Fix: USB 3.0 External Hard Drive not recognized in Windows 8.1

Many Windows 8.1 have run into this problem. After connecting an external hard drive at 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 under 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 task-bar 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. USB Devices not working in Windows 8.1
  2. 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 aka HappyAndyK is an end-user Windows enthusiast, a Microsoft MVP in Windows, since 2006, and the Admin of Please create a System Restore Point before trying out any software & be careful about any third-party offers while installing freeware. Add me on Google+.
  • John

    Uninstalling the USB controllers worked for me. :)

    I tried two separate USB drives on two computers. Everything worked fine on my other computer and both drives failed on my Win 8.1 desktop, so I knew the drives and cables were fine. Unfortunately, the Windows automatic troubleshooting did nothing. Then, I uninstalled all the USB controllers, rebooted and the drive works fine.



  • Dimitri
  • Trevor Ridvidd

    I tried it all the above solutions to get my external 3gb usb3 drive to be recognised , nothing worked, I could not see it in file explorer, then I used paragon disk management which could see the drive and assigned a drive letter to all the 4 partitions on the external hard drive I used end of alphabet letters w, x, y and z to stop them being moved if drive letters change

    I can now use this drive but over drives probably won’t be recognised but it will read usb drives ok

    so this is a fix for each drive you use

  • disqus_t0C5RU59Tk

    No warning about mouse and keyboard not working?

  • ethan

    After many attempts, I solved by disabling the Quick Start

  • Arun MR Nair

    this solution is not working in my PC,

    Iam using Asrock Fatal1ty Z87 Killer series motherboard and i7 fourth gen proc,
    any one plz give me a solution

  • Nana L.

    Worked for me thanks very much! (Windows 8.1)

  • Dungrau FôTô

    Uninstalling the USB controllers worked for me



  • bg

    Worked for me. Thanks a ton!

  • Cerimon

    Allocating a drive letter in Disc Management worked for me

  • troubled_yardie

    i just jumped straight to disabling the USB – selected suspend setting for plugged in and battery…..worked fine once i reconnected.

  • mikeydtan

    GOT IT. Had done everything, 1) uninstall all USB drivers, to allow win reinstall, 2) updated / installed win 8.1 drivers from MS, Intel and finally Dell website (also tried to update all drivers via device manager but always told its the most update one), 3) used device mgmt. and regedit to unable suspend power to USB devices, 4) changed advanced battery settings re USB power down both battery and plugged in mode … all didn’t work on my XPS 12. FINALLY what worked was goto control panel > disk management to manually mount drive letters. Not sure why it wasn’t auto mounting but this works – assign letters in the middle to avoid dismount by other plug and play devices or SW. Now, if someone could just show me how to get Windows 8.1 to auto mount HDD drive letters for external storage media … hope this helps others with the same symptoms … ive been searching since win 8.1 update same into play and messed this up (fact of timing anyway). if need any clarification, email me at in case I could help. Cheers.

  • Jennifer Cox Inigo

    Question…was this error message that you were getting happening suddenly after the device was already plugged in and recognized. Meaning it would be working fine, and then suddenly eject the hard drive b/c of the error. That’s my issue and nothing seems to solve it.

  • mikeydtan

    hi Jennifer, yes that’s my issue too. Ms support could not help (not sure why) but I discovered the problem and fix after a lot of trial and error and online searches of various forms. Somehow there is conflict in drive letters even if you don’t stick in anything new. Go to Windows disk management (use search tool) then manually reassign external drives from back to front (I.e. alphabet z towards a). Hope this helps.

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