There are a few common reasons why your solid state drive (SSD) may seem to randomly disappear from your computer:
The SSD is disconnected
If the SATA cable connecting the SSD to the motherboard comes loose, the drive will no longer be detected by the operating system. Try reseating the SATA cable on both ends to ensure a secure connection.
How to check SATA cable connections
To check the SATA cable connections:
- Power off the computer and unplug it from power
- Open the computer case and locate the SSD
- Check that the SATA cable is firmly plugged into the SSD and the motherboard SATA port
- Reconnect the cable at either end if needed by removing and reinserting the cable
- Close the computer case, plug it back in, and power it on
The SSD is disabled in BIOS
The SSD’s controller may have been disabled from the BIOS, preventing the operating system from detecting it. Enter the BIOS setup menu on boot and make sure the SSD is enabled.
How to enable an SSD in BIOS
To enable an SSD in BIOS:
- Restart the computer and press the BIOS key during bootup (F2, F10, Del are common options)
- Navigate to the Boot, Drive, or Storage menu
- Locate the SSD and confirm it is enabled or change the option to enabled
- Save changes and exit BIOS
Missing or corrupt drivers
If the SSD relies on drivers to function properly, a corrupted or missing driver could make it disappear from the operating system. Try reinstalling the latest drivers from the manufacturer’s website.
How to update SSD drivers
To update the SSD drivers:
- Identify the make and model of the SSD
- Go to the manufacturer’s website and search for the latest drivers
- Download and install the driver update software
- Restart the computer and check if the SSD is detected
The SSD has failed
In some cases, the SSD may have experienced a hardware failure, causing the drive to malfunction or stop working altogether. If the above troubleshooting steps don’t resolve the issue, SSD failure is likely the cause.
Signs of a failed SSD
- The SSD is not detected in BIOS
- Unable to access data stored on the SSD
- OS crashes or BSODs when SSD is connected
- Strange noises coming from the SSD
- Overheating SSD
A failed SSD requires a replacement unit to resolve the problem. Make sure important data is backed up elsewhere before beginning the replacement process.
Wrong drive letter assignment
If the SSD is detected but doesn’t appear in File Explorer, the cause may be an incorrect or missing drive letter assignment. Open Disk Management and check that the SSD has a drive letter assigned.
How to change a drive letter in Disk Management
To change or assign a drive letter:
- Right click the Start menu and select Disk Management
- Locate the SSD in the drive list
- Right click the SSD and choose Change Drive Letter and Paths
- Click Add to assign a new letter, or select a different existing letter
- Click OK to save changes
The SSD isn’t formatted properly
For an operating system to use SSD storage, the drive must be formatted using a compatible file system like NTFS or exFAT. An unformatted or incorrectly formatted SSD may not be accessible.
How to format an SSD
To format an SSD:
- Open Disk Management
- Right click the SSD and select Format
- Choose a file system – NTFS is recommended for Windows
- Give the drive a Volume Label if desired
- Check Perform a quick format for faster formatting
- Click OK to begin formatting
Faulty SATA port or controller
Though less common, a damaged SATA port on the motherboard or a failed drive controller could also cause the SSD to not be detected properly. Try connecting the SSD to a different SATA port or using a different SATA cable.
- Connect SSD to another SATA port
- Replace SATA cable and connect to same port
- Check for BIOS updates that may improve controller compatibility
- Try SSD on another system to isolate issue
Power cable is loose or unplugged
If the SSD requires a dedicated power connection, ensure the power cable is firmly plugged into the drive. A loose connector can break the power delivery and cause the drive to disappear.
Inspecting the power cable
When inspecting the SSD’s power cable, check that:
- The cable is firmly inserted into the connector on the drive
- The connector clip or latch is engaged (if equipped)
- The cable is not damaged, cut, or pinched
- The power supply end of the cable is solidly connected
Reconnect both ends of the cable or replace the cable if any issue is found.
The system partition is full
If the SSD is partitioned and the system reserved partition becomes completely full, it may cause the entire drive to be inaccessible and disappear from the operating system. Backing up and deleting files from the partition can resolve this.
Checking system partition usage
To check the system partition space:
- Open File Explorer
- Right click the SSD and select Properties
- Click Disk Cleanup
- Select Clean up system files
- Choose system partition (typically C:)
- Review space usage and cleanup recommendations
Recent OS update or configuration
Major operating system updates or significant system configuration changes can sometimes lead to devices being disabled or drive letters reassigned, making an SSD disappear from view. Reverting changes or updating drivers may resolve it.
Troubleshooting OS changes
- Roll back recent OS updates and observe if issue persists
- Update SSD and chipset drivers to latest available
- Undo recent hardware changes like RAM upgrade
- Restore from a system restore point prior to the SSD disappearing
Drive was inadvertently hidden
Using software like administrative tools or disk management, it’s possible to inadvertently hide a drive from your system. Reversing this change will make the SSD visible again.
How to unhide a drive
To unhide a drive:
- Open command prompt as admin
- Run command: attrib -s -h [drive letter]
- For example: attrib -s -h G:
- Restart computer and check if SSD is now visible
SSDs disappearing can stem from connection issues, OS problems, drive failures or simple configuration mistakes. Following the troubleshooting tips for each potential cause can typically resolve the problem. Be sure to backup important SSD data in case the drive needs to be replaced.
|Loose or faulty cabling||Reseat connections, swap cables|
|Disabled in BIOS||Enable drive in BIOS menu|
|Driver issues||Update or reinstall drivers|
|SSD failure||Replace failed drive|
|Letter not assigned||Assign letter in Disk Management|
|Incorrect formatting||Format SSD to NTFS or exFAT|
|Bad port or controller||Try different ports or SATA cable|
|Power cable issue||Reconnect or replace power cable|
|Full system partition||Cleanup space on partition|
|OS update or changes||Roll back changes or update drivers|
|Drive was hidden||Unhide drive using command prompt|