We often store our personal files on an external hard drive, USB sticks, and even memory cards. Thanks to them we can always carry our data with us, or use it as a backup so that, if something fails, we can recover this data. However, no electronic device is eternal nor will it last forever, and it is possible that, at any moment, when connecting it to the PC, we find that it does not work.
When we connect a hard drive or USB to the computer and Windows does not recognize it, or it recognizes it but is not able to mount and use it, we start to shake. What will have happened to our data? Depending on the type of problem, it is very likely that they have been lost, and we have to resort to a program like TestDisk so that, hopefully, we can recover them. But the most common is that it is either a mechanical failure (and that, therefore, we will not be able to do anything) or a logical failure.
In case it is a logical problem, with these tricks we will be able to make the hard drive work again and, even if we lose the data, we will save ourselves from having to buy a new hard drive.
Why is my hard drive not working and I cannot format it?
The reasons why a hard drive, USB memory, or SD card has stopped working can vary widely. Therefore, to rule out that it is a problem with our PC and make sure that it is the unit that is failing, what we must do is try to connect it to another computer to see if it works. If it doesn’t work on the other computer, it’s almost certainly the device’s fault. In the event that other computers recognize the data, then we must look for the reason why it does not work on our PC.
If it is an external hard drive, for example, it may be that what has failed is the controller in the enclosure. This is the least of the evils, since by buying a new external casing we can recover the hard drive and all the data. This only happens with external hard drives. If we have a USB memory or a microSD, if the controller fails we will have to buy a new device.
The logical reasons why a hard disk can fail are very varied. For example, a failure in the partition table can leave the entire hard disk used, as well as a failure in the firmware of the same. It can also happen that a virus has been copied that is preventing us from using the device.
Finally, although it seems obvious, a very common cause is activating the write lock. SD cards, and some USB memories and hard drives, have a switch that allows us to block writing on them. We must ensure that these security measures are disabled to be able to write smoothly to the drives.
Tricks to repair the hard drive
As long as the reason why our hard drive does not work is due to a logical problem, we do not have to worry. Following the following steps we will explain how to solve the problems so that we can use the hard disk, USB memory or memory card again without problems.
Identify the device
Surely we have more than one hard drive, or USB, connected to the computer. Therefore, before continuing, it is necessary to know exactly which unit is giving us problems. If Windows recognizes the drive and has it mounted within “This computer”, we can see it very easily by right-clicking on it and opening the Properties panel. If not, we must go to the device manager (which we can open by right-clicking on the start button) and looking at the ” Disk drives ” section.
Completely delete partitions
The partition table may have been corrupted for some reason: a virus, a power cut, a bad disconnection, an error in Windows … If it is corrupt, Windows will not be able to mount the hard disk, and it will not let us do it. nothing with it as it cannot identify this partition table and manage it properly.
Although any partition manager can allow us to clean this table and generate it again, we are going to resort to the most advanced and lowest-level tool: Diskpart. This tool is included in Windows and runs from a CMD window with administrator permissions to have full control over the system.
We open the CMD window, execute the command «diskpart», and when it is executed we will write «list disk» to see a list with all the drives that we have connected.
We must choose the unit we want to clean. Carefully. We can look at the total size, available … whatever. But it is important to make sure that we choose the drive that we want to erase. In our case, for example, we are going to do it with Disk 2. We execute the command «select disk 2» (changing 2 for our disk) and, once selected, we will execute the command «clean».
When finished, the partition table and all data that was stored on the disk will be destroyed. The disk will be as unformatted. Therefore, to use it, we will have to create partitions again as we will explain in the last point.
Another way we can recover a hard drive or drive is by performing a low-level format. What is done with this task is to delete the partitions, the MBR, the partition table and all the indexes of the files that there are, and then initialize each of the sectors of the disk. Thus, if there is something that is not working well, we can end it.
To carry out this task we can use a program called HDD Low Level Format. As its name suggests, this software will allow us to perform a low-level formatting of any drive (hard drive, USB, SD, etc.) that we have connected to the PC.
The process is slow, but when it is finished we will have the unit as fresh from the factory. Of course, in order to use it we will have to create a new partition table and, at least, a main partition.
Use programs specialized in formatting drives
Whether we have used Diskpart, or if we have performed a low-level format, Windows will not show the hard disk or memory on This computer because it will not have partition tables or partitions created. Therefore, the next step will be to create them ourselves. We can do this in several ways, either using the Windows 10 disk manager, or third-party programs for the same purpose.
We can initialize and create the new partition table from the Windows disk manager. To do this, what we must do is click with the right mouse button on the start button and choose ” Disk Administrator “.
When we open it, we will see a message in which the unit that is not initialized will appear, and a wizard from which we can choose if we want to create an MBR or GPT partition table.
Once the disk is initialized, the next step will be to create the new partitions. We can also do this from this disk manager, or use the following program.
We must choose the size we want the new unit to have, the name and the file system in which we want to format it. When we finish the wizard we will have a new partition created that we can use to save whatever we want.
MiniTool Partition Wizard
MiniTool Partition Wizard is one of the best programs that we can find today to manage disks and create or delete partitions. At this point, Windows should detect the hard drive again without problems, although as it does not have partitions created, we will not be able to use it.
This program will allow us (among many other things) to create the partitions again to be able to use the program normally again. Even this software has a tool called “Partition recovery” that will allow us to scan the surface and, if there is a trace of the data, it will allow us to recover it.
Recovery will be possible if we have not done a low-level format or have not overwritten the data. If we have done it, the truth is that recovering the data will be much more complicated, almost impossible.
This program is free, and from here we can download MiniTool Partition Wizard.
Test the hard drive on another computer
There are times when it may happen that the problem is not with the hard drive as such, but that there is a problem related to our computer. The USB port may not work, or Windows may have locked the drive for whatever reason.
Therefore, if we continue to have problems and we want to rule out that it is our computer, what we must do is find another computer and connect the hard drive to it. So we can check if the disk works on the other computer, or if not we have the same problems.
If the other PC recognizes the hard drive, we can take the opportunity to carry out the steps that we have previously connected, such as deleting the partitions and formatting it again in another file system. Also, if we had important data in it, we can save it (if it is still there) so as not to lose it.
When we’re done, we can go back to our main PC and check if everything is working normally.