Fix External Hard Drive Not Recognized Issue in Windows

External drives — also USB flash drives or external hard drives — should be easy to use. Sometimes, you may connect your drive to a Windows PC or another device with a USB port and find that it’s not recognized. This problem can be caused by partition issues on your external drive, using the wrong file system, dead USB ports, driver issues in Windows, or other problems. The drive itself may simply be dead, that would be the worst case scenario.

If you have ever encountered the same problem, today’s post is gonna show you how to get Windows to recognize external hard drive. Take Toshiba external hard drive as an example.

Solution 1 – Check USB Port and Check for the Driver Updates

In general, if Windows cannot recognize your Toshiba  external hard drive, you can try connecting it to another USB port on the PC to make sure it’s not a problem with that particular port. If you are connecting to a USB hub, disconnect it and try directly connecting the HDD to the computer.

On the other hand, you have to check the driver. As we know, sometimes, old drivers can cause a device to malfunction when connected to Windows.

Press Windows + R, type “devmgmt.msc” into the Run dialog, and press OK.


Expand Disk drives. Right–click the external hard drive and choose Update Driver Software…

update driver software

If there are any updates, follow further instructions and your hard disk driver will be updated.

Solution 2 – Change Drive Letter and Path

As we know, once the drive letter is missing, Windows cannot recognize this drive but we can see it in Computer Management window. Now, we have to assign a drive letter to the HDD to make Windows recognize it.

  • Right-click the external hard drive, and choose Change Drive Letter and Paths…

change drive letter and paths

  • Click Add, and then pick a letter for the drive and click OK.


Solution 3 – Partitioning the Drive

If you see the external hard drive which is not recognized by Windows is full of “unallocated space,” you’ll want to create a new partition on it. This will allow Windows and other operating systems to recognize and use this HDD.

However, creating partition will overwrite the original data stored on the external hard drive which is not showing up. Therefore, before creating a new partition, you have to recover its lost data.
Now, I guess you might be wondering:
“How to effectively recover lost data from unallocated external hard drive with ease?”

way 1 Recover Lost Data from External Hard Drive Not Detected

MiniTool Power Data Recovery, a green, professional and all-in-one data recovery software, is recommended here. This professional data recovery program offers wizard-like interfaces as well as simple operations to help users quickly recover lost data from drive that is not recognized by Windows. In general, even our grandmothers can easily use this tool to recover lost data from external hard drive that is not detected. What’s more, it is a read-only tool. Thus, users can recover lost data via this tool without damaging the original data. By using this professional data recovery software, you can effectively, quickly and safely recover lost data from drive not detected within 3 steps.


Step 1: Launch MiniTool Power Data Recovery and choose Lost Partition Recovery.


In the main interface of Power Data Recovery, you can see 5 functional modules: “Undelete Recovery”, “Lost Partition Recovery”, “Digital Media Recovery”, “CD/DVD Recovery”, and “Damaged Partition Recovery”. Different modules aim at restoring lost data under different situations. Here, since your external hard drive shows up in Computer Management as Unallocated Space, you can try using Lost Partition Recovery to recover lost data.

Step 2: Select your external hard drive and click Full Scan button.

full scan

Note: In this window, you can click Settings feature to make the program scan needed files only by file systems and file types. For example, if you just want to recover pictures and videos, you can check the option “Graphics & Picture” and “Audio & Video”, and then full scan your Toshiba external hard drive.

Step 3: Check all needed files, and save them on a safe place. Never install needed files on your Toshiba external hard drive in case of any data recovery failure.


After scanning, MiniTool Power Data Recovery will find a lot of partitions, but it lists at most 10 partitions. For each one listed here, Power Data Recovery displays a number of statistics, including the file system of partition and its size in GB/MB. Here, you can use the Filter feature to filter out needless files by file name, file extension, file size, and creation date. This design helps save plenty of time. Besides, you are able to preview photos before saving.

way 2 Create New Partition

After recovering lost data, you can create a new partition on the unallocated space to make Windows recognize your external hard drive.

As we know, different tools like Windows Disk Management tool, diskpart commands, Free Partition Magic like MiniTool Partition Wizard, and others can help to create partition. Here, we take MiniTool Partition Wizard, a free, professional and simple partitioning software, for example. This tool not only is able to create FAT/FAT32/exFAT/NTFS/Ext2/Ext3/Ext4/Linux Swap partitions, but also can create FAT32 partitions larger than 32 GB, which can’t be done in Disk Management.

  • Firstly, download this freeware and install it on Windows, and launch it.
  • Second, click the unallocated space and choose Create Partition option from the left action panel.


  • Then, confirm parameters including Partition Label, Partition Type, Drive Letter, File System, Cluster Size, Partition Size and Location. And then click OK button to go back to main interface of the software. If you make no change here, all these parameters are kept by default.
  • Finally, click Apply button on the upper left corner to confirm the creation.

When all operations are done, you will find that Windows can recognize your Toshiba external hard drive.

Solution 4 – Initialize Disk

Open Disk Management. (Press Windows + R on your keyboard to launch the Run dialog box. Type “diskmgmt.msc” into the box and press OK.)

Right click on the name portion of the disk entry, where it says Disk [#]. Select Initialise Disk from the right-click context menu. And then, you will be given detailed operating prompts. Just do as told.

initialise disk

Solution 5 – Formatting It to NTFS

If your Toshiba external hard drive has been partitioned with the wrong file system, you will also encounter the “external hard drive not recognized” issue. For instance, you may have formatted the drive with the ext4 file system from Linux or the HFS Plus file system from a Mac. Or, you drive file system is damaged and shows as RAW. However, Windows cannot recognize these file systems, thus Windows cannot recognize your external hard drive.

recommend Top recommendation: Watch the following video to know how to effectively solve the RAW file system without losing data.

Now, experienced users will do the following 2 things to solve this issue effectively.

First, recover important files from the external hard drive that is not detected by Windows.

Second, reformat this drive with the newer NTFS file system or older FAT32 file system so Windows will be able to recognize it.

Detailed instructions:

way 1 Recover Lost Data from External Hard Drive with Damaged/Wrong File System

1. Download and install MiniTool Power Data Recovery. Then, connect your external hard drive to computer.


2. Launch it to get its main interface. Select Damaged Partition Recovery. In general, as long as the partition exists, you can recover lost data by using this module.


3. Full scan the Toshiba external hard drive.

full scan format

4. Select all needed files and save them on a safe place. It is recommended to store needed files on another drive.

damaged save

When all operations are done, you have finished recovering lost data from hard drive with damaged file system. Then, we need to format the not recognized external hard drive to NTFS or FAT32/16, making Windows recognize it.

way 2 Format the Not Recognized External Hard Drive

  • Launch MiniTool Partition Wizard to get its main interface.
  • Select the partition which needs formatting and choose Format Partition feature from the left panel.


  • Set partition label, file system and cluster size for the selected partition and click OK.
  • Click Apply button on the top to apply the change.

Solution 6 – Run Anti-virus Program

Now, in the age of the internet, our computer might be at a risk of being attacked by virus when visiting some sites. Once our PC gets infected with virus, Toshiba external hard drive connected to PC will be infected. Thus, Windows cannot recognize the Toshiba external HDD.

Now, in this situation, we should firstly recover lost data from external hard drive not detected. Then, run anti-virus software to kill virus as soon as possible.

To recover data from virus infected external hard drive, you can try using MiniTool Power Data Recovery because of its excellent performance, high security and simple operations. And, MiniTool Power Data Recovery offers Free edition to scan and recover 1GB data, and offers Personal license to recover unlimited lost data. You can choose a suitable one to recover lost data from your Toshiba external hard drive which is not recognized by Windows 10. Here, I guess you might be interested in this post “To Recover Files Deleted By Virus Attack – It’s All Too Easy“.


After seeing the simple introduction, you might know how to deal with the “Toshiba external hard drive not recognized” issue. At this time, I just want to stress that you had better recover lost data from the external hard drive that is not recognized by Windows 10 before formatting, partitioning or creating…