How To Fix Hard Drive Not Showing Up in Windows PC [Internal or External Hard Drive]

There can be multiple reasons for a hard drive not showing up in File Explorer, Disk Manager, or the system BIOS. Troubleshoot the issue and get your hard drive working again.

HDD SSD not showing Device Manager BIOS File Explorer

Has your computer’s hard drive suddenly gone missing and not detected by the system, or is your new internal or external hard drive not showing up in Windows Explorer, Device Manager, or your UEFI/BIOS settings? You don’t have to worry.

This is a common problem for Windows users due to several reasons. Whether you have meddled around with your system configurations or your hard drive, missing a hard drive can happen to anyone.

In this article, we give you all the solutions that will fix your missing or undetected hard drive and make it accessible again, regardless of whether it is an old hard drive, a new SSD, internal or external.

Causes of a Hard Drive Not Showing Up

Before we list the potential causes why your hard drive may not show up, there are several areas on a PC where the hard drive may be missing, and some areas where you may still see it. Depending upon where it is visible, we will apply the solutions accordingly.

  • The hard drive is not showing up in the UEFI/BIOS settings.
  • The hard drive is not showing up in Explorer.
  • The hard drive is not showing up in the Device Manager.
  • The hard drive is not showing up in Explorer, but is visible in Disk Manager.

Depending upon where the hard drive is showing up and where it is not, the reasons could be different. Here is a list of potential reasons why your hard drive may not be accessible:

  • Improper physical connection.
  • The port is disabled from UEFI/BIOS settings.
  • The boot order is incorrect.
  • A letter has not been assigned to the partition(s) on the drive or conflicts with another.
  • The disk has not been initialized.
  • Unsupported file system.
  • Outdated or corrupted disk driver.
  • Bad sectors on the hard drive.
  • The hard drive is damaged/faulty.

Now that we know what the potential causes are, let us see how to fix them.

How to Fix Internal or External Drives Not Showing Up

Depending on whether you are troubleshooting your internal or external HDD, there are different things that you can do to solve it. However, some solutions need to be performed on either type of disk.

Click on the respective link below and you’ll be taken to a guideline on how to perform that particular process.

Troubleshooting Internal Hard Drive Not Showing

  1. Improper physical connection
  2. Enable hard drive port from BIOS/UEFI settings
  3. Change boot order
  4. Run hardware troubleshooter
  5. Initialize the disk
  6. Format the hard drive
  7. Assign or change the drive letter
  8. Update disk driver
  9. Run the CHKDSK utility
  10. Scan PC for malware

Troubleshooting External Hard Drive Not Showing

  1. Change USB port
  2. Disable USB selective suspend
  3. Enable USB ports from BIOS/UEFI settings
  4. Run hardware troubleshooter
  5. Initialize the disk
  6. Format the hard drive
  7. Assign or change the drive letter
  8. Update disk driver
  9. Run the CHKDSK utility
  10. Scan PC for malware

Fix Hard Drive Not Showing in Windows

Check Hard Drive Physical Connection

Before we begin technical troubleshooting, we suggest that you check your connections on the hard drive. If it is an internal hard disk, open up your PC/laptop and re-seat the hard drive properly. Before you do that, make sure the device is powered off and the power cable is unplugged.

If it is an external hard drive, disconnect it from both ends and then plug it in again. If you are using a custom case for the hard drive, we also recommend that you open the external disk case and reseat the drive inside the case properly.

Now check if your PC can detect the hard drive.

Change USB Port

This method applies if you use an external hard drive and connect it to your PC using a USB port.

It may be possible that the USB port is damaged or faulty. So try plugging it into a different USB port and see if it shows up on your PC.

Enable Hard Drive from BIOS/UEFI Settings

It may be possible that the particular SATA or hard drive connection on your motherboard may be disabled from the system BIOS settings, not allowing your internal HDD to be visible. To enable it, follow these steps:

  1. Enter your system BIOS.

  2. In the BIOS settings, open the configuration settings and look for “Drives” or “Hard Drives.” Inside those settings, check to see if all hard drives are checked and enabled.

    Enable internal hard drive 1
    Enable internal hard disks from BIOS
  3. If any are disabled, enable them and then exit the BIOS while saving the changes.

Enable USB Port from BIOS/UEFI Settings

If your system does not show an external hard drive connected via the USB port even after changing the ports, then another possibility is that your USB ports are disabled. This can be enabled through BIOS/UEFI settings. Here is how:

  1. Enter your system BIOS.

  2. In the BIOS settings, open the configuration settings and look for “USB settings” or “USB configuration.” Here, ensure that the external USB ports are checked and enabled.

    Enable USB ports 1
    Enable USB ports from BIOS
  3. If it is disabled, enable it and then exit the BIOS while saving the changes.

Disable USB Selective Suspend

Windows has a feature called “USB Selective Suspend” that allows the OS to turn off specific USB ports when they are not used to conserve power. This feature occasionally turns off the USB port even when an external hard drive is connected.

Deactivate “USB Selective Suspend” to rule out this issue if your external hard drive is not showing up on your computer:

  1. Open the Power Options applet by typing in powercfg.cpl in the Run Command box.

    powercfg
    Open the Power Options applet
  2. Now click Change plan settings in front of the currently-selected power plan.

    Change power plan settings
    Change power plan settings
  3. Now click Change advanced power settings.

    Open advanced power settings
    Open advanced power settings
  4. From the pop-up Power Options window, expand the USB Settings, and then expand USB selective suspend settings.

    Expand USB selective suspend settings
    Expand USB selective suspend settings
  5. Now click on the drop-down menu in front of “On battery” and “Plugged in” (in the case of a laptop) and select Disabled from both menus.

    Once done, click Apply and Ok.

    Disable USB selective suspend
    Disable USB selective suspend

Now check if your PC shows your external drive as connected.

Change Boot Order

If you encounter an error saying “No boot device detected,” it means the device your PC is trying to boot from is unavailable. Aside from the device not being detected, it is also possible that it is not the top priority of the boot menu to boot from your hard drive.

The boot order decides which device takes priority in running the operating system. Therefore, ensuring that the boot drive is at the top will ensure that the system is not trying to boot another device, such as a CD ROM or from a network drive.

This can be changed by rearranging the boot order from the BIOS settings.

Note: If your system has UEFI settings, it automatically displays the correct boot order and does not allow manual changes.

  1. Enter your system BIOS

  2. Open the “Boot order” configurations. Each BIOS may have a different location for this setting, so you might have to look around for it.

  3. Now change the boot order to bring the hard drive to the top of the list or the “first boot device” using either the up arrow key or the + key.

    boot order
    Rearrange legacy boot order
  4. Now exit BIOS settings while saving the changes

Make sure the system HDD is at the top of the list, and then boot your computer again.

Run “Hardware and Devices” Troubleshooter

The Windows operating system features built-in troubleshooters that can automatically scan for issues relating to different software and hardware components.

One such troubleshooter is the “Hardware and Devices” troubleshooter. However, Microsoft recently disabled its GUI for users to access. You can still run it using the Command Prompt. Here is how:

  1. Open Command Prompt with elevated privileges.

  2. Now run the following cmdlet to launch the “Hardware and Devices” troubleshooter.

    msdt.exe -id DeviceDiagnostic
    Run hardware troubleshooter
    Run hardware troubleshooter
  3. The troubleshooter will now run. On the first screen, click Next.

    Proceed with the troubleshooter
    Proceed with the troubleshooter
  4. The troubleshooter will now begin scanning your system hardware for issues and recommend actions. Perform those actions by clicking Apply this fix, or any other suggested action.

    Apply recommended fixes from troubleshooter
    Apply recommended fixes from troubleshooter
  5. When the fixes are applied, Close the troubleshooter.

    Close hardware troubleshooter
    Close hardware troubleshooter

Once the fixes are successfully implemented, check to see if your hard drive is now showing.

Initialize the disk

If you have purchased a new HDD, whether internal or external, it may be possible that it has not yet been initialized. Initializing a disk means prepping it for use with Windows.

Of course, the disk can only be initialized if it can be seen inside the system BIOS settings, and is only missing from the Explorer.

Once the disk has been initialized, you need to format the drive and create partitions to be shown on your computer. This means any data on it will be lost, but that won’t be an issue if it is a new hard drive.

Follow these steps to initialize a hard drive:

  1. Attach the hard drive to the computer and then open the Disk Management console by typing in diskmgmt.msc in the Run Command box.

    diskmgmt
    Open Disk Management console
  2. In the bottom section of the console, you will see a disk stating “Not Initialized.” Right-click on it and then click Initialize Disk from the context menu.

    Initialize disk
    Initialize disk
  3. The Initialize Disk wizard will now open. Select the disk you want to initialize, and then select its partition style. When done, click Ok.

    Learn how to check partition style or convert MBR to GPT.

    Select partition style
    Select partition style

The disk will now be initialized. If the status is now showing “Online,” then you may now continue to format it using the guide given below.

Format Hard Drive

Whether you have just initialized a brand new HDD or are trying to connect an old hard drive to your PC, you can always try formatting it to make it show up in Windows Explorer.

Formatting a hard drive removes all data from it to make space for new data. Moreover, the format of the hard drive also defines the policies and the architecture it will use to store that data.

If you have important data on your hard drive, we suggest that you create its backup and then format it using these steps:

  1. Open the Disk Management console by typing in diskmgmt.msc in the Run Command box.

    diskmgmt
    Open the Disk Management console
  2. Right-click on the unallocated space on the disk and then click New Simple Volume from the context menu.

    new simple volume
    Create a new volume
  3. The New Simply Volume Wizard will now launch. Click Next on the first screen.

    On the next page, you will be asked to confirm the size of the partition. Leave it at its default value (unless you want to create more partitions) and click Next.

    next
    Enter the size of the volume
  4. Now select the “Assign the following drive letter” radio button, and then select a letter from the drop-down menu in front of it. Click Next when done.

    This letter will be assigned to the new volume.

    next 2
    Assign a letter
  5. On the next screen, select “Format this volume with the following settings” and select your desired formatting style. Click Next when done.

    Learn the difference between NTFS, FAT32, and exFAT.

    next 3
    Choose formatting style
  6. Now click Finish to begin the formatting of the drive.

Now that the disk has been initialized (if new), formatted, and a letter has also been assigned, check to see if you can now see it in Windows Explorer.

Assign or Change Drive Letter

The Windows OS is programmed to assign letters automatically when a new partition is created. Partition/volume can be a portion of the entire disk or the entire usable disk space on the drive.

However, it often works against that, and a previously worked volume suddenly disappears from Windows Explorer. This happens when a letter is unassociated with volume.

Furthermore, you may also have to manually assign a new drive letter to a new partition if Windows does not assign one to you.

Another instance where you may need to change the letter for a partition is when it conflicts with another. When 2 or more partitions have the same letter, only one shows up inside Windows Explorer, while the other goes missing. In this case, you can simply change the letter for the second partition.

Follow these steps to change or assign a new letter to a disk partition:

  1. Open the Disk Management console by typing in diskmgmt.msc in the Run Command box.

    diskmgmt
    Open Disk Management Console
  2. Right-click on the volume with no letter, or the volume for which you want to change the letter, and then click Change Drive Letter and Paths from the context menu.

    Note: You cannot assign letters to system partitions like “EFI system partition” and “Recovery Partitions.”

    Change driver letter
    Change driver letter
  3. The Change Drive Letter and Paths Wizard will now be launched. If you are assigning a new letter, click Add. If you are removing a letter conflict, click Change.

    Add or change drive letter
    Add or change the letter in Disk Management
  4. Now select “Assign the following drive letter” and then select an available letter from the drop-down menu in front of it. Click OK when done.

    AssignChange the drive letter
    Assign/Change the letter
  5. If you change the letter, you will be asked for confirmation. Click Yes.

    Confirm action 3
    Confirm action

The letter will now be assigned/changed. Now check to see if you can see the hard drive/partition in File Explorer.

Update Hard Drive Driver

As we mentioned in the causes above, one of the potential reasons your hard drive won’t show up in File Explorer is an outdated or corrupted disk driver. A driver is a piece of code, or file, that acts as a communication medium between the operating system and the hardware.

If your disk driver is at fault, it won’t communicate with the hard drive. You can either download the drivers from the drive manufacturer’s website or update your driver using Windows Update:

  1. Open the Device Manager by typing in devmgmt.msc in the Run Command box.

    devmgmt
    devmgmt.msc
  2. Click Disk drives to expand it, then right-click on the troubling item. From the context menu, click Update driver.

    Update disk driver
    Update driver
  3. From the Driver Update Wizard, click Search automatically for drivers.

    Search for drivers automatically
    Search for drivers automatically
  4. The wizard will now search the web for a new driver update and install it. When it does, Close the wizard.

    It is also possible that it states “The best drivers for your device are already installed.” In this case, you can attempt to install the driver manually.

If a newer driver is not available, then we suggest that you reinstall your current disk driver.

Once either of the above is accomplished, check to see if you can view the hard drive inside File Explorer.

Run the CHKDSK Utility

Bad sectors on your hard disk can make it undiscoverable to the OS. CHKDSK is a command-line utility that scans your hard drive that’ has ‘s corrupted files and bad sectors and attempts to repair them. If it fails to repair any discovered bad sectors, it informs the operating system not to use them.

Either way, it should make the hard drive detectable again, if the issue rose because of bad sectors in the first place.

Here is how to run the CHKDSK tool:

  1. Run the following cmdlet in an elevated Command Prompt:

    Note: Replace “C” in the following cmdlet with the letter for the partition on the same HDD that is not being detected.

    Chkdsk C: /f /r /x
    Run the CHKDSK utility
    Run the CHKDSK utility
  2. You will be asked to schedule the CHKDSK utility the next time the computer reboots. Enter Y for yes.

    Check the disk next time the computer restarts
    Check the disk next time the computer restarts
  3. Now restart your computer.

    Once it reboots, the Check Disk utility will run and scan your hard drive. This can take a while, in some cases, hours. Let the scan finish and reboot into Windows.

Scan Computer for Malware

Sometimes, an entire HDD or partition can be hidden because of a virus or malware on your PC. If that is the case, then all you need to do is eliminate the virus to get the hard drive to show again.

Use the built-in Windows Security Antivirus (formerly Windows Defender) to scan your computer for malware. Here is how to do it:

  1. Navigate to the following:

    Settings app >> Privacy and security >> Windows Security >> Virus and threat protection
  2. Here, click the Quick Scan button to perform a scan.

    Perform quick scan
    Perform a quick scan

    Alternatively, you can also click Scan options below it to select a deep scan of your OS.

You can also perform a scan using a third-party antivirus. Here is a list of the top antivirus software to use to perform the scan. If you are proceeding to purchase antivirus software, here are the 17 aspects you should always consider.

Once the virus is removed/quarantined, check to see if you can now see the missing hard disk/volume. Please note that the above screenshots are from Windows 11. You can also follow similar steps for Windows 10. For Windows 8.1, Windows 8 and Windows 7, you’ll need to install Windows Defender/Microsoft Security Essentials or any other third-party antivirus separately.

Final Thoughts

If the computer crashes, you can easily take the HDD and use it as an external disk on another computer.

If your hard drive is toasted and not functional, there is nothing that can be done except repair it by IT technicians or buy a new one. At this point, we would suggest that you always keep an eye on your hard drive’s health. Here is a complete guide on how to check the hard drive health on Windows 11/10, and the 3 best tools that you can use.

Also see:

Subhan Zafar is an established IT professional with interests in Windows and Server infrastructure testing and research, and is currently working with Itechtics as a research consultant. He has studied Electrical Engineering and is also certified by Huawei (HCNA & HCNP Routing and Switching).

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