How do I recover an external disk that is not recognized and what are the causes?

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Using an external disk can make your life a lot easier. It can serve as extra storage when there’s no room on your computer, or as a backup for your files. However, this device can have some problems and not be recognized by the computer.

So, how do you recover an external disk that isn’t recognized? There are some common causes for this, which will help you identify the best solution to the problem. This way, you’ll be able to access the files stored on the disk again.

Below, we’ll take a closer look at why this can happen and how to recover an external drive that isn’t recognized. Stay with us to find out!

recuperar HD externo

Why does an external disk become unrecognized?

An external drive may not be recognized for different reasons. Sometimes the problem is related to errors or damage to the hard disk. In other cases, the problem may lie with accessories or software that allow access to the disk’s data.

We’ll look at the main reasons below:

USB port or cable not working

The disk not being recognized by the computer may not be a problem with the disk. Often, the fault lies with the USB port or even the cable you use to connect it to your PC.

These accessories can wear out over time or suffer physical damage that affects their operation. In the case of the USB cable, it may not have the technical specifications needed to connect the external disk.

In addition, the operation of the USB port may be affected by a computer’s power settings. The PC may be configured to save energy and disable connected devices. In this way, the input port is switched off.

The hard disk driver is out of date

The problem could also lie with the computer driver responsible for operating and reading the disk. A driver ensures that the device – in this case, the external disk – interacts with the computer it is connected to and executes the user’s requests.

However, PC drivers need to be kept up to date in order to work properly. When this doesn’t happen, malfunctions can appear, such as difficulty recognizing the external drive. This is more common in older computers or those that don’t usually connect to the internet, as the update is usually automatic when the PC is connected.

Virus attack

Virus attacks are also common causes of the computer not recognizing the external drive. If the disk has been infected by malware, Windows may not be able to read the stored files because they are corrupted.

In some cases, the computer doesn’t access the external disk for system security, so as not to infect other files on the computer.

Hard disk failure

External disks can also malfunction, caused by physical damage, a burnt-out logic board or software problems, for example.

External disks can be hit more often, as they are portable. Therefore, care must be taken when handling and storing this device so that it is protected.

How do I know if an external disk is burned?

In some cases, the external drive isn’t recognized by Windows because it’s burnt out. In fact, what usually burns is the electronic board, which controls the operation of the disk.

This can happen mainly due to incidents such as contact with fire or water, instabilities in the electrical network, overheating or poor shutdown of the device.

When the external disk is burnt out, the computer may not be able to access the files on the disk. You may also hear strange noises or even smell burning. In these cases, it is important to stop using the device and seek help from professionals who can safely open the device and investigate its situation.

How do I recover an external disk that is not recognized?

There are a few steps you can take to try to recover an external drive that is not recognized. Here’s a step-by-step guide to solve the problem safely for your device and the data stored on it.

Check the function of the input and the USB cable

First, test the external disk on another device. If it works normally, it’s likely that the problem lies with your computer’s USB input port. In some cases, excessive dust or oxidation of the input port can cause it to malfunction.

Also, use another USB cable to connect to your PC. Once again, if it works normally, the problem isn’t with the disk, but with the accessory you’re using. Perhaps the cable is too old or has suffered some physical damage.

Also check that the power setting is turning the device off. To do this:

  1. In the Windows search bar, look for Device Manager;
  2. Locate and expand “USB Controllers” (to check the USB inputs);
  3. Right-click on USB Root Hub > Properties > Power Manager;
  4. Uncheck “The computer may turn off the device to save power”.

Repeat this process to activate all the USB ports on the list. Then restart your computer to see if the external drive is recognized.

Check the device driver update

Also check whether the problem lies with the device driver. It could be that it is not up to date and therefore does not recognize the external drive. To check that the drivers are up to date, follow these steps:

  1. In the Windows search bar, look for Device Manager;
  2. Locate “USB Drivers” (to check the USB inputs) and “Disk Drives” (to check the external disk drive);
  3. Right-click on the desired device and then on “Update driver”;
  4. Select the option “Automatically search for updated driver software”.

Windows then checks for pending driver updates that could fix the external disk problem.

Run the Windows error check

The Windows Error Checker tool can also help identify and repair errors on the external disk that are preventing it from being recognized. To run this tool, do the following:

  1. Open Windows File Explorer and identify the external disk;
  2. Right-click and open Properties;
  3. Click on the Tools > Error Checking tab;
  4. Click Scan > Scan and repair the drive.

Run CHkDsk from the Command Prompt

If Error Check can’t identify and repair the errors, you can still use the Windows Command Prompt. This tool performs a more technical and in-depth check of the hard disk for errors. Then follow the steps:

  1. Open the Windows Command Prompt (type “cmd” in the Windows search bar or press “Win + R” and type “cmd”);
  2. On the black screen, type “chkdsk /r /f DiskDriveLetter:” and hit Enter. Use without the quotes and replace with the drive letter (for example: chkdsk /r /f d:).

To use this command, you’ll probably need to run the Command Prompt as an Administrator.

Run an antivirus program

If the problem is a virus attack, antivirus software can identify the infected files and possibly fix the problem.

Then use a reliable program, such as Norton, Avast or AVG, to scan the disk and try to repair the problems on the storage drive.

How Bot can help you

All the tips we’ve given you can be done at home without damaging the device. However, these measures don’t always solve the problem, and the external drive is still not recognized.

In this case, contact a company specializing in data recovery. Experienced professionals can make an accurate diagnosis and identify the reasons for the drive not being recognized. This way, you can adopt the correct procedures to fix the external disk problem.

An experienced company like Bot has dealt with many cases of unrecognized external drives and has the right equipment and software for the job. We can help you recover your device and access to your stored data.

Fill in this form to let us know what’s happening with your external drive. Our quote is free, and you can request a free collection of your device for evaluation. Count on us!


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