Usually, we use any external drives just simply plugging them into our Mac’s USB port. A hard drive normally should appear on the desktop so you can use it right there. Besides that, you can find it in the Finder just in the left section with all other devices.
But sometimes, especially when you are in a hurry and don’t expect any problems, your external drive may fail to mount neither on the desktop nor in the Finder. But don’t worry, there are few easy ways to deal with this issue and get the access to the stored data.
From this article, you will find out how to access an external hard drive and use the data on it. Also, we will teach you how to restore data that is corrupted.
Please note, that we wrote about those external drives that have USB or Firewire connection to a Mac. In case you have a NAS drive with a network connection, you need to get some other approach to deal with the problem.
Fixing a Hard Drive Not Showing Up on a Mac
- So, first things first. You need to check out all most obvious reasons why the hard drive you are using is not showing up on your Mac. And the most common action that might help is to set your Mac to show mounted drives. Just go to Finder > Preferences > General and enable External Drives section if it is off.
- Another simple decision is to check if the external drive is properly plugged in. You may say that it’s too obvious but it is one of the main reasons people often ignore. You driver just doesn’t receive enough power and fails to start. So, check the USB cable and if the drive has an external power source, check it as well.
- One more thing about USB cables. You need to make sure that it is not at fault. You may try to use another cable if you have one. This may fix the problem in case the original cable is damaged.
- And as another side of the story, you need to check the USB port on your Mac. If you have few ports on your device, just try a different one as it can help. Also, if you have just one USB port on your Mac, try another external device, plugging it in and see if that works.
- You can also try your external drive on another Mac or PC if you have one or know where to borrow it.
- By the way, trying PC may be a perfect solution for the problem as the drive may be formatted to be used on PCs. That is the reason your Mac doesn’t see the drive.
- The next step is to use a special program called Apple’s Disk Utility. This software may identify the external drive if your Mac fails to do that. To find Disk Utility, you need to open Spotlight using cmd+space-bar. Just start typing the name of the program and find it on the list. Open the program and look if your device is there.
- If the external device is on the list of Disk Utility, you need to check its volume. Just click on it and select Mount. In case the drive was already mounted, you will see the button Unmount there. If there is no volume displayed there, the Mount button will be unavailable.
Another way to identify your external device on Mac is to use First Aid utility. This app will check all the errors on your disk and fix them if it is needed. Restore option gives you an opportunity to delete the content from your drive and replace it with another drive’s volume. Erase option will just delete all stored data on the disk. Please note, that erased data can’t be restored, and there is no turning back after launching this option.
First Aid is a perfect thing to try in case the external drive has errors and fails to mount because of that. Just click on First Aid and run it to identify all the errors your drive has. Press Repair Disk to fix all the errors there. If the program fails to repair all the problems on your disk, you need to check out its format as it can be just impossible for Mac to read. Another reason is obviously worse. In this case, your drive may be completely broken. You may find online some guides on how to restore the damaged disk.
You need to know few things about file formats that are used on Macs and PCs. Windows is set to be compatible with NTFS file format while Macs time were using HFS+ file format for a long. These days Apple is using a new file system called APFS (Apple File System). But you may use your drive both on Mac and PC. To get that opportunity you need to format your drive with exFAT or the older FAT32.
In case you want to change your drive into some of those formats, you need to copy all the data to another place. After formatting all the files, they will be automatically deleted. So, connect your drive to the device that recognizes its format and copy all the data on its hard drive. Then you may proceed with the formatting.
If you don’t need the data on your external drive, just click Erase button to reformat and clean the disk. You may use built-in instructions on how to format disks both on Mac and PC.
Another thing to keep in mind is about damaging drives by the wrong unmounting method. You need to use a proper way to turn your disk’s power off. Simple unplugging USB cable all the time is a very common mistake that leads to damaged drives. You need to choose Eject option by right button click on the disk’s icon.