Why doesn’t the TV read the hard drive?

Updated: May 29, 2023
6 min read
Why doesn’t the TV read the hard drive?
by Jolene Haston
Tech Expert & Writer
Checked by
Quality Control team

Today's TVs have a variety of functions. Among them is the playback of content from external USB sources. Many people have an external hard drive. Unlike a flash drive, it has an impressive capacity and allows you to store large amounts of information, such as an entire film library. But what if your TV doesn't see your external hard drive? For starters, it's worth learning how to connect it correctly.

Before we start

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How to connect a hard drive

Any external hard drive uses a USB cable to connect. But you can also use the internal HDD from the PC as a storage medium, which means that the connection methods may differ.


The external hard disk drive is connected via the USB connector of the TV. It has a special cable included. You may need additional power if the TV is old enough and has USB 2.0. For this you need a cable with two USB plugs – connect both to the TV.

Outer box

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If the drive is removed from the PC or laptop, there are two ways: use an adapter from Sata to USB, but it is more convenient to buy an external box taking into account the size of the HDD (2.5 inches for a laptop and 3.5 inches for a PC). In the case of a 3.5-inch drive should pick up a box with external power from the outlet. This is not too convenient, but you should take into account that such a drive requires more power, and the USB connector does not always provide it.

The attachment

If the TV does not have a USB connector or it is busy/broken, then you can use an intermediate device. This can be a smart console, game console, or laptop. Connection is made via Tulip or HDMI. You need to specify the signal source on the TV and the launch of files from the HDD directly from the selected device.


The storage device can also be connected to the router – for this purpose, the TV must have DLNA and Smart function support. The user can see all devices in the local network through a special application.

A window prompting you to switch to the external drive will appear when you plug in the USB connector. The standard window with folders will open; you just need to find the necessary content. If the HDD is not automatically detected, you must open the signal sources and select USB.

Why doesn't the TV see the disk connected?

Why the TV does not read the hard drive

As a rule, there is no problem connecting an external hard drive to the TV. But if the TV does not read the drive, there may be several reasons:

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  • Lack of power to the hard drive.
  • Your device's software is out of date.
  • The file systems of the hard disk drive and the TV are incompatible.

The reason may be pretty trivial: a large-capacity drive. As a rule, TVs are not designed to read HDDs larger than 2TB. This is mentioned in the manual.

Let's look at each problem separately.

Lack of power

One of the common problems why the unit does not see the hard drive can be a lack of power to operate the hard drive. If you own an outdated TV model, the hard drive will not be able to get the power it needs through the USB connection.

Drives can be classified into three types according to their generation and the amount of power they consume:

  • USB 1 - 500mA, 5V.
  • USB 2 - 500-1000mA, 5V.
  • USB 3 - 1500-2000mA, 5V.

One of the most logical ways to solve the problem is to connect the hard drive via a Y-disconnector. Powering a hard drive this way depends on the number of USB connectors in your device:

  • One connector.
  • Two or more connectors.

When your device has more than one USB connector, there should be no problem. Connect the hard drive to two of the TV's connectors simultaneously via a splitter. In this case, there is enough voltage to make the drive work properly. If your TV has only one USB input, you need to connect the Y-coupler to connect the hard drive to your TV and use a power supply from a third-party device (phone, tablet, etc.). The power supply will power the hard drive, and the missing power will be taken from your device.

Tip: To check that the cause of the malfunction really lies in the lack of power, plug the flash drives into the corresponding slots on the chassis one by one. If the files on the flashcards are readable, it means that the TV's USB port is in working order.

Outdated software

Another common reason the TV does not see removable media is that the software is outdated. Only the latest TVs can detect such a large amount of media. If your TV is powerful enough to work with external drives, update the firmware.

If the TV is connected to the Internet, in the settings section "About the device" or "Support," there is a submenu "Update." In it, you need to search for the latest software versions and, if available, install them. If your TV lacks connection, then updates can be installed as firmware from a USB flash drive (a USB flash drive is obviously needed for this purpose). How to perform such firmware:

  1. Visit the official website of the manufacturing company.
  2. Go to the "Support" section.
  3. Select the "Software update" option.
  4. Enter your device model and download the appropriate file.
  5. Perform an update.

Filesystem incompatibility

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Many TV models do not read hard drives if they do not match the FAT32 file system. The reason is that most hardware is designed to work with flashcards, usually at most 64 GB. Having a relatively small cluster size, FAT32 allows you to use the limited memory of the flash card more effectively. This is the reason why most flash drives use this file system.

Unlike FAT32, NTFS allows faster and safer data transfer from the media to your computer or other reading devices. In addition, this file system supports large amounts of data and has no limitations on the size of files that can be copied.

Important: Check the operating instructions before you buy your TV. There, you can find a lot of helpful information about the compatibility of storage filesystems with the device. There are cases where the manual specifies hard drive models that the TV will not work.

The latest models of TVs from companies such as LG or Samsung can see a disk with the NTFS file system. In addition to the usual information recording, such devices can play back encoded data.

Sometimes the problem lies in the formatting peculiarities. Certain types of equipment format the drives "to themselves." This does not manifest itself when connected to a PC or laptop, but other devices may have difficulties with the connection. If the HDD was once connected to a smart set-top box or TV of another brand, and it works with the PC, but the new TV does not understand it, and the reason is not insufficient power. It is worth trying to format it on the PC and check again on the TV.

If the device stops seeing the drive

This means that previously your device could synchronize with the hard drive, but it stopped doing it after some time. There may be two reasons for this malfunction:

  • Viruses on the removable disk.
  • Failure of the drive itself.

Modern viruses are not only capable of corrupting individual files on a hard drive but also of completely destroying the file system. Since TV sets are pretty "capricious" devices, a virus attack can paralyze them. The only advice is to check all downloaded files for viruses before transferring them to other devices.

You need to test with another removable drive to distinguish between a broken hard drive and a TV malfunction. Connect it to your TV with the same USB connector. If the "test" hard drive syncs perfectly with the TV, yours is broken. You can test the same if your TV doesn't see the USB flash drive.

Howly expert is ready to help you with your TV problem


Invalid Date
If nothing is working, it might be a deeper issue. You may need to consult with a professional.
Invalid Date
Yes, different tv brands can have different compatibility with hard drives. It's best to check the tv's manual or manufacturer's website for specific information.
Crimson Shadow X
Invalid Date
Do different tv brands have different compatibility with hard drives?
Invalid Date
Having the same problem but with an external SSD. Help!
Isabella Davis
Invalid Date
This guide is a gem! Hard drive issue fixed 👍
Noah Thompson
Invalid Date
What if the TV reads the hard drive, but not all files are showing up?

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