Is your new hard drive not showing up in Windows Vista?

If your new hard drive is not showing up in Windows, it simply needs to be formatted. Here is how to format your new (or existing) hard drive from Windows Vista, without using any third party software.

Right click on Computer (which can also be found in your Start Menu if you don’t have it on your desktop). Click Manage.

The Computer Management window should open. When it does, select Disk Management from the left hand drop-down menu.

After selecting Disk Management, you should get a list of your hard disks. Right click on the hard drive that you need to format, and click Format. Note: you can also format and partition existing drives here. You can change any partition except the one which Windows is installed on.

In the Format window, give your new hard drive a name and choose the file system. For most purposes, you would want this to be NTFS. A full format is always recommended, meaning the “perform a quick format” box should be unchecked. Leave everything else as it is, and click OK. If you’re formatting an existing drive, all the data on it will be erased.

After it’s done formatting, your new hard drive should appear in “Computer”.

13 thoughts on “Is your new hard drive not showing up in Windows Vista?

  1. The instructions were great. I had to do some extras like initialize the drive, that part wasn’t included in you info. but I’ve formatted hundreds of drives for myself and others on machines running XP back to Win 3.11 so I figured it out fairly quickly. Thanks for teaching me a new operation in Vista. Greg

  2. It’s great information to get the external hard drive to show up initially. BUT… what happens AFTER it’s shown up, and files have been moved to it, and after shutting down the computer, it doesn’t show up again?

    Reformatting is not an option as it already has files on it. Is there another way? I have shut down, rebooted, disconnected, reconnected..etc..

  3. If it doesn’t show up after having files put on it, try plugging it into a different USB port. Or maybe the external enclosure failed. Or the drive was corrupted when disconnecting.

  4. Wired up a second 2 TB HDD into my vista machine, it did not magically appear in ‘Computer’.

    Thanks wordplop and gooogle because it’s now formatting as I write this. My Vista is slightly different in that there is a wizard that does essentially what wordplop describes. The new HDD appears in ‘Computer Management’ as a ‘simple basic’, and formatting 2 TB will take another hour or two.

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