How to Access an Inaccessible Drive

by Norm Dickinson

You can gain access to a working hard drive that is inaccessible when the system starts and assign it a drive letter under the Windows Explorer interface. Or, you can import foreign disks into Windows or create a partition and format them. You can scan a drive for bad sectors or lost clusters and repair the system files to allow access to a corrupted drive. In short, you can utilize the drives as they were intended to be used by completing some operating-system configuration steps that are occasionally required for some drive installations.

Click "Start" (the Windows Orb) and "Computer" to access the Windows Explorer screen. Right-click on the inaccessible drive and choose "Properties" from the context menu. Click the "Tools" tab and click "Check Now" under the Error-Checking section. Select both check boxes to allow the system to automatically fix file-system errors and to scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors. Allow the system to run the scan the next time the system is booted. Restart the computer to complete the scan and check for access after the scan completes.

Click "Start" (Windows Orb) and "Computer" to access the Windows Explorer screen. Right-click on the inaccessible drive and choose "Properties" from the context menu. Click the "Security" tab and click "Edit" to change permissions for the drive. Click "Users" from the Group or User Names section. Check the "Allow" box for full control and check for access after the settings are saved.

Click "Start" and "Control Panel" and then click "Administrative Tools" and double-click "Computer Management" to launch the utility. Click "Disk Management" to display a list of all detected drives in the system. Right-click in the left column of the inaccessible drive and click "Import Foreign Disk" to allow the system to convert the disk signature to a local disk. Check for access after the settings are saved.

Click "Start" and "Control Panel" and then click "Administrative Tools" and double-click "Computer Management" to launch the utility. Click "Disk Management" to display a list of all detected drives in the system. Right-click in the right column of the inaccessible disk and choose "Change Drive Letters and Path." If no letter exists, click "Add" and assign a drive letter from the list of available letters. If a drive letter is listed, click "Change" and select a new letter to eliminate any conflicts with other devices in the system. Check for access after these settings are in place, which may require a restart of the system.

Click "Start" and "Control Panel" and then click "Administrative Tools" and double-click "Computer Management" to launch the utility. Click "Disk Management" to display a list of all detected drives in the system. Right-click in the right column of the inaccessible disk and choose "New Simple Volume" to create a partition and format it for use. Click "Next" when the New Simple Volume Wizard appears. Click "Next" to accept the maximum size for the drive. Click "Next" to accept the suggested drive letter assignment. Click "Next" to format the volume with the suggested defaults or change them if desired. Click "Finish" to format the drive and make it accessible to the operating system.

Tip

  • check Older IDE drives often need to have the jumpers changed to reflect their position on a cable as Master, Slave or Cable Select (see Resources). Back up any important data on the computer before attempting to configure another hard drive to avoid data loss.

Warning

  • close Hard drives are sensitive to a variety of environmental factors, including shock and vibration, static electricity and impact. Drives should never be handled or moved while they are powered on.

About the Author

Norm Dickinson began his writing career in 1997 as a content creator for Web pages he designed for clients. His work appears on various websites, focusing on computer technology. Dickinson holds an Associate of Arts in industrial electronics technology and another Associate of Arts in computer science.

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Photo Credits

  • photo_camera bare oem hard drive image by davidcrehner from Fotolia.com