External Hard Drive

I have an external hard drive that I use for my laptop. Recently, the drive has not been accessible in the Windows Explorer. I removed the driver in the Device Manager...reconnected the Hard Drive...and the driver was reinstalled by Windows. However, the drive is still not accessible. What gives? :(

Any Ideas?


Noob Whisperer
Hello and welcome to the forum.
Click the start orb and type
disk management
and hit enter
Is the external drive present in the Disk Management Console?
Could be a port or cable or hub issue. Do you have the option to plug it into another computer to test?
Sometimes with external USB drives the enclosure cross over electronics can fail over time, the drive can still be good although you may have to remove it from the enclosure and connect it conventionally or with another adapter to be sure. Not the easiest thing to do but if you have critical data on the drive it might be worth a try.
Also if the drive is externally powered, try rebooting the laptop with the drive powered and connected just to be sure.

Joe S

Excellent Member
What make is the drive? WD drives that come with Smartware are hardware encrypted. Opening the drive would void the warranty. Even if you got the drive recognized by connecting internally or a different enclosure the data would be encrypted and useless. The encryptinon is on the bridge board with the USB port. A little more info on drive is needed for more suggestions like the manufacturer and model of the drive. If you have another USB cable try that and also on a different PC if possible. Also don't use a hub.

It's a Western Digital My Book 1140 USB drive...I connected it to another computer and it went thru the installation and such, but nothing was visible in the explorer. From the Device Manager, I can see that it is drive O:

I re-connected it to the laptop, but still can't see it (drive E:) When I went to "Disk Management" I get a popup that "You must initialize a disk before Logical Manager can access it." I'm afraid to click OK, as I don't want to lose all the data on the drive.


Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
The fact you mention not loosing data creates a problem for responders. So nothing I mention is to suggest you do anything with the drive that might cause that to happen.

A drive will show as uninitialized usually after a Wipe operations that removes all information from the drive. Even new drives have enough on them to not show uninitialized. Can you think of anything that might have caused this to happen? Did you use it with another OS? Are you sure you did not do something to cause the drive to be wiped?

Initializing a drive does not mean formatting, but it usually follows that formatting will need to be done to make the drive useable. Are there any utilities from Western Digital for the unit to recover data? If you are wondering, you should be seeing a red symbol on the left end of the graphical display in Disk Management.

I did find the following thread but have never used the procedure mentioned.

[Solved] How to initialize a hard drive without formatting!? - Hard-Disks - Storage

If I knew of a way to set up your situation, I would try, but I do not know how to uninitialized a drive with data remaining on it. Setting a drive to offline does show a red down arrow, so to start, perhaps left click the Disk O or Disk X box in Disk Management and see if it shows the drive online...I have just changed mine from online to offline and back and the Data is still there.

If the time comes when you feel the drive is useless and you are ready to reformat, try initializing it first to see if the data remains.

Joe S

Excellent Member
There are a couple of things to try. Get a Linux Live CD and see if you can access the data that way. Test Disk TestDisk - CGSecurity might fix corrupt partition data. Or Easeus Free Partition Magic alternative & free Partition Manager Software for Windows PC, Workstation and Server - EaseUS. the free version. I saw this recommended too Partition Find and Mount — free partition recovery software


Honorable Member
This is a great piece of software.

From my experience, this will allow you to copy data from the drive but it might not be writable. In any case, once you backup the data, you should be able to format\repartition it without problems.

Also, uninstalling the USB hub it's connected to and letting windows reinstall it, many times will help.

Many times it will also work fine on another computer where you can also then backup the data.

I've tried everything out there, with no luck. I think I have a new paperweight. :(

I am facing the same problem and looking for the help so that I can access my hard drive. It is time consuming, annoying and disrupting my work as well. Need help!


Extraordinary Member
Premium Supporter
USB drives have many problems. Cable, drivers, [mainly Windows] updates. I bought a Buffalo USB 3 drive, couldn't get it to run with USB 3, and sometimes it didn't show at all. Then suddenly it popped up fresh and well working, and I'm quite certain it was a Windows update that did it.

Can you see the drive in BIOS? If you can, it's a Windows issue, but if you can't, it's a hardware one. You do have the critical / important Windows updates?

Mostly Windows can run external drives well, but manufacturers also have own drivers for them. You could give some system specs? Computer build, drive, etc. Standard procedures are, turn off computer, unplug the drive, then start the computer and after Windows is safely started, plug the drive.

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