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External USB Hard Drive Not Visible for Windows XP


Problem. An external hard drive plugged into a Windows XP computer is not visible in My Computer or using Windows Explorer.

Solution. Assuming the drive is mechanically okay, the drive may not be showing because it has not been initialized, partitioned, or formatted yet. If the drive is from an Apple computer, it may have valuable information on it that simply isn’t readable on a Windows XP computer. If so, connect it to an Apple computer to ensure it is okay to erase it. After ensuring that the drive has no valuable information on it, try the following to initialize, partition, and format the drive as needed.

  1. Right click on My Computer and then Left Click on Manage.
  2. Left Click on the Disk Management found under Storage.
  3. Your non-readable drive should be visible. If your primary drive is drive C (Disk 0) then the non-readable drive is probably listed underneath it as Disk 1 with a red mark indicating the drive status is not acceptable.
  4. Do not click on or make any changes to the Disk 0 (C:) identified as Healthy (System).
  5. Right click on the Drive 1 (assuming this is your external drive) and choose initialize.
  6. Once the drive is initialized, right click on it again and choose to partition the drive with the default settings.
  7. Then right click on the drive and choose to format it.
  8. It will now be visible to the Windows XP operating system.
Categorized as Technology

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com