USB 3.0 External Hard Drive not recognized in Windows 10/8.1

Many Windows users have run into this problem. After connecting an external hard drive to a USB 3 port, they have found that the computer does not read it. The drive is not recognized by the OS and is no more visible in Windows Explorer. Possibly, the reasons could be due to issues with the USB drivers installed on the computer.

So, in the first place check the type of the error message you are getting. Second, run the Hardware and Device Troubleshooter or the Windows USB Troubleshooter and check if it helps. The automated tools check the hardware/USB connected to the computer for any known issues and fix them automatically.

Next, you want to check for any pending updates under Windows Update. Some of the updates might be related to the drivers and therefore needs to be installed on the computer. So check if you need to update your drivers. Visit the related website and search for the latest drivers available for the hard disk model and install it on the computer and check if that resolves the issue.

If all fails, try doing the following!

USB 3.0 External Hard Drive not recognized

Uninstall & reconnect the external hard drive

To do this,

Type ‘Device Manager’ in the Search box of charms bar and click the icon.

Device manager

Next, select Disk Drives from the list of hardware, right-click the USB external hard drive with the issue, and click Uninstall.

Following the uninstall, unplug the USB cable. Then, wait for a minute and reconnect the USB cable. The driver should automatically load.

Look for the USB drive in Windows Explorer.

Reinstall USB controllers

The method works if there is a problem with the loaded USB driver i.e. it has either become unstable or corrupted.

Open Device Manager and expand Universal Serial Bus controllers.

Universal Serial Bus controllers

Then, right click a device and click Uninstall. Repeat the same procedure for all devices.

Once done, restart the computer. Your USB controllers should automatically install.

Disable USB selective suspend setting



Click the battery icon visible on the taskbar of your computer screen. Adjacent to your currently selected plan, you should find ‘Change Plan Settings’ link. Click the link.

Change Plan Settings

Next, choose ‘Change advanced power settings’ option.

Then, click the box to expand USB Settings. Expand USB selective suspend settings.

USB Selected suspend setting

Click the link adjacent to Plugged in option, then from the drop-down menu select Disabled option.

Disable settings

If you’re using a laptop, click Battery, then click the drop down menu and select Disabled.

Click Apply, then click OK.

Make sure you create a system restore point first. Also, remember to restore your old setting back, if you find that some suggestion has not helped you.

Check this post if you receive the USB Device Not Recognized pop-up on your Windows often.

These posts may also interest you:

  1. How to identify USB 3.0 Port on Laptop
  2. USB Devices not working in Windows 10 / 8.1
  3. Windows USB Troubleshooter.

I hope something helps you!

Speaking off the topic,  you definitely want to have a look at this comprehensive list, if you are looking for some free software for Windows.

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Anand Khanse is the Admin of and a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows for the period 2006-16. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.