External disk not showing up on Mac: how to fix it

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We know that an external disk is a useful device. It can store important files as extra computer storage and allows you to take data from one place to another. But what do you do when your external disk doesn’t show up on your Mac?

This makes it impossible to access the stored data, because there may be a problem with the device, the connector, formatting or other possibilities. But don’t worry, we will help you fix it and access your data again.

Follow along now to understand why this problem occurs and how you can solve it.

Why is your external disk not showing up on your Mac?

When you connect the external drive to a MacBook and the Apple device doesn’t recognize the storage drive, you can’t access the data. You can’t even view it in your computer’s Finder.

So if you want to recover your data, it is important to know the source of the problem. Why isn’t the external disk showing up on the Mac?

Let’s take a look at the main reasons:

External disk corruption

Your external disk may be corrupted. This happens when the device is infected by a virus, when it is improperly removed from the computer, when it suffers a physical problem, when it overheats, among other situations. In these cases, the disk can be completely corrupted or have only one sector affected.

Physical damage to the external disk

External disks are vulnerable to physical damage. As they are portable, they can suffer sudden impacts more easily, as well as being subject to overheating and contact with liquids.

This can also be a reason for damaging the disk and making it impossible to access the data. Internal parts can suffer damage, such as the needle hitting the disk or the electronic board burning out.

Defective USB connector

The problem could also be with the connector. If you are using an old or defective USB cable, it is possible that the external disk will not appear on your Mac. In this case, the problem is easier to solve, as you only need to change the connector, instead of recovering the data from the disk or buying a new disk.

Problem with Mac USB ports

This is another case where the problem is not with the disk: the fault may lie with the Mac’s USB input ports. In this case, the USB port could be damaged or have a formatting problem.

Hidden external unit

It could also be that the external disk doesn’t appear on the Mac because the drive is hidden. This can happen because of a system configuration or because of a virus infection. In this case, you need to modify the system settings to access the hidden folders again.

Improper formatting on the external disk

The external disk may also have formatting errors. As a result, the computer may not recognize the system used to format the disk and may have difficulty reading the data.

Recent macOS Big Sur or Catalina update problem

The updates made available by Apple can also cause the computer to no longer recognize the external drive or even lead to data loss. The macOS Big Sur and Catalina software updates bring security improvements, but can also cause compatibility problems, as reported by Mac Magazine.

How do I get my Mac to recognize my disk?

Now we are going to investigate some solutions to the problem of the external disk being recognized by the Mac. Often, these are simple problems, which you can solve by replacing the cable or making some configuration in the system. Here’s what you can do before trying a more complex solution:

  • Plug the disk into another port on your computer. The problem may be damage to the USB port or improper configuration.
  • Replace the USB cable. The problem could be a damaged or old cable with an incompatible data transmission speed.

But there are cases of more serious problems that need to be assessed and resolved by specialized professionals. In these situations, you can rely on a company like Bot, which has the right equipment and experienced data recovery professionals. Read on to find out what to do:

1. Look for the external disk in System Information

If the external disk doesn’t appear on your Mac’s Desktop or Finder, try to find the device in the System Information section. To do this:

  1. Go to Applications > Utilities > System Information;
  2. Expand the Hardware options and check that the system recognizes the external drive;
  3. Click on USB and look at the information about the drive.

This way, you can see if the system recognizes the external disk and if there is detailed information. If there is, it is likely that the problem is simply the preferences for displaying information on the external disk.

2. Change the display preference settings

To view the external disk, go to Finder and follow the steps:

  1. Go to Preferences > General;
  2. Find the option “Show these items on the desktop”;
  3. Select the “External disk” or “External disk” option.

Another option is to use a shortcut to display hidden system folders. To do this, also go to the Finder and use the keyboard shortcut: Command (⌘) + Shift + . (period). This way you can view hidden folders and files. If you want to hide them again, just use the same shortcut.

If these solutions don’t work, you have to adopt other options, as we will see now.

3. Repair a storage device in Disk Utility on Mac

Mac computers offer a tool for checking and fixing errors on storage devices, including the external disk, as we want to do. This is Disk Utility, which can help in this case. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. In Mac Disk Utility, choose View > Show All Devices;
  2. In the sidebar, choose the volume external disk drive and click the Repair button;
  3. Once you are in Repairer, click Run and follow the instructions;
  4. When the Repairer process is complete, click OK.

After that, check that the Finder can recognize the disk.

4. Reset USB ports on Mac

Another possible solution is to reconfigure your Mac’s USB ports. To do this:

  1. Press Command (⌘) + Option + P + R to restart your Mac computer;
  2. Then press Command + Option + Esc to close any applications that aren’t responding properly;
  3. Connect the USB that isn’t showing up on your Mac computer. If it still doesn’t appear, simply click on the Apple icon and choose Rest;
  4. After a few seconds, press any key to wake up your computer;
  5. Finally, turn off your Mac, disconnect the cable and reconnect it after about 15 seconds.

Once again, see if your computer recognizes the external drive. It may be that this and the other solutions we have outlined in this text will help solve the problem. But if they don’t, or if you want professional help so you don’t run any risks, turn to a company that specializes in data recovery.

Bot offers solutions for when your external disk doesn’t show up on your Mac, so that you can safely regain access to the disk and your data. Our team is experienced in countless cases of data loss and works with the ideal equipment and software for these cases.

Contact us to start recovering your external disk. We are available at any time at Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp.


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