Solutions: Cannot Open External Hard Drive and Files/Folders

So you plugged in your external hard drive and are able to see it in the file explorer. But, for some reason, you cannot open the files and folders that reside on your External Hard Drive. Worry not! In this post, we’ll help you fix the issue using ways and means that have worked out for other users who went through similar issues.  

Steps You Can Undertake If You Can’t Open Files On An External Hard Drive On Your Windows PC

1. Turn Off UAC

Turn Off UAC

Every time you open an external hard drive, you see a UAC or user account control prompt. While an important element of security, it is known to lead to errors such as “requested operation requires elevation” whereby you may not be able to access files or open them on an external hard drive. In such an event, you can try disabling the UAC once and then check if you are able to open the file or not. 

  1. Open Control Panel by searching for it in the Windows search bar and clicking on Open from the right-hand side. 
  2. Select Category in the View by dropdown. 
  3. Click on System and Security
  4. Click on Security and Maintenance
  5. From the left-hand side, click on Change User Account Control Settings.
  6. Drag the slider to Never Notify and click on OK
  7. Reboot your computer and check if you have been able to fix the issue.

2. Update Disk Driver

Some users who weren’t able to open files and folders on their external hard disks found out that their external hard disk driver was outdated. Now, you can either update the device driver manually, or an even more effective and rather safe method is to use a driver updater tool.

Advanced Driver Updater, for instance, is one of the best device driver software for Windows. It has thousands of drivers in its database. You can, therefore, rest assured that you’ll be able to successfully update your driver. 

Update Disk Driver

Other notable features include- 

  • Backup and restore the driver
  • Batch update drivers 
  • Schedule driver updates
  • Exclude drivers that you don’t want to update
  • Detailed driver summary

To know more about this driver updater tool – how it works, features, pricing, etc,  you can check out our review of the same

3. Change Folder Permission

It could be that there are folder restrictions on your external hard drive because of which you are unable to open files and folders on your external hard drive. In that case, you can modify folder permissions and then check if you are able to fix the issue or not – 

  1. Right-click on the folder and select Properties
  2. Click on the Security tab and click on Advanced
  3. Click on the checkmark that says Replace all child object permission entries with inheritable permission entries from this object
    inheritable permission entries
  4. Click on Apply and OK

You can even try and gain administrator permissions as well by following the steps mentioned below –

The steps below can come to your aid if your external hard drive is detected but you are unable to open it because of administrative permissions –  

  1. Open This PC
  2. Locate your inaccessible external hard drive and right-click on it. 
  3. Select Properties
  4. Head to the Security tab and click on Edit
  5. Click on your username under Group or user names
  6. Check all boxes under Allow column.
    Check all boxes under Allow column
  7. Click on Apply and OK
  8. Restart your computer.

After performing these steps reboot your computer and check if you have been able to fix the issue.  

4. Check and Fix Drive Errors 

This troubleshooting step can be helpful if due to some reason, your external hard drive stops functioning. You can check the hard drive for errors and if possible resolve them using the chkdsk command – 

  1. In the Windows search bar, type cmd and click on Run as administrator.
  2. When the Command Prompt window opens, type chkdsk g: /f /r /x. Here the letter g denotes the drive letter of your external hard drive.
  3. Hit the Enter key

5. Format Your External Hard Drive 

If despite being recognized, you just cannot open files and folders on the external hard drive on your Windows PC, quite likely there are file system errors that are surfacing. The best way to deal with this issue is to format your external hard drive –

  1. Open the Run dialog box by pressing Windows + R key combination. 
  2. When the dialog box opens type diskmgmt.msc and press Enter
  3. Check the status of your external hard drive in the Disk Management window. 
  4. In case it shows RAW and unallocated, right-click on it and select Format.

shows RAW and unallocated

Choose the file system as NTFS and hit the OK button.

Wrapping Up 

Can you now open files on your external hard drive? If yes, which of the above troubleshooting steps helped you fix the issue? Do let us know in the comments section below. For more such content, keep reading WeTheGeek. You can also find us on Instagram, Pinterest, Flipboard, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

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