Windows not recognize external hard drive? How to fix it

Many users choose to use a large external hard drive for storing their data in order not to fill the main hard drive of our computer. But someday we can find that this unit does not work or is not recognized by our PC.

That our PC does not recognize our unit or that it does not work is a very common problem that can occur several times throughout the use of it. This does not necessarily mean that it will happen and we can prevent it by knowing the problems that cause it.


Determine if it is a hardware problem

The first thing is to rule out that it is a hardware problem, for this we will try to use that disk on another computer. If this does not work on other equipment, we will check that the LED light is on, if available.

If the hard disk comes from a computer to which we have removed it, and we have used a box (Housing) to externally connect this disk, we will verify that the internal pins of said housing are properly connected with the hard disk. We can also try using some program, such as Hard Disk Validator , to check the health status of the hard disk.

After that, if it still does not work, and does not have any LED status light, with which to check the correct operation, we will proceed to check the following steps.

Identify the problem with the hard disk from the software

The first thing to check is that our PC does not recognize it. If, on the contrary, it recognizes it, but does not let us open it, what we will have to do is format the hard disk.

If it does not appear in the “Computer” window in the file explorer, we will check the following:

Format the hard drive from the disk manager

We will go to the “Disk Manager”> Open. If when we open this tool we see a window called ” Initialize disk” is that our disk was not formatted.

An example of this is found in the following screenshot.

Iniciar disco

In this case we will click on “Accept” and in the next window we will find a black box. That means that disk is not formatted, therefore, it does not appear. To solve it we will right click on the> New simple volume.

Nuevo volumen

We will follow the installation wizard, and we will not modify any value, except the letter and “Volume label” which is the name of the disk, which will have. After that we will check again that the external hard drive appears.

Check the drivers of the USB ports

In case we have tried to connect it to another computer and it does not appear, it would not work for us. We will check that the USB ports of our equipment are updated and not obsolete, so they may not support our disk.

For this we will go to the “Device Manager” which we will find by looking for it at the start of Windows and open it.

Administrador de dispositivos drivers

Once we have opened it we will find all the drivers available to our PC, to update the USB port we go to “Universal serial bus controller”

If a yellow symbol appears in any of them, it is that it needs an immediate update, however, if it does not appear you can check if there are updates for these ports.

To do this, click on them, right click> Update driver

Opción actualizar drivers

Once we click on “Update driver” we will select in the window that appears next, the option marked in the example.

Actualizar automaticamente1

The search for updates of the driver that we have selected will begin, in case an update will notify us and we will select to update it.

Adjust PC performance options

If we have a portable computer, it is possible that performance options are blocking hard disk access to the system. For this we will configure the performance options so that it does not block any device that we connect.

To do this, we will search “Edit energy plan” and open this tool.

Plan energia

In the new window we go to “Change advanced power settings”

Configuración avanzada

It will launch another window, in which we can definitely deactivate the option that disables the connection of a USB port when it requires a lot of energy for its operation. And in the case of a portable computer where it makes use of the battery of our equipment, there is a greater probability that this will happen and we cannot use our external hard drive.

This option is located in USB Settings> USB Selective Suspension Settings> Settings: Disabled.


Once all the steps and solutions have been followed, we must be able to access our hard drive and use it correctly without errors. We recommend that, if you already have access, make a backup of it, periodically to avoid a possible tragedy with our information and data.