If your external hard drive isn’t showing up in File Explorer after you plug it in, it might be because no drive letter is assigned to it or a faulty cable. Alternatively, the drive itself could be corrupted. In this guide, we’ll show you a few methods you can try to fix the problem and make the drive appear in File Explorer.
Assign Drive Letter to External Hard Drive
One of the main reasons a drive, whether it’s an external drive, a USB drive, or a local drive, doesn’t appear in File Explorer is that it lacks an assigned drive letter. This can happen due to reasons such as disconnecting the drive during data transfer, system crashes, or incompatible applications. Whatever the reason, assigning the drive letter usually solves the problem and makes the drive appear in the File Explorer. Here’s how to do it.
First, connect the external hard drive to your computer. Next, press Windows key + X and select Disk Management. In the Disk Management window, locate your external hard disk, right-click on it, and choose Change Drive Letter and Paths.
Note: If the drive does not appear in the Disk Management tool, there might be other issues such as a faulty cable or corrupted drive.
Click the Add button to assign a new drive letter.
Now, select the Assign the following drive letter option. You can either go with the default suggested letter or manually pick a letter from the dropdown. Click OK after selecting the drive letter.
And there you have it. You’ve assigned the drive letter to your external drive. If you open File Explorer (press Windows key + E) and click on This PC on the sidebar, you should see the drive appear alongside other drives.
Change Drive Status to Online
The second thing you should check is if the drive is online. If your external drive is marked as offline, it won’t be displayed in File Explorer.
To change the drive’s status to online, press Windows key + X and choose Disk Management. In the Disk Management window, look for your external drive in the bottom section, right-click on the Disk # (where ‘#’ corresponds to the number assigned to your drive) label, and choose Online.
Change the External Hard Drive Cable
To connect the external drive to your computer, you need a cable. If that cable is damaged, the drive will not connect properly to appear in the File Explorer.
To rule out this possibility, use a different cable. If you don’t have a spare cable on hand, they are cheaply available at any electronics store or online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay.
While purchasing a connecter cable, ensure that it is compatible with your external hard drive. For example, if your current cable is Micro-B USB 3.0 (see attached image below) or USB Type C, you have to purchase the same type of cable.
If the above troubleshooting methods did not work for you, the problem might be more serious. It’s possible that your drive has failed and is no longer in working condition. This is especially true if you are hearing clicking or grinding noises. Hard drive failure is not uncommon, especially with older drives or when you subject them to rough handling, drops, or power surges.
If your external drive is still under warranty, try to claim a replacement. If there is important data in it, send the damaged drive to a professional drive recovery service to recover the data. Keep in mind that commonly available data recovery software will not work when the drives are physically damaged. You need professional help.