Fixed: External Hard Drive Not Showing Up in Windows 11

When an external hard drive not showing up in Windows 11, 10, 8, and 7, you can refer to this tutorial to know why and find some effective ways to fix it.


By Dervish / Updated on November 21, 2023

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Why external hard drive not showing up in Windows 11?


As a portable hard disk, an external hard disk has the advantages such as large capacity, portability, etc. It is widely used to store personal data or backup data.

But sometimes, when you connect the external hard drive with Windows 11 or other devices, you will find the external hard drive not showing up in Windows 11 File Explorer or Disk Management, it may be caused by Windows does not recognize the external hard drive. Usually, this occurs for the following reasons:

● USB port not working
● Device driver is out of date
● Incompatible drive file system
● External hard drive not initialized
● There is no drive letter on a hard disk partition

You don't have to worry about these issues. Next, I will show you how to fix external hard drive not showing up in Windows 11, including SanDisk, Crucial, Kingston, Maxtor, HP, Toshiba, WD, Seagate, Samsung external hard drives, and so on.

External hard drive not showing up in Windows 11 - Fix it effectively

There are some useful ways to make Windows 11 recognize external hard drive, you can choose one according to needs.

🔌Change USB port Plug in another USB port for testing
💻Update or reinstall driver Update the external hard drive driver in Device Manager
🔓Initialize the external hard drive Initialize the external device to make sure the computer recognizes it
📞Assign the drive letter Assign a drive letter to the external device to make it recognized by the computer
🚀Format the external hard drive Format the external hard drive with a freeware

▶ Solution 1. Change USB port (basic)

After connecting the external hard drive to Windows 11, if Windows 11 File Explorer does not recognize it, it is possible that the USB port has failed. Please take the following actions:

Plug the external hard drive into another USB port or computer.

If it shows up on another port, the original USB port is dead or doesn't accept the drive for whatever reason. Sometimes this can be caused by mismatched USB ports (for example, using a USB 2.0 port).

▶ Solution 2. Update or reinstall the external hard drive driver

If the external hard drive driver is outdated, then it won’t appear in Disk Management and File Explore. In this case, you need to update the driver in Device Manager:

Right-click on Start, search "Device Manager" and open it.

Under Disk drives, find the external hard drive which cannot be detected by Windows 11.

Right-click and select "Update Driver".

Update Driver Windows 11

Or, you can select “Uninstall device” to reinstall driver.

▶ Solution 3. Initialize the external hard drive (new ones only)

If the external hard drive is not initialized, then it will not be recognized by Disk Management. You need to initialize the external hard drive before using it.

Press “Windows + R”, type in “diskmgmt.msc” to open Disk Management.

Select “Initialize Disk” to set the partition style as MBR or GPT.

Initialize Disk

After that, right-click and select “New Simple Volume” to create a new partition on external hard drive.

▶ Solution 4. Assign a drive letter to the external hard drive

When the external hard drive doesn't have a drive letter, it won't be visible in File Explorer. At this point, you should assign a drive letter.

✦ In Disk Management, right-click on the external hard drive and select "Change Drive Letter and Paths...".

✦ Then click “Add”, select a drive letter, and click “OK” to give it a drive letter.

✦ After that, you can access the hard drive from File Explorer.

Drive Letter

Tip: If Change Drive Letter and Paths Greyed Out on Windows 11, you can turn to a professional tool to do it.

▶ Solution 5. Format the external hard drive (recommend)

If the file system of the external hard drive is incompatible with Windows or corrupt, it will not show up in File Explorer. Fortunately, you can format it. To do this, Diskpart or Disk Management may be the first choice, but they do not support formatting storage devices larger than 32G to the FAT32 file system. And they also don't support formatting the device to a file system other than NTFS and FAT32.

In order to format external hard drive without any limitation, AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard can help you. This freeware supports Windows 11/10/8/7/XP/Vista, and it can format external hard drive as NTFS/FAT32/exFAT/Ext2/Ext3/Ext4 file system. What’s more, its intuitive interface can minimize operational risks. 

Please download this freeware to see how to fix external hard drive not showing up in Windows 11.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Note: If the external hard drive needs to work on Windows 11 and macOS, you need to format it as exFAT file system, because exFAT is the file system compatible with Windows and macOS.

Step 1. Locate the hard drive partition that needs formatting, right-click it and choose “Format Partition”.

Format Partition

Step 2. Set the file system of the partition and you can add Partition Label if you want.

Format to NTFS

Step 3. Confirm the operation and click “Apply” to perform it.



Now, I believe you already know the reasons why the external hard drive not showing up in Windows 11 and how to fix it. If the HP/Samsung/Toshiba/WD/Seagate external hard drives not showing up due to the file system, you can format it with AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard.

In addition, you can use it to resize/delete/create partitions on an external hard drive. If you deleted your data by accident, you can recover lost data by Professional Edition. For Windows Server users, you can try Server Edition.

FAQs about external hard drive not showing up in Windows 11

Can a corrupted file system cause the external hard drive not to show up?
Yes, a corrupted file system can be a common reason for an external hard drive not appearing in Windows 11. Running a disk check or using third-party disk repair tools may help resolve file system issues.

Is it possible to recover data from an external hard drive that is not showing up?
If the external hard drive is not physically damaged and the data is not accessible, consider using data recovery software or consulting professional data recovery services. However, it's essential to address the detection issue before attempting data recovery.

What if my external hard drive is detected but not accessible?
If the external hard drive is recognized but inaccessible, it may indicate file system corruption or partition issues. In such cases, you can try using disk management tools to repair the file system or recover data before reformatting the drive. Always proceed with caution to avoid data loss.

Dervish · Staff Editor
Dervish is an English editor of AOMEI Technology; He is delicated to offering users easy and effecitve solutions for issuses related to disks and partitoins. In his spare time, he enjoy wathcning films, playing footable, traveling and so on.