Saturday, 23 November 2013

The Invisible Disc

A friend gave me an external USB disc that has been used with a Linux PC, and when I connect it to my Windows 7 machine to format it, the USB ‘ping’ can be heard but the disc doesn’t show up in ‘Computer’. Is it broken?

It could be, of course, but it probably wasn’t (unless your friend was dumping his garbage ;).

As you want to format the disc anyway, you’ll want to use the Microsoft Management Console or MMC (signed on as a user with Administrator Privileges). Click the ‘Start’ orb, type ‘mmc’ in the text box, and press the Enter key.

In MMC, click ‘File’, then ‘Add/Remove Snap-in’. In the window that pops up, double-click ‘Disk Management’ in the left pane, then click ‘Finish’, then ‘OK’. Now double-click ‘Disk Management(Local)’ in the middle pane.

In the bottom part of the middle pane you will now see the available discs (and CD/DVD drives) on your system. The ones that Windows already knows will probably have drive letters, and your new disc will show up in sort of an unknown state. Just to be on the safe side (as we’re about to get very destructive with that new disc and don’t want to accidentally do things to the wrong disc, as it will get wiped clean), do this:
  • Disconnect your new disc
  • Look at the list of discs in the bottom part of the middle pane
  • Reconnect the new disc
  • Look at the list of discs again and see which one has appeared now; we’ll work with that one
CAUTION: make sure you pick the correct disc. The next steps will destroy all data on the selected disc !

The disc may contain one or more volumes that Windows doesn’t know how to handle, and you’ll want to delete all of those by right-clicking each one, and then clicking ‘Delete Volume…’.

After having done that, right-click the single block of ‘Unallocated’ space the disc now shows, and create a new volume. Use ‘Single Volume’ unless you’re familiar with the other types and know what you’re after. A wizard will pop up and will guide you through the process, which includes formatting the disc.

Upon completion, you’ll see your new disc in the Computer window.

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