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How to get computer to recognize external hard drive

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September 10, 2010 6:01:35 AM

Hello,
I have an external hard drive that isn't recognized on my laptop, I have files on it that i don't want to lose by reformatting the drive. The problem is that no pc even reads it as a new or unrecognized device, it's like the device isn't even there. Please Help anyone.
September 10, 2010 6:06:51 PM

We would need more info, what is the make & model of the HDD? What is your system OS? Are you sure the HDD has not failed since you are unable to read it on any system? When was the last time it did work? Did you change anything since then, for example the jumper settings?
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a c 342 G Storage
September 10, 2010 7:45:32 PM

1. How is the drive connected to your laptop? By USB2, perhaps? What about when you connect to other computers - the same connection method? In each case are the required drivers for that system installed? I fully expect any USB drivers ARE installed, but don't know whether that's how you are connecting.

2. How do you know it is "not recognized"?
(a) When you connect it up, are there any lights that turn on? Do you hear any mechanical sounds from the external unit?
(b) Where do you look in your laptop? In My Computer, does it simply not show up there?
(c) Click on Start ... Control Panel ... System ... Device Manager. Can you see the device in Disk Drives, or in the USB device listing? If so, does it have any Caution tags on it? If you right-click and ask for its Properties, what does that say?
(d) Back out of all that. Click on Start, then RIGHT-click on My Computer, click on Manage. In the left pane expand Storage if necessary and click on Disk Management. Look in the LOWER RIGHT pane and scroll through all the hardware devices it shows there. Do you see that external drive there? If not, you have a hardware problem.
(e) IF you can see the unit in Disk Management's lower right pane, look at the main block which has info on it. It will show a Volume Name like MyDisk or something, a Windows letter name like E:, a size, a File System like NTFS, and a status. What are those? If it simply has no letter name you can assign one by right-clicking on it. If its File System is shown as "RAW", you have a little corrupted info in the disk control files. It may ask if you want to Format the disk and you are right to NOT do that.

3. Does it display the same info if you connect it to another PC?

4. IF the unit lights up but does not show anywhere as a valid piece of hardware, it is still possible that the HDD inside it is OK with good data, and the problem is with the case - its power supply or communication interface chips. If that is the case, a simple way to check is to open the external case, uninstall the HDD unit inside, then install it temporarily in a desktop PC. BUT your external unit MAY be one designed for use with laptops, and those have slightly different connectors on the, you you would need an adapter to make the connections to the desktop machine. But if you can do that, a good HDD will just show up like any other installed HDD. If that happens you can look more closely at the empty case as the culprit.
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September 17, 2010 6:54:05 PM

it was originally a "my book" 500 GB, but i started having the same problem, took it to a little computer shop down the street. They changed out the enclosure to "thermaltake" and it worked great for awhile, then the same problem again. I started using it with windows xp, my new laptop has windows 7. tried it on a desktops that runs windows xp, vista, 7. it's pulgged in using USB. don't know if it has "failed", not sure. the last time it worked was a little over a year ago. I don't know what jumper settings are? Does that help at all?
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a c 342 G Storage
September 17, 2010 7:07:31 PM

So it IS connected via USB2. The failure could still be in either the HDD unit itself or in the enclosure. Interesting that, in a previous situation, the enclosure apparently was the problem. Could be the same this time, but not necessarily.

Go through my previous post, especially parts 2 and 3. Answers to those questions may help figure this out. Part 4 is a good test process, too, but it requires dis-assembly and reassembly with a possibility of connector complications (probably not).
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September 17, 2010 8:32:56 PM

it's a usb connection, changed out the cable to make sure it wasn't a faulty. it's not "not recognized". there is no change from when it is plugged in to when it isn't plugged in. it was as if there was no device plugged in. unit lights up, no whirl, device doesn't show up in control panel, management. it shows no info on any pc, desk, or laptop. sounds like #4 is the closest to my situation. but I don't know about the inside, how do you uninstall an HDD? can you install it on a laptop? it sounds like it this option maybe possible. can you talk me through it? a laptop is all i have.
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a c 342 G Storage
September 19, 2010 1:40:03 AM

I agree the enclosure itself is suspect. Lights on but no sign of actrivity. Even if the HDD inside is faulty, an external unit connected by USB normally will show up anyway in Device Manager as a USB device, although its HDD cannot be detected. So since it is NOT doing that, I suspect the USB enclosure electronics, and not the HDD unit.

You already have had the HDD unit switched to a different enclosure once. So it could be done again. It was a My Book, which as I read is designed as a desktop computer accessory. That usually means the HDD inside is the 3½" size normally found mounted inside a desktop case, and not the smaller 2½" size used inside laptops. Hence it is very unlikely you could mount it inside your laptop - plan on getting it into another external enclosure.

Any chance the Thermaltake enclosure you have now is still covered under a warranty? Check that in case you can get a free replacement through your local shop who sold it to you.

If you're having to buy another enclosure anyway, you either can go to a shop and have them do the transfer of the HDD for you, or you can do it yourself. BEFORE you commit to buying, try to get the HDD itself tested to verify it really is OK. Since you have no desktop machine, can you get a friend to let you temporarily connect it to his / her machine and make sure it is detected and has good files? If not, can a local shop do a quick test on it for little $$? You should be able to open the Thermaltake case and uninstall the HDD inside. "Uninstall" normally means something simple like removing a couple of screws and unplugging the unit from a connector or two. Not hard to do. That way you can just carry the bare HDD (well, in a bag or something) to the friend or shop.

To choose a new enclosure you need to know three important things.
1. HDD size - as I said, probably 3½" - that is the approximate WIDTH of the HDD unit.
2. External interface (how the enclosure connects to your machine) - in your case, I presume you wan to stick with USB2. Sometimes you get enclosures with two or three interfaces available, but you only use one at a time.
3. Internal interface (how the HDD connects to the enclosure inside). Virtually ALL HDD's inside are EITHER IDE or SATA. IDE is the older type. It has a 4-pin power supply input connector )large pins) and a 40-pin (2 x 20, but with one pin missing) data connector. SATA (all three varieties) has a 15-pin power connector and a 7-pin data connector. If you want to be VERY sure, look up the HDD's model number on the maker's website and it should tell you.
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September 19, 2010 7:10:29 AM

silverwinter said:
Hello,
I have an external hard drive that isn't recognized on my laptop, I have files on it that i don't want to lose by reformatting the drive. The problem is that no pc even reads it as a new or unrecognized device, it's like the device isn't even there. Please Help anyone.

Hi! First you need to manage your disk, right click my computer ,and choose management, and click disk management. Or you can click the www.galarysoft.com, search for the glary utilities to manage risk. If your hard disk driver, then go to your drive manufacturer's site to see if anything has been posted on the problem?
Or you can click the www.galarysoft.com, search for the software Driver update,. There surely are ways to get to your drives.
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April 11, 2011 4:25:44 AM

Originally when I got my Seagate FreeAgent external hard drive I had to format it for a mac because I was new to the whole and couldn't figure out how to save files on it. Whenever I plug it into my PC it does light up showing it is getting power and working, it just doesn't show up as a device like my phone or any other driver/device would when plugged in via usb.

I followed your steps that you very kindly listed out and found that it is being read in the Device Manager and found that the driver was in healthy conditions when I followed the computer manager step. I just couldn't figure out how to rename it with the following step.

So I am confused now know that the computer is picking up that is plugged in, but I honestly have no clue how to get about to actually being able to save anything onto it. Plus I would like my computer to recognize it when it is plugged into to the usb. I have even switched ports to see if that would make a difference and it didn't.

And when I went to format it with the Seagate manage it says "Partition creation failed." Which is like a different language to me. I really hope that it is nothing bad because it is a brand new device and has hardly been used.

I have been able to plug it into a Mac and maneuver around it efficiently and pulled all the files I had saved on it off it so I can reformat it need be.

So basically. Please help. I would greatly appreciate it.
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December 23, 2011 3:15:39 PM

The information provided here is exellent and I just want to add an extra step before you try to take apart the external drive;

If you do a have a RAW disk you can use the "Error=Checking" option. You must have to force it. You must include c: in this processes. The system will do your c: drive first and then will do your external drive. How to od this; click on start then open my computer then right click on c:\ drive and choose tools option then select "chck Now" for error, then check the box to automatically fix system errors. Do this for both drives. You may have to authorize windows to execute this task


Paperdoc said:
1. How is the drive connected to your laptop? By USB2, perhaps? What about when you connect to other computers - the same connection method? In each case are the required drivers for that system installed? I fully expect any USB drivers ARE installed, but don't know whether that's how you are connecting.

2. How do you know it is "not recognized"?
(a) When you connect it up, are there any lights that turn on? Do you hear any mechanical sounds from the external unit?
(b) Where do you look in your laptop? In My Computer, does it simply not show up there?
(c) Click on Start ... Control Panel ... System ... Device Manager. Can you see the device in Disk Drives, or in the USB device listing? If so, does it have any Caution tags on it? If you right-click and ask for its Properties, what does that say?
(d) Back out of all that. Click on Start, then RIGHT-click on My Computer, click on Manage. In the left pane expand Storage if necessary and click on Disk Management. Look in the LOWER RIGHT pane and scroll through all the hardware devices it shows there. Do you see that external drive there? If not, you have a hardware problem.
(e) IF you can see the unit in Disk Management's lower right pane, look at the main block which has info on it. It will show a Volume Name like MyDisk or something, a Windows letter name like E:, a size, a File System like NTFS, and a status. What are those? If it simply has no letter name you can assign one by right-clicking on it. If its File System is shown as "RAW", you have a little corrupted info in the disk control files. It may ask if you want to Format the disk and you are right to NOT do that.

3. Does it display the same info if you connect it to another PC?

4. IF the unit lights up but does not show anywhere as a valid piece of hardware, it is still possible that the HDD inside it is OK with good data, and the problem is with the case - its power supply or communication interface chips. If that is the case, a simple way to check is to open the external case, uninstall the HDD unit inside, then install it temporarily in a desktop PC. BUT your external unit MAY be one designed for use with laptops, and those have slightly different connectors on the, you you would need an adapter to make the connections to the desktop machine. But if you can do that, a good HDD will just show up like any other installed HDD. If that happens you can look more closely at the empty case as the culprit.

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January 28, 2012 9:59:02 AM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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