> Hard Drive Not Showing up

Amazing – We Can Fix "Hard Drive Not Showing up" without Data Loss

Hard Drive Not Showing up

Hard drive containing massive important data is not showing up in My Computer or Windows Explorer? Have you ever encountered this problem?

It is believed that many users have encountered the situation mentioned above. Let's see a true example from answers.microsoft.com:

"My 2nd hard drive isn't showing up in my computer. The hard drive was a slave I took out of my old XP machine after it crashed. I had installed it into my new vista machine before and it was working, but then I had to reinstall the OS and ever since then it has not shown up. I have double checked to make sure it was set as a slave drive and it is. It shows up in the Bios, the device manager, and in Disk Management, just not in my computer. Nothing is showing up as unallocated in disk management and the drive says it's healthy. In the device manager it says the device is working properly. I've tried to just give it a drive letter in disk management, but when I right click on it the only option I have is help. I've also tried to update the drivers, and it says they are up to date. I've tried disabling and enabling the hard drive. I've even tried uninstalling it. When I restarted it did detect it and reinstalled the drivers, but I still can't get it to show up in my computer."

Why does hard drive (including external hard drive or, USB hard drive) not show up in My Computer or Windows Explorer? Do you know how to deal with this issue? Besides, can we recover data from hard drive when it is not showing up?

Want to know answers of these questions? Here we are!

Why Hard Drive Isn't Showing up and How to Fix

According to the questionnaire survey and the result of experiment, we find there are many factors that can cause the "hard drive not showing up" issue, including mistaken operation, computer virus invasion, and hard drive letter missing, and so on.

Let's discuss the details.

Case 1- Hard Drive Is Not Initialized

As we know, once hard drive shows as uninitialized, we are unable to see it in Windows Explorer, and cannot access its files. And many reasons (such as virus invasion, master boot record corruption, bad sectors, and so on) can lead to disk not initialized issue.

To solve this issue, you can right-click the uninitialized disk, and then choose Initialize Disk to initialize it to use it again.

initalize disk

During initializing process, you will be asked to initialize to MBR disk or GPT disk, as shown below. In this case, you can choose appropriate partition style according to actual needs. (Here, I guess, you might be interested in this post "How to Convert MBR to GPT without Data Loss in Windows 7" since it not only explains what are GPT disk and MBR disk but also shows how to convert MBR disk to GPT.)

initalize disk (MBR vs GPT)

If your disk is not initialized anymore due to sudden change, we don't suggest you to initialize the disk immediately. Conversely, you had better recover all your missing data from it, and then initialize it to make it usable again. Otherwise, the original data will be lost forever. Here, if you don't know how to perfectly recover lost data, you can try using MiniTool Power Data Recovery because of its excellent performance, simple operation and high security.

recommend Our previous post "Recover Data From HDD Shows As Unknown Without Damaging It" may help you better understand this issue.

Twitter what you find

Case 2 – Hard Drive Letter Is Missing

A drive letter is a single alphabetic character A through Z that has been assigned to a physical drive or drive partition in the computer. And if you want to see your hard drive in My Computer or Windows Explorer, you should assign it with a drive letter. Once the drive letter is missing, you will encounter the "hard drive not showing up" issue.

no drive letter

To solve this problem, you can assign a drive letter for it. Windows built –in disk management as well as partitioning software like MiniTool Partition Wizard can help to add a new drive letter on it.
Click here to learn several ways to get missing drive letters back in Windows.

Case 3 – Hard Drive Is Hidden

Now, some users want to turn to third-party software like MiniTool Partition Wizard to hide their hard drive to protect data. However, once accidentally hide a drive containing massive important data, what should we do since this drive isn't showing up in Windows Explorer?

hidden volume

If drive is hidden by mistake, what should we do since Disk Management only offers Delete Volume feature as well as Help feature, as shown above? Can we delete the hidden volume, and create a new one? Of course, we can! But, this method will cause data loss.

You had better recover data from the hidden drive before deleting it to create a new one.

Note: alternatively, you can try using MiniTool Partition Wizard to show hidden hard drive in Windows without losing data because this tool can help you hide/unhide drive conveniently and safely.

Case 4 – Hard Drive Becomes Unallocated

Let's start with a true example:

My external USB 3.0 HD was working perfectly well yesterday. However, today suddenly became an "unallocated" drive without even a drive name. I'm able to detect the drive but I have no way of accessing it.

The only solution that I've tried so far is to access the HD with another computer. But, the results are the same with those computers. I haven't done anything else...

Here's a screenshot of the problem:

Hard Drive Becomes Unallocated

In this case, what should we do? Can we effectively solve this problem without losing original data?

If your hard disk space turns into unallocated, you are allowed to create new volume on this disk and make it appear in Windows Explorer. However, this solution will cause data loss forever.

You are highly recommended to recover data from unallocated drive ahead of doing anything else. MiniTool Power Data Recovery is recommended here since this all-in-one tool has been awarded as the top 10 free data recovery software on TOPTENREVIEWS.

minitool power data recovery

TIPS: Free download this software and have a try!

I used this tool to successfully recover data from unallocated space.

Twitter what you find

Case 5 - External hard Drive Is Not Recognized

There's also another situation where the hard drive (especially external hard drive like USB hard drive) is not showing up in My Computer or Windows Explorer. And, you will receive a warning that saying device not recognized. For example,

A friend of mine brought me her USB flash drive that had ALL of her school work on it from the past 3 semesters...most importantly everything she has done so far this semester. When you plug it in it says "Not Recognized" and I don't really know what to try next. I have tried multiple computers and it is definitely an issue with the flash drive and not the USB ports on the computers. The drive itself doesn't matter, but we really need to find a way to pull her documents off the drive. Any and all help is greatly appreciated.

--from Tom's hardware

As a matter of fact, this issue can be caused by various reasons, including the currently loaded USB driver has become unstable or corrupt. For more information about the device not recognized error, please see Error: "USB Device not recognized" when you try to access a USB external hard drive.

Here, to fix the "external hard drive not recognized" error, you can try the below methods.

  • Method 1: Restart computer
  • Unplug your USB, restart your computer and plug in and see if it works now.
  • Method 2: Update device driver
  • Open Control Panel > Printers and devices. Check if you can see any entry for Unidentified USB device or Unknown Device. Open its Properties and update its driver, if an update is found to be available.

recommend Our previous post USB Flash Drive Not Recognized – Don't Worry Too Much is recommended here to help you get more details about this issue.

Case 6 – Hard Drive Has Wrong File System

Last but not least, if your hard drive is partitioned with the wrong file system, you cannot see it in My Computer or Windows Explorer. For example, you may have formatted the drive with the ext4 file system from Linux or the HFS Plus file system from a Mac. Windows can't read these file systems. But, you can see this drive in Disk Management as shown below:

hard drive has wrong file system

To solve this issue, you can delete this drive, and then create a new partition with the newer NTFS file system or older FAT32 file system so Windows will be able to recognize it.

You are strongly suggested to recover data from the drive with wrong file systems at first. Otherwise the original data could be lost forever.

Here, watch the following video to learn how to recover data from hard drive with wrong file system


Here, we want to share another case to you.
Sometimes, you will find you cannot access your NTFS drive from another device, such as a DVD player, smart TV, game console, or media center device. This is because that many devices, even Microsoft's own Xbox 360, can't read the Windows NTFS file system. And, they can only access drives formatted with the older FAT32 file system. To fix this problem, simply convert it to FAT32.

After seeing why hard drive isn't showing up in Windows and how to fix this issue, let's move onto the next part.

Recover Data from Hard Drive Not Showing up

From the above description, we can see several factors can cause the hard dive or external hard drive not showing up issue. Although you can fix the "hard drive not showing up" issue according to the solutions we mentioned above, we advise you to recover data at first. Otherwise, the original data saved on the drive which is not showing up will be lost permanently. However, how?

You are probably wondering:

"How do I effectively recover data from hard drive when it is not showing up?"

Right now, MiniTool Power Data Recovery (PCWORLD, a professional IT magazine, speaks very highly of this data recovery software) can help you effectively recover lost data because of its powerful functions.


5 different data recovery modules are listed in the main interface of this all-in-one data recovery software. Here, to recover data from hard drive not showing up, you can try using Lost Partition Recovery and Damaged Partition Recovery feature.

  • Lost Partition Recovery: is designed to recover data from lost/deleted partitions.
  • Damaged Partition Recovery: recovers data from logically damaged, formatted and RAW partitions. In general, lost files could be recovered by using this module as long as the partition exists.

Here, we take Damaged Partition Recovery for example. After selecting this module, you will see the following window.

drive not showing up

Now, select the target hard drive which is not showing up in Windows Explorer, and then click "Full Scan" button.
Note: in this window, you are able to click "Settings" to specify needed file systems as well as file types.


Finally, select all needed files, and save them. It is recommended to store needed files on another drive. Otherwise, the original data will be overwritten.
Note: if this module cannot help you to find data from drive not showing up, you can try using Lost Partition Recovery feature.

tips The free edition of MiniTool Power Data Recovery can only recover 1GB data. If you need to recover more data, please choose the paid edition.

Well, what if your internal hard drive with OS is not showing up? At this time, the computer won't boot and you'll receive the operating system not found/boot device not found error. In this case, you should use the WinPE Bootable Media, which is snap-in the paid editions of MiniTool Power Data Recovery, to get help.


Are you still worried about the "hard drive not showing up" issue? Now, after reading this post, I guess you might have a basic understanding of how to fix this issue.

Here, at the end of this post, I'd like to stress again that users should recover data from hard drive not showing up in My Computer before they deal with their hard drive. According to a survey, many users who successfully deal with this "hard drive is not showing up" issue will recover missing data ahead of doing anything else. And, MiniTool Power Data Recovery is a good choice for most common users to recover data from drive not showing up. In general, in addition to recovering data from damaged or missing hard drive, this tool can also recover files not showing in hard drive. Moreover, it recovers data not only from hard disk partition but also from memory stick, memory card, flash drive, and so on.

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