Fix: Windows 10/11 External Hard Drive Keeps Disconnecting

A few elementary steps should correct this error

by Radu Tyrsina
Radu Tyrsina
Radu Tyrsina
CEO & Founder
Radu Tyrsina has been a Windows fan ever since he got his first PC, a Pentium III (a monster at that time). For most of the kids of... read more
Reviewed by Vlad Turiceanu
Vlad Turiceanu
Vlad Turiceanu
Editor-in-Chief
Passionate about technology, Windows, and everything that has a power button, he spent most of his time developing new skills and learning more about the tech world. Coming... read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • External hard drives are an excellent way to expand your PC's storage space without opening it up and replacing the internal hard drive.
  • These external hard drives don't necessarily have to be the HDD type, as external SSDs exist and are just as fast as their internal variants.
  • By taking a few simple steps, you should resolve the problems of these drives automatically disconnecting from your PC.
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Windows is a great OS, but annoying Windows 10 and 11 issues carry on, and external hard drive owners are 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, 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 we’ve read; the errors are the same as with external hard drives.

We will help you fix it in this guide.

Why does my external drive keep disconnecting?

Many problems can occur with your external hard drive, and in this article, we will address why your external drive keeps disconnecting. While there could be many triggers, users have experienced this error in the following variations:

  • External hard drive disconnects when transferring or copying – Many users reported that the external hard drive keeps disconnecting while moving or copying files. This can be an annoying problem, but you should be able to fix it using one of our solutions.
  • External hard drive disconnecting randomly – Many users reported this problem occurring 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. Try one of our solutions if you have this problem with your Verbatim hard drive.
  • External hard drive You don’t currently have permission; you need permission to perform this action; Access denied – You might get an error message regarding licenses while accessing your
  • The external hard drive, you need to format the disk – Sometimes, you might get this error message while accessing your hard drive. In most cases, you’ll need to reformat your hard drive if you want to use it again.
  • The external hard drive is not accessible, not showing up, not working, not recognized, not accessible, not initialized – Various problems can occur with your hard drive. For example, many users reported that their hard drive isn’t accessible, but you can fix this and other issues using one of our solutions.
  • External hard drive keeps loading or freezing – Few users reported that their external hard drive keeps loading or freezing. The computer configuration likely causes this, but it can be easily fixed.
  • External hard drives are very slow – This is another problem with your hard drive. If your hard drive is slow, connect it to a USB 3.0 port and update all your drivers.

How do I fix an external hard drive that keeps disconnecting?

1. Connect your hard drive to a different USB port

Many users reported that the 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 when the drive is connected to a specific USB port. Therefore, the problem should be resolved after you connect it to a different USB port.

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 USB 3.0, but you can avoid most USB 3.0 problems by connecting your device to a USB 2.0 port. Remember that you’ll experience a slower transfer speed while using USB 2.0, but your hard drive shouldn’t disconnect.

2. Turn off USB selective suspend

  1. Press Windows Key + S, type control panel and select Control Panel from the results list.
    open control panel
  2. When Control Panel opens, go to Power Options.
    power options control panel
  3. The power Options window will now open.
  4. Locate your power plan and click on Change plan settings.
    change active plan settings
  5. Click on Change advanced power settings.
  6. Navigate to USB settings / USB selective suspend setting and set it to Disabled, then click on Apply and OK to save changes.
    disable USB selective suspend settings in advanced power options

If your external hard drive keeps disconnecting, the problem might be the power-saving feature. For example, your PC might be configured to turn off USB devices after a while to save power.

After 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 suggest you try it out.

3. 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.

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  2. Launch the software.
  3. Wait for the detection of all your faulty drivers.
  4. DriverFix will now show you all the drivers that have issues, and you just need to select the ones you’d liked fixed.
  5. Wait for the app to download and install the newest drivers.
  6. Restart your PC for the changes to take effect.
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4. Stop your PC from turning off Mass Storage Device

  1. Connect your external hard drive to your PC.
  2. Press Windows Key + X and choose Device Manager from the list.
  3. Navigate to Universal Serial Bus Controller section and double-click on USB Mass Storage Device (Remember that your external hard drive might have a different name on your PC).
  4. Navigate to the Power Management tab and uncheck Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power checkbox, then finally, click the OK button to save changes.
    disable allow the computer to turn off this device to save power

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If your hard drive keeps disconnecting, you can fix the problem simply by preventing the PC from turning off Mass Storage Device. Instead, your PC will automatically turn off various devices to save power, and sometimes it can turn off your external hard drive.

To prevent this, you must change a few Device Manager settings. After that, your PC won’t turn off your external hard drive, and the problem won’t appear anymore.

5. Disable USB legacy support in BIOS

  1. Press Windows Key + X and choose Device Manager from the list.
  2. Navigate to Universal Serial Bus Controller section and double-click on your USB Mass Storage Device
  3. Navigate to the Policies tab and check Better performance and Enable write caching on this device options, then click OK to save changes.
    set the USB device Removal Policy to Better Performance
  4. Lastly, locate Intel USB 3.0 extension driver in Device Manager and uninstall it.

If you have 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 must perform a few extra steps to fix this problem. To fix the issue, you need to make several changes in Device Manager. After that, restart your PC, and the situation should be resolved entirely.

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. In addition, 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.

How can I fix an external hard drive that keeps disconnecting on Windows 11?

First, note that the same thing triggers this error in Windows 10 and 11. This means that the solutions that worked in windows 10, those listed in this guide, are still relevant on the new OS.

There should not be any confusion because you will have the same UI, except for very slight and rare changes.

So, go ahead and try these solutions on your Windows 11 PC.

How do I reconnect an external hard drive?

This is a very elementary process.

If it isn’t already connected, connect one end of the USB cable to the external hard drive. The opposite end of the USB cable should be inserted into a PC’s USB port. Your PC’s OS should detect the external hard disk after being connected.

That’s about it from us. So if your External hard drive keeps disconnecting, we hope you have been able to resolve this problem by now.

These solutions are not in any particular order, so you can pick and choose what works best for you.

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.

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