- External hard drives are an excellent way of expanding your PC's storage space.
- These external hard drives don't necessarily have to be the HDD type, as external SSDs exist as well.
- We have an expanded System Errors Hub where you can find even more detailed guides.
- For more info on external hard drive issues, take a look at our Peripherals Fix page.
Annoying Windows 10 issues carry on and now it seems that external hard drive owners are being affected. We report the problems and try to bring some solutions, as well.
We have just finished talking about the WiFi that is getting disconnected frequently in Windows 10, and now users have been reporting problems related to their external hard drives:
So, I installed Windows 8.1 x64 from the Windows Store yesterday and now my QB-35US3 Hard-drives keep randomly disconnecting and connecting again. I had no problems before the upgrade. The bay is connected via USB 3.0.
This is what one frustrated user is saying. Also, the problem seems to be similar with USB hubs – from what I’ve read, the errors are just the same as with external hard drives:
After upgrading from 8 to 8.1 i face the problem where my 4 USB external hard drives get disconnected and reconnected every few minutes. If a drive is idle then windows disconnects it and if i need it then windows takes time to reconnect/wake it up. this is causing me a lot of issues and i already used the power management settings and disabled this feature on 8.1 but still the issue exists. I cannot pause a video for few seconds without having windows disconnecting the drive. I have 16 TB worth of Data and i am worried this stupid feature is going to ruin my drives.
Another hurtful testimony from another affected users. A while ago we shared with you a tutorial on how to Fix Slow USB 3.0 Problems in Windows 10.
You can go there and follow the steps from there and also try this article from the Microsoft Windows USB Core Team Blog.
There are many problems that can occur with your external hard drive and in this article we’re going to address the following issues:
- External hard drive disconnects when transferring, copying
- Many users reported that external hard drive keeps disconnecting while transferring or copying files.
- This can be an annoying problem, but you should be able to fix it using one of our solutions.
- Seagate external hard drive disconnects
- This issue also affects Seagate external drives.
- We already wrote an article about Seagate hard drive issues, so be sure to check it out.
- External hard drive disconnecting randomly
- Many users reported that this problem occurs randomly.
- This can be a big problem since your hard drive can disconnect during the file transfer.
- Verbatim external hard drive disconnecting
- This issue affects Verbatim hard drives as well.
- If you have this problem with your Verbatim hard drive, be sure to try one of our solutions.
- External hard drive You don’t currently have permission, You need permission to perform this action, Access denied
- Sometimes you might get an error message regarding permissions while accessing your external hard drive.
- We covered Access is denied error message in one of our older articles, so be sure to check it out if you have this problem.
- External hard drive you need to format the disk
- Sometimes you might get this error message while trying to access your hard drive.
- In most cases, you’ll need to reformat your hard drive if you want to use it again.
- External hard drive is not accessible, not showing up, not working, not recognized, not accessible, not initialized
- There are various problems that can occur with your hard drive.
- Many users reported that their hard drive isn’t accessible, but you can fix this and other problems by using one of our solutions.
- External hard drive keeps loading, freezing
- Few users reported that their external hard drive just keeps loading or freezing.
- This is most likely caused by your computer configuration, but it can be easily fixed.
- External hard drive very slow
- This is another problem that can occur with your hard drive.
- If your hard drive is slow, be sure to connect it to a USB 3.0 port and update all your drivers.
What can I do if external hard drive keeps disconnecting?
- Connect your hard drive to a different USB port
- Turn off USB selective suspend
- Stop your PC from turning off Mass Storage Device
- Disable USB legacy support in BIOS
- Install USB 3.0 controller drivers
- Use KeepAliveHD
1. Connect your hard drive to a different USB port
Many users reported that external hard drive keeps disconnecting on their Windows 10 PC. However, you might be able to fix this issue simply by connecting your drive to a different USB port.
According to users, this issue occurs only when the drive is connected to a specific USB port. After you connect it to a different USB port, the issue should be resolved.
If you have both USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports, you might want to try connecting your hard drive to a USB 2.0 port and see if that helps.
Some devices have issues with USB 3.0, but you can avoid most USB 3.0 problems by connecting your device to a USB 2.0 port. Keep in mind that you’ll experience slower transfer speed while using USB 2.0, but your hard drive shouldn’t disconnect anymore.
2. Turn off USB selective suspend
- Press Windows Key + S and enter control panel.
- Select Control Panel from the list of results.
- When Control Panel opens, go to Power Options.
- Power Options window will now open.
- Locate your power plan and click on Change plan settings.
- Click on Change advanced power settings.
- Go to USB settings > USB selective suspend setting and set it to Disabled.
- Click on Apply and OK to save changes.
After doing that, your PC won’t turn off your USB devices to save power and problems with your external hard drive will be resolved. Many users reported that this solution worked for them, so we strongly suggest that you try it out.
If you can’t open Control Panel, take a look at this step-by-step guide to find a solution.
3. Stop your PC from turning off Mass Storage Device
- Make sure that your external hard drive is connected to your PC.
- Open Device Manager.
- Navigate to Universal Serial Bus Controller section and double click on USB Mass Storage Device.
- Keep in mind that your external hard drive might have a different name on your PC.
- Navigate to the Power Management tab and uncheck Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power checkbox.
- Now click the OK button to save changes.
If your hard drive keeps disconnecting, you can fix the problem simply by preventing the PC from turning off Mass Storage Device. Your PC will automatically turn off various devices in order to save power, and sometimes it can turn off your external hard drive.
To prevent this from happening, you need to change a few settings in Device Manager. After doing that your PC won’t turn off your external hard drive and the problem won’t appear anymore.
4. Disable USB legacy support in BIOS
- Open Device Manager, locate your external hard drive and double click it.
- Navigate to Policies tab and check Better performance.
- Check Enable write caching on this device option.
- Now click on OK to save changes.
- Lastly, locate Intel USB 3.0 extension driver in Device Manager and uninstall it.
If you have both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports on your PC, you might be able to fix this problem by disabling USB legacy support in BIOS. To see how to do that, we strongly advise you to check your motherboard manual for detailed instructions.
Several users claim that you need to perform few extra steps in order to fix this problem. To fix the issue, you need to make a couple of changes in Device Manager. After doing that, restart your PC and the problem should be completely resolved.
5. Install USB 3.0 controller drivers
If your external hard drive keeps disconnecting, the problem might be related to your drivers. However, you can fix this problem simply by installing new drivers for your USB 3.0 controller.
The best way to do that is to visit your motherboard manufacturer’s website and download the latest chipset drivers for your motherboard. Alternatively, you can update this driver manually.
We also strongly recommend TweakBit’s Driver Updater (approved by Microsoft and Norton) to automatically download all the outdated drivers on your PC. This tool will keep your system safe as you can manually download and install the wrong driver version.
Disclaimer: some features of this tool are not free.
Several users reported issues with Microsoft’s USB 3.0 controller driver, but after using a driver from a different manufacturer the problem was completely resolved.
6. Use KeepAliveHD
Several users reported that their external hard drive keeps disconnecting due to inactivity. This is normal behavior for external hard drives, but if you want to stop this from happening, you might want to try using this tool.
KeepAliveHD is a small and freeware application that will write a small file to your external hard drive and prevent it from going to sleep. The application allows you to set a timer, so it will write a small file to your hard drive periodically.
This is a simple solution, and if you don’t want to change your system’s configuration, be sure to try this tool.
FAQ: Learn more about external hard drives
- Is there a difference between an internal hard drive and an external hard drive?
As far as internal components go, both internal and external hard drives are identical. The only difference between them is how they connect to the motherboard.
- How big can external hard drives get?
As far as storage space goes, external hard drives can be as big as their internal versions, with storage spaces in the tens of terabytes. However, the best ones in terms of both storage space and price are the ones at around 5 TB.
- How do external hard drives connect to the PC?
Your typical external hard drives connect to your PC via a USB interface. Those with a larger storage capacity will now usually sport USB 3.0 ports for faster file transfers, while slimmer models choose USB-C connectivity.
That’s about it from us. Hope that one of our solutions helped you solve the problem. If you have any other questions, feel free to drop them in the comments section below and we’ll be sure to check them out.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2019 and has been since revamped and updated in April 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.