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Imac Doesn't Recognize Usb External Hard Disk


My new imac doesn't recognize my external hard disk (usb connection), which i used for. ? I am a new apple owner and user, just converted from an ms based pc environment. The drive is a western digital, on which i have stored all my pictures, music (itunes ironically) and ms office documents. I thought - or should i say hoped - it was just "plug and play", but this is clearly not the case. The imac does not recognize the drive. I can see that the drive is getting power from the usb, but i can also hear that it is not running properly (sounds like it is try to initialize again and again) and it does not show up in the devices menu. I have tried a couple of flash discs in the same usb port and they work. I have also tried to connect the external disk to different usb port, but to no avail. What do i do?

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