USB External Hard drive and Windows XP

Billing and customer care
Billing Support Systems
Disk drives
Fibre channel
Microsoft Windows
SQL Server
I have two issues which are basically the same. I have an external USB hard drive that I connect to a computer running Windows XP. Windows USB driver recognizes the hard drive and shows the drive in Device Manager but Windows does not show the drive in Windows Explorer. A customer has a USB FLASH device that is recognized by the USB driver, but does not map to a disk in Windows Explorer. How do I get Windows to map an external USB device in Windows Explorer?

Answer Wiki

Thanks. We'll let you know when a new response is added.

You might want to check in disk management and see if the system is seeing the drive and what drive letter is assigned – Windows tries to assign the next drive letter – even if it’s already assigned to something. If you see the drive in Disk Management – then just assign it a different drive letter and it should be fine.


You have to assign a drive letter to this device, e.g. F, G, H
This done by going into ‘Control Panel’ > ‘Administrative Tools ‘ > ‘Computer Management’ > ‘Disk Management’ click on the USB drive and right click properties, there you assign a drive letter. When done the usb port comes alive and shows the drive.

If you are referring to not shown plugged in device, this is possible when there is a third party software restricting the use of any USB devices. Also, you have to make sure that the computer system has no setting that hides any plugged in devices.

Discuss This Question: 10  Replies

There was an error processing your information. Please try again later.
Thanks. We'll let you know when a new response is added.
Send me notifications when members answer or reply to this question.
  • Bwallx
    To applify the above, this behavior occurs if you map a network drive to the first available drive letter after the drive letters for the local volumes and CD-ROM drives. When you install a new device or volume, Mount Manager, which assigns drive letters to volumes, does not recognize the mapped network drive and assigns the next available drive letter to the new device or volume. This causes a collision with the existing mapped network drive. To prevent this issue from occurring, when you map a network drive, assign the highest available drive letter to the mapped network drive.
    0 pointsBadges:
  • BigBlueArc
    Just a simple question, has the drives been partitioned, formatted and assigned a proper drive letter ?
    0 pointsBadges:
  • Dfng2002
    Have you formated the drive to NTFS? It usually comes from the factory as fat16 or fat32. Which isincompatible with XP.
    15 pointsBadges:
  • Stevesz
    To dfng2002, XP will read drives with FAT file systems just fine. That is not the problem here. The problem is that the OS is not completely recognizing that there is a drive attached to the machine. To cestanley, Have you checked with the support pages of the devices you are working with or talked to their tech support? Since this is occurring with more than one product, I'd suspect there is a problem with your OS install, but there may be a patch available from the manufacturerer of the device which takes care of this problem.
    2,015 pointsBadges:
  • Geistman
    Most likely, a network drive has already been assigned the drive letter that Windows would have assigned the USB drive; the result is no drive letter assignment, and it looks like the drive was not recognized. Either right-click My Computer and choose Manage, or Start/Run diskmgmt.msc to bring up the Disk Management Console. You will see a graphic listing all drives recognized on your system - local, mapped, and unassigned (the USB drive). Right-click the area of an unassigned drive and select "Change Drive Letter and path" and then either select an unassigned drive letter, or specify a path or specify an empty path on an existing hard drive to have the drive mounted as a subdirectory of the existing hard drive.
    0 pointsBadges:
  • RoscoePColtrain
    Changing the drive letter may work and that has worked in the past. If that does not work.Another answer is to type the name of the drive letter (e:, f:) whatever it is assigned in the address box of windows explorer. That should bring up the drive and all the information on it. At that point the user can either access their information from now on this way or it will allow you to transfer their information of the hard drive onto another one and then wipe it and reformat the drive. It should then find it again and you can load all the info. back on to the drive. That has always worked for me.
    0 pointsBadges:
  • Cestanley
    The devicce does not show up in Disk Manager and there for is not mapped to a drive letter. I have freed up the next drive letter after the CD ROM drive and still, the device does not get mapped to a letter. I can map network drive, but I can see no way to Browse to a USB device as I do to map a network drive.
    0 pointsBadges:
  • Lirria
    Another thing that could be wrong is the drive itself. I had a Maxtor USB drive that would not stay stable under windows - sometimes it would work and others it would not - finally it was not seen consistantly under windows and when I would reboot the computer (XP) that it was attached to the computer would not boot - called Maxtor and they replace the drive under warranty. Just another thought. Lirria
    0 pointsBadges:
  • RonaldBulthuis
    I would like to add the following: If the option "Change drive letter or path" is not available in Disk Manager try the following. Open Configuration Screen and select hardware. In the list of hardware devices got to IEEE 1394 (Firewire interface) and disable it. You can enable it later on again. Boot your computer. Your disk should now be visible in Explorer. If not you can go to Disk Manager again and right click on your disk. Put your hard drive online. You can also right click again on your hard drive and the option "Change drive letter or path" should now be available. Change the drive letter to a free drive letter. The IEEE1394 can be enabled again. Microsoft has reported the conflict with the IEEE 1394 in their knowledge base. Good Luck.
    10 pointsBadges:
  • steve222
    I am trying to open my external hard drive that was a backup hard drive on another computer and it will not let me.
    20 pointsBadges:

Forgot Password

No problem! Submit your e-mail address below. We'll send you an e-mail containing your password.

Your password has been sent to:

To follow this tag...

There was an error processing your information. Please try again later.

Thanks! We'll email you when relevant content is added and updated.


Share this item with your network: