8 Ways to Fix an Unreadable External Hard Drive

8 Ways to Fix an Unreadable External Hard Drive

8 Ways to Fix an Unreadable External Hard Drive

 External hard drives are popular because of their large capacity and flexibility or they can be carried anywhere. However, have you ever experienced a situation where the external hard drive cannot be read in Windows when you connect it to a computer or laptop? Actually it is a common problem which is complained by many users.

Why does this unreadable external hard drive case appear? In general, there are many reasons that can cause this problem to occur, such as file system errors, out of date drivers, lost partitions, corrupted USB ports, etc. In this post, we will provide you with some practical methods on how to fix an unreadable external hard drive.

How to Fix an Unreadable External Hard Drive

1. Make sure the External Hard Drive Gets Enough Power

Make sure the external hard drive is getting enough power

While some external devices such as USB drives may be able to draw sufficient power from your computer's USB port, other drives, especially larger drives such as external hard drives, may require quite a bit more power to power on.

So when the external hard drive is not receiving proper power from the computer, it can cause the external hard drive to be unreadable on the computer. For that, make sure your computer has enough power supply.

2. Try Another USB Port Or Another PC

Try Another USB Port Or Another PC

If the external hard drive still doesn't work, unplug it and try another USB port. It's possible that the port in question failed. If plugged into a USB 3.0 port, try a USB 2.0 port. If it's plugged into a USB hub, try connecting directly to the PC instead. You can also try it on another computer.

Checking hardware connections is very important because if there is something wrong with the USB port or USB cable, the external hard drive may not be read.

3. Check the External Hard Drive in Disk Management

If you still have an external hard drive that is connected but not visible on my Windows computer, you can open Disk Management to check its status.

Case 1: External Hard Drive Becomes Unallocated Space

If the external hard drive is displayed as Unallocated, it definitely won't show up in File Explorer. To make it visible, you need to create a new volume with unallocated space.

Unallocated Space

1. Right-click unallocated space. Select New Simple Volume and click Next.

2. Determine the size of the volume. Fill in the Drive Letter and Path sections. Click Next to continue.

3. Complete Format Partition. Click Finish to confirm in the New Simple Volume Wizard.

Case 2: External Hard Drive Has No Drive Letter

External hard drives also won't show up without a drive letter. So, assign a drive letter, if it's not in Disk Management.

Drive Letters

1. Right-click the external hard drive and select Change Drive Letter and Paths from the menu.

2. In the pop-up window, click Add.

3. Assign a drive letter and click OK to confirm the changes.

Case 3: External Hard Drive Not Initialized

You can complete the initialization this way:

1. Right click the external hard drive, which will be displayed as Unknown, Not initialized disk.

2. Click Initialize Disk from the context menu.

3. Then, select MBR or GPT for the partition type. Click OK to confirm.

Alternatively, you can use MiniTool Partition Wizard to easily initialize the disk to an MBR or GPT disk.

4. Check And Update Device Drivers

Sometimes, Windows encounters driver issues that prevent the device from being recognized. You can check device drivers in Device Manager to see if they need updating.

Check And Update Drivers

1. Open Device Manager according to your Windows system.

2. Find and expand Disk drives.

3. Right-click the target drive and select Update driver or Uninstall device. Follow the associated instructions to complete the process.

5. Wipe Disk And Start Over

To regain your drive's full capacity, you'll need to run the Windows "clean" command, which will revert the drive to a completely unformatted state. This will wipe everything on it, so make sure there is no valuable data on your external hard drive.


1. Open the Start menu then type "diskpart", and press Enter.

2. When the Command Prompt appears, type “list disk” and press Enter to see the disk plugged into your system.

3. If you see the drive in question appear, pay close attention to its size, note the name (eg, “Disk 2”) and run the “select disk 2” command, using the disk you wish to clean.

4. Finally, type “clean” and press Enter. This will wipe the disc.

6. Update Windows System to the Latest

You can also try installing the latest Windows to fix an unreadable external hard drive, such as updating device drivers.

Update Windows System

1. Type Windows Update in the Windows search box and press Enter.

2. Click Check for updates and wait a few moments.

3. Follow the next process as requested.

7. Reinstall USB Controllers

Try reinstalling the USB controllers in Device Manager with the following steps.

Reinstall USB Controllers

1. Enter Device Manager.

2. Find and expand Universal Serial Bus controllers.

3. Right-click the device and select Uninstall device. Click Uninstall in the pop-up window.

4. Repeat this method to remove all devices under Universal Serial Bus controllers.

5. Reboot the computer. Windows will automatically install the USB controller.

8. Wipe And Test Bare Drive

If none of the options above work, you should remove the drive from its external enclosure and test the drive itself. The component that turns that SATA drive into USB can fail, which means the drive can be fine if you connect it another way. If you have a desktop PC available, you can open it and plug the drive directly into your motherboard.

Otherwise, you can buy a new external SATA-to-USB adapter dock or enclosure, plug your blank drive into it, then connect it to your PC via USB. If it works, then your old enclosure (or power supply) is probably dead. If your external hard drive is still unreadable, you may have a dead drive. Check with the manufacturer to see if you are still under warranty.


So, those are some ways to fix an unreadable external hard drive. Since the external hard drive is unreadable every now and then, you need to know how to deal with it. Admin hopes that one of the methods above can solve your problem. But if your external hard drive still remains unreadable, it might be time to buy a new one.

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That's all for the article 9 Ways to Fix an Unreadable External Hard Drive. Look forward to other interesting articles and don't forget to share this article with your friends. Thank you…

Resa Risyan

Just an ordinary person who wants to share a little knowledge, hopefully the knowledge I provide can be useful for all of us. Keep in mind! Useful knowledge is an investment in the afterlife.

Also, read the article about 8 Ways to Fix a Laptop That Can't Be Charged. And see you in another article. Bye
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