General Question

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

Why is my external drive not being recognized by my computer?

Asked by shpadoinkle_sue (7188points) July 14th, 2010

The external drive itself is fine, as well as, my computer. Neither have suffered any damage or have any viruses.
The external drive is pretty much full and I don’t know if that has anything to do with it.
My external is a Western Digital about 3 years old. It has 160 gigabytes. The model number is WD16001032.
I have Windows Vista Home Premium. My computer is an ACER desktop purchased about 2 years ago.

The thing that I’m having a problem with is that my computer won’t recognize it. It says it’s working properly and that I can safely remove it. But, I cannot get my computer to recognize it. I have an old Dell laptop from 2001 and it recognizes it, but will not open it because it cannot open up a high speed external device. This is a recent occurance and I got some files that I need to get off of it.

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17 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

It could be a cable problem, it might be a missing driver, or your WD may not be as fine as you think. They are known to fail.

jerv's avatar

~Driver problems in Vista? Impossible!

Seriously though, I would try it on a friend’s system that is new enough to have USB 2.0 and see what happens. At worst, it’l ltell you whether the drive or your Acer is messed up.

Are all of your other USB peripherals (including thumb drives) working fine?

@dpworkin If the Dell sees it, I doubt it’s the cable. It’s still possible, but somehow I doubt it. Just a hunch.

dpworkin's avatar

I’m guessing that means the Acer is a Dell? Hmmm.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

@jerv All my smaller usb’s work just fine. I read something about TWEAK UI?

jrpowell's avatar

I have two WD external drives sitting on my shelf. Same exact problem. I was never able to get them to work again. Sometimes they would mount but transfers failed after about 30 seconds. I pretty much did everything I could think of on three versions of OS X, Vista, and Ubuntu. I couldn’t get anything to bring them back.

dpworkin's avatar

TWEAK UI is a program that allows access to user interface changes. I can’t see what it would have to do with an external drive.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

@johnpowell I really hope this thing works again because it’s got a lot of info on it. :(
@dpworkin I’ve been looking at different forums and it mentions it might make it work again.

jerv's avatar

@dpworkin Agreed; TweakUI wouldn’t affect something like this.

@johnpowell I’ve been avoiding WD as much as possible for so long that I forgot why. Thanks for the reminder :)

@py_sue Losing hard drives sucks major ass, but between copying stuff between my laptop and desktop and having a stack of DVD-Rs, I haven’t lost data in quite a while. Backups are essential!

dpworkin's avatar

@py_sue It’s terrible when it happens, but it also reminds us why backups are so necessary. For a couple of hundred dollars and the cost of four good-sized internal disk drives you could set up Windows Home Server on a dedicated appliance and have your data backed up transparently

dpworkin's avatar

If your computer “sees” the drive, try opening a terminal window and running checkdisk. Example: If your external hard drive is drive D:. you would choose Start, Run type “cmd” without the quotes, hit enter, and in the black window type “chkdsk D: /r /f” again without the quotes.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

I tried that and this is the message I got back.
Access Denied as you do not have sufficient privileges. You have to envoke this utility in elevated mode.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

I tried cmd as an administrator (System32) and it said “cannot open volume for direct access”.

mrentropy's avatar

Do you get the tone when you plug the drive in while in Vista? And do you know if it’s formatted in FAT32 or NTFS? And do you have Spyware Doctor installed?

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

There’s not usually a tone, but if you mean that hum when it starts up. Then yes, there’s a tone. I’m not sure about format. I’ve never changed it from when I got it. I don’t have Spyware Doctor installed. My internet protection is through Windows Security Essentials.

mrentropy's avatar

With Windows, when you plug in a USB device it should make a noise. Like a “dee-dum” type noise. If you’re not hearing that, then it sounds like Windows isn’t recognizing a device being connected to your USB port. Have you tried different USB ports?

dpworkin's avatar

If it can’t open the drive for direct access, schedule a checkdisk using “Tools” on the “Properties” tag for the drive, select “Fix Errors” and “Check for bad Sectors”. and it will schedule a boot-time check.

flutherother's avatar

If it’s any consolation I have exactly the same problem with my WD external hard drive. Sometimes it is recognised and I can save files onto it but mostly my PC with Windows 7 doesn’t seem to know it is there.

PS I also had issues with my PC taking ages to boot up when I forgot to disconnect the hard drive. I think my PC was trying to boot up from the external hard drive.

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