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What to Do When Your External Hard Drive

Backing up your information is necessary, and whereas storing info on the cloud has develop into second nature to most, there’s nonetheless nothing like having every thing saved on a bodily system.

Exterior drives are easy: you plug them in, they seem in your pc, and you’ll drag recordsdata proper on over. But when your drive is not showing once you plug it in, you might need an issue. Listed here are a number of troubleshooting steps you possibly can take to treatment the scenario.


Make Positive It is Plugged In and Powered On

I do know, I do know, however hear me out: simply since you plugged the drive into your pc doesn’t suggest it is essentially receiving the facility it wants. Whereas some drives can draw sufficient energy out of your pc’s USB port, others—particularly bigger drives not supposed to be moveable, just like the Western Digital My E book—might require wall energy to spin up.

In case your drive got here with an AC energy adapter however you have not plugged it in, strive hooking it up (and urgent the facility button, if there may be one). If it got here with two USB plugs, ensure they’re each plugged into your PC. With a bit of luck, your drive will seem usually as soon as it will get the juice it wants.

Strive One other USB Port (or One other PC)

laptop usb port

If the drive nonetheless is not working, unplug it and take a look at a distinct USB port. It is potential the port in query is failing, or simply being finicky along with your particular drive. If it is plugged right into a USB 3.zero port, strive a USB 2.zero port. If it is plugged right into a USB hub, strive plugging it immediately into the PC as an alternative. You may additionally strive it in one other pc.

In case you’re a multi-platform family, I would particularly suggest attempting it in a pc that runs one other working system—e.g., if you cannot get the drive exhibiting up on a Home windows PC, strive plugging it right into a Mac. It is potential the drive simply is not formatted for the pc you are attempting to make use of, and you will want to repeat that information onto a drive that is formatted for cross-compatibility.

Replace Your Drivers

sandisk driver

Often, Home windows runs into driver points that can render a tool unrecognizable. Open the Begin menu, kind “system supervisor,” and press Enter when the choice seems. Broaden the Disk Drives menu and the Common Serial Bus menu to see in case your exterior drive seems in both set. In case you see an entry that appears like your drive with a yellow exclamation mark, right-click on the system and select Properties—you could discover an error code you possibly can Google. You can even head to the Driver tab and take a look at updating or uninstalling the motive force and rebooting your pc.

Often, exhausting drives simply use Home windows’ built-in USB and exhausting disk drivers, so this is not more likely to repair a temperamental drive, but it surely’s value a shot. (You can even strive downloading drivers from the drive producer’s web site, however once more, that is most likely a protracted shot.) Try our information to updating your drivers for extra particulars on this course of.

Allow and Format the Drive in Disk Administration

drive format

In case your drive is powered on however nonetheless is not showing in File Explorer, it is time to do some digging. Open the Begin menu and kind “disk administration,” and press Enter when the Create and Format Onerous Disk Partitions choice seems. As soon as Disk Administration hundreds, scroll right down to see in case your disk seems within the listing. If it does, ensure it is on-line and formatted. If it is offline, right-click the disk’s identify (e.g. “Disk 2”) and select On-line.

If the disk hasn’t been formatted (it’s going to say “Unallocated” beneath a black bar), right-click it and select New Easy Quantity. This will even remedy the issue if the drive is formatted for an additional working system, as described above. Be warned that formatting it can erase any information on the drive, so solely proceed should you’re certain you do not want something from it.

Lastly, in case your drive is on-line and formatted, however would not present a drive letter subsequent to its identify, right-click the amount and select Change Drive Letter and Paths so as to add a drive letter. In case you’re fortunate, one in all these easy steps ought to get your new drive up and working.

Clear the Disk and Begin From Scratch

windows command

In some extra particular instances, the drive will seem in Disk Administration, however merely formatting the drive will not work. That is extraordinarily frequent with SD playing cards formatted with Linux distributions for the Raspberry Pi, for instance.

To regain your drive’s full capability, you may have to run Home windows’ “clear” command, which can return the drive to a totally unformatted state. Once more, this may erase something on it, so solely proceed when you’ve got no different choices—and make further certain you are cleansing the right disk, or you would lose a variety of information.

Open the Begin menu, kind “diskpart,” and press Enter to open the run command. When the immediate seems, kind “listing disk” and press Enter to see the disks plugged into your system. In case you see the drive in query seem—pay shut consideration to its measurement—make a remark of its identify. We’ll use “Disk 2” on this instance.

Sort “choose disk 2” and press Enter to pick the disk you need to clear. Lastly, kind “clear” and press Enter. It will erase the disk, at which level you possibly can comply with the above steps to format it from the Disk Administration console.

Take away and Check the Naked Drive

disk drive

If not one of the above choices work, it’s best to take away the drive from its exterior enclosure and take a look at the drive by itself. The parts that convert that SATA drive into USB can fail, that means the drive could possibly be simply nice should you join it another means.

You probably have a desktop PC accessible, and the technological know-how, you possibly can open it up and plug the drive immediately into your motherboard. If not, purchase a brand new external SATA-to-USB adapter dock or enclosure, plug your naked drive into that, then join that to your PC over USB.

If it really works, then your outdated enclosure (or its energy provide) could also be lifeless. In case your drive nonetheless is not acknowledged, you could have a lifeless drive. Contact the producer to see should you’re nonetheless beneath guarantee, and ensure your different exhausting drives are in working order.

Our Favourite Exterior Onerous Drives


In case your drive is past restore, it may be time for a brand new one. Try PCMag’s roundup of the finest exhausting drives, wi-fi drives, and rugged drives. We even have roundups of one of the best drives for Mac.


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