibility of hot connection. Other models at the same time implement their own software to manage backups or play their multimedia content.

Either way, these cost money and what we don't long for is ending up with the nasty surprise that it doesn't work on our computer.

Verify that the disk appears in the system

The first thing to identify is whether there is a connection between the hard drive and the system. Yes Windows 10 does not recognize USB or USB hard drive we will do practically the same actions. To do this we will connect the unit to a USB port and we will see the following:

Sound on the record or lights on the box

It may be a truism, but we must identify ourselves when connecting the external hard drive a little light in the box Or all that noise from mechanical components. In this way we will know that it is not a problem with the box itself or with the connection.

Identify any sound in the system

The first sign that Windows detects new hardware is from typical sound that this makes the connection something. Of course, you may not have realized whether it sounded or not.

Device administrator

To be sure that the system has recognized the hard drive, you will need to go to device administrator to see if it is registered in the list.

  • Right-click on the Windows 10 Start menu and a tools menu will appear
  • We must enter the option «Device administrator«


  • A list of devices will appear. At the end of it all, we can see «HDD«Click to expand your list
  • Is the external hard drive listed here?


  • It may appear with an exclamation point. Let's right click on it and choose «Update driver"To see if this sign is removed. Otherwise, we will see what options we have later.

Solution 1: try a different computer or port

If during the previous checks you could not identify your hard drive on your computer, the most normal thing is to try to connect it to another USB port or Firewire to see if it works. If so, you already know that the USB port is bad.

If you still don't do anything and Windows 10 doesn't recognize the USB, try connecting it to another computer to see if you encounter the same error. If you see that the physical disc case does not turn on any lights or make any sound, the problem is surely with the hard drive itself. It's time to contact the manufacturer or warranty.

Although, if this is not your case and the hard drive is recognized in the device manager, we will continue with other options.

Maybe you are interested >>>  How to uninstall Microsoft Office in Windows 10

Solution 2: interference with hard drive software

If the hard drive is listed with an exclamation point and before the problem occurred the hard drive was working the problems occurred when you installed the software that internally brings your hard drive.

Some external or media players have internal software that can be installed to increase the functionality of the hard drive. And the truth is that sometimes these programs give errors and Windows does not recognize the external hard drive.

If so, try uninstalling this software again to see if the problem has been resolved.

Solution 3: is this a newly purchased hard drive?

If so, it is possible that always come plain, as is the case with internal hard drives purchased for computers. What we have to do is the following:

  • We connect the hard drive to the computer
  • We will start and right click on it.
  • We choose the option «Disk management«


  • Now we will see a tool to manage our storage units.


To learn how to use this tool, we invite you to enter our tutorial:

Here you will see all its most interesting options.

If our hard drive is new, it will not be formatted, so the following window will surely appear:


  • We just have to choose «To accept«. If we look at the main window, we will see that this unit appears in black on your graph.
  • We need to right click on it and choose «New single volume«


  • A wizard will open to format the hard drive.
  • In one of the screens we will have to assign drive letter. We can assign what we really want.


  • The next thing will be to format the hard drive. If it is large, it is better to format it as NTFS. And if it is a USB memory, it is recommended FAT32.


  • We put a name for the unit and click on «Next«. So we finish the wizard
  • Now the hard drive will appear in Color blue and it will be possible to use it.


Solution 4: RAW formatted or damaged hard drive

This possibility is directly linked to the previous one. If we open the hard disk manager and Portable storage drive appears in RAW format That is why we have no possibility to use it.


What we have to do is click on it and choose «FormatAnd choose a file system for the drive. In this way, the device will appear ready for use.


This will result in the loss of files on the drive.

Solution 5: lost drive letter

While finding a drive in RAW format, at the same time it is possible that the only thing that happened is that the drive does not have a letter assigned. This is reason enough that the system does not recognize the hard drive as a storage device.


  • What we will have to do in this case is to right click on the unit in the Disk Manager and choose «Change drive letter and paths«
  • Now in the window that appears we choose «Add…«
  • We assign the letter we want and accept the changes. Now the drive should reappear.


Solution 6: write protected drive

In short, we must put ourselves in the case where the unit is write protected. To see what we can do in this case, we already have a tutorial that explains in detail the steps to follow.

We hope that with these solutions you will be able to use your hard drive again.

Did you manage to solve the problem? Otherwise, write us in the comments. In this way we will know that we must seek more solutions in this regard.

error: Attention: Protected content.