External Storage devices not showing

Basic/Preliminary checks

1. Check that the device is turned on, most external drives will turn on automatically when plugged into a computer and may show a visible notification when connected, however some drives have a power button to turn them on.

2. Check for any damage, any cracks, or missing pieces from the device itself. Damage to the device may have caused irreparable problems which results in malfunctions, additionally any small bumps/drops may look minor but could have caused a lot of internal damage to components.

3. Restarting the computer should solve most software issues, unplug the external device, restart the computer and plug tit back in after the computer has turned on.

4. Wait a while before plugging the USB stick into the computer if your computer has a lot of programs that launch on start-up. The computer may get overwhelmed by all the operations and cast aside the external storage device.


Although most external drives and ports can be backwards compatible, not all of them are. Additionally, although a flash drive with a 3.0 USB will be compatible with a 2.0 slot it doesn't mean the drive will work. If a specific function of the drive needs 3.0 connectivity it will not work with a 2.0. It is always good to read up on the specification of the external drive and the computer/laptop to ensure ports are compatible with the type of external device you are buying.

Windows Updates

Fully updating your operating system is important for the function of many computer apsects including flash drives. This is because operating system updates may come with files that update drives that support external devices. Always best to download any optional updates as well. Plug in USB stick after updating the operating system.

Disk management tool

  • Plug in the external drive.
  • Open the Start menu, right click the Windows logo.
  • Select Disk Management.
  • In the Disk Management panel, you can manage any storage devices connected to the computer - simply changing the name of a drive can help the computer recognise the device. (From this section we can also tell if the drive is dead or not, if the device doesn't show up in this panel, the the device is either dead or the drivers for it are not updated).

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Last document review date: 14th December 2021.

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