External USB drive not showing up on PC: 10 ways to fix this issue

Elsie Otachi By: Elsie Otachi
6 minute read

Home » External USB drive not showing up on PC: 10 ways to fix this issue

USB drive won't show up

Have you ever tried to plug in your external USB drive to your computer, then you run into an error message saying ‘external USB drive not showing up’?

This can be problematic especially when you urgently need the files saved in the drive, or your drive is the only tool you have to save your files in for use elsewhere.

The first instinct would be to unplug and plug back through another port. However, if this doesn’t resolve the issue, then either your external USB drive has a problem, and if not, there are various solutions you can use to resolve it.

There are several reasons why your USB drive may not be recognized by Windows 10.

Important checks to carry out before fixing the ‘external USB drive not working’ error

To set off the process of resolving the ‘external USB drive not working’ issue, here are several important checks to take before using any of the solutions described:

  • Check the type of error message you have received
  • Unplug any USB hub that is connected to your computer
  • Check for any pending updates from Windows Update
  • Check whether there is need to update your drivers
  • If the external USB drive has a power switch, power it on.
  • Try your external USB drive on a different computer. If it still isn’t working, then the drive has a problem
  • Sometimes Windows may ask you to format the external USB drive. Don’t do it yet because you may lose all your files. It is possible your drive was formatted on a different operating system, so you can either read it on a different OS, or choose a third-party program to help you read its contents. Otherwise, if you don’t need the files, then choose Format disk and proceed.
  • Visit the related official website to search for the latest available drivers for your model, then install it on your computer

External USB drive not working in Windows 10 [FIX]

Here are possible quick fix solutions to resolve the ‘External USB drive not working’ issue:

  1. Restart your computer
  2. Disconnect other USBs
  3. Scan your USB drive
  4. Uninstall and reconnect the external USB drive
  5. Reinstall USB controllers
  6. Disable USB selective suspend
  7. Update your drivers
  8. Uncheck ‘Allow computer to turn off device’
  9. Run Hardware and Device Troubleshooter, or Windows USB Troubleshooter

Solution 1: Restart your computer

Sometimes the easiest way to fix the ‘external USB drive not working’ issue is by restarting your computer. Do the following:

  • Unplug your external USB drive
  • Reboot your computer
  • Plug back your external USB drive

If this doesn’t work, shut down your computer, then start it again after a few minutes. Otherwise, use the next solution.

Solution 2: Disconnect other USBs

If you have two different external USB drives connected to your computer, these can bring conflict between each other. The best thing to do at this point would be to disconnect all other external USB drives, then connect the one you want.

Didn’t work? Don’t worry. Go to solution 3.

Solution 3: Scan your USB drive

  • Right click Start button
  • Select Run
  • Type devmgmt.msc
  • The Device Manager will open.

scan USB drive

  • Go to the Action tab

device manager action tab

  • Select Scan for hardware changes

If this still doesn’t resolve the issue with your external USB drive, then the next solution.

READ ALSO: Fix: USB 3.0 External Drive not Detected in Windows 10

Solution 4: Uninstall and reconnect the external USB drive

To uninstall and reconnect your external USB drive, take the following steps:

  • Right click Start button
  • Click on Device Manager
  • Select Disk Drives

device manager external USB drive

  • Right click on the problematic external USB drive
  • Click Uninstall
  • Unplug the external USB drive, then wait for about a minute and reconnect it again

Once you do the above, the drive should load automatically.  To be sure it has been recognized, go to Windows/File Explorer and check for it.

Solution 5: Reinstall USB controllers

Reinstalling USB controllers solves the issue when your external USB drive has either become unstable, or has been corrupted.

Take the following steps to resolve the issue:

  • Right click Start button
  • Select Device Manager
  • Find Universal Serial Bus controllers and click to expand it

Universal Serial Bus controllers external USB drive

  • Right click on the device
  • Click Uninstall
  • Rinse and repeat for all other problematic devices
  • Reboot your computer

Once you do the above, the drive should load automatically.

Solution 6: Disable USB selective suspend

Take the following steps to disable the USB selective suspend setting

  • Click on the battery icon from the taskbar
  • Click ‘Power and Sleep settings’ link

  • Click on Additional Power settings

  • Next to your current power plan, choose ‘Change plan settings

  • Click on Change Advanced Power Settings

  • A pop up will appear

  • Find USB settings, and expand it
  • Expand USB Selective Suspend

  • Click on the blue link ‘Enabled’ next to Plugged in option

  • Click on the drop down menu, and choose Disabled
  • Click Apply, then OK

Ensure you have a system restore point created first, and if these solutions do not yield any results, remember to restore your old settings back.

READ ALSO: USB 3.2 doubles the speed of USB Type C (3.1) cables

Solution 7: Update your drivers

To check whether you need to update your drivers, do the following:

  • Right click the Start button
  • Choose Control Panel
  • Under Hardware and Sounds, click View Devices and Printers
  • Your computer will start scanning for available devices
  • Check for any entry on Unidentified USB device or Unknown Device
  • Open the Properties of the unknown or unidentified external USB drive
  • Update the driver if there’s an update available

Still not working? Try solution 8.

Solution 8: Uncheck the ‘Allow computer to turn off device’ option

In order to do this, follow these steps:

  • Right click Start button
  • Select Device Manager
  • Click on Universal Serial Bus Controllers to expand the list
  • Select the USB Root Hub for your drive
  • Right click and select Properties
  • A popup box will appear, click on the Power Management tab

  • Uncheck the ‘Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power’ box
  • Click OK

There are two more solution in case this didn’t work, in which case go back and check the box.

Solution 9: Run Hardware and Device Troubleshooter, or Windows USB Troubleshooter

Ideally, latest versions of Windows have an in-built Hardware and Device Troubleshooter.

In order to run this tool, take these steps:

  • Right click the Start button
  • Choose Control Panel
  • Under Hardware and Sounds, click Configure a device
  • This opens the Hardware Troubleshooter
  • Choose whether to fix detected problems automatically, or fix the particular one you want
  • Click Next to run the Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter
  • A scan will start after which you will receive a report
  • Select the one you want fixed then click Next

The Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter will try and resolve the problems.

To use Windows USB Troubleshooter, do the following:

  • Right click and click Open
  • The installation set up will appear, click Next

  • The Windows USB Troubleshooter will start checking for any problems

  • A scan will start after which you will receive a report
  • You can either let it automatically fix for you, or choose the one you want fixed

Solution 10: Update your USB drive drivers

Perhaps your computer cannot identify or see the external USB drive, but it is visible on other computers. This is an indication that something is not right with your USB drive drivers.

If this is the case, do the following:

  • Right click Start button
  • Select Device Manager
  • Click on Universal Serial Bus Controllers to expand the list
  • See whether there are any devices with either a yellow exclamation mark, question mark, down-arrow mark, or an error notification or code.
  • If the driver has a yellow exclamation mark on it, double click on it then open Properties
  • Under Drivers tab, choose Update Driver

Windows will find the appropriate driver for your external USB drive.

Hope these solutions worked. But let us know your experience.

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