How to Solve: External Hard Disk Is Detected but Not Opening

Do you have an external hard drive that’s detected when plugged in but won’t open? Are pictures, videos, and important documents trapped inside the unit?

This is a common problem with plenty of solutions. From compatibility issues to corrupted files on the disk, there are a number of potential culprits! In this article, we’ll discuss the various causes for your external hard drive not opening and offer easy tips and tricks on how to fix them. Join us as we explore why this issue arises in more detail!

Why Is the External Hard Drive Detected but Not Accessible?

Getting an error message such as “drive is not accessible” or “no volume” that suggests the hard drive is inaccessible is a relatively very common situation to occur. There can be several causes for an external hard drive being detected but not opening. A few of them include:

External Hard Disk Is Detected but Not Opening

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  • Compatibility issues: Unlike internal hard drives, which are generally used by the same computer over long periods of time, external hard drives often get shuffled around from machine to machine. This results in a compatibility issue between the two devices and can cause your external hard drive not to open.
  • Corrupted files: If you’ve had your external hard drive for a while now, there’s a possibility that its files have become corrupted. This can also result in your drive not opening, as the device won’t be able to recognize or access these files.
  • Drivers & firmware: Faulty drivers and outdated firmware can lead to the malfunctioning of your external hard drive, resulting in it being detected but not accessible.
  • File system errors: In case the external hard drive’s file system is corrupt or damaged: the drive may be detected but not accessible. You can try running a disk check or repair tool to fix any errors on the drive.
  • Physical damage: If the external hard drive has been dropped or is physically damaged, it may not be accessible even if it is detected by the computer. In this case, you may need to send the drive to a data recovery service to retrieve your data.
  • Security settings: If the security settings on the external hard drive are set to restrict access, you may not be able to access the drive even if it is detected by the computer. In this case, you may need to adjust the security settings or obtain the necessary permissions to access the drive.

How to Fix External Hard Disk Is Detected but Not Opening

Given the number of potential causes for the error, it may be necessary to attempt multiple solutions in order to fix the issue. The below-mentioned solutions are effective in addressing the matter.

Pro Tip: Backing up the external hard drive is essential to protecting your data before attempting any of the suggested solutions.

Fix 1: Create a Valid Partition

Users can divide the storage space of an external hard drive into different sections by creating a partition. This means that each section, or partition, can have its own file system and be used to store different types of data.

To create a valid partition in Windows, follow these steps:

  1. Access “Disk Management” by pressing the Windows key + X in the menu.Disk management
  2. Now simply right-click on the unallocated space where you want it to be and choose “New Simple Volume.”
  3. Follow the prompts shown in the New Simple Volume Wizard to assign a drive letter, select the file system, and set the given volume label.
  4. Choose the size for your partition. In case of multiple partitions, you can specify the size for each one.
  5. Review your settings and click “Finish” once you are done creating the partition.
  6. Wait for the partition to be created. This may take a couple of minutes, depending on the size of the partition.
  7. Once done, It will appear in the Disk Management tool with a blue bar indicating that it is a valid partition.

Note: Creating a new partition may result in data loss, so it’s important to back up your data before proceeding. Also, keep in mind that you can only create a limited number of partitions on a single hard drive, depending on the size and type of the drive.

Fix 2: Update Disk Driver

Updating the disk driver is a crucial step to ensuring that the external hard drive can be accessed properly. Updating the disk driver allows the computer to recognize the external hard drive and access its contents.

To update the disk driver in Windows, follow these steps:

  1. Search “Device Manager” from the search bar.Device Manager
  2. Expand the “Disk drives” category to see a list of all disk drives installed on your computer.
  3. Right-click on the disk drive that you want to update and select “Update driver” from the context menu.disk driver update
  4. Select “Search automatically for updated driver software” to let Windows search for a driver update online. Alternatively, you can select “Browse my computer for driver software” to manually locate the driver update on your computer.
  5. If Windows finds a driver update, it will automatically download and install it. If it doesn’t find an update or you manually located the update file, follow the prompts to install the new driver.
  6. Restart your computer after the driver update is complete.

Fix 3: Running Chkdsk Command

The chkdsk command is a utility in Windows used to check the integrity of the file system and find and fix any errors on the drive. Running this command can help resolve any errors that may be preventing the external hard drive from being accessed properly.

To run the chkdsk command in Windows, follow these steps:

  1. Enter Command Prompt as an administrator by pressing the Windows key + X and selecting “Command Prompt (Admin)” from the menu.
  2. In the popout window, type “chkdsk g: /f /r /x” and press “Enter.chkdsk command prompt
  3. Depending on the size of the drive and the number of errors it finds, chkdsk may take several minutes to complete.
  4. You can now access the drive if the command prompt is able to find and fix the error else; you’ll see the pop-up “hard drive is not accessible. Access is denied”.

Fix 4: Change the External Hard Dives Format

External hard drives and USB devices typically come with either NTFS or FAT32 file systems as their default. It’s possible that a device won’t open if the operating system doesn’t support its file system. You can use disk management to format the device to NTFS or FAT32 in order to solve the problem.

To format an external hard drive and change the file system to NTFS in Windows, follow these steps:

  1. Plug the external hard drive into your device.
  2. Open File Explorer and locate the External Hard Drive.
  3. Right-click on it and select “Format” from the context menu.
  4. In the Format dialog box, choose “NTFS” as the file system.
  5. Give the drive a name, if desired.
  6. Choose whether to perform a quick format or a full format. A quick format only erases the file system, while a full format erases all data on the drive.
  7. Click “Start” to begin the formatting process.
  8. Wait for the formatting process to complete. This may take several minutes, depending on the size of the drive.
  9. Once the formatting process is complete, the external hard drive will be formatted with the NTFS file system.

Fix 5: Turn to a Professional Hard Drive Repair Service

If none of the above solutions work and the external hard drive is still not accessible, it is likely that there may be physical damage to the device. If this is the case, you may need to turn to a professional hard drive repair service.Tech support

Hard drive repair services specialize in diagnosing and fixing physical damage to external hard drives. They can assess your device and determine whether it can be repaired or not. Please bear in mind, however, that there may be a cost connected with using such a service unless the device is still under warranty and you have not attempted to unlock it on your own.


External hard drives provide a convenient way to store and transfer data from one computer to another. However, if the drive is not accessible, you may encounter a variety of errors. Fortunately, there are several fixes that can be used to resolve these issues and get the drive working again. These include running Windows Update, using chkdsk command, running the Windows Troubleshooter, formatting the external hard drive, or turning to a professional hard drive repair service.

What should I do if my external hard drive is not accessible?

You can try running Windows Update, using chkdsk command, running the Windows Troubleshooter, formatting the external hard drive, or turning to a professional hard drive repair service.

Can I recover files from the external hard disk that I cannot open?

In some cases, data recovery software may be able to recover files from a drive that cannot be opened. It is recommended that you try one of the fixes mentioned above before attempting to use data recovery software.

What are some of the common issues that can cause an external hard drive to become inaccessible?

Some of the common causes include corrupted files, outdated drivers, mismatched file systems, and physical damage.

Do these solutions work for Windows 11 as well?

Yes, with a few changes here and there, most of the solutions stated in this post also apply to Windows 11.

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