Windows Can't Detect External USB Hard Drive

By bthoang ·

I am new to the forum and have been trying to find an answer to why my external hard drive cannot be recognized by windows. I have been reading a lot of post on the forum, especially from HAL_9000 and tried following his advice but I'm still having no luck.

What I'm using:
-R-Driver III USB 2.0 to SATA IDE Cable
-3.5" 80GB Western Digital (WD800) hard drive
-Fujitsu 2.5" 40GB (tested with this HD as well and still it can't recognize it)

Computer spec:
-Windows XP SP2
-2GHz Processor with 1GB RAM

The HD is spinning because I can hear it. But when I plug the USB into the USB slot, nothing happens. I check Disk Management and its not even listed there. Jumper is removed, I even tried changing the Jumper setting to Cable Select to test. Still not working.

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you.

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All Answers

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Determining External Connection

by paulmi In reply to Windows Can't Detect Exte ...

If the enclosure allows for both external SATA as well as USB to connect to the computer then there is probably a switch on the extrenal enclosure to select your form of connection. I have a Thermaltake enclosure which can connect with either USB or SATA and there is a switch to determine which type of connection you are using. If it is on the wrong setting the drive will not be detected. I hope this helps.

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There Isn't Any Switch

by bthoang In reply to Determining External Conn ...

Thank you for your response but I don't think this is it since there isn't any switch.

Please see the link below to see what device I am using to connect my external hard drive.

As you can see, it is very straight forward. You can either hook up an IDE HD or SATA HD or even a DVD/CDRW.

I don't think this is the problem.

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by ozi Eagle In reply to Windows Can't Detect Exte ...


How are the disks powered?

I have found that a 2.5" HDD cannot be powered solely from the USB port. Ditto 3.5" drives, though the interface tends to have a separate power plug.

2.5" drives typically draw 700 mA, whereas a USB port can only supply 500mA max.


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Tested The Power Too

by bthoang In reply to Power

Hi Herb,

Its definitely not the power. I thought it might be since after reading one of HAL_9000 advice to another person having similar problem. I than plugged in the power source directly to the outlet and it still didn't work. The HD spins, I can hear it spinning and it comes with a power adapter.

Please see link below of the product I'm using:

Thank you.

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Network Drive Mappings?

by Bizzo In reply to Windows Can't Detect Exte ...

Open Disk Management and see if the USB drive is there.

I had a few problems a while ago with external drives, the problem was that I had a network drive mapped as drive F:, and when I connected my USD drive, that was also trying to use F:.

The solution that worked for me was to open Disk Management, which showed the USB drive, and change the drive letter to an unused one.

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This Could Be It. Due To Virtual Drives?

by bthoang In reply to Network Drive Mappings?

Hi Bizzo,

Thank you for you response. I think this could be it but I can't test it until I get home from work today. Could it be due to the virtual drives that I use on my computer? I have two virtual drives that I use to mount my images.

I will check it out and let you know if this is the problem.

Thanks again.

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Disk Management

by bobbrann In reply to Network Drive Mappings?

Where's disk management, Bizzo?

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win dows doesnt detect external HDD

by pablor In reply to Windows Can't Detect Exte ...

I think u should check the following:-
1)Change the USB cable
2)Change the USB card it might be faulty even if the computyer is new,check if it works well with a flash disk.
3)Does your motherboard support such a big HDD
4)If it doesnt and all the settings in the bios is ok,then have the HDD checked
best of luck
Paul Aweyo

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Reply: win dows doesnt detect external HDD

by bthoang In reply to win dows doesnt detect ex ...

Hi Paul,

To answer some of your check list:
1) The USB cable is connected to the adapter on one end and cannot be replaced.
2) The USB card works fine. I tested it with my mouse... I don't have a flash disk to test.
3) I tested the same external HD on both computers. My laptop and desktop and I tested two different HD (40GB and 80GB).
4) Will look into this.


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Problem Solved: Purchased Device Is Defected

by bthoang In reply to Windows Can't Detect Exte ...

Hi everyone,

Thank you for taking the time in trying to help me out. I went with my instinct that the product I bought (R-Driver III IDE/SATA to USB adapter) was defected and took it back to the store and had them tested it for me. Turns out that it was defected and didn't work. He switched it with another one and works fine. I spent four hours last night trying to figure why it wasn't working. What a waste of time.

Thanks again.


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