How To Format An External Hard Drive That Is Not Visible?

Do your hard drives, whether new or old, internal or external, not appear in File Explorer or Disk Management? Follow this guide, and you’ll learn why is your hard drive not showing up and how to format an external hard drive that is not visible?

Why Is My External Hard Drive Not Showing Up in Windows

Send your hard drive to a local repair center or its manufacturer for a repair if it is physically damaged. These fixes only work to fix logical errors that prevent your drive from appearing on computers.

You may experience one of the following symptoms if your hard drive is not detected or does not appear in Disk Management. As shown below, it could be a connection issue, a driver issue, an incorrect BIOS setting, or something else. 

Symptoms of Disk Not Showing Up

  • Disk Management displays the hard drive as RAW
  • The hard drive shows Unknown, Not Initialized, including new drive
  • The hard drive display isn’t showing up in File Explorer
  • a yellow exclamation mark appears on the hard drive
  • The hard drive has no drive letter

Causes of Hard Drive Not Showing Up

  • Problematic connection
  • The hard drive driver is outdated
  • Drive letter conflict
  • The file system is not supported or corrupted
  • The hard drive is damaged
  • The hard drive is unallocated or not initialized

Here are some troubleshooting steps you can take.

Make sure the drive is plugged in and powered on

Just because you plugged the drive into your computer does not mean it’s receiving the power it needs. Some drives can draw enough power from your PC or computer’s USB port, but others-particularly large drives not intended to be portable, like the Western Digital My Book-may, require wall power.

If your drive came with a power adapter, but you haven’t plugged it in, try hooking it up (and pressing the power button, if there is one). If it comes with two USB plugs, make sure they’re both plugged into your PC. With any luck, your drive will usually appear once it gets the juice it needs.

Try Another USB Port (or Another PC)

Unplug the drive and try a different USB port if it doesn’t work. It’s possible that the port in question is malfunctioning or being finicky with your drive. Try a USB 2.0 port if connected to a USB 3.0 port. Try plugging it directly into the PC rather than a USB hub if it’s connected to one. You might also try it on another PC or computer.

If you’re a multi-platform household, I’d recommend trying it on a computer that runs another operating system. E.g., if you can’t get the drive showing up on a Windows PC, try plugging it into a Mac. It’s possible the drive isn’t formatted for the computer you’re trying to use, and you’ll need to copy that data onto a formatted drive for cross-compatibility.

Update Your Drivers

Windows sometimes encounter driver issues that make a device unrecognizable. Type “device manager” into the Start menu and press Enter when the option appears. Ensure that your external drive appears in either the Disk Drives or the Universal Serial Bus menus. Right-click on a drive with a yellow exclamation mark and choose Properties whenever you see a drive. You might find an error code you can search for. Alternatively, you can go to the Driver tab, update or uninstall the driver, and restart your computer.

It’s unlikely to fix a temperamental hard drive, but it’s worth a shot. Hard drives use Windows’ built-in USB and hard disk drivers, so this won’t fix a problem. You can try downloading drivers from the drive manufacturer’s website, but that’s probably a long shot.) Check out our guide on updating your drivers for more details.

How to format an external Hard Drive that is not visible

Once the external hard drive is visible, you can begin formatting it.

Windows includes a built-in utility that can format hard drives called Disk Management. To format a drive, open Disk Management, click on the drive you wish to format, and then select “Format.” Note, however, that external hard drives over 32G cannot be formatted to FAT32.

I suggest you use AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard when the external hard drive isn’t working; it’s a good choice. A professional disk partition management software capable of formatting external hard drives such as FAT32, exFAT, etc. It overcomes disk management’s limitations. Additionally, it allows you to resize and merge partitions. It can fully meet your disk management needs.

Here is a guide to formatting an invisible external hard drive using AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard.

Step 1. Free download AOMEI Partition Assistant. Install and run it on Windows PC.

Step 2. Select the hard drive partition that needs formatting, right-click it, and choose “Format.”

Step 3. Set the partition’s file system, and you can add Partition Label if you want.

Step 4. Confirm the operation and click “Apply” to perform it.


If you read this article carefully, I believe you already know how to format an external hard drive that is not visible. If you want to recover lost partitions on an external hard drive, please upgrade to AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional.


Q: What do I do if my internal hard drive is not detected?

Ans: As you can see from this page, there are a number of ways to fix the internal hard drive not detected issue.

Initialize the disk first, then create partitions on a new hard drive. 

Here are a few tips for getting the most out of a used hard drive:

  1. Change the hard drive letter;
  2. Recover lost partition data; Create new partitions;
  3. Update hard drive driver;
  4. Check hard drive connection, enable it in BIOS.

Q: Why is my hard drive not showing up on Mac?

A: The reasons your hard drive isn’t showing up on your Mac are pretty similar to why it’s not showing up on your Windows computer.

Here is a list of why a hard drive is not showing up on Mac:

  • Hard drive connection error
  • Settings in Desktop, Finder
  • USB port issue
  • Hard drive corrupted
  • macOS and firmware is outdated