Can’t Open External Hard Drive? Here’s the Fix!

Windows users may encounter the following situation. You plug in your external hard drive to a PC, be it a Seagate one or a WD drive, and you can find it in the Disk Management. The problem is that you have no way to access to the disk. How to fix external hard drive showing up in Windows but not opening? This post lists four possible solutions that may shed a light on this issue.

Fixes to external hard drive detected but not opening

Since your drive appears in the Disk Management, you can see disk information such as the size and partitions, and open the drive without any efforts. However, there are four situations that you can’t access external hard drive. Let’s see what are the four scenarios and how to troubleshoot them one by one.

Fix Unallocated Space

If your external hard drive displays as unallocated space in the Disk Management, there are two things you can consider. First, you are strongly suggested to recover important data from the lost partitions. One powerful data recovery tool is all you need, for example, iBoysoft Data Recovery. Second, you can start to create a new partition by following these steps.

1. Right-click on the black bar which is the unallocated space, and select “New Simple Volume”.

Can’t Open External Hard Drive? Here’s the Fix!

2. Click “Next” from “New Simple Volume Wizard”.

3. Enter the volume size depending on your needs and click “Next”.

4. Choose a letter or path for the new volume. Then click “Next”.

5. Choose to format the partition or not. If you prefer to use the partition, you have to check “Format this volume with the following settings”.

6. Follow the onscreen instructions to complete the setting for the new volume.

7. You can choose “Perform a quick format” and click “Next” to finish.

Fix Drive is not accessible

If the drive is not accessible, users often receive error message like ‘External drive not formatted’ and the computer will ask you to format the drive before using it. When you check the file system, you will see unknown format or RAW file system. Under this circumstance, you should again recover your data within this drive and then consider formatting the drive. However, you can feel free to format it if there’s no important data in the external hard drive.

Fix no drive letter

Like what’s mentioned above, you should see the drive letter in Disk Management when you connect the drive with your PC. Unfortunately, if there’s no drive letter, follow the steps to assign one.

1. Right-click your external HDD and select “Change Drive Letter and Paths” from the menu.

2. Click on “Add” in the pop-up window and choose one letter for your drive. You can also click “Change” to give your drive a new drive letter. Then click OK.

Can’t Open External Hard Drive? Here’s the Fix!

The rest steps are the same as how to fix unallocated space in fix 1. Check above for detailed instructions.

Fix Drive is unknown or not initialized

As the name suggests, your drive isn’t initialized. Just initialize it with three quick steps.

1. Right-click on your external disk to select “Initialize Disk” from the context menu.

Can’t Open External Hard Drive? Here’s the Fix!

2. Select a partition style, either MBR or GPT.

3. Click “OK” and wait for the process to be done.

Besides the above four situations and fixes, there’s one more scenario, that is your drive is offline. You can just manually select Online from the context menu to help it get back to normal.

Bonus reading: Run Windows Troubleshooter

Windows troubleshooter is a useful quick-fix tool in Windows 10 developed by Microsoft Windows. You can use it to fix issues like network and printer connectivity, operating system update, and more. Just click Start > Settings > Update &Security > Troubleshoot. Then choose Run the troubleshooter to solve the issue after the scanning finishes.

Latest News