Usually, Windows system recognizes an external hard drive as a removable disk when you connect it to your computer. Meanwhile, you can see the drive letter of the external hard drive and open it in "My Computer". However, many Windows users have encountered the problem that Windows doesn't recognize external hard drive after plugging it to the USB port of their computer. If external HDD is not recognized by Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10, you cannot use it to save any data. Even worse, you are unable to read the previous data stored on this external HDD. If you have tried your best to fix the problem but failed, you probably need to use data recovery software for Windows to get back all previous data from the unreadable external hard drive. On the contrary, you can try following methods to resolve the problem about external drive not recognizing by computer.
1. USB port issues
Sometimes, the solution for issue about Windows won’t recognize external hard drive is quite easy. The first possible reason for portable hard drive not recognizing problem is that there is something wrong with the USB port. In this situation, you can follow the guide below to fix the problem after which your external hard drive usually works normally:
1.1. Unplug the external hard drive to your computer and then try to connect it to another computer or USB Port. It sounds impossible, but sometimes problem gets resolved after that.
1.2. If the problem still exists, you can unplug your computer from the outlet. You can turn off your computer from "Start" button first of all and then unplug the computer from outlet. You had better unplug the external hard drive to your computer before unplugging the computer from outlet. You had better plug it back in and reboot your computer after waiting for several minutes.
1.3. You can open "Device Management" to see if there is "Universal Serial Bus controllers". Probably, the system does not support USB port if there is no "Universal Serial Bus controllers". This problem often occurs on Windows operating system developed before Windows XP. You can reinstall USB controllers to fix this problem and make external hard drive be recognized by system.
1.4. Sometimes, you may find that you cannot install iTunes application on computer. In this situation, you are unable to sync your iPod touch with iTunes.
2. External hard drive not showing up due to improper operation
Your external hard drive might be corrupted due to improper operation. You had better not unplug your external hard drive to Windows when you are writing or copying files on it. In addition, you should close all programs and Windows that may use your external hard drive when you need to disconnect it to your computer. If external drive is not showing up sometimes but it works again when you reconnect it to your computer, you can open "Device Management" and delete "Unknown USB device". Then, you can unplug the external hard drive and reconnect it again after rebooting your computer.
3. External hard drive is corrupted or damaged
An external hard drive might be corrupted or even damaged due to reasons like that it drops to ground from high place or it suffers water damage, fire damage, etc. In this situation, you had better send the external hard drive to its manufacturer and ask them to repair it.
If Windows system fail to recognize a portable hard drive since there is problem with the USB port, you will not lose any data because you just need to connect the portable HDD to another computer or USB port. If the portable hard drive is not working due to virus infection, bad sectors or other similar reasons, you can format the external hard drive with following methods:
1. Format portable hard drive under Disk Management on Windows
If the portable hard drive is showing up under "Disk Management", you can right click the device and click Format option to format it.
2. Format portable HDD with third-party free format tool
If the external hard drive is showing in neither "My Computer" nor "Disk Management", you can free download third-party format tool to format it.
You can use data recovery software for Windows to extract all inaccessible files from the portable hard drive at first when you want to format it.
Windows XP is a Windows version of Microsoft, which is used by many computer users. It is quite a common problem that Windows XP cannot recognize external HDD. If the portable hard drive only shows up under "Device Management" but not in "My Computer", you can try solutions above to fix the problem. If portable HDD is still not recognized by Windows XP, you can assign a drive letter to it. You just need to right click the portable hard drive in "Disk Management" and then click "Change drive letter and paths" and then follow the wizard to change a drive letter to this external hard drive on Windows XP.
Today, some people have installed Windows Vista on their computer. If you cannot read any data since external hard drive is not showing up on Windows Vista, you can try methods above to check what the reason is that leads the problem so that you can resolve the issue with proper method.
Computer is not recognizing external hard drive Windows 7? Many people said that it is a problem to access all previous data when my external hard drive is not recognized. It is true, but sometimes you can get back all inaccessible data as long as you can fix the problem.
Windows 10 was developed in 2015. Many people have upgraded PC system to Windows 10, but they meet different kinds of problem after upgrading. External drive not showing up is one of common problem for Windows 10 users.