FAQ: External hard drive no longer shows up in My Computer and data can no longer be accessed

(Note: This FAQ is taken from Answer ID 1164 in WD’s Knowlege Base.)


Some reasons why a drive doesn’t show up in My Computer.


  • The drive may not be getting enough power to fully spin up and be recognized
  • The data cable may no longer be good
  • The partition on the drive may be damaged or files corrupted
  • The drive itself may have failed

Troubleshooting Your External Drive


It’s always best to start with the most simple possible causes when troubleshooting. Follow the steps below in order to eliminate the common simple issues:

1)  If the drive is not being recognized, disconnect the power adapter from the surge protector/UPS and plug directly into the wall. Sometimes, surge protectors diminish the power being supplied as more devices are added to them.

2)  If after doing this the drive does not spin up at all (you can tell by feeling for vibration on the drive), then either the drive or the power adapter has failed. You will need to replace the power adapter to proceed with troubleshooting.

3)  If after replacing the power adapter, the drive still doesn’t spin up, then you will need to replace the drive. You will find links for data recovery and warranty replacement below.

4)  If the drive is spinning but not recognized in My Computer, then change out the data cable with one that you know is good. Cables get old and the wires inside can break, or pull loose from the connectors.

5)  If that doesn’t work, connect the external drive to another USB port. The first USB port could be malfunctioning.

6)  If your drive still isn’t being recognized, turn your PC off, disconnect the data cable, restart the computer, and once the operating system is fully up and running, reconnect the data cable. Give it a minute or two to recognize then you will want to access Disk Management to see if the drive shows up in there.  If it does show up in Disk Management, then you most likely have a corrupted or damaged partition and will need to re-partition and reformat the drive for it to be recognized on your PC. See Links and note below.


Important: If you have data on the drive that you need, DO NOT reformat the drive. You will need to perform data recovery on the drive, before you can proceed with reformatting the drive. With a damaged partition, there may be data recovery software that can restore the partition. You can research the various kinds on the internet.


7)  If the drive doesn’t show up in Disk Management, then the last option you have is to connect the drive to another PC. If it works, then there’s an issue with either the hardware or drivers on the primary PC. You will then have to troubleshoot that computer and operating system. For help with the operating system, you will need to contact Microsoft Support. For help with the computer hardware, you will need to contact the computer manufacturer.


8)  If the external drive does not show up on another PC, then the drive has failed. You will need to go to data recovery if you need the data on the drive. If the drive is under warranty, you can then replace it with us. Follow the links below.


IMPORTANT: To avoid corrupting or losing the data on your external hard drive you should always shut down the drive correctly before you disconnect the data cable from the drive or computer, or the power connection from the drive or the wall outlet.

For more information on how to disconnect a WD external hard drive from your computer correctly, please see: