Solved: External Hard Drive Recognized But Not Accessible

How do I fix my external hard recognizable but not accessible ? Here you can know why it happens and how to fix the matter. 6 easy yet effective solutions are provided here.


By Cherry / Updated on May 12, 2023

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“I’ve plugged a external hard drive on my Windows 7 and Windows 10, both have the same situation that the device has been detected, but isn’t shown on explorer. Thus, even the external hard drive recognized, the files can’t be accessed. But I really need to access to it for the important photos and documents. Is there any one can help me? Any help will be appreciated in advance.”

Why the external hard drive recognized but not accessible?

One of the most common error messages that suggest the hard dive inaccessible is “Hard drive is not accessible. Access is denied”. Well, there are many reasons would cause external hard drive recognized but not accessible. Like the following reasons:

1. The external hard drive may be a new drive without any partition on. If the external hard dive is a brand-new hard drive, and there is no partition on the drive, the system cannot recognized the drive size, which would cause the hard drive detected but not accessible.

2. It is too old of your driver software. You may find your external hard drive recognized in Device Manager, but not in Disk Management.

3. Encrypt external hard drive with Bitlocker. If you use Bitlocker to encrypt your hard drive, you may meet the problem that external hard drive recognized but not accessible and your important files cannot be used.

Besides, there are many other reasons could cause your external hard drive inaccessible, like hard drive broken, the USB power supply of removable device is insufficient, etc.

How to solve external hard drive recognized but not accessible?

To avoid data loss, you should backup the external hard drive before any operation.

As for so many different situations would cause the error occurred, you may need to try more than one solution to fix it. The following solutions are proven to be effective for such an issue.

Solution 1: Create a valid partition

If you meet the problem that cannot access the external hard drive, you can open Windows Disk Management to see whether it is a new hard drive without any partition. If there is no partition on the hard drive, then, you can partition hard drive, so that it can be accessed normally.

Create New Partition

* If this could not solve your problem, you can fix the error with next solution.

Solution 2: Update disk driver 

If your external hard drive is visible in Device Manager but not in Disk Management, and you cannot access the external hard drive. Then you can try to update the disk driver to see if it helps.

1. Go to the Search box, type “device manager” and press Enter.

2. Expand “Disk driver” and locate the hard drive that Windows does not detect.

3. Right-click on the disk and select "Update Driver Software…" from the context menu.

Update Disk Drive

Wait the update progress and let the driver to be installed, and then, reboot the computer. Then, reconnect the external hard drive to the PC and check whether it can be accessed.

Solution 3: Check and fix drive error

If your external hard drive is suddenly no longer operational on your computer, you can make use of the error checking tool to overcome this problem by navigating to Properties ->Tools -> Check Now. Or you can enter command prompt window to check and fix error.

1. Hit Win+R at the same time to open "Run" dialogue. Input “cmd” and hit on Enter to opne the command prompt window.

2. In the popout window, type "chkdsk g: /f /r /x" and press “Enter” (where the “g” stands for the drive letter of your external hard drive that is recognized but not accessible).

Check Error

If you are fortune, your hard drive may be accessible after checking. On the contrary, you may still get the error message “hard drive is not accessible. Access is denied”.

Solution 4: Change BitLocker Encryption Service

If you cannot access the external hard drive because of the BitLocker Drive Encryption, then, you need to change the BitLocker Encryption Service.

1. Press Win + R simultaneously, type services.msc, hit Enter. It will open the local services page.

2. Here, Find BitLocker Encryption Service, double-clickProperties.

3. In the Properties page, change the Boot Type into AUTO, clickOK.

4. Reboot BitLocker Drive Encryption Service.

Thus, you may access your external hard drive.

Solution 5: Reformat the external hard drive

To solve external hard drive recognized but not accessible problem, formatting will be the sure shot way. If all above ways cannot solve the external hard drive is not accessible problem, you should format it. To avoid data loss, it is advised to first recover data from inaccessible hard drive, move them to a safe location and then perform format.

To format external hard drive, you can use Windows built-in Disk Management tool. If it fails for some reasons such as corrupted file system, you can turn to the free partition manager AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard, which allow you to (forcibly) format external hard drive, check disk, and test disk speed. And here you can learn how to format external hard drive with AOMEI Partition Assistant.

Step 1. Connect the external hard drive to your PC, make sure it can be detected.

Step 2. Free download AOMEI Partition Assistant, install and launch it.

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

To format the inaccessible drive, here you need to right click it, select Format Partition.

Format Partition

Step 3. Then, it will pop up a small window where you can set up the detailed of formatting. You can format the external hard drive to FAT32, NTFS, exFAT, Ext2, Ext3, etc. Choose one and click OK.

Partition Label

Step 4. When you back to the main interface, click Apply-> Proceed.


After the formatting, you may reuse the external hard drive as a new one.

AOMEI partition Assistant has specific edition for Windows Server users. If you are Windows Server users, you can turn to AOMEI Partition Assistant Server for help.

Solution 6: Reset the drive permission

Another way is to reset the permission from Windows Explorer if it is visible in Windows Explorer but you cannot access it.

1. Right click on the inaccessible drive, select Properties.

2. In the Properties window, select Security, click on Edit...

3. It will pop up a window “Permissions for New Volume” dialog box. Click the Add button to continue.

4. Then, add a new user maned “Authenticated User” and click OK.

5. From the permission section, give “full control” to newly added user and click “OK”.

6. The dialog box will show two options: “Continue” or “Cancel”.

7. Press Continue… and Cancel at last.

Now, you are done, and you can reboot your computer to check whether you can access the external hard drive successfully.


This article provides different solutions for different situations of “external hard drive recognized but not accessible. Actually, there are more than one error for hard drive is not accessible.

You may meet many other errors such as “Drive is not accessible. The parameter is incorrect”, “Drive is not accessible. The disk structure is corrupted and unreadable” ,“Drive is not accessible. The volume does not contain a recognized file system”. etc.  Hope this guide can help you a lot.

Cherry · Staff Editor
Cherry is an editor of AOMEI Technology, she covers backup & restore, hard disk & partitions management, cloud files transfer, website & database backup and so on for AOMEI. She enjoys helping people find solutions to their problems. She loves traveling, cooking, reading and so on. She takes most of time with her family when she is not working.