How to Fix Hard Drive Not Responding Error?

Do you have all your precious data backed up on an external hard drive assuming it will always be safe and now you are getting the hard drive not responding error on your laptop or computer?

Fix Hard Drive Not Responding Error

Like any other electronic device, hard drives also have a limited lifespan. Usually, you will start noticing some symptoms indicating an imminent failure. Some error messages that you might get are-

  • Disk not initialized
  • Disk unallocated
  • Disk 1 is unknown

Major Causes of Hard Drive Not Responding

There can be many reasons for hard drive failure. The major causes of ‘hard drive not responding’ are listed below-

  1. Bad sectors on the drive
  2. Virus or Malware attack
  3. Incompatible device driver
  4. Mechanical Failure
  5. Sudden power surge
  6. Mishandling/dropping the hard drive
  7. Regular wear and tear, exposure to moisture, extreme temperature etc.

Note: Before you try any of the troubleshooting methods, please connect the hard drive to another computer or another port to rule out the possibility of the problem has occurred due to a faulty port.

External Hard Drive Troubleshooting Methods

It can be distressing when the hard drive containing your precious pictures, important documents, music, and videos stops responding. Let us see how to fix the ‘hard drive not responding’ error on Windows.

Run disk checkup with CHKDSK

CHKDSK utility scans the hard drive and fixes logical file system errors if found. File system errors are caused by bad sectors on the hard drive which prevent it from functioning normally.

Please follow the steps mentioned below to run the CHKDSK command:

  • Press ‘Windows+Q’ and then type CMD.
  • Right-click on Command Prompt and choose ‘Run as Administrator’. Click ‘YES’ when prompted.
  • In the Command Prompt window, type chkdsk E: /r /f where ‘E’ is the external hard drive letter and /r & /f are the CHKDSK parameters.
  • The CHKDSK command will start the scan, verification, and repair process. When finished, reconnect the external hard drive and check if you can access it.

Change Drive letter name

Changing the drive letter name sometimes fixes the non-responding hard drive. To change the name of the drive letter, please follow the steps below-

  • Go to the Disk Management tool.
  • Right-click the drive you want to change, then select Change Drive Letter and Paths.
  • Select a new drive letter to replace the old one of the non-responsive drive by clicking Change, and then clicking OK to confirm.

The non-responding external hard drive might respond now.

Boot PC/Laptop into safe mode

Sometimes the external hard drive might not be recognized due to a malicious program installed in the laptop or PC. To rule out this possibility, reboot the PC or laptop in Safe Mode and check if the hard drive is accessible in safe mode. If yes, then you need to remove the malicious software. To boot the PC into Safe mode (with Windows 10), please follow the steps below-

  • Press Windows logo key Windows logo key+ I on your keyboard to open Settings. If that doesn’t work, select the Start button in the lower left corner of your screen, then select Settings.
  • Select Update & security > Recovery.
  • Under Advanced startup, select Restart now.
  • After your PC restarts to the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Settings > Restart.
  • After your PC restarts, you’ll see a list of options. Select 4 or F4 to start your PC in Safe Mode. Or if you need to use the Internet, select 5 or F5 for Safe Mode with Networking.

Use Antivirus and Antimalware utility

If the laptop/PC or the external hard drive you are using is infected with a virus or malware, it can make the hard drive inaccessible. Run an antivirus or anti-malware tool to remove any virus and then try connecting the hard drive again.

Reinstall the Drivers

Many a time the “Hard drive not responding” issue is caused due to corrupted or damaged hardware drivers. To fix the drivers, you will have to re-install them.

To reinstall external hard drive drivers, follow the instructions below:

    1. Press ‘Windows+S’ and type ‘Device Manager’.
    2. Click on Device Manager.
    3. Find and expand ‘Disk Drives’ from the available list of devices.
    4. Right-click on the hard drive name and choose ‘Uninstall’. Click the ‘OK’ button when prompted on the “Confirm Device Uninstall” message box.
    5. Now, remove the external hard drive and connect it again. Wait until the drivers’ installation is finished. Re-connect hard drive again and open File Explorer to check if you can access the hard drive.
    6. Alternatively, you can also choose to update your drivers after downloading the latest versions from your system manufacturer’s support site.

Please note, if the hard drive is physically damaged or if you hear strange clicking sounds coming from the hard drive, then this is indicative of a mechanical failure. Please stop using the hard drive to avoid further damage. The above methods won’t work in case of physical damage or mechanical failure.

Data Recovery Services

If the above troubleshooting methods don’t help and you are still not able to access the hard drive, you need to contact a professional data recovery service provider. Physical damages and mechanical failures in hard drive such as a failed spindle, broken arm, or a scratched platter require advanced knowledge and skills to recover data.

Hard drive recovery must be handled only by highly skilled professionals in a controlled environment to avoid further damage. Data recovery process should be fast, efficient, and secure. At Stellar, their hard drive data recovery process comprises of the following steps-

  1. Hard drive doorstep pick up
  2. Hard drive analysis and consultation
  3. Data recovery
  4. Data verification
  5. Recovery fee payment
  6. Drive handover and data on a new hard drive


Make sure your PC/Laptop is secure with the latest security products and updated device drivers. Keep checking the health of your hard drive using CHKDSK utility and S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology) tools. But if you ever face the “Hard drive not responding” issue please contact the data recovery experts at Stellar Data Recovery.

Note: This post is sponsored by Stellar Data Recovery.

Stellar has been in the business of data recovery since 1993 and has an 80+ member in-house research and development team for software development. In addition to an ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 27001:2013 for data privacy, Stellar follows strict processes to guarantee data privacy. The company has a great customer service team that provides global support on a 24×5 basis. Class 100 Clean Room labs at Stellar are specially designed as per ISO standards to ensure maximum possible recovery. Till date, Stellar has served over 2 Million+ Customers across 190 countries. Call on 1800-102-3232 today for your critical data recovery requirements.

This post was last modified on March 19, 2021 7:47 AM

Yogesh Patel: Yogesh Khetani is a famous Tech Blogger who loves to be surrounded by tech gadgets. So obviously, we can see his contribution here in that field. He also contributes to Now I am Updated website.