- A lot of users have reported that the hard drives went missing after they updated Windows 11.
- This could be due to a bug in the current OS, running an outdated driver, corrupt system files, or misconfigured power management settings.
- Also, find out why the secondary hard drive is missing in Window 11 and the process to defragment the drive.
Windows 11, the latest iteration from Microsoft, is touted as the most advanced of all. But, it is not immune to error. Several users who upgraded to Windows 11 have reported that the hard drive went missing after the update.
This could be due to a bunch of reasons, some pertaining to issues with the hardware while others with the software. The chances of it being latter are fairly higher and relatively easier to solve while the former would require either repairing or replacement.
To help you fix the problem, we have listed the various troubleshooting methods along with the underlying causes for a better understanding.
Why is the hard drive missing in Windows 11 after update?
The hard drive can go missing in Windows 11 due to several reasons, and we have listed the common ones:
- Corrupt system files
- Problematic Windows Update
- Issues with the hardware
- Outdated or corrupt driver
- Absence of partitions
- Malfunctioning USB port (external drives)
With a basic understanding of the issues, you are in a far better position to proceed to the troubleshooting.
What can I do if the hard drive is missing in Windows 11?
1. Uninstall recent Windows updates
- Press Windows + I to launch the Settings app.
- Select Windows Update from the tabs listed in the navigation pane on the left.
- Click on Update History.
- Next, click on Uninstall updates.
- Select the recently installed Windows update from the list and click on Uninstall.
- Click Yes on the confirmation box that appears.
If you are encountering the hard drive missing problem in Windows 11 after upgrading to a newer version, the simplest solution is to uninstall that particular update.
It’s likely an issue with the update and Microsoft should release a patch for it in the subsequent versions. Once a newer version is out, install it to keep your system up-to-date.
2. Reinstall the driver
- Press Windows + S to launch the Search menu.
- Enter Device Manager in the text field at the top and click on the relevant search result.
- Locate and double-click on the Disk drives entry to view the drives connected to the system.
- If the drive appears here, right-click on it and select Uninstall device from the context menu.
- Next, click on Uninstall in the confirmation box that appears.
- After uninstalling the problematic drive, restart the computer and Windows will automatically detect the hard drive and list it.
- Check if you are now able to access the drive via the Windows Explorer.
In many cases, it’s the corrupt hard drive driver that’s causing the issue. Here, you can simply uninstall the device, restart the computer, and Windows will automatically install a fresh set of drivers for it.
3. Update the driver
- Launch the Device Manager, as discussed earlier.
- Double-click on the Disk drives entry.
- Right-click on the problematic drive from the list and select Update driver from the context menu.
- Select Search automatically for drivers from the Update Drivers window, to let your system scan the computer and install the best available driver.
The Device Manager only looks for a newer version on the system and basically acts as an offline update mechanism. In case you haven’t downloaded the latest version of the driver, chances are that the drivers won’t be updated with this method.
In this case, you can look for a newer version of the driver in Windows Update or the manufacturer’s website. This should get you the latest hard drive drivers, though the process is a little time-consuming.
If the above method sounds a bit too intricate, you can use a reliable third-party tool. We recommend DriverFix, a dedicated tool that will scan the web for the latest driver updates and keep the installed ones up-to-date.
4. Run a quick SFC scan
- Press Windows + S to launch the Search menu.
- Type Windows Terminal in the text field at the top, right-click on the relevant search result, and select Run as administrator from the context menu.
- Click Yes on the UAC (User Account Control) prompt that appears.
- Click on the down arrow at the top and select Command Prompt from the list of options. Alternatively, you can press Ctrl + Shift + 2 to launch the Command Prompt tab.
- Type the following command and hit Enter the run the SFC scan:
- Wait for the scan to complete and then restart the computer.
The SFC or System File Checker scans your drive for corrupt system files and replaces them with a cached copy stored on the system, in case any are found. If it was the corrupt files behind the error, running the scan would fix the issue.
After running the scan, check if the hard drive appears in Windows 11.
5. Change Power Management settings (for external drives)
- Launch the Device Manager as discussed earlier.
- Click on the View menu at the top and select Show hidden devices from the list of options.
- Scroll down to the bottom and double-click on Universal Serial Bus controllers entry.
- Double-click on the USB Root Hub device mentioned here to launch its properties.
- Navigate to the Power Management tab, untick the checkbox for Allow the computer to turn off the device to save power, and click on OK to save the changes.
- Similarly, change the power management settings for all the USB ports listed here.
If it’s an external drive connected to the computer via the USB port, it could be the power management settings behind the issue. After making the changes discussed earlier, the hard drive should appear in Windows 11.
6. Check for connections and damage (external hard drive)
For external hard drives missing in Windows 11 after an update, check for loose connections. The best way is to unplug it from the port, blow air on it to remove any dust, and then replug it firmly.
If this doesn’t work, try connecting to a different USB port. There is a chance of the USB port being dead. Also, the USB ports could be disabled from the BIOS, which can be verified by connecting the hard drive to another computer.
In case it works on the other system, head to your computer manufacturer’s website to find how to enable USB ports from the BIOS.
Also, look for any signs of damage or bends on the hard drive which could be the reason behind its malfunctioning. If you find any, seek professional help to get the drive repaired or at least the data retrieved.
7. Initialize the drive
- Press Windows + S to launch the Search menu.
- Enter Disk Management in the text field at the top, and click on the Create and format hard disk partitions search result that appears to launch the utility.
- Check if the hard drive that’s missing in Windows 11 after update has a black bar at the top. If that’s the case, it’s space is unallocated which is the reason behind it not showing up. Here, all you have to do is to allocate the space or create a new volume on the drive.
- Right-click on the drive at the bottom of the window and select New simple volume from the context menu.
- Click Next on the New Simple Volume Wizard window.
- Next, choose the maximum size for the volume and click on Next. The maximum disk space is mentioned above it.
- Assign a drive letter from the drop-down menu and click Next.
- Now, choose a File system for the drive from the drop-down menu, enter a name for it in the text field next to Volume label, and click on Next.
- Finally verify the settings and click on Finish to create a news simple volume on the drive.
The color of the bar on top of the drive indicates a lot. If it’s blue, the space on the drive is allocated or there are volumes on it while if the bar is black, it indicates unallocated space. In both these cases, there’s a fair share of the drive not appearing in either Disk Management or Windows Explorer.
Creating a new volume on the disk should fix the hard drive missing in Windows 11 issue if that’s the underlying cause. If that doesn’t resolve the error, it’s likely that the drive has not been assigned a drive letter. Head to the next fix for that.
Also when choosing a file system, you can use NTFS if the drive is to be used on Windows devices, while for other OS’s, select the FAT32 system. For drives above 4 GB, NTFS is recommended while for those below it, use FAT32.
8. Assign a drive letter
- Launch the Disk Management utility, as discussed earlier.
- Right-click on the drive near the bottom and select Change drive letter and paths.
- Next, click on Add in the Change Drive Letter and Paths for New Volume box.
- Click on the dropdown menu and select the desired drive letter.
- Now, click on OK to save the changes.
If a letter hasn’t been assigned to the hard drive, it would be missing from Windows Explorer. Although it’s not directly related to updates, the problem may be encountered after installing a newer version of Windows.
After changing the drive letter, the missing hard drive error in Windows 11 after the update should be fixed.
Why does my secondary hard drive disappear in Windows 11?
The secondary hard drive on your computer could disappear for several reasons, depending upon whether it’s built-in or connected via USB. In case of the latter, you can check our guide to easily fix problems with USB devices in Windows 11. In case of the former, it could be the driver or misconfigured settings, amongst others behind the issue.
Nevertheless, the fixes listed above will solve the problem, be it the primary or secondary hard drive missing in Windows 11.
How can I defragment the hard drive in Windows 11?
After using your system for a while, you might notice a tad bit of reduction in its performance, which is due to fragmentation of drive. Basically, the files get spread across the drive which can be fixed by defragmented are brought close together in an organized manner.
When you defragment the drive, it will enhance the performance and reduce the time required for loading files and programs.
These are all the ways you can solve the hard drive missing issue in Windows 11. The fixes are pretty much the same for the previous OS as well.
Also, check our comparison of Windows 10 and Windows 11 to understand the differences between the two and how the latter performs.
Let’s know which fix worked for you in the comments section below or and the type of drive you had problems with.