How to connect an external hard drive to a computer

Updated: 10/30/2017 by Computer Hope

USB cable and portMost external hard drives today utilize a USB connection or eSATA when connecting to a desktop or laptop computer. Some external hard drives also require an external power source, while others do not. Follow the steps below to connect an external hard drive to your computer.

  1. Plug in the USB cable to the back of the external hard drive. Typically, the end of the cable that connects to the hard drive has a smaller connection than the end that connects to the computer.
  2. Plug in the other end of the USB cable to a USB port on the computer. On a desktop computer, the USB ports are found on the back of the computer. On a laptop computer, the USB ports are found on the left or right side of the computer.
  3. If a power cord came with the external hard drive, plug in the power cord to the back of the hard drive and the other end into a power outlet.

The computer should automatically recognize that the external hard drive has been connected to it and begin installing any necessary drivers or software to access it properly.

After the hard drive installation process is completed, you can access the hard drive through My Computer (called "This PC" in Windows 8 and Windows 10) or File Explorer.