Why does my computer not detect my external hard disk?
Question by StrangelyYours /

I use a fairly old computer. P4 with Windows XP. The 1 TB external Seagate hard disk I use is powered by an external power source.

When I plug it in, I can hear the hard disk working and it slightly vibrates in my hand as it usually does. The lights on the hard disk turn on normally as well. This hard disk has been working fine for the past 6 months now, but the computer can no longer detect it since yesterday.

I have tried plugging the hard disk in every port my PC has, front and back panels, but it won’t detect. Tried restarting the computer as well.

It has all my data and hence I really need this device to start working again.
Desperately need some help and suggestions

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Answers (24)
  • andrew macaulay

    I wanted to move a data disc to another computer.

    I found that clicking import disc in device manager worked for me. (changed from “foreign”).

    If you can “see” it in device manager but not in “my computer” this may make you happy.

  • John Delgado

    it would take sometime before a P4 system to recognise a 1 TB external hd..try leaving it for hours..P4 is too slow for your external hd

    • dragonmouth

      We are talking about a P4, not an 8086. If the drive is not recognized within one or two minutes, it will never be recognized because there is a problem.

  • Danny Zamolxis

    i have a bad feeling that is the board who connects the hdd to usb port and for that you have to take the hdd out of the box and connect it directly to the mother board of the pc or useing an adaptor or an external hdd rack


  • Miguel Guzman

    Sometimes, the hardisk gots a drive letter used by other (usually fixed) disk. Go to disk manager (Administrative tools…), search for your disk and change the disk letter

  • TerryM

    If your version of Windows XP does not have SP1 or SP2 it will not recognize a hard drive beyond 127GB.

    Also make sure the external drive casing will recognize your 1TB drive.

    If both of these conditions are met, go into your disk manager from your Control panel and see if the drive is recognized but not assigned a drive letter. Assign a drive letter and you should be able to access from your Windows Explorer.

    Control Panel -> Performance and Maintenance (or Administrative Tools) -> Computer Management -> Disk Management

  • Tech Nech

    Go to device manager and check for the hard disk. See if it has yellow icon then uninstall the driver and check for any updates and install the driver back again. Hope this helps!

  • Kostas P

    Computer > Right Click-Manage > Disk Management > Change Drive Letter

  • Gary

    The drive may not have a mount point. Go to Start run > type “diskmgmt.msc” without the quotes. If you drive shows up then right click it and go to “change Drive letters and paths”. Click add and assign it a Mount letter.

    If that doesn’t work it could be an issue of the drive not getting enough power in which case you could always take off the external HDD case and plug it straight into your computer with a standard Sata cable (assuming your motherboard has support for Sata drives). I would do this only as a last resort as it will no longer be a portable drive and will essentially just be another internal hard drive. It’s always better to try though as you will have access to your files.

  • Christian Cawley

    You don’t say whether it is an IDE or a SATA cable connection, but if it is an older computer you should probably change the for a new one, regardless – best to rule everything out.

    Also might try adaptor cables: http://www.usbnow.co.uk/Adapters_&_Connectors-USB_to_IDE_Adapters/c42_46/index.html

  • Jim

    Take the hard drive to a different working computer, whether at a friend’s, public library, church, other, and see if it is recognized. If it is recognized, the problem is with your pc. If it is not recognized, the problem is with the hard drive.

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