Quickly Fix WD External Hard Drive Not Recognized

By Connie | Posted to Data Recovery Tips on September 17th, 2020 |

The WD external hard drive not recognized issue on your computer is just as an illness on your body, which also with symptoms. An unrecognized WD external hard drive may not show up in File Explorer, Disk Management, or Device Manager. Or even worse, your computer becomes slow for this issue.

This post will make your WD external hard drive recognizable by checking and fixing the connections, software and hardware issues, and more. When you:

  • Can't find the WD external hard drive in File Explorer: Go to fix...
  • Also can't find the WD external hard drive in Disk Management: Go to fix...
  • Can't find the WD external hard drive anywhere in your PC: Go to fix...

Part one: Fix the connections of the unrecognized WD external hard drive

When you can't find your WD external hard drive on your computer, you should first consider if the connections go wrong.

First, check the power connections of the WD external hard drive

Some WD hard drives like WD MY Passport are powered through the USB cable while some others like WD D10 Game Drive via a separate power cable. The following is what you can do for checking power source of different WD hard drives.

• WD hard drives powered through a USB cable:

Step 1: Reconnect the WD external hard drive to another USB interface on the PC.

Note: This will not only test if the interface is working but also confirm if the power from the interface is insufficient or not.

Step 2: If the flashlight off or the WD external hard drive is not spinning, reconnect it to the other PC. If it works, the USB interface of your PC is damaged.

Step 3: If it doesn't work, replace the USB cable to a new applicable one to check if it's damaged.

Step 4: Check the USB hub (if you used) by directly connecting the USB cable to your PC.

• WD hard drives powered by separate power cable:

Step 1: Directly connect your WD external hard drive to the wall socket to avoid current loss.

Connect the power cable of your WD drive to the wall socket

Step 2: If the flashlight still off, check the WD disk's power interface by replacing a new power cable.

Step 3: No changes, so the power interface may need to be repaired.

Step 4: If its flashlight on after replaced with a new power cable, it is the power cable damaged.

Step 5: By the way, don't connect the other device if the WD external hard drive works with a Y cable.

Your WD external hard drive lights on with normal running sound but still not working? You'd better check the data transmission and other issues in the later part.

Second, check the data transmission of the WD external hard drive

Although the WD external hard drive is powered, without the right data transmission it still can't be recognized by Windows. Usually, the data transmission is through a USB cable. Thus:

Step 1: Make sure the computer interface matches the disk interface. Use a USB hub to switch the cable interface of your WD drive if it's a USB-C (Type-C).

check the USB hub with different interfaces

Note: Don't mistakenly connect the USB 3.0 WD drive to the USB 2.0 one. The two are different in the transfer rate.

Step 2: Re-plug the USB data cable to the other USB port on your PC or re-plug it to another computer.

Step 3: Still not recognized? Change an applicable USB data cable.

Step 4: If use a USB hub, change a new one or directly plug the hard drive to the computer.

Third, reset the BIOS settings

BIOS (a former of UEFI) is an Input/Output System in your PC. You can check the BIOS settings if the WD drive enables the USB port or not. If not, reset the settings.

After fixed the connections issues, check if the WD external hard drive shows up in File Explorer again. If not, try to fix the other issues of the WD hard drive.

Part two: Troubleshoot the unrecognized WD external hard itself

Usually, if a hard drive can't be recognized by Windows (no connection issues), it will be displayed abnormally or even not displayed in Disk Management. Go to Disk Management to have a further check if can't find the WD drive in File Explorer.

Check the unrecognized WD external hard drive in Disk Management:

Right-click This Computer and choose Manage to enter into Computer Management, then select Disk Management to check the condition of the WD external hard drive.

Commonly, when the unrecognized WD external hard can be found in Disk Management, it displayed as:

1. The WD external hard drive is not initialized

Just like with a new iPhone, you need to set it up before using it. Similarly, a hard drive that can be used to store files after being initialized, partitioned, and formatted. This could causes an WD external hard drive used as PS4 extended drive not recognized.

2. The drive letter of the WD external hard drive is missing

The drive letter of a hard drive like a lighthouse to guide you find it. So, assign a drive letter to the WD external hard drive can make it be recognized by the OS:

  • Right-click the WD external hard drive and choose Change Drive Letter and Paths...
  • Click Add and select Assign the following drive letter. Then choose a drive letter.

3. The WD external hard drive labeled unknown, RAW partition, or displays an incorrect capacity

It is caused by the file system of the WD hard drive can't be recognized or supported by the Windows. You can try the ways below:

  • Update the OS to match the WD hard drives or change a suitable hard drive. For example, some WD game drives like WD P10 Game Drives are only compatible with Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.
  • Make the file system of WD external hard drive compatible with your Windows. Windows only support NTFS, exFAT, FAT32.
  • Still not works? Recover important data if any and reformat the WD hard drive ( for it may corrupted).

4. The WD external hard drive displays as unallocated space

The unrecognized WD external hard drive has unallocated space, which is a result of no existing partitions or the original partition is deleted or lost. Assign a volume to the hard drive may make it recognizable:

  • Right-click the unallocated WD external hard drive.
  • Choose New Simple Volume and follow the prompts to click the required buttons.
Assign a volume to an unallocated SSD

Recover data from unallocated hard drive

5. The WD external hard drive is offline

Every hard drive in a Windows computer must be online before it can be used. So, just turn the offline hard drive online:

• Right-click the WD external hard drive and select Online to reactive it.

If the WD external hard drive not showing up in Disk Management, you need to check if it has problems in encryption, hardware issues or others. So, go to have a further check.

Unlock the unrecognizable WD external hard drive that is encrypted:

1. Your WD external hard drive is BitLocker encrypted

Windows BitLocker is an encryption feature to help users protect their data on the hard drive. Without a password, the BitLocker hard drive can't be accessed. So:

  • Use the password to unlock it.
  • Forget the password? Type ' bitlocker ' in the taskbar and open the Manage BitLocker panel to turn off BitLocker.

2. Your WD external hard drive encrypted with WD Security for Windows

Set by WD Security for Windows, the WD hard drive is password protected like My Passport or My Book. Thus, to make it accessible, you should:

  • Type the password in the prompted box to unlock the WD drive.
  • If the password is lost, you have to reformat it (The formatting will make the data lost).
  • If you uninstalled the WD Security for Windows on the hard drive before unlocking it, you should reinstall this software from the WD website and turn down the encryption settings.
Install WD Security for Windows

Try to fix the hardware issues of the unrecognized WD external hard drive:

1. Check WD external hard drive with Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for Windows

Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for Windows is used to check and repair some of WD hard drive errors, which is suitable for WD Elements, My Passport Ultra, etc. So you can have a try:

  • Download Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for Windows to your WD external drive from the WD support official site and install it.
  • Highlight the WD external hard drive and select the run icon on the top row.
  • When the "DLGDIAG - Select an Option" window appears, choose the Extended Test.
  • Get the message about your WD external hard drive.

2. Fix WD external hard drive (if it's an SSD) by using Western Digital SSD Dashboard

Western Digital SSD Dashboard is used to keep the SSDs in a good performance. It can also analyze the SSD and update the firmware of SSD.

  • Download the Western Digital SSD Dashboard to your WD disk from the WD official support site. Then, follow the instructions to install it.
  • After installation, Western Digital SSD Dashboard will work automatically.

Fix SSD Not Showing up in Windows

3. Use chkdsk to check & repair the errors on WD external hard drive

Chkdsk is a system tool and command that used to check and fix the errors of disks except for bad sectors. You can try to use chkdsk to repair the hard drive errors like fixing WD external hard drive errors:

  • Press Win key + R key simultaneously to run into CMD panel.
  • Type ' chkdsk /f e: ' (Here the /f means to fix, the letter e: should be replaced with the drive letter of the WD external hard drive).
  • Type ' Y ' (means Yes) when asked whether to check and fix this disk when your PC restarts next time. Then, restart your computer.

Part three: Check the software of the unrecognized WD external hard drive

WD sells WD hard drives installed with different software according to its using purpose. But sometimes, it is the software that causes your WD external hard drive not accessible or not recognized.

Update WD software installed in your unrecognizable WD external hard drive:

  • Check the version, the applicable hard drives, and the OS of the software at the WD official support site.
  • Update the version of the software to the latest if it is too old.
  • Uninstall the software if updating makes no difference. Then, eject the WD hard drive and re-plug it to your PC.

Install the WD driver for the WD external hard drive:

Usually, you can try to fix the disk driver issues with the functions in Device Manager. Right-click This Computer and select Disk Management. Then, choose Device Manager to open the panel.

If you make sure the WD hard drive is not hidden after checking Device Manager > Disk drives > View > Show hidden devices, you can try to fix its disk driver:

1. For WD external hard drive shows up in Disk drives:

It means the disk driver of the WD drive is detected but may with some bugs.

Uninstall the WD hard drive's driver
  • Right-click the WD hard drive and click Uninstall. Then reboot the PC to check if it shows up in File Explorer.
  • If no, right-click it and select Update Driver Software... and then restart your computer.

2. For WD external hard drive shows up in Other devices:

Oftenly, it is labeled with a ' ! ' symbol or indicates Unknown device. This situation means that the WD drive's disk driver is not detected. Follow these operations to repair:

  • Right-click the WD external hard drive and click Uninstall. Then restart your PC to check if it can be detected in Disk drives.
  • If no, right-click it again. Select Update Driver Software and then, click Search automatically for updated driver software.

If the WD external hard drive still doesn't display in Other devices, go back to check the connections. Besides, after your PC restarts, if it still shows with a ' ! ' symbol or indicates as Unknown device, maybe the WD external hard drive needed a WD driver.

3. Download and install the WD driver for your WD external hard drive

If your WD hard drive shows as WD SES Device USB device in Other device with a ' ! ' symbol, it only can be driven by a WD SES driver. Thus, try to download and drive with a WD SES driver:

  • The newer WD SES drivers are installed automatically with WD Security, Drive Utilities, and Smartware. Thus, you can install any of this three software you need to install the WD SES driver.
  • If you just want to install a WD SES driver, go to download at WD official support website.

The WD external hard drive not recognized, usually, are caused by some of the features of WD hard drives. However, there is always a solution to the problem. Hope you can make your WD external hard drive be read and wrote again with this article.