External hard drive installation problems with inspiron 600m

i have this inspiron 600m laptop that will not install an external hard drive(with usb cable).i have not tried using one before on the computer but if i knew i probably would not have bought one the first place.is there a way of fixing this?
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More about external hard drive installation problems inspiron 600m
  1. What Operating System are you using?

    windows xp:
    right click "my computer"
    left click "manage"
    computer management windows should open
    on the left side of the window click "disk management"
    the right side of the window should populate
    in there you should be able to find your external drive listed
    make sure it has a letter assigned to it
    if it does make sure it doesn't match another device (hdd, cd-rom, etc)
    if no letter is assigned to it
    right click on the drive and click "change letter"
    if it is new you might need to click format first
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