Why is my external hard drive not recognised in Windows 7?
Question by HannibalCat /

I have a Seagate drive that I have been using to backup my photos and music. I’ve used it for years in Windows XP, Windows Vista and now Windows 7. Up until this week it worked fine. Once a week I’d plug it in and back everything up.

Now it isn’t being seen as a drive by Windows, it just turns up as a USB device, has no assigned drive letter and cannot be accessed via Windows Explorer. I suppose the drive itself might be kaput, but it seems odd that the system recognises it being plugged in and unplugged if this is the case. Any thoughts?

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Answers (20)
  • Wendy

    Okay, so I got a message from my computer that I have a hard disk failure and need to back up. Bought a USB toshiba terabyte external hard drive. Although the computer recognizes it, it basically ignores it and keeps telling me to connect a device for backup when the device is already connected. Tried all the regular stuff to correct. I have tried everything. Read all above. It is assigned drive “G” and has no errors on it. It has the latest updated driver on it. It is empty. Computer has all latest updates, though it is not capable of shutting down and pulling itself back up. Have to do force end and restart. Even the toshiba itself is lacking the proper wording for back up when plugged into this computer. In my other computer there is a toshiba prompt for automatic backup but in this computer I have to attempt it though control panel. Fails…but at least there is a backup path there.

    • Tina Sieber


      Does the external hard drive appear in your device list and can you access it manually? If not, is it being recognized by other computers?

    • Wendy

      It’s recognized but only partially…..hard to explain. Yes, it does fine on another computer. I can drag things over to it with this computer but it will not give me a prompt for a complete backup no matter how I try to access it.

    • Tina Sieber

      What operating system are you trying to connect the hard drive to? I assumed it was Windows 7, but you didn’t say. If it’s not Windows, it might be a formatting issue.

      I think it’s best if you ask a new question. This way you get to pick the brain of a lot more people. Be sure to share all the details you know, i.e. operating system, how you connect it, what you do, expected behavior, actual behavior, error messages etc.

    • jaybird

      try knoppix

  • Nikhil Chandak

    virus in ur external hard drive or virus in ur computer(in which connect the hard drive)
    or ask an computer engineer

  • Rody Roon


    I am not sure about this work for you or not just try it also go to administrative tools/computer management/disk management’ see if there is a drive shown without a drive letter. If there is right click the shown drive and choose ‘change drive letters and paths’ select a drive letter from ones offered and click ok. and if the problem is detect it shown on My Computer section.

    • Deborah

      I have been having the same problem, my external hard drive is ‘not recognized’ by Windows 7. It worked fine with XP and Vista, and intermittently with Windows 7 until now – no way to make it work. I tried the Disk Management and there is a drive there (I suspect my external hard drive) but when I right click the drive to try to assign a new letter the only option appearing is ‘help’. Really frustrating as there seems to be no obvious reason for this.

  • kumar raja

    I Think it might be a Harddrive Problem because the Pins of the External HDD may be solder problem that’s why it shows a message called ‘Not recognized by windows’

    IN most of the External HDD it is the main problem

  • Anonymous

    This also happens to me with my WD 500GB my passport essential.. it is recognized by system when its plugged in but the drive isn’t accessible.. My HDD is dead.. try using another controller to see if it works.

  • Douglas Mutay

    I have already gone through this hard time and I know what you’re talking about. I have tried several solution without any succes. Then finally one day after I have installed Linux Mint for testing, I decided to try the drive. plugged it in and bam! it was working. I was able to recover all my precious file. But for some unknown reason until now I still can’t use it in Windows.

  • James Yu

    Try plugging it into another PC as what the other commenter suggested. Might be your USB port gone bad. I have the same issue with my Desktop XP. i did not recognize my external HD but did with another laptop. Symptom of such problem is clicking sound heard on the external HD.

    Doing further searching suggests that we use external powered USB HUB…( not usb powered )

  • Shubharup Ganguly

    Just a side note, but if you use it for backups then you should probably get a new one. HDD storage is comparatively cheap these days, both online and retail. You could always sell the HDD, and buy a new one for as low as $80 out of your pocket. Also, if you don’t plan/want to get a new one, I suggest that you try an online backup solution. Relying on an old HDD for your backups could be a disaster.

  • Judel

    i can’t find my file on my external drive i think its hidden because the size of the drive is stiil big its means its only hidde

  • Dimal Chandrasiri

    I don’t think you’ve lost your data, but for sure u’ve lost your driver usb controller. since you’ve used it for some time, I don’t think you have the warranty anymore. try to get the HDD in the enclosure and fix it to a another. you can get an enclosure from the market. it’ll work again.

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