6 Fixes for SSD Not Showing Up in Windows

SanDisk SSD lying on a surface

If you’ve finally switched to an SSD or bought a new one for more high-speed storage, for some inexplicable reason, your new SSD may not be showing up in Windows. You’re fairly certain the SSD isn’t at fault, so what else could be going on? There can be many reasons a new SSD would not be detected, many of which are fairly small oversights. Let’s look into all possible reasons and how you can fix each of them to set up your new SSD on your computer.

Tip: need to migrate your Windows installation to an SSD? Learn how to clone Windows to an SSD.

1. Ensure the SSD Is Installed Properly

This may sound basic, but your SSD may not be properly installed, resulting in it not being detected by the computer. Fixing it can vary based on what type of SSD you have installed.

  • For a SATA SSD, open your PC case or laptop, and check that the SATA and power cables are fully inserted into the drive. Try using replacement cables inside your computer or in your motherboard box.
  • For an M.2 SSD, ensure that you’ve installed it in the appropriate slot. For instance, M.2 NVMe SSDs (single notch), even if they can physically fit into an M.2 SATA slot (two notches), will not work in this configuration. You need to verify what kind of M.2 SSD you have, then install it in the respective slot on the motherboard. You can also try installing the SSD in a different M.2 slot if you suspect the slot is faulty.

FYI: wondering how different NVMe SSDs are from SATA SSDs? Check out all you need to know about NVMe SSDs.

2. Check the SSD Settings in the BIOS

It’s also possible that you’ve installed the SSD correctly, but it’s still not being detected by your PC. Enter the BIOS using the specific key displayed when your PC boots up, then check whether the BIOS settings are configured correctly to detect your new SSD.

First, check whether the BIOS is even detecting your SSD. You’ll have to navigate to the storage or configuration section of the BIOS, which will vary for different motherboard manufacturers. Confirm whether your SSD is listed there in the list of drives.

If it isn’t listed, either the drive is faulty, or you need to change a few additional settings. Navigate again to the storage section in the BIOS, and find the setting related to SATA configuration. If you’re running a SATA SSD, you may need to try the various options under SATA configuration: AHCI, IDE, or Compatibility mode. Save your changes, and restart the computer. Check whether the SSD is showing up in Windows.

Good to know: still running legacy BIOS? You may want to know about UEFI vs. BIOS and which one you should use.

3. Initialize the SSD

Often, you need to initialize a new SSD in Windows before it can be detected by your PC. Right-click the Windows button, then click Disk Management. Locate your new SSD by looking at the drive capacities or the disk names. You could also spot the new SSD with a black bar marking its unallocated space.

Right-click the SSD, and select Initialize Disk. Choose GPT when prompted to select the partition style, and select OK. Once the initialization process is completed, right-click the unallocated space, and select New Simple Volume. Follow the on-screen instructions to assign the SSD volume and the drive letter.

Windows Disk Management initialize drive

Restart your computer for any remaining changes to take effect.

4. Change the SSD Drive Letter

It’s even possible that your new drive has a conflicting or missing drive letter, resulting in the SSD not showing up in Windows.

To resolve this, use Disk Management. Right-click the SSD that’s not being detected, and click Change Drive Letter and Paths. If the drive already has an assigned letter, click Change. If it doesn’t, click Add.

Windows Disk Management change drive letter

Select a new available drive letter to resolve the conflict. Click OK and restart your computer. Your SSD should be recognized in the File Explorer.

FYI: confused between disks and drives? Learn the difference between disk, drive, volume, partition, and image.

5. Update the SSD and Storage Controller Drivers

Outdated or missing drivers can be the culprit if your new SSD isn’t showing up in Windows. To resolve this, right-click the Windows button, and click Device Manager. Expand Storage Controllers, click on the appropriate storage controller, and click Update driver.

Device Manager updating storage drivers

Select Search automatically for updated driver software, and wait for Windows to search for any available driver updates.

Similarly, expand Disk drives, right-click your SSD, and update the drivers using the steps shown for the Storage controller.

Device Manager updating SSD drivers

6. Format the SSD

The last resort is to format the SSD to resolve any underlying conflicts. The only downside to this solution is that you’ll lose all the data on the drive if the drive you just installed isn’t new.

Once you’ve backed up any data you want to retain, head into Disk Management again, right-click the SSD, and click Format. Name the drive, and select the file system. (NTFS works great for most people.) Choose the default allocation size, tick the box next to Quick format, and press OK to begin the process.

Windows Disk Management formatting SSD

Once the formatting is complete, your drive should be viewable in the File Explorer. If it isn’t, restart your computer, and check again.

Tip: external drive not readable? Learn how to reformat an external hard drive without loading your data.

Getting Peak SSD Performance in Windows

There are some things you must do when running an SSD in Windows, irrespective of whether you have a SATA or NVMe SSD in your PC. The best SSDs will not only speed up your system by a huge margin, but will also provide the absolute best performance for your specific use case. If you’re chasing the most FPS in your budget, the best gaming SSDs will surely have something that fits your style.

Image credit: Pixabay. All screenshots by Tanveer Singh.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox

Tanveer Singh

After a 7-year corporate stint, Tanveer found his love for writing and tech too much to resist. An MBA in Marketing and the owner of a PC building business, he writes on PC hardware, technology, video games, and Windows. When not scouring the web for ideas, he can be found building PCs, watching anime, or playing Smash Karts on his RTX 3080 (sigh).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *