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 Start Search box click the icon.

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 often and this one if Windows 10 does not recognize second Hard Drive.

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. External Hard Drive not showing up
  4. 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, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. 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.


  1. 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.



  2. 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

  3. disqus_t0C5RU59Tk

    No warning about mouse and keyboard not working?

  4. ethan

    After many attempts, I solved by disabling the Quick Start

  5. 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

  6. Nana L.

    Worked for me thanks very much! (Windows 8.1)

  7. Dungrau FôTô

    Uninstalling the USB controllers worked for me


  9. bg

    Worked for me. Thanks a ton!

  10. Cerimon

    Allocating a drive letter in Disc Management worked for me

  11. troubled_yardie

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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. Kelley

    So if I plug my external hard drive in and I go into the disc manager and see that my hard drive is there and it does not give me an option to change the name of the drive, does that mean its empty?

  16. Thank you very much. Uninstalling and reinstalling the USB controllers worked. !!! Cheers!!

  17. Duc Doan

    windows 8 not recognizing usb


    When I plugged
    the cannon powershot sd1100 IS camera
    to my computer Lenovo model IdeaCentre K410 running the window 8 OS, and after turned on the power switch , it did
    not detect the USB device, the camera
    did not seem attach to the computer, there was no drive icon corresponding to
    the camera appeared.

    I have tried to remove the memory card of the
    camera and inserted it to memory card
    reader slot of the Lenovo computer. However, it had the same problem,

    When I plugged other USB devices, such as an
    USB thumdrive device to the lenovo computer, the thumbrive worked fine.

    When I inserted the camera to other computers
    in my house such as a lap top running
    Widow OS7 and a Compaq running Window XL, the camera worked fine.

    I have tried shutdown reboot and recovery the
    system OS to previous check point,
    nothing help

    When I googled the web, there are similar
    reported problems. However, none of the solution helped.


    It turned out there is a simple bug / solution.

    move the mouse to the icon in
    the lower right taskbar to ‘safely remove hardware’ and

    SAFEFLY REMOVE ALL USB devices. Then shut down computer. Then manual
    disconnect USB cable to all external USB device. Then power up computer, notice
    that there is not any icon in the lower right taskbar to display ‘safely remove
    hardware’ . Now connect the USB cable
    to the camera. Then turn on the power switch of the camera. The system works ,
    it detects the camera and display the
    camera as an attached drive.

    The key point is for Window 8, somehow there is
    a bug which conflicts the USB devices attached to the system. And by removing the lower right taskbar to ‘safely remove
    hardware’ icon. And reboot a discussed
    above, the conflicting USB devices are fixed.

  18. Naveen Mummudi

    Thanks! it worked!

  19. I think reinstalling the USB drivers is a necessary step, but what really did the job for me was when I disabled the USB suspend settings. Thanks, TheWindowsClub.Com! Microsoft DID NOT fix the problem, not on any of their forums. Anyway, the brand’s auto updating software also helped with the device updates, not all, but most of the maintenance anyway.

  20. Jerry Emery Delacruz

    The hard disk is not recognized by the usb 3 port in Device Manager, a prerequisite to using your procedure.

  21. atif

    Uninstalling the USB controllers worked for me. as well.Thanks a heck lot man 🙂

  22. Big

    Enable/disable USB controllers has also worked for me

  23. Nev Anderson

    Battery Icon, on a Desktop PC ?
    I’m running Win 10 Pro, it doesn’t have one,
    Any internet search just returns millions of returns with laptop intructions, none of which of course can be implemented.

    (Uninstall and restart doesn’t work,
    annoyingly, all I have done is moved Ext HDD from USB 2.0 port to USB 3.0 Port, and Windows says device driver failed)

  24. Marcelo Seno

    Thanks great topic!! it works fine for me !!
    I forgot about the simple thing of unistall the USB bus controllers driver!

  25. thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. Ben Elohim

    I am trying to fix a transcend hard drive which has MBR.The hard disk can not be recognized. Any advice.

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