The behavior of Windows systems can sometimes be quite gawky and graceless. Among several persistent problems faced by Windows users is the issue of external drives not being recognized by the system. It is quite often than not that the attached hard drives, USB flash drives, and optical media do not appear in Windows Explorer or disappear after being recognized for a short while. This problem may surface due to several reasons, such as the drive is disabled or offline, your USB driver is corrupt, there is no drive letter assigned to the attached drive in Disk Management, or corrupt or invalid registry keys.
In order to troubleshoot the below mentioned issue, you need to follow the given resolutions one by one starting from the first. If the first method fails to fix the issue, you can continue to the next method.
1. Run the Automated Troubleshooter for Windows
You can use the Hardware and Device troubleshooter in Windows 8 to fix the problem. This is a built-in utility of Windows that lets you correct any issues with a recently installed device or other hardware. It typically checks if the device or hardware was installed on your computer.
To open the Hardware and Devices troubleshooter, swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap ‘Search’. In the displayed ‘Search’ box, type ‘hardware and devices’. Choose ‘Settings’, and then ‘Find and fix problems with devices’. Provide the admin password (if prompted) or confirm your choice. You can get the latest updates for the software by connecting to the Internet.
2. Ensure that the Drive has been assigned a Drive Letter in Disk Management
There are some cases wherein the attached external drive is recognized in Disk Management, but does not show up in File Explorer. This is primarily because there is no drive letter assigned to this drive by Windows.
- On the start screen, navigate to the lower right corner to display the charm bar. Now, click ‘Settings’.
- Click ‘Titles’ on the Settings bar. Choose ‘Yes’ for the ‘Show Administrative tools’ option.
- You will see a number of titles for various administrative tools on the start screen. Click ‘Computer Management’. Provide the administrator password or confirmation when prompted for.
- On the ‘Computer Management’ screen, you need to look for a drive that is not assigned a drive letter and is not labeled as System Reserved.
- Right-click this drive and click ‘Change drive letter and paths…’.
- Click ‘Add’, and then ‘OK’. This will select the first available drive letter.
- The ‘Change drive letter and paths…’ option is disabled when the drive is offline. Make sure that the drive is online when selecting this option.
- To get the drive online, right-click the disk number and click ‘Online’.
3. Make Sure that the Drive is Enabled
The external drive may be Disabled, and thus not seen in the File Explorer. To check whether the disk is disabled and enable it, follow the below mentioned procedure.
- On the Windows 8 Start screen, get the mouse to the bottom right corner of the screen. You will see a column with different options.
- From the displayed list of options in this column, click ‘Search’. A panel appears from the right showing a search box.
- Click ‘Settings’ from the options that appear at the bottom of this panel.
- Type ‘Device Manager’ in the ‘Search’ box. Search ‘Device Manager’ in the results at the left of the screen.
- Click ‘Device Manager’. This will open up the Device Manager on your desktop.
- Click ‘Disk Drives’, and then expand the list of drives.
- When a disk drive is disabled, you can view that there is a downward arrow over the icon of the disk drive.
- If you see an arrow like this over the icon of the disk drive, double-click the icon of the drive, and then select ‘Enable Device’ button.
- Click ‘Next’ when ‘Enabling a device’ dialog box appears. Click ‘Next’, and then click ‘Finish’.
- Close the Device Manager window.
In case you receive an error while enabling the disk drive, you might have a faulty disk drive.
4. Make Sure that the Drive is Online
In case the drive you attached to your system is Offline, it will not be shown in the File Explorer. In order to check the status of your disk, follow the given series of steps:
- Move your mouse to the lower right corner of the start screen to display the charm bar. Next, click ‘Settings’.
- Choose ‘Titles’ on the Settings bar. Set the ‘Show Administrative tools’ option to ‘Yes’.
- A number of titles will appear on your start screen showing various administrative tools. Click ‘Computer Management’. If you are prompted for the administrator password or confirmation, provide the password or confirmation.
- Search for a drive in ‘Computer Management’ for which there is no assigned drive letter and that is not labeled as ‘System Reserved’.
- Right-click this drive and choose the ‘Change drive letter and paths… option’. Select ‘Add’, and then click ‘OK’ to choose the first drive letter that is available.
- If this option is not there, you need to check if the drive is Online.
- If the drive is offline, right-click the disk and click ‘Online’.
The above-mentioned methods can help you remedy the problem you are facing with your external hard drive. If the problem still surfaces, you need to have a defective drive.