How to Recover Data From Hard Disk Which is Not Detecting

Jeff Cochin
Written by
N. Lankevitch for pandorarecovery
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recovering data from external hard drive that is not recognized with disk drill

Why is my external hard drive not showing up on my computer?

There are several reasons that your external hard drive might not be showing up on your computer. It could be due to hardware compatibility issues with the device or its drivers. Many times the problem is due to malicious software that has found its way onto the drive. Your drive might not be accessible because of something you inadvertently did to it. You need to get it operational if you want to recover its data.

recovering data from external hard drive that is not recognized by disk drill

Recovering data from an external hard drive that is not recognized by your operating system poses a problem. Obviously, before you can perform any type of data recovery, you need to be able to access the device. If the drive remains undetected, you won’t be able to do anything with it. We are going to look at why your drive might not be recognized and discuss a valuable data recovery tool to use once you regain access to its contents.

Part 1: Reasons Why an External Hard Drive Could Be Not Detected

Here are some of the most common reasons that an external hard drive might not be recognized by Windows. You will need to resolve the specific issue before recovering data from an external hard drive that is not recognized.

#1 Human error

Your drive might not be detected because of simple human error. This might be due to plugging the drive into a faulty port. Try a different interface or computer. More likely, you have inadvertently deleted or formatted a partition. You might have tried to assign a drive letter and used a value that the operating system cannot use properly. All of these issues will cause an external Seagate or Western Digital (WD) to be undetected by your OS. The good news is that most of these issues can be resolved fairly easily. More on that later.

#2 Viruses and Malware

Infection by a virus or malware program can cause all sorts of problems, including making an external hard drive undetectable by your OS. A virus can randomly delete files or format a partition without your knowledge. Malware might change the drive letter or have deleted or corrupted the necessary device driver. In some cases, the damage caused by malware may be the reason your computer won’t boot from the drive.

#3 Environmental Factors

Too much heat or moisture will cause damage to your hard drive and might be a reason that your OS is having trouble detecting it. You can obtain hard drives that can withstand harsh conditions, but most drives are meant to be kept cool and dry.

Part 2: Different Scenarios and Possible Solutions to Fix the HDD Not Recognized Issue

Let’s take a look at some scenarios you might run into that need to be resolved before you can recover data from a hard disk that is not detected.

– My Computer or Disk Management doesn’t display the HDD:

Drives that do not appear in My Computer or Windows Disk Management are often not formatted or have an incorrect drive letter assigned. Both of these issues can be resolved from within Disk Management where you can format and rename the drive. You can also check Device Manager to make sure that the drive is online.recovering data from external hard drive that is not recognized

– File system error indicates a RAW disk:

A drive that has crashed may have experienced a file system error that caused Windows to view it as a RAW disk. The OS will not be able to access the data that was on the drive without being repaired. You can try to repair the partition table and boot sector. Data recovery software can recover data from a RAW drive and allow you to reformat the drive after your information is saved to another location.recover data from hard disk which is not detecting

– Device driver incompatibility:

The drive might not be recognized due to device driver incompatibility. Make sure that you have installed the correct driver for your external drive. If the driver has been installed, try removing and reinstalling it. This will often resolve the issue and let you get back to using the drive with no issues.recover data from hard disk which is not detecting

– The HDD has experienced a complete physical failure:

If the drive has experienced a catastrophic failure, your only course of action may be to send it to a professional data recovery service. If you do not have a backup of the data and cannot get the disk recognized so you can use a software tool, this might be the only way to get your data back.

Part 3: If the Issue is Fixed – Recover Data Using Disk Drill


While you can’t use software to recover files from an external hard drive that is not detected, once you have resolved the issue, Disk Drill can recover any deleted or missing data.

To recover files from an external hard drive, you need to:

  1. Download and install Disk Drill on your Windows machine.
  2. Connect the external hard drive to your computer.
  3. Launch Disk Drill and select the external drive from the list of disks.recover data from hard disk which is not detecting via disk drill
  4. Click the Search for lost data button to start scanning the drive.recovering data from external hard drive that is not recognized
  5. Preview the files that can be recovered.
  6. Select the files you want to restore and click the Recover button.recover files from external hard drive not detected by disk drill
  7. Choose a new location for the files that is not on the problematic external drive.recovering data from external hard drive that is not recognized via disk drill
  8. Verify your files by using them with their original applications.
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Hard Drive Recovery Software: Restore Deleted HDD Data (2021)
This comprehensive application lets you recover files from a hard drive with a few simple clicks.

How to Protect Your External Hard Drive From Being Broken

Many of the problems associated with data loss or inoperable external hard drives are caused by malware that finds its way onto the drive. You can minimize the chances of this happening by taking some common-sense precautions with your drive. Avoid connecting it to strange computers that may be harboring malicious software. It’s also a good idea to refrain from sharing the drive with other users, as their safety habits may differ from yours.

recover files from external hard drive not detected by disk drill

Keep your removable hard drive in a cool, dry place to protect it from physical damage or corruption. Minimize the potential for human error by carefully checking your work before performing a potentially dangerous procedure such as formatting a drive. If you start to hear strange sounds coming from the drive, don’t ignore them. Make a backup as soon as possible, as the drive may be getting ready to totally fail on you.

Disk Drill – Reliable HDD Data Recovery Software

Disk Drill for Windows provides excellent data recovery capabilities as well as advanced data protection tools to keep your valuable data safe. It features an intuitive and user-friendly interface that enables anyone to start recovering their data with a few clicks.

Disk Drill can recover data from any type of disk-based storage device including removable hard drives, SD cards and your computer’s main internal hard disk. The application employs advanced scanning algorithms to find lost and deleted files in over 400 different formats. Scans can easily be paused and restarted and the result can be mounted as a drive to make recovery even easier.

recovering data from external hard drive that is not recognized with disk drill

Additional data protection features such as the ability to create byte-level backups and a Recovery Vault to protect your important files are included for free from the developers of Disk Drill. Downloading the free trial version lets you use these tools as well as recover up to 500 MB of data without any financial investment. It should be your goto data recovery tool and can help you recover from all kinds of data loss situations.

Why You Should Use Recovery Software

Data recovery software can help recover deleted data from an external hard drive when other methods fail. It can be used to extract data from RAW partitions so they can be reformatted and used with your operating system. Files from an emptied Recycle Bin can easily be recovered with data recovery software.

Did You Know?

Removable hard drives are prime targets for thieves who want to steal personal information. An example is the theft of a drive from Fresno State University that contained sensitive information on over 15,000 individuals. The theft highlights the importance of encrypting data on removable storage devices. Misplacing a removable drive or having one stolen can lead to a major data breach that can cause serious damage to the organization that lost the drive and the people whose data was compromised.


Jeff Cochin
Jeff Cochin is a data management and recovery professional, who has been with Pandorarecovery for nine years and has always been an essential part of the team. Jeff also works as a technical writer at Macgasm, being a first hand in testing, trying and writing about big and small tech software.
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Over 15 years strong experience in various fields and platform includes Disaster Recovery, Windows XP/7. System analysis, design, application (Inter/Intranet) development and testing. Provided technical supports on desktop and laptops on Win-XP and Macintosh for about 2000 employees.