What to do if your PC does not recognize an external hard drive

Let’s put ourselves in situation. We have had a problem with our computer, we have lost the data on our internal hard drive and we resorted to our backup to recover our work. However, after connecting that external hard drive, we see how it does not appear in any way on our computer. Before you panic, there are a few steps you need to take to resolve what is likely to be a one-time problem.

And it is that most of these problems usually have an easy solution, since they are usually due to communication failures between the external hard drive and the computer to which we are connecting the device or, to a lesser extent, to software errors. So with a few small remedies we can recover our data and return to normality in a short time

Checking the connections

Among these tips, the first would be to check the physical part, that is, the connections between the external hard drive and our computer. For this, it is essential that we properly tighten all the connections to verify that there is no cable that has been left loose or poorly connected. Something that can happen many times and that is not always noticeable with the naked eye.

If this wiring is properly connected, it is possible that there is a problem with it. So we must use a different cable than the one we are using and connect it to both the external hard drive and the USB port to which we intend to connect the external hard drive. Again, it is necessary to check that the cable is correctly connected. And as an alternative, we can also test that “faulty” cable with another device, to see if it is recognized or not.

If this does not solve the problem, the problem may have something to do with the USB port that we are using. Sometimes these USB ports get a bit fickle and don’t always work as well as they should. Therefore, it will suffice to change the cable to a different USB port on the computer, preferably the rear ones if possible, to verify if the corresponding connection is produced from here.

Verify the operation of the hard disk

If after executing these procedures we see that the hard drive still does not appear on our PC, it would be convenient to see if it is really working. Many external hard drives include an LED light or some other type of indicator that informs us that the product is indeed working.

Additionally, some hard drives still have the power switch, so it is also advisable to check if it is activated or not. Because we may be thinking about a non-existent problem that is solved by simply turning on the external hard drive. In the event that after changing the wiring and port, the hard drive does not turn on or does not show signs of life, then we may be facing a damaged hard drive. Anyway, keep reading our advice, in case we could save it in some other way.

Install the drivers

And it is that sometimes the problems so that our computer does not recognize an external hard drive do not have to do so much with the physical connection part but with the logical part of the process. First of all, all current external hard drives, as happens with USB sticks for example, are ready to be installed and connected automatically at the moment the connection is established via USB. This procedure is called plug and play connectivity and eliminates the need for drivers or controllers to use these devices on any PC or Mac computer.

However, this technology is not an exact science and can also sometimes fail. For this reason, in case we are not able to find our hard drive on our computer, it would be convenient for us to proceed to manually install its drivers or controllers.

These drivers can be easily found online, if the product is from a known manufacturer, or they would come on a CD or similar along with the external hard drive. In any case, it is essential that we proceed to the installation of these drivers to give the hard drive all the necessary support in order to function correctly in the event that it does not comply with this process automatically.

Looking for software bugs

The last option that we can resort to in case our computer still does not recognize our external hard drive is to check that the drive letter is available and that there is no incompatibility problem. And it is that every time we connect an external storage device to our computer, a letter is assigned to it, just as it happens with the hard drives or DVD readers that we have installed.

The difference is that this letter may vary in the case of external products. So if the external hard drive is not detected, it would be necessary to verify that there is not a conflict in the Drive Manager that is causing that letter to be busy and unusable.

To solve this problem, we will have to access the control panel, always in an account with administrative permissions, and within the administrative tools select the computer management option. Next, we must connect the device that we want to verify and, within that list of units, it should appear as connected.

This list is where we can see if the drive is being recognized by the computer and whether or not there is a drive conflict or simply the drive does not have a letter assigned. In such a case, we will be able to solve the problem directly from that list of units, either by resolving the existing conflict between them or by adding the necessary drive letter to the orphaned unit for it to work correctly.

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