External HDD on Windows 8.1 Laptop - Just in case...

I upgraded my laptop to Windows 8.1 a few weeks ago. Since doing so, the usb3 external hard drive I use between my desktop and laptop stopped being recognised by the laptop. Definitely not a fault with the drive: still recognised by the desktop which is running Windows 7. I googled various help sites, read lots of Microsoft stuff about usb power states and outdated drive firmware etc. I assumed it was a problem caused by buying a cheap HDD drive box from Maplins that needed a firmware update.

I also spent hours and hours trawling the Samsung website for any updated BIOS or usb3 drivers for my laptop - it’s now coming up three years old and was originally a Windows 7 machine, so I was worried there may be a software/firmware laptop problem.

So: I go out this weekend and buy a little 2.5" usb3 external drive by Seagate. Connect it up - same problem. Not recognised by my laptop, but recognised by my Windows 7 desktop. I’m completely baffled and completely fed up. I’m contemplating reinstalling Windows 7 on the laptop.

But then, out of the blue - solved! After several fruitless and depressing hours, from sadness to joy in an instant.


I have no idea if this is a common feature of upgrading from Win8 to 8.1, or if it is a quirk of my particular laptop, but my laptop will no longer recognise hard drives until I go into Disk Management and ascribe the drive a drive letter. Once this is done, it’s fine. This worked with my old Maplins drive case as well, so I’m a happy camper again, albeit with an extra 2.5" external drive that I could have done without.

Have I missed something obvious? I’ve seen absolutely nothing about this on the web. Just thought I’d post it here in case somebody else is going slowly mad with invisible drives.


Don’t think you did anything here, but you might have hit a snag with hard drive formatting. Sometimes windows won’t apply a drive letter to a hard drive, based on how it was previously formatted.

Either way, a good catch, and something worth knowing.