USB devices are widely used in our daily work, they can be used to store and transfer data between different devices. It can even be used as bootable media. But sometimes, when you plug USB into Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, you will find that Windows won’t detect USB. This makes the USB drive inaccessible and you cannot open files stored on the drive.
There are possible causes resulting from this error. Here are a few things you should keep in mind before starting to diagnose the issue.
- Wrong file system that is incompatible with Windows PCs.
- The USB drive is physically damaged.
- Outdated software and drivers.
- Hardware connection issues.
- Drive letter conflicts.
- Virus or malware attack
- USB port failure
- Bad sectors on USB
- Damaged USB file system
- USB controller may be disabled in the BIOS
Before making other fixes, first try these simple checks to verify the problem is not with the hardware itself.
Make sure that your USB device is on. Some USB drives have an external power button that, if disabled, the drive will not show up in Windows.
Confirm USB availability. The current USB may be physically damaged without your knowledge, try plugging it into another computer and see if it shows up.
Restart the computer. Many times, the USB drive may not be showing up due to a glitch or minor bug and simply restarting it can possibly fix any error. Restart the computer and check if the drive shows up.
Malfunctioning USB ports. A malfunctioning port won’t allow a connection, so it’s best to first try connecting the USB drive into another port on your system. If it shows up, the issue therefore is with the USB port itself, and you should consider taking it to a professional to repair your system.
Avoid USB hubs. If you are connecting your USB drive via a USB hub, please try connecting it directly into the USB ports, since the USB hub might not supply enough power.
Use Disk Management to view if the USB drive is available but not in File Explorer.
To do that in Windows,
- Right-click on the ‘Start’ icon in the Taskbar to launch the Quick Access Menu, and select ‘Disk Management’ from the list of options. Most of the time, the USB drive in Windows File Explorer will be unavailable if it shares the same drive letter with the computer hard disk partition.
- If available, right-click on the USB drive, and select Change Drive Letter and Paths from the context menu.
- Next, click Add to add a new drive letter or path for your USB flash drive. The available drive letter will be selected by default and you can click on OK to assign it. To choose a different drive letter, click on the drop-down menu, then select the one of your choice.
- Next click on OK, to confirm.
Create A New Volume for The USB Drive
If the USB drive has a black bar at the top, its space has not been allocated and may be the reason for the USB drive not showing up.
- Right-click on the unallocated space where the drive is listed at the bottom and select New Simple Volume from the context menu. The New Simple Volume Wizard window will launch. Click on Next to proceed.
- Then, choose the maximum size for the simple volume and click on Next at the bottom.
- Now, choose the desired drive letter and then click on Next at the bottom.
- Then choose a File System for the drive and enter a Volume label for it. Click on Next to proceed.
For USB drives with more than 4 GB of storage space on Windows, the NTFS file system is recommended. Otherwise, use the FAT32 file system for drives smaller than that.
Finally, verify the settings that you have selected for the format, and click on Finish to apply them. Once the new simple volume is created, the drive should appear in File Explorer.
Uninstall and reinstall the USB Driver
This works when your USB drive doesn’t show up in File Explorer but shows up as unallocated space in Disk Management.
Scroll through the Device Manager tree menu and expand the Universal Serial Bus controllers section. Right-click each entry and select Uninstall device.
Update the USB Driver
Outdated drivers also cause this issue. To update the driver, right-click on the USB drive and select ‘Update Driver’ from the context menu.
You can either let Windows automatically search for the best available driver on your system or you could locate the update, if you had already downloaded one, then go on and install it manually.
Enable USB device in BIOS
The (BIOS) basic input/output system can enable and disable integrated and peripheral components installed to the board. If the USB ports aren’t working, the USB controller might be in disabled mode, and this will probably result in the error message.
To do so, restart your computer and enter BIOS. Find “USB Keyboard Support” in the motherboard, then change the state from disable to enable. Save the changes and exit the BIOS. The F10 key is used to save and exit.
Change Power Management Settings for USB Root Hub
If you accidentally disable the USB Root Hub in power management settings, you may encounter the USB drive not showing up.
- Press Win + R keys to open the Run dialog box, and then type devmgmt.msc in it and hit Enter.
- Expand the Universal Serial Bus controllers category, and then right-click the USB Root Hub and select Properties.
- Navigate to the Power Management tab, and then untick the checkbox for Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power and click on OK. Then repeat the same process for other USB Root Hubs listed in Device Manager.
Now, restart your computer and check if the USB drive is not showing up.
Disable the USB Selective Suspend Option
The USB selective suspend feature in Power settings is used to conserve the laptop’s battery energy. However, some users find the option can interfere with the USB device.
Here you can follow the steps below to disable it.
- Click the magnifying glass icon to open the Search box, and then edit the power plan in it and select the top result.
- Click on Change advanced power settings in the pop-up window and expand the USB settings category.
- Double click the USB selective suspend settings option and change its settings to Disabled.
- Click on Apply and OK to exit the window. After that, check if the USB not recognized issue is fixed.
Disable Fast Startup
The Fast Startup feature can be used to speed up the boot time of your computer after a shutdown. However, some users reported that the feature conflicts with certain USB drives.
Here you can try disabling it.
- Type control in the search box, and then select Control Panel from the top result.
- Change View by to the Large icons, and click on Power Options in the new window.
- Click on Choose what the power buttons does > Change settings that are currently unavailable one by one.
- Uncheck the box of Turn on fast startup and click the Save changes button to confirm.
- Once done, reboot your computer and check if your computer can recognize the USB drive.
If most solutions aren’t working, there might be viruses or corrupted files in your USB drive, causing it to not show up. This can happen often with relatively old USB drives and ones that you share with other people often. To get your USB drive working properly again, you’ll need to format it.
Please note that although formatting the drive might work, it will remove all files and empty your USB drive. So, it’s a good idea to back up some files if you have them on other platforms.
Meanwhile, here’s how you can format your USB drive:
- On the search bar, enter Create and format hard disk partitions. This will lead you to the Disk Management window.
- Right-click on the removable storage. From the additional menu, click on Format.
- In the Volume Label area, set a name for the storage in File Explorer.
- From the drop-down menu of File System, click on NTFS.
- From the drop-down menu of the Allocation Unit size, click on Default.
- Select the box that says perform a quick format.
- You may also check the box that says Enable file and folder compression.
- Click on OK.
You can now try connecting your USB drive to your PC.
USB flash drives not showing up in Windows 10 can be caused by many events like invalid USB port, missing drive letter, disabled USB Device in BIOS, and so on. No matter what the reason is, it is necessary to calculate the most possible reasons firstly, thus you can fix this issue accordingly and effectively.