How to Fix External Hard Drive I/O Device Error on Windows 11

The I/O Device Error is a common issue for External Hard Drives. You won’t be able to copy data to or from this device after this error appears. Read on to learn different solutions to fix the problem.

Windows 11 is the latest version of the operating system of Microsoft. It comes with new features and user designs than the older versions. However, it’s still debatable if this is the best version of the OS since it still has bugs and glitches like the other versions.

Windows 11 users have recently experienced the External Hard Drive I/O device error. Because of this error, you can’t access the files on your hard drive, USB flash drives, SD cards, or other storage devices.

The issue has numerous causes. This problem is typically brought on by a corrupted or damaged hard drive, either partially or entirely.

This problem may also arise if the hard drive is infected with malware or incompatible with the system.

If you’re dealing with a similar case, there is no need to worry since there are simple solutions you can do to solve the issue. Below are quick and straightforward methods to fix the I/O Device Error on your External Hard Drive.

Check Cable Connections

Before doing the more technical methods, checking the connections is the quickest way and, most of the time solves the problem. Make sure every cable is connected correctly at both ends.

check cables to fix I/O Device Error

Additionally, you can try connecting the external hard drive to a different port on your computer or using a different cable to see if the issue is related to the connection.

Fix I/O Error by Reinstalling Device Drivers 

The most frequent cause of the External Hard Disk I/O device error in Windows 11 is out-of-date drivers.

Driver updates may include data that improves device communication after a software or operating system update and security tweaks, software bug fixes, and performance improvements.

Reinstalling your driver will clean up temporary data on the connected devices on your PC and refresh your system. Doing this will also update the driver to the most recent version.

To do so,

First, press the shortcut keys “Windows + X” on your keyboard.

A  menu will appear. Select “Device Manager”.

Now, expand the “Disk Drive category”, right-click on the drive you’re having problems with, and click “Uninstall Device” from the context menu.

uninstall device drive to fix I/O Device Error

A confirmation prompt will pop up. Click “Uninstall” and then restart your PC.

Once rebooting is done, your system will automatically install any missing drivers, reinstalling your drive. Verify if that fixed the I/O Device Error on your External Hard Drive.

Change Drive Transfer Mode

Programmed Input-Output (PIO) and Direct Memory Access are the primary device transfer protocols (DMA) for external drives.

The default transfer mode for the external device on your system is typically Ultra DMA. This mode isn’t supported by all computers, in any case. To fix the issue, try switching it to PIO mode.

To do so,

First, press “Windows + R” on your keyboard to open Run and type “devmgmt.msc” on the textbox, and click “OK”.

Under the “IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers category”, locate the external hard drive you are using, right-click on it and then select “Properties” on the context menu.

device manager

Now, head over to the “Advanced Settings tab” and select “PIO Only” on the drop-down menu beside the “Transfer Mode option”.

Once done, verify if that resolved the External Hard Drive I/O Error.

Run CHKDSK to Fix the I/O Device Error

The CHKDSK is a scanning tool that aims to correct drive issues. CHKDSK scan will check your hard drive for logical and physical errors. You can use this to pinpoint particular problems with your storage device.

Here’s how to do it:

First, press “Windows + R” on your keyboard to open Run.

On the text box, type “cmd”, and then hit “Enter” on your keyboard.

The command prompt window will appear, copy and paste the command below, then hit “Enter” to run it:

chkdsk G: /f /r /x

Note:  “G” is the drive letter here; you may change it depending on what letter your external drive is.

command prompt

Perform Clean Boot

You can check to see if a background program is interfering with your external hard drive by performing a Clean Boot, which starts Windows with fewer drivers and apps.

It gives you control over which services and programs start up, making it easy to identify the issue. To do this:

First, press “Windows + R” and type “msconfig” on the text box.

Next, in the System Configuration window, click on the “Service tab”. Now, check the “Hide All Microsoft Services option”.

Click on “Disable All”, then press “OK”.


Related: How to Use the System Configuration Tool on Windows 11

External hard drives with I/O device errors can become dangerous if not handled immediately. You can use several techniques to resolve external hard drive I/O device errors. After following the above methods, we hope you will no longer experience I/O device error messages.

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