How to Solve Cannot Open External Hard Drive in Windows 7

This post will tell you how to recover data from an external hard drive that won’t open and how to fix cannot open external hard drive in Windows 7.


By Zoey / Updated on June 4, 2024

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"I recently added a 64 GB external hard drive to my computer and it didn't appear in the 'This computer' folder as usual. Instead, an error appeared in the Device Manager saying that the disk was not initialized.

My external hard drive was detected but it cannot be unmounted? I have a lot of important files on the disk, so I can't format the disk unless the files have been safely restored. Can I fix this problem without losing the files?"

The error "external hard disk was detected but cannot be opened", which is different from an undetected external hard disk, seems to be a common cause of errors. Here are the symptoms when an external hard drive or other storage devices become inaccessible:

  • Access denied
  • Access to hard disk
  • Storage device driver is out of date
  • Disk drive driver
  • Unsupported file system
  • Request failed due to a serious hardware failure of the diskette.
  • Unknown disk not initialized

The listed problems can occur with most older disks, to solve these problems you can first follow the instructions in Part 1 to recover and extract data from the disk, and then read Part 2 for specific solutions.

Restore data from an external hard drive that won't open (3 Steps)

How can I access data stored on an external hard disk that cannot be opened on my Windows PC? MyRecover, a professional data recovery software, allows you to access data on inaccessible storage media, even can recover data from an unresponsive external hard drive.

Regardless of the condition of the hard disk, MyRecover can help you recover the data with just a few clicks.

Download Software Windows 11/10/8/7/Server
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The powerful features of MyRecover:

● Easily recover deleted, lost and hidden data from an external hard drive.

● Recovers more than 200 types of data. For example, Word, PPT, Excel, photos, video, audio, emails, web pages and compressed files.

● Also works with Windows 11/10/8/7 and Windows Server 2022, 2019, 2016, 2012, etc.

● Save the recovered data with the saved file name, format and path.

A simple guide to recovering data from an external hard drive with MyRecover.

1. Connect the external hard drive correctly to your computer. Place the mouse over the drive and select Scan.

Select SD Card

2. MyRecover will automatically perform a quick scan and an in-depth scan. Here you will see all deleted or missing files on the external hard drive.

Scanning SD Card

3. Select the files you want to restore. Then click "Restore X files". Choose a safe path where the restored files will be saved.

Select Videos to Restore from SD Card

How to fix cannot open external hard drive in Windows 7

How can I solve the error of an external hard disk that is detected but won't open and get my device working properly again? Here are some reliable methods that may help:

Way 1: Get administrator permission

The process for gaining access permission is similar in Windows 10 and 8, with only slight differences in Windows 7 and older.

Step 1. Open My Computer, right-click on the inaccessible external hard drive and select "Properties".

Step 2. Go to the Security section, click "Edit" and click on your username under Group or Username.

fix access denied error

Step 3. In the "Allow" step, tick all the boxes, click "OK" to confirm and "Apply" to save all changes.

Restart your computer and reconnect the external hard drive to your computer if necessary.

Way 2: Update the external hard drive driver

If the drive driver on your computer is not up to date, you will experience some problems when trying to open the external hard drive. Updating the drive driver can solve most of them. If this is not possible, you can try uninstalling and reinstalling the driver.

Step 1. Connect the external hard drive to your computer.

Step 2. Right-click the This PC/My PC icon, select Manage, and open the Device Manager section.

Step 3. Expand the Drivers Drives section, locate and right-click the external hard drive, select "Update Drivers".

external hard drive update driver

Step 4. Select "Automatically search for updated drivers" and wait patiently for the process to complete.

Restart the computer and connect the device if the system requires it.

Way 3: Check and correct file system errors

You can use disk error checking tools or the cmd command to check and correct file system errors on your device to fix external SSD not showing up in Windows 7.

Note: running chkdsk may hope to correct file system errors, but may also result in total data loss. Therefore, perform a data restore first, then use the CMD method.

Here's an example of how to use the CMD command to correct file system errors:

Step 1. Press Windows + R to activate the Run command. In the empty field, type cmd and press Enter.

Step 2: Type diskpart and press OK to display it.

Step 3: Type chkdsk G:/f /r /x and press Enter (replace G with the correct drive letter of the external hard drive which is not open).

Exit the command line and safely remove the external hard disk. After a few seconds, try plugging it back in and check that it can be opened normally.

Way 4: Repair problems with Troubleshooter

If there is an error or problem with your computer, you may not be able to open the external hard drive. Use Windows Troubleshooter to find and fix these problems. Do the following.

1. Select Start > Settings.

2. Open the Start menu.

Select Troubleshooting, and under the Hardware and peripherals tab, select Run troubleshooting.

3. Troubleshooter analyzes the problems on your computer. If there is a problem, fix it and restart the computer.

Way 5: Reboot your device

There is another simple method that can work effectively: restarting your computer. In most cases, external hard drive problems will disappear after restarting the computer. Therefore, go to the start menu to choose the restart your computer option.


To summarize, by using the safe unmount method to disconnect the external hard drive, update the disk drivers in time, and correct the file system errors on the storage device, you can safely avoid the problem of opening the device whileyou cannot open external hard drive in Windows 7.

Also, don't panic when you encounter this problem. First launch MyRecover recovery software to recover and export valuable files and then apply the methods on this page to make your device usable again.

Zoey · Editor
Zoey works as an English editor at AOMEI Technology. She provides tech information about backup and restore, mobile data transfer, and so on for AOMEI. She hopes that her articles will be greatly helpful to users. She is fond of music, film, and photography.