How Do I Make My Computer See an External Hard Drive?

Well, here's another nice mess I've gotten me into!

I rolled back a batch of Microsoft updates to my Toshiba Satellite laptop (Windows 7) in an effort to correct what I'll call an annoying situation. That didn't work, so I restored the updates, and moved on.

Or so I thought.

Now the computer won't read from an external hard drive plugged into a USB port. It "sees" it O.K., but if you click on the name to view the contents, the error message appears:

Please insert a disk into Removable Disk (D:)

So I googled the problem and found a solution that seemed straightforward enough. Here's where I went to do the fix:

Screenshot
The problem "disk," Disk 1, showed up as D: - i changed it to a higher letter, "R," as suggested by the solution, except that it did not work, as the screenshot shows.

So it's time to ask the experts how I can straighten this out.

Anybody been there and done that?
RadioGeorgeOwner/ProgrammerAsked:
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dbruntonCommented:
Test it on another system first.  If it doesn't work there then the problem is with the disk and not your system.
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RadioGeorgeOwner/ProgrammerAuthor Commented:
Ah! The thing I forgot to mention! I've tried THREE different external drives I have on THREE different computers. All work fine on the other two, no problems being seen at all, but none will work on the laptop in question. So it IS the computer and not the drive.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Look for it in device manager, then remove it from there.  Then disconnect and reconnect it.  That MIGHT help.
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RadioGeorgeOwner/ProgrammerAuthor Commented:
Lee, it doesn't even show up in device manager. The only thing that shows up there is the C: drive.

Next?
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dbruntonCommented:
Where do these drives get their power from?  If from the computer then try a powered USB hub to supply the power to them rather than relying on the computer.

Other possibles:
Try Safe Mode.
Also try disabling any anti-virus as well.  Best try this while off the network.
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RadioGeorgeOwner/ProgrammerAuthor Commented:
Drives all come off a powered hub, and that setup has been working well for almost a year now. I use ESET NOD32 A-V (and have for the past 4 years) and am pretty sure that's not it, as everything has been working compatibly under it for a long time. I'll try safe mode to see what happens.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
SOMETHING has to show up in device manager or you wouldn't have an R: drive.  Whatever does, remove it.  Then redetect.
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nobusCommented:
It means that your motherboard supports hot swapping of hard drives.
 Disable the AHCI feature on your motherboard and it should disappear

i found some registry changes that could help :
http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-hardware/my-internal-sata-device-appears-in-devices-and/722221d6-d59c-4cf7-803c-8203e6344b93
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rindiCommented:
Have you tried the other USB ports on the PC? Do other USB devices like keyboard or mouse work? Don't disable AHCI in the BIOS, that is for internal disks and not for USB disks. Besides, with AHCI you get better disk performance, and if you disable it you may get a BSOD when booting the PC....

If you have tried all the ports and it doesn't help, and if also leew's suggestion doesn't help, and if mice and keyboards work when connected to USB, got to the website of the PC manufacturer and download, then install the drivers, start with the chipset drivers, reboot.
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
If it does not appear on all USB ports then go to Device Manager and uninstall all USB concentrators. Then reboot the system and let them install again automatically.
After that connect the drive and see if it is detected.
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nobusCommented:
why not disable AHCI for testing ?? if the disk its not seen, performance = 0
if needed, you can re-enable it easily later on

may i ask WHY you rolled back the updates in the first place?  was it because of the external disk?
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RadioGeorgeOwner/ProgrammerAuthor Commented:
New info that may help: it had not occurred to me to check whether or not the computer sees USB thumb drives. It DOES, no problem. Would this indicate that the problem is one regarding only external hard drives, and if that is the case, what is the correct path to take to fix things?

Lee,  here's a screenshot I just took of the device manager screen:

drive problem 2
As you can see, it is NOT showing up. With regards to he first screenshot posted above, I have no idea why the drive appeared then, but not now.

Rindi, mouse works fine in all 3 ports, as do USB sticks.

Noxcho: what is a USB concentrator? I googled that term and could not even find a simple answer. Remember, I am NOT a tech guy, just an average user!

Nobus: I rolled back the upgrades in an attempt to restore my copy of Word 2000 to working order. In spite of what Microsoft says, that (as well as many older programs) work just fine on Windows 7. My word processing needs are minimal and I have never had the need to upgrade to other versions. But about 3 weeks ago, something happened such that Word would not close when I clicked on the "x" in the upper right hand corner of the program screen. After a fruitless exchange with some experts, I discovered the forced shutdown procedure of using Alt+f4. Met my needs. HOWEVER, along the path to discovery I installed/uninstalled Office 2000 and Word several times, and had problmes simply getting Word to install and work again, which I did. I rolled back the updates as suggested by an expert, although that did not seem to have any effect. I realize that the installs/uninstalls and rollbacks may have caused this current problem, although there are no other problems affecting the computer.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
In spite of what Microsoft says, that (as well as many older programs) work just fine on Windows 7.
Sure... UNTIL there's an update that breaks them.   This is the problem with using UNSUPPORTED software.  Microsoft DOES, in fact, test their patches and updates... but only against CURRENT products still in support.  Word 2000 is nearly 16 years old... they are NOT testing that so if something breaks, "oh well".  Upgrade your office to something newer.  

Clearly, that doesn't fix the problem this moment... but it's what wasted a lot of your time now, trying to save a buck by using 16 year old software.  If you really don't want to spend the money on Microsoft Office, go try OpenOffice or LibreOffice.  They're free and read and write Microsoft Office files.

You've talked about a lot of things... but have you checked your event logs?  Anything in there?

 BUT, one solution - use system restore and restore your system to a point a few days ago when this problem didn't exist.
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nobusCommented:
first - i would test the problem drive on another pc
if it does not work there - the problem is with  the drive, cable, power supply  or interface
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RadioGeorgeOwner/ProgrammerAuthor Commented:
Lee, you and I will have to disagree completely on the Word issue.  It meets my needs, I found a workaround on my own that no experts suggested to solve the problem and that's that, I have seen too many cases of "It won't work in that system" turn out to be simply untrue over multiple system updates by Microsoft.

But, I do appreciate your awareness of the problem at hand. I have never viewed event logs or had to so a system restore before, but I will do those and get back to you with the results here. Thanks
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
It's not a matter of it won't work - its a matter of it being unable to continue working at some point.  You can keep using it until you can't.  But if it breaks with an update, then you're being unwise at best as UNINSTALLING or not installing important, potentially critical updates that help protect your computer from malicious software.  If you're not concerned about your computer belonging to someone else, keep doing it.
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nobusCommented:
sorry; after rereading i see that you said that all drives work ok on other pc's
may i ask if it wxorked ok before?

then a system restore to that date helps you out quickly

ps - i don't see how word 2000 comes into this? or did i miss something?
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rindiCommented:
I'm not sure what a prehistoric version of Office has to do with the Question, but I absolutely agree with leew, that it is foolish to keep on using such ancient stuff. Besides what he already mentioned, also m$ Office has Servicepacks and security updates which plug security holes that get discovered, and this ancient stuff hasn't seen any updates for years, making it very, very insecure and the PC attack-able. And why use such totally outdated stuff if you can use a modern LibreOffice for free? I just fail to see any logic behind keeping a hold on such old stuff...
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RadioGeorgeOwner/ProgrammerAuthor Commented:
Nobus: I should have followed that nagging doubt I had about being so specific, but I decided to include the Word thing in case there might be a direct connection. Why do I keep on using it? Because it's easy, familiar, exceeds my needs, and I won't have to learn a new interface and system. Cost is not an issue for me. Let's put this away with three points and then focus on the problem as posted. (1) My ancient edition of Word has served me for FIFTEEN years, without any security issues. Maybe my luck is pehnomenal or else the A-V and Malware programs I use and update have been worth the money. Or maybe Microsoft is not as fabulous or honest as many users take for granted. (2) I also have 4 XP-based systems with which I word on various projects with 100% safety...because none of them are, or will be connected to the Internet. Word (and other "ancient" software) gets it done. (3) Future crashes of those systems? As insurance, I bought a complete XP commercial installation package, used by independent dealers to install XP on computers they buy and sell. Let's make this the last word here and move on with the problem at hand,

Yes, all drives worked fine on other computers before. Matter of fact, I'm using one now on one of my XP systems to get some stuff done.
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Universal Serial Bus Controller is the same as Concentrator. Uninstall them and reboot the machine. If the disk does not appear after that then I suggest you trying a powered USB drive on this machine. This will show if your USB ports are giving enough power. USB stick (flash drive) does not require as much power as a normal USB disk.
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RadioGeorgeOwner/ProgrammerAuthor Commented:
One of the more interesting "exchanges" with regards to a question here on EE. Lee W gets the Best Solution Award. I tried the earliest system restore, which was from exactly one week ago. It worked like a charm! The computer "sees" the external hard drives.

In looking at the Events Log (suggested by Lee W) before trying the system restore I saw an awful lot of Microsoft garbage which apparently was not uninstalled even though I uninstalled it in the as-directed fashion AND used Iobit Uninstall to flush away the leftover registry entries. Lots of superfluous junk from my trying to reinstall Word from the Microsoft Office CD.  So much for the great computer industry leader.

Have to award some points to Nobus, the other expert to suggest that a system restore might work.

You have no idea how much easier I'm breathing thanks to this solution! Thank you.
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nobusCommented:
RadioGeorge, tx for the explanation.
i understanf how you feel - i'm the same, when it comes to making "obsolete" things work
enjoy - and watch updates/software installs
you may want to make a system restore point regularly, so you have a point to return to
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