Strategies for Drive Undetectable by Disk Manager

A drive may be inaccessible in Windows® Explorer but still shown in Disk Manager, in which case it is corrupted but still detectable.

If a drive is not shown in Disk Manager, the problem is most likely in the drive hardware and is expensive to fix.

Eliminate Other Causes

Make sure the fault is not in another component that may be much less expensive to fix.

  • For a USB drive:
    • Plug it into a different computer.
    • Open the case and inspect it for a loose connection, a broken cable, etc.
    • Install it in another USB enclosure.
  • For an internal drive:
    • Connect it to another disk controller.
    • Install it in another computer.
    • Install it in a USB enclosure.

Look for Hardware Symptoms

The following symptoms or history confirm that the problem is likely in the drive hardware.

  • Not feeling a spinning motion when putting a finger on the hard drive plate. (Not applicable to an SSD.)
  • Clicking noise.
  • Drive undetectable by the computer BIOS during the power on sequence.
  • Drive having been dropped on the ground recently.

Professional Data Recovery Facility

A drive undetectable in Disk Manager usually must be sent to a data recovery facility. The cost may be well over a thousand dollars as of this writing (July 2013).

How is data recovered from a bad drive?

A data recovery technician first tries to clone the drive to a blank drive using special hardware and software. If this is successful, the data can be recovered from the clone drive. If cloning is not successful, the technician must determine the cause of the problem, be it electrical, electronic or mechanical. Note that if the media is damaged, such as in the case of a head crash, the drive cannot be repaired. Once the bad components have been determined, the technician will use an identical "donor" drive for replacement parts. Once the bad components are replaced and the drive is working again, the technician can recover the data.

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