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How to format unrecognized drives in Windows

January 1, 2003

in All Articles,Encryption and data,Miscellaneous

Gregg has a problem:

My current BACK UP HARD DRIVE dilemma:

Despite the fact I had no trouble installing an internal Seagate back-up drive there is a problem with TWO new Western Digitals when I have tried internal (IDE cable) and external (IDE to USB conversion) hook ups. I suspect this problem could be due to the fact the new drives have not been formatted…. But how can I format them if they are aren’t recognized??? I seem to recall being able to format the Seagate.

INTERNAL: WD is cable select and was installed on the same plug where (functional) Seagate had been…but the western digital will not show up in My Computer and is not assigned a drive letter. It IS running so the power supply is OK as well.

USB EXTERNAL: EACH time the “new hardware” is recognized and “ready to use” by XP (USB MASS STORAGE) but I cannot access the drive since it has no drive letter and isn’t showing up anywhere except on the toolbar messages after they are plugged in.

I have an XP disc and am wondering how I can use that to format these back up drives??

So, you need know how to format unrecognized drives. Luckily, it’s a farly simple process. No fancy Windows XP disk manipulations will be needed.

If you don’t see a drive letter appear for new installed drives, you’ll have to assign a drive letter using the Windows Management tool. Here’s how to use it.

Right-click on the “My Computer” icon and click “Manage“. In the window that appears, you’ll see a “Disk Management” tool (in the “Storage” section). Click on this tool. In the lower half of the resulting screen, you should see your drives appear.

The issue is that the drives, are installed and working, but unformatted and unpartitioned. If this is the case, you’ll see the drives appear in this tool, and they’ll be labeled something like “Disk 1“, “Disk 2“, etc. Select these new drives, right-click them, and choose to create a partition. Partition creation will carve out a chunk of space on the disk to use as a new drive letter. Once you do this, the volume will format, and be assigned a drive letter. If you don’t like the drive letter, right click on the drive (in the upper window), and choose to “Change drive letter and paths“.

Note that you shouldn’t change anything about your existing drive letters. If you already have a C and D drive on the system, for example, do not change them to anything else. Do not delete those partitions. These types of changes could seriously harm your Windows setup.

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