How to Format External Hard Drive that Is Not Visible?

Want to format an external hard drive that is not visible in Windows? Read this post to learn how to make it be detected and then you can format it successfully.


By Dervish / Updated on October 27, 2023

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Want to format External hard drive when it is not visible


How can format a 500 GB External Hard drive that is not visible at my computer. The disk simply shows at the taskbar, it cannot be read, the green light also shows on the disk. I need to format the drive....... How to format the invisible external hard drive?”

- Question from Tom’s HARDWARE

Why is external hard drive not showing up?

External hard drives (also known as portable hard drives) have a large capacity and are easy to operate. It is widely used to store or back up data. But in some cases, when you connect the external hard drive to a Windows PC or other device with a USB port, you may find that the external hard drive is not visible on the computer.

You may be wondering why this happens. The invisible external hard drive may be caused by the following reasons: There is a partition problem on the external hard drive, the system drive has a problem, an invalid USB port, or the PC is not powered on. In the worst case, the external hard drive itself may be damaged.

Make the external hard drive visible

When external hard drive not showing up, you can try these three methods to make it visible.

Way 1: Change a USB port

If you believe that your USB port is dead or dying, please take the following:

Plug the hard drive into a different USB port.

If your hard drive shows up on another port, it’s most likely that the initial USB port is dying or won’t accept the drive for whatever reason. Sometimes this can be caused by non-matching USB versions (for example, using a USB 2.0 port).

Way 2: Make Sure Your Drive Powers On

Nearly every flash drive and many external hard drives don't require a separate power source---they receive power over USB. However, some desktop external drives do have dedicated power cables, or at least a physical power switch.

If this is the case for you and your external hard drive is not showing up, you could have an issue with the power cable. Try plugging it into another power outlet, or swap the cable if possible. Check for flashing lights on the unit that indicate activity before moving on.

Way 3: Check Windows drive via Device Manager

When Windows Disk Management doesn’t list the external drive, you can check whether there is a drive problem on Windows via Device Manager.

Step 1. Press “Windows”+ “R”, enter “devmgmt.msc” and hit “Enter”.

Step 2. Click “Disk Drives”; if the external hard drive is with a yellow exclamation mark, it is problematic.

Step 3. Right-click the problematic drive, select “Properties”, and read the message carefully.

Step 4. To fix such an error, under the Driver table, click on “Update driver” to install updated drivers. Or you can click on “Uninstall” to uninstall the driver and restart your computer; after rebooting, the driver will be automatically reinstalled and reconfigured.

The way to format an undetected external hard drive

After making the external hard drive visible, you can start formatting it.

Windows has its built-in utility "Disk Management" that can be used to format hard drives. You need to open Disk Management, click on the drive you want to format, and select "Format". However, please note that external hard drives over 32G can't be formatted to FAT32.

Here, I suggest you to use AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard, when external hard drive is not working, This is a good choice. It is a professional disk partition management software that can format external hard disks as FAT32, exFAT, etc. Break through the limitations of Disk management. In addition, it also supports resizing partitions and merging partitions. Can fully meet your needs for managing disks.

Below, I will teach you how to format invisible external hard drive with AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard step by step.

Step 1. Free download AOMEI Partition Assistant. Install and run it on Windows PC.

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

Step 2. Locate the hard drive partition that needs formatting, right-click it and choose “Format”. 

Step 3. Set the file system of the partition and you can add Partition Label if you want.

Step 4. Confirm the operation and click “Apply” to perform it.

PSIf you are running Windows Server 2008/2012/2016/2019, you can make use of AOMEI Partition Assistant Server.


If you read this article carefully, I believe you already know how to format external hard drive that is not visible. If you want to recover lost files on an external hard drive, please upgrade to AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional.

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.