Easy Working Steps to Recover Not Responding Hard Drive

Isha RIkhiData Recovery Expert
Avid Learner and Data Recovery Expert.Like facing challenges and learning new technologies
The following article sheds light on easy-to-use steps to recover non-responding hard drives without data loss. Count on these approaches to fix undetectable, not responding, or non-working hard drives.

An external drive, a handy storage media, is a perfect option for data transfer and data backup. Despite the success, sometimes this portable device also fails. The cause of the failure can be anything, ranging from damage, corruption, improper usage, faulty USB, etc. However, the major reasons for a hard drive not working are:

  • A hardware issue, like a USB port problem
  • A driver problem with computer
  • The dead drive

When such unwelcome experiences knock on your door, the only call is to fix the non-responding hard drive immediately without data loss.

Steps to Turn Not Working/Responding Hard Drive into Healthy State


First Port of Call: Reattempt Plugging In

The first and the foremost attempt used by several users is plug-n-play method. In some cases, this option works but is not an ideal practice. The reason for this being that this is just a hit and miss method and also involves risk to aggravate the issue further.

Second Course of Action: Connect External Drive with Another System


Another simple attempt to fix the issue is to plug in the external hard drive on another computer. This approach also determines whether it is a USB port problem or not. If the drive works on another system, fix the USB port of the required system, else switch to the next option.

Third Course of Action: Verify Power Management for USB Hub


Out of several approaches to repair an unrecognizable external hard drive, Power Management verification for the USB Hub is another quick fix. Here are the steps to use:

  1. Go to Start 
  2. Key-in devmgmt.msc
  3. Press Enter 
  4. Click and open Device Manager
  5. Next, expand Universal Serial Bus Controllers
  6. Right-click on the USB Root Hub
  7. Choose Properties followed by Power Management
  8. Disable “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power” option by unchecking

If the problem persists, follow the next step.

Fourth Course of Action: Run CHKDSK


CHKDSK is another useful approach to fix the non-responsive  hard drive. Steps include:

  1. Go to Command Prompt
  2. Key-in chkdsk /f x: ( x symbolizes external hard drive letter)
  3. Press Enter 
  4. Type Exit 
  5. Press Enter 

If this method does not serve the purpose, try option 6.

Fifth Course of Action: Uninstall Drivers

In several situations, driver uninstallation also resolves the issue. Steps include:

  1. Click Start
  2. Type devmgmt.msc
  3. Press Enter 
  4. Go to Device Manager
  5. Expand Universal Serial Bus controllers
  6. Check the list for unrecognized device
  7. Click on the Drivers tab
  8. Uninstall the drivers associated with it
  9. Check My Computer / My PC for the external hard drive
  10. If external hard drive shows up but disappears after, change its drive letter (go to Disk Management >> Assign a new drive letter by clicking Change)

Sixth Course of Action: Boot Computer in Safe Mode


Sometimes, the problem is in the system. In such case, running the system in a Safe Mode can quickly mitigate the issue. Check out the steps to reboot the system in Safe Mode.

The following process includes four stages:

Stage 1: Boot into Safe Mode

  1. On the keyboard, press the Windows + I key together 
  2. Select Update & Security followed by Recovery
  3. Under the Advanced startup, choose the Restart Now option 
  4. After restart, select Troubleshoot from Choose an option window
  5. Click on Advanced options followed by Startup Settings
  6. Click Restart 
  7. Click F4 to Boot into Safe Mode or F5 to boot into Safe Mode with Networking

Now, recheck the external drive. If the issue still arises, go for Clean Boot State. 


Stage 2: Boot into Clean Boot State

  1. Under the search box, key-in msconfig
  2. Choose System Configuration

  1. Choose the Service tab and check the Hide all Microsoft services option
  2. Hit the Disable all button

  1. Select the Startup tab and click on Open Task Manager

  1. Under the Task Manager screen, open the Select each item option

       2.Press Disable 

  1. Click OK in the System Configuration interface to restart PC

Stage 3: Check External Drive for response


  1. Plug-in External Drive
  2. Verify its state

If it responds, the cause of the issue is service interference and if it does not, try another option.

Note: Make sure to disable clean boot environment first.

Stage 4: Reset System to Normal Boot

  1. Go to System Configuration
  2. Click on the General tab 
  3. Choose Normal Startup
  4. Select the Service tab
  5. Uncheck Hide all Microsoft services
  6. Press Enable all
  7. Select the Startup tab
  8. Click on Open Task Manager
  9. Enable all startup programs
  10.  Click Ok
  11. Click Restart 

Another option:

It has been found that most of the time the problem has not been in the drive housing.  If you remove the drive from the external USB housing, it tends to work just fine.  The drives have become more and more reliable while the housings have gone downhill.

Now, that you have fixed the non-responding hard drive. The next big thing is to check the data. If it is intact, proceed ahead. If the drive does not show the data, do not panic, Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery – Professional version - is here to help. This professional tool is a complete DIY solution, which ensures that you will recover data in a few simple mouse-clicks. Just select the data type & drive, scan the selected drive, preview the scanned data, and finally retrieve the inaccessible data.  After data recovery, format the drive to repair the non-working external hard drive and reuse.

Note: All the afore-stated methods to fix the external drive and sure-shot solution to recover the deleted data is also applicable to other storage media devices such as SD cards, flash drives, USB drives, memory cards, etc.

Finally decoded, the exclusive ways to fix not working/responding hard drives quickly and without data loss. Keep a tab on this and never worry about undetectable hard drive recovery again.

Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with any of the software recommended here except as a satisfied user.

To be notified of new articles when they are written, go to my Profile Page and click the Follow button to join my network of friends at Experts Exchange.Finally, If you enjoyed this article, please do endorse it by clicking on the Thumbs Up button to the left of the word Comment at the bottom left of this screen.  It really helps me out.


Isha RIkhiData Recovery Expert
Avid Learner and Data Recovery Expert.Like facing challenges and learning new technologies

Comments (0)

Have a question about something in this article? You can receive help directly from the article author. Sign up for a free trial to get started.