How To Solve Unreadable External Hard Drive On Windows PC

By nagib

PUBLISHED 11:09 pm GMT+0700 Fri September 2021

If you have a habit of storing work files as well as personal photos and videos on an  external  HDD, then you must know how to fix  an unreadable external hard drive .

Because there are many cases where the HDD suddenly cannot be opened on the PC.

In a state of panic, generally steps to be taken is to reformat the  hard drive.

But as we all know, reformatting hard drive will delete all the files within.

Even though not all cases of  hard disks being unreadable by PCs must be reformatted.

Therefore, the following will explain how to fix an unreadable external hard drive on a PC or laptop with Windows 10, 8 or 7.

Types of Problems External Hard Drive Unread

Before discussing how to repair an external hard drive, firstly you need to know the types of problems that often occur.

Generally there are three:

  • External hard drive not showing in Explorer
  • External hard drive not showing in Disk Management
  • External hard drive can’t be opened but appears in Explorer

This problem can occur in all brands of hard drives:

  • WD
  • Hitachi
  • Seagate
  • Adata
  • And others

Well, here is an explanation of each case.

1. External Hard Drive Not Showing in Explorer

The case of  an external hard drive that does not appear in the  Explorer software  is quite easy to overcome. As long as the hard drive is still readable and appears in the Disk Management software.

Because through this Disk Management you can manage which hard drives are displayed in Explorer and which are not.

In addition, in Disk Management you will also see the status of the hard drive that is connected to the device.

Generally, if the  external hard drive is not detected in Windows 10, 8 or 7, then the status that appears in Disk Management is between  not initialized, offline or unallocated.

2. External Hard Drive Not Showing in Disk Management

The second type of problem is a bit more difficult.

Because if the external hard drive that you connect to the PC does not appear in Disk Management, then it could be because the PC has not recognized the hard drive device .

To fix this, you need to enter the computer’s BIOS and then  reboot the  PC as usual.

But if it still doesn’t work, there is a possibility that the main problem is in the hard drive itself.

3. External Hard Drive Reads But Can’t Be Opened

Just like the first point, this type of problem is easy to solve too.

Because if the  hard drive is read and appears in Explorer but can’t be opened, you can simply recover the data in it.

 This data recovery can be done with various applications. One of the easiest to use is with EaseUS Data Recovery.

That way, all data and documents on the  hard drive can be read and transferred to the internal hard drive first  .

Then you just need to format the  external hard drive and move the data back as usual.

All these problems with external hard drives can also be caused by many factors. As :

  • Data drive is too full
  • Problem with the USB port on your PC or laptop
  • Hard disk partition problem
  • The hard drive has been slammed until it is damaged or  corrupted
  • Problem with the File System on the  hard disk
  • Hard drive ever opened

How to Fix Unreadable External Hard Drive in Windows 7/8/10

After knowing what types of problems can be experienced, now we enter the main discussion, namely the solution.

Please select the methods below according to the problem you are experiencing.

1. Move the Hard Drive to Another USB Port

Most computers today have more than 4 USB ports with 2 ports on the front and the rest on the back.

As for laptops, generally only have 3-4 USB ports on the side.

Move USB Hard Drive Port

If the  external hard drive that you connect is not reading or showing in Explorer (This PC / My Computer) and Disk Management, the simplest way to fix this is to try connecting to a different  port .

If  the USB port  on the device you are using is limited, try using an additional USB Hub. And if  the USB port can be used for a  mouse or  keyboard, then try changing the USB hard drive cable  .

This method is only used to identify whether the problem is in the  hard drive, the computer’s USB port  or its USB cable.

2. Check & Repair Drive in Disk Management

For Windows 10, follow the steps below to open Disk Management.

  1. Press the Windows icon + X on the  keyboard at the same time
  2. Then select Disk Management in the new page that appears
Disk Management in Windows 10

For Windows 7 or 8, the way to open Disk Management is a bit different.

  1. The first step, open the Control Panel via the Windows menu
Open Control Panel
  1. Then select System and Security
  2. Proceed to Administrative Tools
  1. Select Computer Management software
  2. Look for the words Disk Management as shown below
Disk Management Example

If the  hard drive already appears in Disk Management, the next are 2 methods you can do to fix it.

Have you ever felt your computer is slow? There might be a problem with RAM usage. Check how to solve High RAM Usage in Windows 10.

The first way is to create a new volume:

  1. Right-click on the  external hard drive that doesn’t show up in Explorer or isn’t filled up
  2. Then select New Simple Volume
Simple Volume Wizard
  1. Click Next and then specify the size of the  hard disk
  2. Click Next again, and then select the Drive Letter or letter of the disk that
Disk Letter Settings
  1. Click Next once again, then select the partition for the  hard drive to be used
  2. If so, click Finish and wait for the process to finish

The next method is done if the  hard disk you are connecting to appears with the words unknown or not initialized disk.

The second way is to initialize the disk:

  1. Right click on the  hard disk  that says  unknown
  2. Then select Initialized Disk
  3. Select the partition type to be GPT
  4. Now click OK
  5. Wait until the process is complete

3. Run Troubleshooter

This way, you don’t need to enter Disk Management like the previous method.

Just open the  troubleshooter like the steps below.

  1. Open the Devices and Printers page via Windows
  2. Then right-click on the  hard disk that appears but can’t be opened
  3. Next, select the troubleshoot option  as shown below
Run the Windows Troubleshooter
  1. Wait for the troubleshooting process to  finish and follow the instructions as written on the screen

Keep in mind, this method can only be done if the  hard drive is read by the PC but cannot be opened.

4. Fix Via Device Manager

For Windows 10 and 8 users, you can enter Device Manager by pressing Windows + X and then selecting Device Manager.

As for Windows 7 users, follow the steps below to open Device Manager.

  1. Go to Control Panel then select System and Security
  2. Continue to the Device Manager page in the System . section
Device Manager on Windows

After entering the Device Manager, repair the  hard drive  as follows.

  1. Right-click on the  hard drive that is unreadable or cannot be opened in the Disk Drivers section
  2. Then choose between Update Driver or Uninstall Driver
Select Update Driver or Uninstall Driver

The function of the Update Driver is to repair if previously connected with a damaged USB cable.

If you have replaced the USB hard drive cable  and it is still unreadable, select the Update Driver option.

While Uninstall Driver is used to remove hard drive drivers that are already installed on the PC.

Once the  drivers are  removed, unplug the  hard drive and wait 5 minutes before reconnecting.

5. Reinstall USB Controllers

The next way to fix  an unreadable external hard drive is to reinstall USB Controllers. The guide steps are as follows.

  1. Enter Device Manager like the previous method
  2. Then look for the USB Controller from the  hard drive you are using in the Universal Serial Bus section
  3. Right click then click Uninstall

After that, unplug the USB cable, reboot the PC and plug the external hard drive back into the PC.

6. Enable Legacy USB Support

In this way you have to enter the BIOS page. For more details, read the guide below.

  1. First of all, first turn off the laptop or PC
  2. Then turn it on while pressing the keyboard to enter the BIOS (usually F12, Fn + F12, F8, Del, F1, F2, etc.)
  3. After entering the BIOS page, proceed to the Advance tab
  4. Then select USB Configuration
  5. Navigate to Legacy USB Support and select the Enable . option
  6. Save and  reboot laptop

7. Update Windows to the Latest Version

Using Windows 10 and updating the system to the latest version can be one way to solve the problem of the  hard drive  not being read on a PC.

Update Windows to Latest Version

Although sometimes the process takes a very long time, but this method is worth trying.

After the update is complete  , turn off the auto updater feature again  so it doesn’t interfere when it’s in use.

8. Disable USB Selective Suspend

You can disable USB Selective Suspend via the Power Options or Power Plan page.

This page is also located in the Control Panel for both Windows 7, 8 and 10.

  1. Open Control Panel
  2. Go to the Power Plan menu
  3. In the Power Plan menu, you click on Advance Power Settings
  4. Find and disable the USB Selective Suspend option in the USB Settings section.
Disable USB Selective Suspend

9. Install Chipset Driver for Motherboard

Install Chipset Driver for Motherboard

The next one is a bit tricky.

Because you have to find out the product and series of Motherboards used.

To make it easier, please take your PC to the nearest repair shop. Generally, the cost required does not reach 150 thousand and the process can be waited for.

10. Perform Low Level Format (Note: Lost Data)

Doing a Low Level Format can also be a way to fix  an unreadable external hard drive  on the computer.

To make it easier, you can do  low level formatting using the  HDDGuru software  .

Low Level External Hard Drive Format

The trick is to simply install HDDGuru, then proceed with the following steps.

  1. Open HDDGuru
  2. Select the  external hard drive you want to format
  3. Then click Continue to start the formatting process

11. Replace Hard Drive Case

The last way is to replace the  hard drive case . For the  case itself, you can look for it at an online store or the nearest computer store.

Also replace the USB cable used to connect the  external hard drive to the computer.

How to Fix an External Hard Drive Read But Not Showing

The previous step is to repair an external hard drive that is not read at all. This one has a different case, namely that it is externally read but does not appear.

Usually on a hard drive that suddenly changes to RAW

Here is a method that you can follow.

1. Perform Data Backup

First of all do a  data backup first.

Data backup can be done using additional applications. One of the recommendations is Stellar Data Recovery or EaseUS Data Recovery .

Perform Data Backup

After the data is  backed up , first move it to  a temporary internal hard drive .

2. Reformat the Hard Drive in Disk Management

To reformat the  hard drive , you just need to go to Disk Management as described earlier.

Then right-click on the  external hard drive  you want to format and select Format.

Format External HDD


That’s how to fix  an unreadable external hard drive  on a PC with Windows 10, 7 and 8.

Hopefully this article can help you restore lost data because the  hard drive cannot be opened.

Frequently asked:

Why can an external hard drive be unreadable?

It could be because your hard drive is damaged, or mostly because of a system error / corrupt

Can we repair this external hard drive ourselves?

Of course, I can. Because on average the hard drive can be detected again by repairing it yourself

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