USB flash drive not recognized? Understand the cause and what to do

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There are several factors that can cause your USB flash drive not to be recognized by your computer.

It could be a problem with the hardware, a corrupted partition, or the USB flash drive could have been formatted on a computer with an incompatible file system.

Fortunately, there are a few ways to get your computer to recognize your USB flash drive – which we will look at in this article.

In this article, you will also understand the causes that lead to this problem, why the USB flash drive connects but doesn’t appear on the PC and what to do if the files on your USB flash drive disappear after the computer recognizes it.

My USB flash drive isn’t showing up on my PC!

There are many causes that can lead to the operating system not recognizing the USB flash drive.

It can be due to physical causes or as a result of electronic faults, as we will see below:

Physical causes

One of the physical causes of a USB flash drive not being recognized is that the USB port is defective.

In this case, you can try changing the USB port to see if the USB flash drive works on another port or even on another computer.

If you are using a USB hub – those extensions for connecting more devices to a single computer – you can try plugging the USB flash drive directly into the computer to see if it is recognized.

This is because the hub can cause the computer to be connected to more devices than the capacity supports, causing the operating system to fail to recognize them properly.

You can also remove the power supply, restart the PC, connect the USB hub and then reconnect the power supply to try to get the computer to recognize your USB flash drive.

Finally, the problem can also be caused by hard disk failures – which cause nothing on your PC to work properly.

As this is a problem that can affect and destroy the data contained on the USB flash drive, it should be fixed as soon as possible – preferably by specialized professionals.

Logical faults

Logical faults also cause the computer to fail to recognize your USB flash drive. These include:

  • Driver errors: when the drivers are not available, have been corrupted or are out of date, the USB flash drive will not be recognized;
  • Operating system problems: if your system is not up to date with the updates it needs to work properly, this can also cause your computer not to recognize your USB flash drive. In this case, simply update the outdated components.

USB flash drive not showing up in disk manager?

When your USB flash drive doesn’t even appear in the disk manager, you can use the alternatives below to try to make it appear:

1 -Reinstall the USB device driver:

  • Go to “Device Manager”
  • Locate and expand the USB universal serial bus drivers. Right-click on the USB flash drives and select “Uninstall”;
  • Uninstall all the USB flash drives one at a time;
  • Restart the PC. The system will automatically reinstall all the USB flash drives and fix the corrupted USB devices.

2 – Cancel the USB Selective Suspend Configuration

  • Right-click on the Windows icon and select “Power options”;
  • In the “Power and sleep” window, select “Additional power settings”, then “Change plan settings”;
  • Once the “Change plan settings” window is open, click on “Change advanced power settings”;
  • Locate and expand “USB settings”, and once there, click on “USB selective sleep configuration” and select “Disabled”;
  • Finally, click “Ok” to apply and save the settings.

Why does the USB flash drive connect but not appear on the PC?

Generally, the system identifies that a device has been connected, it just doesn’t recognize it as a storage unit.

In short: the USB flash drive has been connected, but it simply doesn’t appear with the other disks.

This can happen for many reasons, but the main ones are: damage to the partition, lack of an assigned letter or electronic problems with the USB flash drive.

The causes of these failures can be:

  • Improper removal: when the USB flash drive is removed while the data is being read or written, suddenly interrupting the process. This interruption in data transmission can cause damage to both the data and the partition. Even if you are not transferring data, the operating system may be performing some maintenance task in the background and, by removing it without using the security option, you end up damaging the USB flash drive.
  • Incorrect formatting: one of the most common causes, formatting – which is a sensitive process – when carried out incorrectly, can cause the system to fail to recognize the flash drive.

How to find the USB on the PC?

If Windows doesn’t recognize the USB, you can find it by following the step-by-step instructions below:

  • Go to “Start” and type “Disk Manager” and click on the result displayed;
  • A screen containing a graphical representation of the storage drives will be displayed. If your USB flash drive has not been assigned a drive letter, right-click and select “Change drive letter” and then “Add”. When defining the letter that will be assigned to your USB flash drive, remember that it must not be in use by another storage unit.

If your USB flash drive is displayed in black, it means that the partition is damaged or non-existent. In this case:

  • Right-click and select the “New simple volume” option
  • In the window that opens, define the size, letter and name of the partition that will represent your USB flash drive. If you want, you can also select a specific file system. It is important to remember that if you need the data on the USB flash drive, this procedure is not recommended as it will destroy all previous data. If you need USB flash drive data recovery, please contact us.

On the Mac, there are 3 ways to get your USB flash drive recognized:

1 – Connect the USB flash drive manually

  • Use the path “Application” > “Utilities”
  • In the command window that appears, click on the “Ask me what to do” command, select “500 #2” and then click on “-“
  • In “Utilities”, select “External devices” to manually connect your USB flash drive.

2 – Readjust PRAM

  • Shut down your Mac
  • Press the power button and hold down the command-P-R keys before the gray screen appears;
  • The Mac will restart.

3 – Format your Mac drive

  • Press the Command and Spacebar buttons simultaneously, go to “Application” and then select “Disk Utility”
  • The USB flash drives that need repairing will be located on the left of the panel;
  • Click on “Erase” to finish the process.

Files have disappeared from the USB flash drive, what should I do?

Even after you manage to get the USB recognized, it is common for the files that were stored on the drive to disappear.

This happens when, in addition to the letter, the data has also been damaged or even deleted with the partition.

If this has happened to you, the only two alternatives are:

  1. Using a recovery system: this involves a restoration process which – although it sounds simple – is complex. It requires technical knowledge and runs the risk of not working or destroying all your data for good.
  2. Use a professional data restoration service, such as Bot: the most recommended alternative, where specialized professionals will recover the data from your USB flash drive safely and efficiently.


The USB flash drive not being recognized by the computer/laptop is a common problem, which can have various causes – be they physical, electronic or logical.

As we have seen, there are a few ways to get the USB flash drive recognized and accessible on your device.

However, even after getting it to work, the data stored on the flash drive can still end up disappearing.

In this case, you can try to recover the data using a recovery system or through a specialized USB flash drive data recovery service, such as the one provided by Bot!


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