8 solutions to fix/repair the external hard drive not showing up in Disk Utility

By Juno | Posted to Mac Data Recovery on Aug 29th, 2019 |

If the external hard drive isn't showing up in Mac Disk Utility on Mac, the data on the undetected drive will be inaccessible. Now free download iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery to recover videos, music, documents, images and much more from external hard drives. Then, follow the solutions to fix the external hard drive not showing up in Disk Utility error without losing data.

When you plug in an external hard drive to your Mac computer, it should be shown up in Disk Utility once detected or recognized. However, sometimes, it doesn't show up, which will cause for panic. Actually, the external hard drive not showing up on Mac issue is quite common, especially if you often share the same drive between different operating systems, like between Windows and macOS.

How to solve this problem? This article will show you how to fix an external hard drive which is not showing up in Mac Disk Utility without losing data.

Table of contents
1. Why an external hard drive won't show up in Disk Utility?
2. 8 solutions to fix an external hard drive not showing up in Disk Utility issue
3. Recover data from the not showing up external hard drives
4. Conclusion

Why an external hard drive won't show up in Disk Utility?

Now, before solving the issue, you should know the reasons why is your Mac not detected/recognized an external hard drive.

  • Faulty cable or damaged USB port.
  • The external hard drive partition got damaged.
  • The file system got crashed.
  • Virus infection.
  • Malfunction of your Mac computer.
  • Any of the programs associated with the external hard drive doesn't work properly on your Mac.
  • Circuit failure.
  • Physical breakdown in any part of the external hard drive.

Many problems appear randomly that you cannot point out specific one. Fortunately, there are ways and means of getting the external hard drive showing up. Let's go into some of them right now.

Notice: If your external hard drive contains massive important data, you had better recover all needed data before taking solutions to solve because any mistaken operation might cause data loss permanently. How to recover data from external hard drive on Mac is recommended here.

8 solutions to fix/repair an external hard drive not showing up in Mac Disk Utility

At first, let's take a look at this example from discussions.apple.com:

I have been using my WD Elements hard drive for about 2 years and it always worked just fine, but when I plugged it into my MacBook Pro to back up today it won't show up. It doesn't show up on disk utility or system report, but the hard drive itself is still spinning and lighting up as usual. Any one have any idea?

What should you do if you are one of them?

You can try out the solutions one by one to fix an external hard drive not showing up in Disk Utility. But if you failed finally, it's very likely the external hard drive has been damaged physically and you have to send it to a local expert.

Solution 1: Reboot you Mac computer

Sometimes, it might be some data damage on your Mac system. Hopefully, this problem can be easily fixed by restarting as this operation will clears you macOS memory. Choose the Apple menu > Restart. Or press and hold the power button and, when a dialog box appears, click the Restart or press R.

Solution 2: Look at your System Information

When we connect an external hard drive to a Mac computer, we are connecting it via the USB or Firewire port. So first things first, let's start troubleshooting the external hard drive not showing up error by checking the ports.

Step 1: Go to Applications > Utilities > System Information.

Check external hard drive in System Information

Step 2: Click "USB" on the left panel, and check the external hard drive information.

Check external hard drive in System Information

If you don't see your external hard drive listed here, you have to try a different cable and USB port. Besides, try an external powered USB hub or power supply for the drive to see if the external hard drive can show up in Disk Utility. If these don't work, move on to try step 4.

Step 3: Reset USB ports on Mac

1. Restart Mac computer, press the Command +Option+P+R keys until the Apple logo appears.

2. Press Command+Option+Esc keys to close all applications that are not responding.

3. Plug the USB which is not showing up to your Mac computer. If it doesn't show up, click Apple icon and select "Sleep".

4. Wake up the computer after a few seconds by pressing any key.

5. Shut down the Mac, unplug the power cord, reattach it after 15 seconds.

Solution 3: Check for updates

The outdated firmware and software results in various hardware issues, including USB ports not working issue. Check for system updates by opening the App Store and clicking on the Update tab. If there are firmware and macOS software updates available, install them onto the Mac.

Solution 4: Run a virus cleaner software

One of the major problems is virus infection, which will cause data corruption on the drive. You can try an anti virus software to wipe out and remove any virus, malware or Trojan from your Mac computer and hard disk.

Solution 5: Run Mac diagnostics to detect hardware issues

Apple Service Diagnostic is a set of diagnostic tools used by technicians to find faults. You can use it to isolate a possible hardware issue on your Mac. It also suggests solutions and helps you contact Apple Support for assistance.

Step 1: It is advised to disconnect all the external devices except keyboard, mouse and other useful devices.

Step 2: Reboot your mac or you can power on your mac if is power off.

Check Mac using Apple Diagnostics

Step 3: Press and hold D button on your keyboard. Hold the button until you would asked to choose language.

Step 4: After selecting your language, it will display a progress bar stating "checking your mac".

Step 5: After completing the diagnostics, it will suggest you the solutions for the errors diagnosed.

Check Mac using Apple Diagnostics

Solution 6: Reset your Mac's NVRAM or PRAM

NVRAM is a small amount of memory that saves its stored data regardless if the power is on or off. If you experience issues related to these setting or others, resetting NVRAM might help. PRAM stores similar information and the steps for resetting NVRAM and PRAM are the same.

Step 1: Shut down or Reboot your mac.

Step 2: Immediately press these four keys in a sequence i.e. command, option, P and R.

Step 3: Hold the keys for at least 20 seconds and after you hear the second chime, release the buttons.

Step 4: After releasing the keys, your mac will restart and hopefully your drive will show up.

Solution 7: Reset the SMC on your Mac

If you have reset the NVRAM or PRAM, you've done it all, but your external hard drive is still behaving strangely. In certain circumstances, resetting SMC can be a solution. SMC, short for System Management Controller, is responsible for these and other lower-level functions on Intel-based Mac computers, particularly for power and hardware related troubles.

Reset SMC on modern Mac laptops with an internal non-removable battery:

This is how to reset SMC of a MacBook Air, MacBook Pro Retina, or MacBook Pro's with an internal non-removable battery:

Step 1: Shutdown your MacBook Air/MacBook Pro.

Step 2: Connect the power adapter to the Mac.

Step 3: After your Mac shuts down, press Shift-Control-Option on the left side of the built-in keyboard, then press the power button at the same time. Hold these keys and the power button for 10 seconds.

Step 4: Release all keys and the power button at the same time.

Step 5: Press the power button again to turn on your Mac.

The boot time after resetting a machines SMC can be a bit longer than usual, that is normal.

Reset SMC on Mac desktop computer

Resetting SMC is different for non-portable Macs, such iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini. Here is how you reset the SMC on any desktop:

Step 1: Shut down your Mac.

Step 2: Disconnect the power cord.

Step 3: Press and hold the Mac’s power button for 5 seconds.

Step 4: Release the button.

Step 5: Reattach the power cables and boot the Mac as usual.

Reset SMC on older MacBook laptops with a removable battery

Some older MacBook laptops, such as MacBook or MacBook Pro's with detachable batteries, should be reset with the following approach:

Step 1: Shutdown the MacBook/Pro and remove the battery.

Step 2: Disconnect the power adapter, hold the Power Key for 10 seconds.

Step 3: Release the power key and reconnect your battery and power adapter.

Step 4: Turn your Mac on.

Step 5: Let boot as usual.

Solution 8: Ask for help from local technicians

If unfortunately, your external hard drive has some serious hardware problems, none of software can help you fix external hard drive not showing up in Disk Utility. The only solution is to send it to local repair center or replace it with a new one.

How to recover data when an external hard drive is not showing up in Disk Utility?

If you can make the external hard drive usable again through the above methods, it would be great because the problem is not very serious. But if not, chances are the drive has been physically damaged. In this situation, all data on the external hard drive is so dangerous. It's high time to try lost data from the damaged external hard drive.

iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery is a free and professional data recovery software that recovers data from broken/damaged external hard drives, hard disks, USB flash drives, SD cards, memory cards, etc. Even when your external hard drive is not showing up in Disk Utility or detected by Mac computers, this software may be possible to recognize the drive and get lost data back. It is compatible with macOS 10.15/10.14/10.13/10.12 and OS X 10.11/10.10/10.9/10.8/10.7.

Besides, iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery also recovers data from formatted external hard drives, recovers data from unmountable external hard drives, recovers data from inaccessible external hard drives, recovers data from corrupted external hard drives, and recovers files deleted or lost from external hard drives, recover data when Mac computer won't boot/turn on, etc.

Simple steps to recover data from a damaged external hard drive:

Step 1: Download and install iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery on your Mac computer.

Step 2: Correctly connect your external hard drive to your Mac and launch iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery.

Recover data from damaged external hard drive with iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery

Step 3: Choose the damaged external hard drive and click "Next" button to let the software search for lost data on the selected drive.

Recover data from damaged external hard drive with iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery

Step 4: After a quick scan, all files will be presented in the left pane in the scanning results.

Step 5: Preview the searching results, choose files we need, and click "Recover" to get them back. iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery allows you to preview all file types that your Mac supports.

Recover data from damaged external hard drive with iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery

Step 6: Have a check to ensure we have got all lost data back.

Conclusion

When an external hard drive is not detected, most likely the drive has been physically damaged. But there are still some ways to verify and repair it. When you face this issue, the most important thing is to save your important data using a professional data recovery program like iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery. No matter what kind of data loss situation you are fed up with, including virus attack, file system corruption, power failure, accidental deletion, reformatting and so on, this program can help to get all delted and lost data back.

Hope you have solve the external hard drive not showing up in Mac Disk Utility issue successfully. If you have any question about this issue or know other solutions, please don't hesitate to inform us via email.

Juno

Juno is a technical expert @iBoysoft. She has over 5-year experience in data recovery/repair technology. She loves to write data recovery tips and tutorials.

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