Windows 10 can intelligently detect storage devices when you plug them into your PC, be it a mechanical hard disk drive, solid-state drive, or an external USB flash drive. However, a new drive may not show up in Windows 10’s File Explorer, which indicates both bigger and smaller problems.
For example, it could be the data cable, irregularities in power delivery, or other physical problems causing the issues. Alternatively, the disk partition on the drive might be corrupted, resulting in the storage device not showing up in the File Explorer. Or, the drive you connected to your PC has never been formatted or configured before.
No matter what the underlying reason is, Windows 10 offers several ways to fix the problem. Built-in tools like Disk Management, Device Manager, and command-line functions like diskpart will help you gain access to your drive.
This guide will go through some viable troubleshooting methods to fix a hard drive that doesn’t show up in Windows 10.
Fix Offline Hard Drive With Physical Troubleshooting
An offline hard drive is commonly a result of a software issue, but it can also be a physical problem. Before you proceed to use Windows 10’s system tools to check for the missing drive, we highly recommend performing these steps first:
If it’s an internal storage drive, make sure it’s receiving power from your computer’s power supply unit and is connected to your motherboard. Don’t forget to shut down and unplug your PC before you open it up.
If it’s an external USB-powered drive, replug it to a different USB port, preferably the ones on the motherboard.
Boot to your PC’s BIOS or UEFI system and verify whether your storage device appears on the info page. The method to accessing the BIOS varies by the motherboard manufacturer, so a quick web search should help you out with it.
Connect the storage drive to another desktop or laptop to confirm if it works or not.
When you find out that it isn’t a physical issue causing your drive to not show up in Windows 10, consider following the below troubleshooting instructions.
A storage device needs to be initialized and configured to be accessible in the File Explorer. It must have a working partition system and a fixed drive letter.
Your hard drive not showing up in Windows 10 can simply be a problem of you not initializing it up or configuring it correctly in the first place. Here’s how to fix it with the Windows Disk Management tool:
Initialize the drive
In order to initialize a storage drive on Windows, follow these steps:
Open the Start Menu and start typing “Disk Management” in the search bar.
Click “Create and format hard disk partitions” at the top of the results to open the Disk Management tool.
Right-click the disk with the “Unknown” tag, then click Initialize Disk in the drop-down menu.
Now select the drive you wish to initialize and choose the GPT (GUID Partition Table) partition style.
Hit the OK button and wait for your storage drive to get reformatted.
Once Windows initializes the drive, you should be able to access it from File Explorer.
Set drive online
The following will show you how to get your drive online in Windows:
Launch the Disk Management tool from either the Start Menu or Control Panel.
Next, find the drive that has the “Offline” label and right-click it.
After that, select Online in the drop-down menu.
If your configured hard drive was offline for some reason, following the steps above should make it reappear in the File Explorer.
Set drive letter
In case your drive is initialized and online but doesn’t appear in File Explorer, chances are it doesn’t have a drive letter assigned to it. Here’s how you can manually set a drive letter for it on Windows 10:
Start with opening the Disk Management tool on Windows.
Right-click the hard drive volume without a drive letter, then select Change Drive Letter and Paths in the drop-down menu.
Click Add in the following window and choose a drive letter of your preference.
Finally, click OK and wait for a few seconds.
Provided that you completed the steps correctly, you can now access the data on your drive using File Explorer.
Import foreign drive
If the drive plugged into your Windows 10 PC was previously configured on a different computer, it will show up as a foreign drive on the Windows Disk Management tool. However, it’s really easy to import the drive without reformatting it. Thus, you won’t lose any of your sensitive data.
First, right-click the disk with “Dynamic” written next to it in the Disk Management menu.
Select the Import Foreign Disks option in the drop-down menu.
After that, tick the box next to the Foreign disk group (1 of 1 disks) in the following window and click OK.
Click OK again to confirm your changes and begin the importing process.
Once Windows is done importing the drive, you can access it from File Explorer.
Set up a new drive partition
If your drive seems to be online and already initialized, but you cannot access it from File Explorer, you may have to format it and create a new drive partition first using the Disk Management wizard. Here’s how:
Right-click the hard drive partition that doesn’t have a hard drive letter in the Disk Management menu.
Click New Simple Volume in the drop-down menu. It will open up a wizard window. Hit Next to proceed.
Now click Next again to use all the storage space for the new partition. Else, manually specify its size in the field next to “Simple volume size in MB.”
After that, assign a drive letter to the new partition and click Next.
On the following wizard page, tick the box next to the “Format this volume with the following settings” option.
Choose NTFS for the “File system.”
Leave the “Allocation Unit” to Default settings.
Enter a descriptive name in the “Volume label” field (e.g., Games, Data, Documents).
Tick the box next to the “Perform a quick format” option and click Next.
At last, click Finish and head over to File Explorer’s “This PC” page.
Assuming you have done everything correctly, you should be able to access the newly partitioned drive from File Explorer and start moving files to it.
Fix Hard Drive Not Showing Up In Windows 10 Using Device Manager
Sometimes, your drive might not show up in either File Explorer or the Disk Management menu. In that case, we advise you to visit the Device Manager and go through the following instructions:
Open the Start Menu and search for the Device Manager tool from the search bar.
Once you are in the Device Manager, expand the Disk drives option and right-click the storage drive that doesn’t appear in File Explorer.
Go to the Properties menu from the drop-down box, then visit the Driver tab.
Click Enable Device among the other options and click OK.
In a few moments, the drive should appear in File Explorer. We recommend restarting the PC for good measure before you start using the drive to store files.
If the above solution doesn’t work out, go back to Device Manager, right-click the drive in question, and select Uninstall device. Once you restart your PC, Windows will automatically reinstall the driver for the storage drive and make it accessible to you.
You can also choose to Update driver for the particular drive in case none of the fixes here resolve the issue.
Fix Hard Drive Not Showing Up In Windows 10 Using diskpart
Suppose your hard drive is inaccessible even if Windows recognizes it. Furthermore, you can’t make any changes to it from the Disk Management tool. In that case, using the diskpart command-line function is your only resort to fixing the logical issue.
The below steps will help you use diskpart to make the missing hard drive appear in File Explorer.
Right-click the Start icon and select Command Prompt (Admin), then click Yes in the UAC pop-up window.
Next, type in diskpart and press the Enter key to launch the diskpart command-line tool.
After that, type the list disk command and press Enter to view the disks connected to your computer.
Type select disk # and press Enter to choose the drive missing from File Explorer. Replace # with the number assigned to the drive in question.
Type the clean command and press Enter to erase the selected drive. Note that it will wipe all data on the drive and strip its partition.
Now enter create partition primary in the CMD window to create a partition using the free storage space.
Select the new partition by typing in the select partition 1 command and pressing Enter.
Type active and press Enter to set the chosen partition as active.
Reformat the partition with the NTFS file system by entering format FS=NTFS in the window.
Once it’s formatted, type assign letter=z to give the partition a drive letter. You can change “z” for any other drive letter that isn’t already in use.
11.Finally, close diskpart by entering the exit command.
Provided that you use the diskpart tool exactly as described above, your missing hard drive should appear in the File Explorer.
If it still doesn’t show up, contact the drive manufacturer’s support portal and ask for a replacement. If the storage device is covered under warranty, you won’t have to pay a single penny to replace it with a new one.