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10 Situations Where External Hard Drive not Showing up & Solutions


While scanning forums, we find so many users are bothered with the external hard drive not showing up issue. Here is one typical case we extract from ccm.net:

Q: Seagate external hard drive not showing up in my computer
My 320 GB Seagate external hard drive is detected but not showing up in my computer.
In cmd> diskpart> list volume it does not show up.
In Device Manager it gets detected.
In Disk Management it shows up as 'unallocated'. If I initialize it, will I lose all data on the drive? It had 4 partitions.
In My Computer also it does not show up.
Even BIOS recognizes it.
What to do? I don't want to lose any data on the drive. If I initialize it in device manager will I lose data?

Are you also troubled by hard drive not showing up? Have you got the effective workaround? If not, we give you 10 possible reasons as well as solutions to help you address this issue.

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10 Cases: External Hard Drive not Showing up

external hard drive not showing up

  • The content below also applies to hard drive/USB/flash drive not showing up.
  • We strongly recommend you download and install free partition manager - MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition, which will be of great help for Case 1 - Case 5.

Case 1. The hard drive is not initialized

First of all, if it is a brand new hard drive, please make sure if this hard drive needs initializing. You may go to Windows Disk Management and have a check. If Disk Management shows it as "Unknown/Not initialised" and pops up a window asking you to initialize it, this new drive really needs initialization before you can use it. Then, you will have to create new partitions on it to make the hard drive appear on computer.

hard drive is uninitialized

To make things easy, use MiniTool Partition Wizard to help you. Detailed steps are shown below:

Step 1. In this main interface of this free partition manager, distinguish the new hard drive by viewing the hard drive information. Since a new drive has no partition, please select the unallocated space and choose Create Partition from the action panel.

create partition

Step 2. In the pop-up window, specify the partition label, partition type, drive letter, file system, cluster size, and partition size. Then click OK.

specify new partition

Step 3. Click Apply on the top left corner to start.

Tip: In MiniTool Partition Wizard, all new drives are regarded as MBR disk by default. Hence, you can go ahead and create new partitions on the external hard drive. But if you want a GPT disk, you can select the brand-new external hard drive and employ Initialize to GPT Disk feature at first.

initialize to gpt

When you have created new partitions on the new drive, go to File Explorer and see whether your external hard drive shows up.

Case 2. The hard drive has no drive letter

External hard drive not showing up also occurs when the partition on the external hard drive has no drive letter. To make the hard drive show up, you just run MiniTool Partition Wizard and add a drive letter to it.

Step 1. At the disk map, select the partition that has no drive letter and choose Change Drive Letter from the action panel.
Step 2. In the pop-up window, drop down the drive letter box and choose a drive letter you like. Then press OK button.
Step 3. Back to the main interface of MiniTool Partition Wizard, Click Apply on the tool bar to put this operation into effect.

change drive letter

Case 3. Hard drive is hidden

If the hard drive is hidden by some partition manager, it won't appear in File Explorer. However, this time you cannot fix this issue by simply add a drive letter to it. You should use that specific partition manager or MiniTool Partition Wizard to unhide that partition.

But how do you know the hard drive is hidden or not? Usually, hidden drives also have no drive letter, but cannot be fixed by adding a drive letter. You can open Disk Management, right-click the partition that has no drive letter, and see whether the feature "Change Drive Letter and Path…" is greyed out.

change letter and path inactive

If this feature is greyed out indeed, you can use MiniTool Partition Wizard to help.

Step 1. In the main interface of MiniTool Partition Wizard Free, select the hidden partition and choose Unhide Partition from the action panel.
Step 2. Select a drive letter from the pop-up window and then click OK.
Step 3. Press Apply at the tool bar.

unhide partition

Case 4. Partitions are lost

If all partitions on the external hard drive are lost due to some reasons like virus attack and corrupted partition table, the external hard drive not showing issue occurs. In this case, the first trying is to recover all lost partitions by using MiniTool Partition Wizard.

Step 1. Run MiniTool Partition Wizard to the main interface. Then click Partition Recovery Wizard from the tool bar.

Tip: please observe the partition style of the hard drive which suffers from partition loss. MiniTool Partition Wizard shows all empty drives as MBR disks. If the hard drive should be GPT disk in fact, please use Convert MBR Disk to GPT Disk to turn the drive back to GPT before you choose Partition Recovery.

partition recovery

Step 2. First of all, you will be told that the MiniTool Partition Wizard Free cannot save the searched partitions. However, you can use this free edition to scan for the lost partitions before you pay a penny. Click Next to continue.

free edition limitation

Step 3. Select the external hard drive that needs partition recovery and click Next.

select disk for recovery

Step 4. Set the scanning range. It is recommended to choose "Full Disk" or "Unallocated Space" if you do now know the specific starting LBA and ending LBA for the lost partitions. Click Next to go on.

set scanning range

Step 5. After a while, MiniTool Partition Wizard will list all partitions it has found. Here you can double-click a partition in the list to check the files in it. After confirmation, check all partitions you want to restore. Please note that partitions not checked will be lost and MiniTool Partition Wizard cannot help you that time.

select partitions for recovery

Note: immediately when you click Finish, you will receive the following message saying the free edition cannot finish the partition recovery. At this time, you know MiniTool Partition Wizard is helpful and you can go ahead to purchase one personal license.


If MiniTool Partition Wizard fails to find the lost partitions for you, you can try professional data recovery software called MiniTool Power Data Recovery. This tool is able to recover data from lost partitions. And you may just follow the guide below to have a try.

Step 1. After installing this data recovery software, run it to get the following interface and select Lost Partition Recovery.

lost partition recovery

Step 2. When you see the disk list, you should find the external hard drive by viewing its capacity. Sometimes, MiniTool Power Data Recovery will list the lost partitions under the target disk, and you can select one partition to have a full scan. After data recovery, go back here and choose another partition if there is any to repeat the data recovery process. However, if no lost partition is listed here, select the disk to have a full scan instead.


Step 3. After the scanning, all data will be listed in the next window. Please open the partitions in the left panel and then open each folder to check files inside. Tick the ones you need and press Save to store the selected files to a safe location. Note that you should choose another disk instead of the external hard drive to be recovered.

select files

Tip: MiniTool Power Data Recovery Free Edition is an experience version that can recover up to 1GB data for free. If you have got more files to recover, you may choose a personal edition to break this limit.

When you have finished data recovery, you can recreate new partition on the drive to cope with hard drive won't show up issue.

Case 5. Unsupported or RAW file system

If the external hard drive has unsupported files system or hard disk become RAW, the partition bar won't show up in Windows File Explorer. You can only see the drive icon and drive letter there. If you try to access the drive, Windows requires formatting.

partition bar disappears

To fix this issue, you need to recover data from the external hard drive first, and then reformat the hard drive with FAT/NTFS file system. Please refer to Case 4 and use MiniTool Power Data Recovery (Damaged Partition Recovery) to help you recover data. Then use MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition to do the formatting.

format partition

Case 6. Drive not enabled in the BIOS

If hard drive is not showing up in Disk Management and Device Manager, it may be because it is not enabled in System Setup (BIOS). Some motherboard manufacturers disable unused ports in the BIOS by default, which is the common reason for the 2nd hard drive not showing up in Windows 10/8/7. You will need to enter BIOS to verify their current states and make sure all hard drives are enabled. Note that different computer manufacturers have different methods to enter system BIOS, please check your system documentation for specifics.

Case 7. Faulty cable or port

If the data cable is damaged or the connection is incorrect, the BIOS will not detect the SATA cables and can sometimes fall out of their connection. Be sure to check your SATA cables are tightly connected to the SATA port connection. The easiest way to test a cable is to replace it with another cable. If the problem persists, then the cable is not the cause of the problem.

Case 8. Troubleshoot drivers

Usually, Windows offers hard drive drivers and the manufacturer of your SSD may also have released some drivers to support your disk. However, it is possible that they are the causes of your hard drive not showing up problem. If the driver you use is outdated or problematic, you need to disable or uninstall it. If you are not familiar with the process, use professional driver tool to help you get rid of the worries.

Case 9. Virus attack

Some malware or viruses can lead to hard drive not showing up issue. It is possible that there are such malware or viruses on your computer. In this case, please run security software on your computer to scan out and remove these malicious programs. Then, check if Windows doesn't recognize external hard drive issue still persists.

Case 10. Faulty hard drive

If you have completed the above checks and the external hard drive is still not showing on your computer, you should send the hard drive to repair center and check whether it fails. If it is still in the warranty, please proceed to begin a warranty replacement.

recommend We also recommend reading our guide Quick Fix "SSD Not Showing up" in Windows 10 without Data Loss.


Above are the top 10 situations as well as the solutions for external hard drive not showing up. You may just have a try and see if they are helping. We hope you will never take the last one. If you have any questions or better suggestions, let us know by tying them in the comment section below. Or you can contact us via [email protected].