How to format an external hard drive that is not visible




How can format WD 500GB External Hard disd drive that is not visible at my computer. The disk simply shows at the task bar, it cannot be read, the green light also shows on the disk.

I need to format the do I do that since it's not visible.


You need to initialize the drive in "disk management". If you have win 7, simply type disk management in the search box and you'll find it. In XP, right-click "my computer" and select "manage", then click on disk management. Once the drive is assigned a letter, it will show up.


Thanks for the info but the drive does not show at disk management.......thus, no letter is assigned to the drive. How do I go about it?
Use "Start -> right-click "Computer" -> click "Disk Management" in the left pane.

Look at the BOTTOM portion of the middle pane in Disk Management - you may have to scroll down to see the disks. Right-click on the new disk to create a volume and format it. Once this has been done the drive will be assigned a drive letter and it will appear in the top part of the Disk Management pane as well as in Explorer.

If the drive doesn't show up in the lower part of the Disk Management pane then you've got some sort of hardware issue - double-check that the drive is properly connected and that it's plugged into a power outlet. "Portable" 2.5-inch external hard drives can usually be powered by the USB connection itself, but "Desktop" 3.5-inch external drives can't - they need to be plugged into a wall outlet using a power transformer.

Sometimes even the portable 2.5" drives need external power, or they have a switch to select USB or external power. Check your drive documentation to see what it says about power requirements.


Aug 29, 2013

Sminlal's answer is the best but ill just expand on it a bit as i just used his answer to solve my same issue.

My issue; Seagate, 1.5TB, USB3, external phantom drive. i have just got into using hex editors to clean up my hard drives. I was using the program Winhex for this. I didnt have enough time for the program to finish a cleanup pass so i cancelled it. drive was still working fine. i put some data on it to take home from work. plugged into my home coputer and the drive powered up but was not recognized. tried it on my girls computer and them same, not discovered. took it backto work and again, same thin, not discovered but powered on. navigated into disk management and saw in the middle window on the bottom 3 Drives. disk 0, disk 1, CD/rom 0.

Disk 0 i could obviouslt see was my primary hard drive, once you click it above shows the partition and such. Disk 1 shower nothing. it was black bars instead of blue, showed offline, and a couple other little things that didnt look right. right clicked on it and initialized. still didnt assign a drive letter though. right click again, now you have the option to expand disk volume. clicked that, gave me the option to assign drive letter, and re-format.

Done works good as new again. Thanks for the answer Sminlal.


Dec 1, 2017
Hi there I had a similar issue and I just solved it.

My hard drive was broken / couldn't be seen by my computer / froze diskpart
/ froze my computer when I tried to right click on the harddrive
/ and it froze my disk management tool

So I couldn't access the harddrive or format it at all
When I unplugged the broken HDD it unfroze my computer

I installed the "power data recovery" tool and it Could actually see my HDD and even had the name of the HDD correct (it was showing up as local disk before)

Once I opened up my HDD with power data recovery, I got off a little data that I needed (max 1gb got the free version)
and then running diskpart actually worked!

So steps for fixing:
1. Install power data recovery
2. Open the harddrive with power data recovery
3. Open cmd.exe (brings up the terminal)
4. type "diskpart" (without quotation marks) hit enter
5. type "list disk" hit enter
6. select the disk you want by typing "select disk" and the number
7. type clean

You will lose the data on the disk, but now the disk should be fine to be formatted


Jan 22, 2018

Search for "Disk Management" in your system and start it, on Windows 10 you will see search result "Create and format harddisk partitions".

Disk Management tool is splitted to two panels, take a look at the bottom panel where you should see something like Disk 0, Disk 1...
If there's any drive with same size your hard-drive should be and it says "Unallocated" then rightclick on the box that says "Unallocated"
and you should see options to initialize the drive before Windows (or any other operating system) is able to use it.

Now you should see option to format it to NTFS. If checked, uncheck the option "Enable file and folder compression".
Now simply click "Ok" or "Next" few times and your drive should soon open in new explorer window and you are able to use it.


Mar 10, 2017
Sometimes a USB or DVD booted portable 3rd party disk management is needed. I had to use my Acronis Disk Director to "kick" more than one hard-drive into gear, where finally Windows will recognize and use it. Often, it needed initialization, format, then Windows' disk management handled the drive letter assignment and everything else.

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