Solved: External Hard Drive Recognized But Not Accessible

February 14, 2019

If you connect your external hard drive or USB flash drive, pen drive, etc to your Windows computer, you find the external hard drive recognized but files can’t be accessed, you can turn to this article to learn how to solve the problem.


“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 it happens?

One of the most common error messages that make 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.

4. 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 fix the error, you may try more than one solutions. If you get the error message that “the hard drive is not accessible. Access denied”, you can try the following solutions.

Solution 1: partition external hard drive

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.

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

Solution 2: update driver software

If your external hard drive (USB flash drive) is visible in Device Manager but not in Disk Management, you can try to update the USB flash drive driver to see if it helps.

1. Open “Computer”, select “System Properties”.

2. Click “Device Manager” -> “USB Controller”, click “+”, and you will see a yellow exclamation mark.

3. Right click it and choose “update driver software”, click “automatically search for drive software online...”

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

Solution 3: Check errors on the hard drive

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. 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 Drive 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-click Properties.

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

4. Reboot BitLocker Drive Encryption Service.

Thus, you may access your external hard drive.

Solution 5: solve hard drive inaccessibility issues by formatting

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. However, you may face the big problem that formatting will cause your data loss permanently. To avoid losing data, you can use a data recovery tool like iCare Data Recovery, which you can use to preview files and then save all the data that you need to recover after formatting.

To format external hard drive, here we highly recommend you a hard drive format tool AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard, which allow you to format external hard drive easily ad simply. 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. 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 access the external hard drive.

* 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 access permission from Windows Explorer

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 the external hard drive may be accessible.