How to fix external hard disk detected/recognized but not opening/accessible on Windows 10/8/7?

By Molly | Posted to Data Recovery, updated on May 28th, 2019 |

Summary: When you plug your internal hard disk or external hard disk in Windows 10/8/7 computer, you may find the internal hard disk or external hard disk detected/recognized but not accessible/opening? No worries! You can turn to this complete guide to learn how to repair your internal external hard drive or external hard drive and recover your data as well.

Table of contents
1. What is an external hard drive and how to use it?
2. How to fix external hard disk detected but not opening issue?

What is an external hard drive and how to use it?

An external hard drive is a portable storage device that can be attached to a computer on the outside rather than on the inside. It should be essential when you want to quickly and easily expand the storage space of your computer as well as back up your important music, photos and files. Nowadays, external hard drives are inexpensive, but they offer outstanding performance, fast speed and light weight. There are different brands of external hard drives, such as Seagate, WD, Toshiba and Lacie. All of them often offer advanced features to protect your data, save and share files between different platforms more flexible.

Almost all the external hard drives are plug-and-play. To use an external hard drive, you can just plug it in the computer USB port. You will need an adapter if your computer has a USB-C port. Normally, Windows will automatically shows the drive in File Explore. But sometimes because of faulty cable, damaged USB port, incorrect file system, driver issues, etc., the drive keeps blinking but it can't be showing up or opening in Windows Explore. The following is a query from a forum:

I have an 80GB Seagate external hard drive that I connect to my Windows computer to store files but for some reason, just recently, it has stopped showing up in the 'My Computer' folder. It shows up as a device in device manager but I don't know how to open it. Why is my external hard drive detected but cannot open?

Actually, this issue is more common than external hard disk not detected on both Windows and Mac. Now, try these workarounds in this article to fix the external hard disk detected but not opening issue without losing data.

How to fix external hard disk detected but not opening issue?

To fix this issue, you may try more than one solutions. Let's take a look at how to diagnose undetected external hard drives in Windows.

Solution 1:Make sure your external hard drive is power on

The first and obvious step is to check whether the external hard drive is spinning or not. If it does, the power supply is not an issue at hand. Otherwise, the drive doesn't have enough power to function. In this situation, you can try plugging it into another outlet or swapping the cable if possible. If you've plugged the drive into a USB hub, try connecting it directly to your PC.

Solution 2:Try another USB port

The problem may lie in the USB port you're using to connect the external hard drive to your computer. To check this issue, you can unplug the drive from its current USB port and try plugging it into another port on your computer. If the drive works as normal in a different USB port, you may have a dead USB port.

Solution 3:Restart your Windows computer

Whenever you face with frozen screens, crashing programs or inaccessible removable disks, you can save anything you are working on and restart your computer before you freak out. A simple restart can flush out all RAM (Random Access Memory), stop outdated or glitch programs, etc. Safely remove the external hard drive from your computer. Click the Windows icon or "Start" in the bottom left corner. Locate the Power icon and select "Restart".

Recover data from external hard disk with iBoysoft Data Recovery

Solution 4:Plug the drive to a Mac computer

If you connect a Mac-formatted drive to your Windows computer, you'll be informed that "You need to formatted the disk in drive *: before you can use it" This error message appears because Windows doesn't understand Apple file system, including HFS+ and the latest APFS.

To make sure of this, you can plug the drive to a Mac computer to see if it can be used without problem. If you can see it showing up in Finder and delete files on the drive, you can make sure the drive is formatted for macOS. That's fine, you should back up your important data on another storage device and then reformat it to exFAT or FAT32 on Mac. Alternatively, you can use third-party software to read mac formatted drive on Windows. If the external hard drive still cannot be readable on Mac, go on the following solutions.

Solution 5:Troubleshoot driver issues

While you're having a problem with your hardware, you should associate with outdated drivers. Although Windows 10 automatically handle driver updates, but it isn't perfect. Sometimes, it will leave some essential driver updates behind. So you should keep an eye on any security updates and different driver versions that pop up. If you missed the pop-ups or ignored them, it's not a big deal. You can update drivers in Device Manager.

In the search box on the task bar, enter "device manager" and then select "Device Manager". Double-click "Disk drives" to expand the category. If you see any devices with yellow exclamation point next to them, that device has a driver problem. You need to right-click the device with the issue, select "Update driver software" and click "Automatically search for drive software online...". When the update progress finishes, reboot your computer and then reconnect the external hard drive to your PC to see whether it can be accessed.

  • Troubleshoot driver issues

  • Solution 6:Check if the external hard drive is not showing up in Disk Management

    The next thing is to check whether Windows detects the hard disk. Plug your external hard drive if it isn't already. Right-click the Start button on the desktop to open Quick Access Menu and then choose "Disk Management". You can also open the Run dialog with Windows key + X and enter diskmgmt.msc to open the Disk Management tool. In the Disk Management window, you will see all the hard disks connected to your Windows computer, along with their size, partitions and other disk information. You should see your external hard drive listed in the window, even if it has no drive letter or displays as unallocated, unknown, not initialized, offline. Let's see how to fix these 4 cases:

    Note: What if the external hard disk not showing up in Disk Management? Unfortunately, it seems very likely that the drive has been physically damaged and can't be recognized by Windows operating system. If so, you can only send it to a local repair center or replace it with a new one.

    Case 1: If the drive is unallocated in Disk Management, create a new volume

    1. Step 1: Right-click on the unallocated space and choose "New Simple Volume".
    2. Create a new volume on the unallocated drive

    3. Step 2: In the "New Simple Volume Wizard", select "Next".
    4. Step 3: Enter the volume size and click "Next".
    5. Step 4: Give the new volume a letter or path. You can select from the drop down menu and click "Next".
    6. Step 5: Choose whether you want to format the partition. If you want use the partition, you must tick "Format this volume with the following settings".
    7. Step 6: Complete the setting for the new volume, including File System, size and volume label.
    8. Step 7: Select "Perform a quick format" and click on the "Next" button.

    Case 2: If the drive has no drive letter, change the drive letter and paths

    1. Step 1: Right-click the external hard drive and choose "Change Drive Letter and Paths" from the context menu.
    2. Change the drive letter and paths

    3. Step 2: If the device doesn't have a drive letter, you should click on the "Add" button in the pop-up window and choose one. If the device has a drive letter, click "Change" and try another one.
    4. Change the drive letter and paths

    5. Step 3: Click "OK" to confirm.
    6. Step 4: Give the new volume a letter or path. You can select from the drop down menu and click "Next".
    7. Step 5: Choose whether you want to format the partition. If you want use the partition, you must tick "Format this volume with the following settings".
    8. Step 6: Complete the setting for the new volume, including file system, size and volume label.
    9. Step 7: Select "Perform a quick format" and click on the "Next" button.

    Case 3: If the drive is unknown or not initialized, initialise it.

    1. Step 1: Right-click on the unknown, not initialized disk and choose "Initialise Disk" from the context menu.
    2. Initialise unknown external hard drive

    3. Step 2: Select a partition style from MBR and GPT.
    4. Step 3: Click "OK" and wait for the operation to complete.

    Case 4: If the drive is offline, set online.

    1. Step 1: Right-click on the offline disk.
    2. Step 2: Choose "Online" from the pop-up menu.
    3. Set online

    Important:How to recover data from external hard drives?

    If you have tried the solutions above, all your data stored on the external hard drive is erased. If you didn't back up important data, you may wonder how to get lost data back. Read the following tutorial.

    You can also watch this short video tutorial to perform external hard drive data recovery:

    It's high recommended to use iBoysoft Data Recovery, a free external hard drive data recovery software. It is able to recover data from external hard drives in various situations, such as external hard drive inaccessible, corrupted, unreadable, formatted/not formatted, unallocated, RAW, etc. Besides, it also recovers data from corrupted USB drives, Pen drives, SD cards, memory cards, CF cards and much more external storage devices on Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP and Windows Server 2019/2016/2012/2008/2003.

    Step 1: Free download iBoysoft Data Recovery and install it.

    Step 2: Connect the external hard drive to your Mac computer and launch iBoysoft Data Recovery.

    Step 3: Choose the inaccessible external hard drive and click "Next" to start scanning for all lost files.

    Recover data from external hard disk with iBoysoft Data Recovery

    Step 4: When the scanning process finished, the search results will be displayed on the interface. You are able to double-click the files to preview. Then select files you want to get back and click "Recover".

    Recover data from external hard disk with iBoysoft Data Recovery

    Step 5: Go over the recovered files to make sure all the lost files have been successfully recovered.

    Tips: If you fails to find the desired files, you can click on the "Back" button, select the drive again and then tick "Deep scan" at the bottom. This operation will scan the drive sector by sector.

    Solution 7:Run Windows Troubleshooter

    Windows Troubleshooter is a small tool to quickly diagnose and automatically fix common computer problems with devices and hardware, such as network and printer connectivity, Windows update, Bluetooth and a lot more. Here is how to run Troubleshooter on Windows 10:

    Step 1: Go to Start > Settings and choose "Update and Security" from Windows Settings panel.

    Step 2: Go to the Troubleshoot tab and scroll down to choose "Hardware and Device" from the right panel.

    Step 3: Click "Run the Troubleshooter".

    Step 4: Once the scan finishes, you need to choose the issue you want to fix and click "Next".

    Solution 8:Run CHKDSK to fix the external hard drive detected but not opening issue.

    CHKDSK is a non-destructive utility to fix disk errors such as bad sectors, file table corruption, etc. You can try to repair or open the external hard disk without worrying about data loss.

    Step 1: Type "cmd" into the search box from Start. From the search results, right-click on Command Prompt and select Run as Administrator.

    Step 2: Enter "chkdsk *: /r " in the pop-up window and press "Enter". For example, if the not opening drive is disk H, enter "chkdsk h: /r"

    Run CHKDSK to fix the external hard drive detected but not opening issue

    Step 3: Reboot your computer and see whether the external hard drive is showing up in This PC/My Computer and can open.

    Solution 9: Reformat the external hard drive

    If you have tried all these solutions above, but you still cannot access the external hard drive. The last attempt is to reformat the drive. In this way, you can fix the external hard disk detected but not opening issue and access the files on the disk as normal.

    Step 1: Go to Disk Management.

    Step 2: Right-click on the external hard disk and select "Format".

    Step 3: Setup the required information and click Start. The process will finish in minutes.

    Format external hard drive in Disk Management

    Additionally, if the external hard disk is physically dead, you need to recover data from the dead external hard drive with iBoysoft Data Recovery and then send it to an expert.

    Molly

    Molly is an editor @iBoysoft who frequently shares useful tutorials about data recovery for Windows and Mac.

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