How to Recover Data from WD External Hard Disk Which Is Not Detecting

How to recover data from WD external hard disk which is not detecting? Check the possible symptoms and then the reasons, try to recover lost files using Western Digital recovery software. 8 effective fixes are also included.


By Ivy / Updated on July 8, 2024

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Ever had one of those heart-stopping moments when your WD external hard disk isn't detecting? Yep, I've been there. You plug in your drive, and instead of seeing your precious files, you get nothing. Panic sets in, right? Well, take a deep breath. I’m here to guide you through how to recover data from WD external hard disk which is not detectingand fix WD external hard drive not showing up easily and quickly.

My Passport External Hard Drive Not Showing Up

“Hello, I have a 2TB WD MyPassport HDD. All of as sudden it was not getting detected by the file manager, and when I looked in the disk management it was showing the disk is not initialized and it prompts me to initialize it, but I’m afraid that by doing so I will lose important data in the drive. I will attach the screenshot. Can anybody please help me. I have already tried with other pc, and by using another usb cable , it still won’t work.” – Reddit

Disk Unknown Not Initialized

Don’t worry about much and you can recover data from WD external hard drive which is not detecting as long as you don’t overwrite data on the disk. The process of initializing disk will not delete any data but it will if you format the disk afterward. Below are 4 common symptoms of a non-detecting WD external hard disk:

  • The drive doesn't have a drive letter, thereby not showing up in File Explorer.
  • You receive error messages like "USB device not recognized"when plugging it in.
  • The drive showing as Unallocated or Unknown in Disk Management.
  • No physical signs of the drive, such as no LED light, no spinning sound.

If you find any of the above symptoms, it means your WD external hard drive is not detected. Please continue to read below and learn the possible reasons.

Why WD External Hard Drive Is Not Detecting?

If you are sure the WD external hard drive is not detected, it’s necessary to find out what is causing the situation. You can then recover data and fix it according to its root cause.

  • Faulty USB Cable or Port: Sometimes, it's as simple as a bad connection.
  • Driver Issues: Outdated or corrupted drivers can cause detection problems.
  • Power Supply Problems: Insufficient power supply can make the drive undetectable.
  • File System Error: The file system is incompatible or it's corrupted by malware or viruses.
  • Firmware Issues: Sometimes, outdated firmware can lead to detection problems.
  • Physical Damage: Dropping the drive can cause internal damage, making it unreadable.

Sometimes, you may find the WD external hard disk is not showing up in File Explorer, but in Disk Management, your drive letter may be missing or showing as Unallocated or Unknown. In this case, you can easily recover data from WD external hard drive using a reliable data recovery software.

How to Recover Data from Non-detecting WD External Hard Disk 

When it comes to data recovery, MyRecover, embedded with a user-friendly interface, advanced scanning algorithms, a wide range of useful features, and great compatibility, making it a great choice for retrieving lost files from a non-detecting WD external hard disk.

😁User-Friendly Interface: Easy to navigate and use, even for beginners.
👍Quick Scan and Deep Scan: MyRecover will run both of them one by one and quickly find all the deleted or lost files on WD external disk and recover them completely with a high success rate.
📃Various Recoverable File Types, such as documents, images, audio, videos, and more, up to 200+ formats.So you can easily recover Word documents, Excel, PPT, PDF, MOV, MP4, MP3, etc.
🔥 Highlight Features: Search, Filter, and Preview. With them, you can locate the desired files quickly and recover them during the scanning process.
📀WD External Disk Compatibility: It supports all series of WD external hard drive, such as such as My Passport, WD Elements, My Book, WD Black, etc., formatted with FAT32, NTFS, exFAT, ReFS in Windows 11/10/8/7 & Windows Server.

Now, FREE download this Western Digital recovery software to a working computer for WD external hard disk data recovery!

Download Software Windows 11/10/8/7/Server
Secure Download
💬 MyRecover has three editions: Free, Pro, and Technician. The Free edition only supports recovering data from non-detecting WD external hard drive over 500MB. Once exceeded, please upgrade to MyRecover Pro or Technician.

How to recover data from WD external hard disk which is not detecting? You can download WD external hard drive data recovery software - MyRecover and follow the operating steps below to use it for data recovery.

Step 1. Connect your WD external hard disk, such as My Passport, and ensure it's properly connected to your PC. Then, launch WD external hard drive data recovery software - MyRecover, hover the house to your WD disk, and click Scan.

Select Partition to Scan

📢You can also use it to recover files from WD Elements, WD Black, My Book, etc., if it is not detecting or have any disk error.

Step 2. The software will run two scanning methods automatically to find all the lost files and display them in the following window once they are found. The Quick Scan searches for recently deleted files while Deep Scan searches for other missing files.

Scan for Deleted CapCut Videos

Step 3 (optional). To locate your important data, such as PNG images quickly, click the Filter feature displayed as a funnel-shaped button. Then, select Type > Images, and type a specific file extension, such as .png in the search box to narrow it down. Double-click to preview them.

Filter Search Images

✨Options in the Filter feature:
  • Type: Different file types, such as images, videos, documents, mails, webpage, compressed files, etc. are included.

  • Data Modified: It supports today, yesterday, last 7 days, last 30 days, and custom. To recover deleted files at a specific time, try the last option.

  • Size: It allows you to filter file size from less than 128KB to 128KB ~1MB to 1MB~512MB and above, or custom.

Step 4. Select your important data and click the Recover button. It will display the number of files to be recovered and the entire size.

Step 5. Select a new location to store the lost data on the WD external disk. Retrieving files to their original location may overwrite the space of lost data, resulting in data recovery failure.

Select a New Loaction

How to Fix WD External Hard Drive Not Detected Easily

Let's dive into 8 effective fixes to get your WD external hard drive detected again. Here’s a mix of solutions you can try:

Fix 1: Check USB Connections and Ports

Often, the issue lies with the USB connection. You can try to unplug and plug WD external hard drive using the USB cable, or a different one. If it’s still not working, try a different USB port on the computer.

Fix 2: Try a Different Computer

If the WD external hard drive not showing up, try to connect it to another computer and check if it’s detected. If yes, your problem may be caused by a previous computer. If not, continue to read the next method.

Fix 3: UpdateDisk Drivers

Outdated or corrupted drivers can prevent the WD external hard drive from being detected. Try to update disk drivers as follows:

Step 1. Press Win + X and select Device Manager.

Step 2. Expand Disk drives, locate your WD external hard drive, right-click it, and select Update driver.

Update WD Disk Driver

Step 3. In the following window, select Search automatically for updated driver software.

Search Driver Automatically

Fix 4. Initialize Disk Showing Not initialized

Sometimes, you may find that WD external drive showing “Unknown, Not Initialized” in Disk Management. In this case, you need to initialize disk with the following steps.

Step 1. Press Win + X and select Disk Management.

Step 2. Locate the WD external hard disk showing Not Initialized. Right-click it and select Initialize Disk.

Initialize Disk

Step 3. Check the WD external disk and select MBR or GPT as the partition style. Then, click OK to continue.

Initialize Disk

Fix 5. Create a New Simple Volume

Your disk may be displayed as Unallocated in Disk Management and at this time the easiest method is to create a new simple volume with it. But the process will overwrite data and space occupied previously unless you recover data from unallocated space first.

Step 1. Open Disk Management. Right-click the unallocated space and click New Simple Volume.

New Simple Volume

Step 2. In the New Simple Volume Wizard, click Next.

Step 3. Follow the on-screen instructions to specify volume size, drive letter, and file system and to decide whether to perform a quick format or not.

Specify Volume Size

Fix 6. Assign a New Drive Letter

Sometimes, the cause of the WD external hard drive not showing up is missing a drive letter or there is a conflict between drive letters. You can try to assign a new drive letter or change it.

Step 1. Open Disk Management. Locate the WD external hard drive, right-click it, and select Change Drive Letter and Paths.

Step 2. In the following window, click Add and OK to assign a new drive letter to it. If the problem is a drive letter conflict, click Change. You can then select a new drive letter.

Assign New Drive Letter

Fix 7. Repair Disk Error using CHKDSK

If you suspect there is a problem with disk or it has file system errors, try chkdsk command to help you out.

Some users report the chkdsk deleting files while using it. So it’s necessary to recover data from WD external hard disk which is not detecting first. If not, do this.

Step 1. Type cmd in the search box and select Run as administrator.

Step 2. Type chkdsk X: /f /r and press Enter to check your disk and fix any errors it found. Replace X with your drive letter.


Fix 8. Format the Disk

If your disk is formatted with an unsupported file system, it will cause WD external hard drive not detected. So you can choose to format the disk with a compatible file system, such as FAT32, NTFS, etc.

Note formatting a disk will delete all the data on it, causing permanently deleting files. If there are any important data, please check how to recover files from WD external hard drive which is not detecting above.

Step 1. Press Win + X and select Disk Management. Right-click the WD external Hard Drive and select Format.

Step 2. Specify a compatible file system, such as FAT32 or NTFS, and be sure you use the quick format method. Then, click OK.

Format Disk


Facing a non-detecting WD external hard disk can be stressful, but it's not the end of the world. By understanding the possible causes, and using professional Western Digital recovery software like MyRecover, you can recover data from WD external hard disk which is not detecting.

You can then try to fix WD external hard drive not showing up with corresponding methods, from simple solutions, such as replug your drive using a USB cable, to riskier solutions, such as the chkdsk command, or format disk. And always, always backup files regularly to avoid these headaches in the future.


1. Can I recover data from a physically damaged hard disk?

Yes, but it usually requires professional data recovery services, such as Geek Squad, DriveSaver, Ontrack, CBL Data Recovery, etc. DIY attempts might cause more harm.

2. What are the costs associated with professional data recovery services?

Costs can range from $100 to over $1000, depending on the severity of the damage and the amount of data.

3. How long does the data recovery process take?

It varies depending on the type of disk, the degree of damage, and the amount of data. Simple software recovery might take a few hours, while professional data recovery services can take days.

4. How can I prevent my WD external hard disk from failing in the future?

Regular backups, careful handling, and keeping antivirus software and firmware updated are key preventive measures.

5. What do I do if my WD hard drive is not detected?

If you realize the WD hard drive is not detected, try to restart your computer first. Then, you can choose to check the USB cable and if it shows up in Disk Management. Sometimes, the disk itself may not show up due to a missing drive letter, or display as Not Initialized or Unallocated.

Ivy · Editor
Ivy is an editor of AOMEI Technology, she covers backup & restores hard disk & partition management and cloud file transfer, and so on for AOMEI. She is an outgoing girl and enjoys helping people find solutions to their problems. She loves traveling, eating, reading, and so on. She usually hangs out with friends at her leisure time.