Why does it say no hard drive detected?

There are a few common reasons why your computer may display the message “No hard drive detected” when you turn it on:

Faulty or loose SATA/power cables

One of the most common culprits is a loose or faulty SATA or power cable connection between your hard drive and motherboard. The SATA cable transfers data between the hard drive and motherboard, while the power cable provides power from the power supply to the hard drive. If either cable is loose, damaged, or unplugged, it could cause the “no hard drive detected” error.

To fix this, shut down your computer, unplug the SATA and power cables from both the hard drive and motherboard, inspect both ends for any bent or broken pins, then firmly reseat both cables. Make sure they are properly and securely connected at both ends. You may need to swap out the cables if they appear damaged.

Damaged or failed hard drive

If your SATA and power cables are properly connected but you still see the error, the hard drive itself could be damaged or have completely failed. Hard drives fail and degrade over time, especially with heavy usage. Clicking or beeping noises from the hard drive are usually a telltale sign of failure.

You can try removing and reseating the hard drive, or connect it to another computer as a secondary drive to see if it is detected. But if the drive is still not recognized or has mechanical issues, then it likely needs to be replaced.

Outdated hard drive drivers

Device drivers allow your computer’s OS to properly communicate with hardware components like your hard drive. If your hard drive drivers are outdated or corrupted, your system may fail to detect the hard drive at bootup.

Go into your system BIOS and see if the hard drive is listed there. If it shows up in BIOS, the issue is likely outdated/bad drivers. You can update them from within Windows safe mode if possible, or your motherboard manufacturer’s website if not.

Failed or loose motherboard SATA ports

Problems with your motherboard’s SATA ports can also prevent drive detection. The SATA ports allow communication between your hard drive’s SATA cable and the rest of your system. If the specific SATA port you have your hard drive connected to is damaged or fails, your drive will not be detected.

Try connecting your SATA cable to a different SATA port on your motherboard. You can also test your hard drive on another computer to rule out broader hardware issues. If it works on a different system, the motherboard SATA port on your original computer is likely faulty.

Damaged hard drive partition table or file system

The partition table and file system on a hard drive contain metadata needed for the OS to recognize, access, and boot from the drive. If this critical data gets corrupted or damaged, it can lead to the “hard drive not detected” error.

You can try using data recovery software to repair the drive’s partition table or file system structures. If the damage is beyond repair, formatting the drive should restore partition/file system integrity, but will erase all data in the process.

Faulty HDD controller/motherboard HDD control circuitry

The HDD controller is the circuitry on your motherboard that interfaces with and controls the signals going to your hard drive. If this controller module becomes damaged, it can prevent your system from detecting the hard drive at startup.

First, try updating BIOS, chipset, and storage drivers from your manufacturer to rule out a driver or firmware issue causing controller failure. If the controller hardware itself is confirmed to be faulty, the motherboard will likely need replacement.

Incorrect boot order in BIOS

The system BIOS controls the boot order of devices and will try booting devices sequentially based on a priority list. If your hard drive is set lower than other devices in this list, your system may default to a different storage medium before checking your HDD.

Access your BIOS settings menu at system startup and ensure Hard Disk Drive or SATA is set to the highest boot priority. This will force your system to check your main HDD first before other devices when booting up.

Disabled hard drive in BIOS

Along with controlling boot order, your motherboard BIOS also lists all connected storage devices and controllers. Your hard drive may show up but be disabled or set to Off in BIOS, preventing it from being detected at startup.

Check that your hard drive shows up in BIOS and is set to Enabled/On. If it’s missing entirely, it likely points to a hardware connectivity or detection issue vs a simple BIOS setting change.

Faulty hard drive power supply

A weak or inadequate power supply can sometimes fail to deliver enough steady power to your hard drive’s motor spindle, causing spin-up issues and read/write errors. This can prevent drive detection.

Check your PSU cables and connectors. Try swapping in a higher wattage PSU if available to test. The HDD not spinning up properly or making strange noises under load indicates a faulty power supply may be at fault.

What to do if no hard drive is detected?

If you have tried the above troubleshooting steps and your hard drive still is not being detected properly, here are a few next actions to take:

Attempt data recovery

If your hard drive was working previously and now fails to be detected, try using data recovery software to see if any files can be pulled from the drive before further troubleshooting.

Test hard drive on another PC

Connect your hard drive to another computer as a secondary drive and see if it is recognized. This helps determine if the issue is with the drive itself or your original machine.

Replace SATA/power cables

Faulty cables are a common cause of drive detection issues. Swap them out with brand new SATA data and power cables.

Update BIOS/drivers

Outdated BIOS and storage drivers can affect hard drive detection and connectivity. Update them to the latest stable versions.

Replace hard drive

If all else fails, you likely have a dead hard drive. Replace it with a new HDD or SSD and reinstall your OS and data from backup.

Why does my secondary hard drive not show up?

If your secondary hard drive is not being detected, some common reasons include:

  • Loose or disconnected SATA/power cables
  • Outdated hard drive drivers
  • Incorrect SATA port assignment in BIOS
  • Hard drive not initialized/partitioned
  • Damaged file system or partition corruption
  • Disabled or offline status in Disk Management
  • Insufficient power supply

Carefully check the SATA and power connections to your secondary drive, update drivers, verify BIOS settings, run hard drive diagnostics, and initialize/format the drive in Disk Management if unallocated. If the drive is still not recognized, it may need to be replaced.

Why does my external hard drive not show up?

If your external hard drive is not detected on your system, try these troubleshooting tips:

  • Reconnect USB and power cables
  • Try a different USB port or cable
  • Update USB/external hard drive drivers
  • Enable USB in BIOS
  • Allocate a drive letter in Disk Management
  • Test hard drive on another machine
  • Check for malware or viruses
  • Try a hard drive enclosure/adapter
  • Format or partition external hard drive

Loose connections, driver issues, and partition errors are common external drive problems. Also scan for malware and try connecting the drive to a different computer if it’s still not recognized. Failing drives may need professional data recovery or replacement.

Why is my hard drive not showing up in BIOS?

If your hard drive is not detected in BIOS, possible causes include:

  • Disconnected or faulty SATA cable
  • SATA port damaged on motherboard
  • Hard drive failed or died
  • Incorrect BIOS boot order sequence
  • Loose or unplugged power cable
  • Outdated BIOS/UEFI firmware
  • Disabled hard drive in BIOS
  • Incompatible hard drive

Carefully check SATA/power connections and ports for any issues. Inspect SATA cables for bent pins. Try updating BIOS, resetting BIOS settings to default, and adjusting boot order as needed. If available, test the hard drive in another computer. Dead, incompatible, or disabled drives will not show in BIOS.

Why is my SSD not detected?

If your solid-state drive is not being recognized, try these troubleshooting tips:

  • Re-seat SATA and power cables
  • Verify SATA mode in BIOS
  • Update SSD firmware/drivers
  • Enable AHCI mode in BIOS
  • Clear CMOS/reset BIOS
  • Check for loose M.2 slot
  • Format/partition unallocated space
  • Resolve drive letter conflicts

Connection issues, incorrect BIOS settings, and drive letter problems can cause SSD detection failures. Update BIOS, chipset, and SSD firmware and drivers to latest. Also scan for viruses that may corrupt SSD partition data. If all else fails, SSD replacement may be needed.


A “No hard drive detected” error on startup is most commonly caused by loose connections, power or hardware failures, driver issues, or boot sequence settings. Carefully inspect connections and cables, test components in alternate machines, update drivers and BIOS, and initialize unrecognized drives using Disk Management. For failed drives, professional data recovery or replacement may be required.