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How to Fix and Repair USB Drive Not Recognized in Windows

Januaris is a professional tech writer and blogger. He blogs about ecommerce, hardware and software fixes, video games, and product reviews.

If you have been using USB flash drives, you might be familiar with some of these error messages.

  • "USB device not recognized."
  • "The device you connected to this computer malfunctioned, and Windows does not recognize it."
  • "One of the devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned, and Windows does not recognize it. For assistance in solving this problem, click this message."
  • "Unknown drive, port reset failed."
  • "Unknown device, descriptor request failed, error code 43."
  • "Drive did not load successfully."

How to Fix USB Drive Not Recognized in Windows, in Brief

  1. Insert the stick on another port to see if it can work.
  2. Use the storage gadget on a computer with the right bit.
  3. Use the stick on a device which encrypted it.
  4. Use another cable or interface to see if it can work.
  5. Fix corrupt partitions.
  6. Enter a missing drive letter.

***SEE FULL EXPLANATION BELOW***

If you are just starting to use memory sticks, you should expect to see these messages popping up in the right bottom corner of your computer screen. The flash drives get malfunctions with time and use, and can stop working completely. The messages usually indicate that your internal storage device or computer has some issues that need to be solved.

In addition to the above mentioned errors, there are other less serious errors of flash sticks that should not make you panic, such as:

  • "This USB device can perform faster if you connect it to a high-speed USB 2. 0 port. For a list of available ports, click here" (common in Windows 7).
  • "Generic volume cannot be stopped right now."
  • "The disk is write protected, remove write protection or use another disk."
  • "Pen drive is detected, but not showing in My Computer."
  • "Please insert disk into drive."
  • "Please insert a disk into drive windows."
  • "Can’t format the drive, quit any disk utilities or other programs that are using this drive, and then try formatting again."

Some Serious Flash Drive Error Messages

  • "Please insert disk into removable disk."
  • "Format Disk" and of course."
  • "USB Device Not Recognized or Malfunctioned."

You may have to forget about your data storage gadget if you see some of these error messages on your screen, or if your USB flash drive is not showing up or not detected. Your drive could be dead, and the best thing to do is to recover the data or files contained in it.

In this article, I will show you how to fix a USB drive that has malfunctioned (i.e., one that is not recognized in Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows7, Windows XP, and other systems). I will also teach you how to repair a broken USB stick. In addition, I will teach you how to recover data from dead, damaged, or corrupted generic pen drive without formatting. But first,

[Explained] How to Fix Malfunctioned USB Drive Not Recognized or Detected

There are several ways to fix your pen drive based on its problem. Some of the problems are minor, but may give you a hell of a headache. Save yourself from unnecessary stress by learning numerous ways of repairing your small data storage equipment.

The problem with your flash stick could be due to damaged port or slot. You can insert the pen drive in another port to see if it can work. In fact, this is what you should always try first when your storage stick develops issues. You can then perform a USB port repair if you confirm the problem.

To fix the port problem, follow this procedure: Start > Control panel > Hardware and Sound > Device Manager > Universal Serial Bus > Uninstall > Enter > Scan for hardware changes (click on the blue icon to reinstall).

Your mass storage gadget could also be unrecognized because of using it in a computer with a different bit. If your drive was written by a 32 bit computer, it may not work on a 64 bit computer and vice versa. So know your computer bit in order to use the right stick.

The disk could also have been encrypted on another computer machine. An encrypted drive is protected by a password. Use the machine which encrypted the disk to fix the problem. Just enter the encryption password and your storage stick should work.

A damaged USB interface or cable can also make your storage gadget show the "malfunctioned" error message. Use another cable to see if it can work. Also try on another interface. Your device should work if the issue was with the cable or interface.

If your drive has corrupt partitions, you will definitely get one of the above error messages. Use the Disk Management tool to see the status of the partitions. If they are not "Healthy", use tools such as TestDisk and PhotoRec to fix the problem.

Follow this path: Start menu> Disk management > Create and format hard disk partitions > Removable disk.

Alternatively: Press Windows key and R together and type in "diskmgmt.msc", then Enter.

If your mass storage stick is lacking a drive letter, you can also have the error messages appearing on the screen. The common message here is "USB drive is detected, but not showing in My Computer."

Follow this path to fix the problem: Press Windows key and R together and type in "compmgmt.msc", then go to Disk management (find your disk) > Change Letter and Paths (right click) > Change > Add Letter (choose an unused letter).

Download the latest software or update the existing one to solve the problem. But first, check if the problem is with the drive system.

Press the Windows key and R together and type in “devmgmt.msc”, then Enter. You can also type in "dev man" in the search box of the Start menu.

Check for a yellow triangle and black exclamation mark on the driver’s icon. This symbol shows that a driver tool has a malfunction. Learn more about the problem on "Properties".

Try installing the latest tool to see if the USB stick can work. You can also update the software. Click on the "Update Driver" for the Windows to find the right update.

What If All These Solutions Don't Work For Your Device?

Well, it could mean that your disk has malfunctions that cannot be corrected and the only remaining solution is to obtain another data storage gadget. I recommend that this time round you get a more durable flash disk! There are many memory sticks out there, but the ZENO 16GB Metal Waterproof stands out. I own it and I have used it for close to 5 years without experiencing any malfunctions. It is pretty small and you can always attach it to your key holder and carry it around in your pocket without causing uncomfortable situations. It is really the memory gadget that you should own if you want to enjoy mass data storage, quick data transfer, and more importantly, durability!

How to Repair a Broken USB Stem

  1. Get the following utility or tools ready to repair your broken USB stick: precision soldering iron, solder, wire strippers, small flat head screwdriver, cable, and magnifying glass.
  2. Open the outer cover of the flash disk using the screwdriver. Do this carefully to avoid damaging the PCB board and NAND.
  3. Confirm the damage with the help of a magnifying glass or just naked eye. If indeed there is a damage, you will be able to see a broken connection between the stem and the PCB board.
  4. Strip one end of the cable (0.6cm) and apply solder to the four wires.
  5. Locate the PCB pads and carefully solder the wires onto them. Start with the black wire on the left, followed by the green, white, and red wires.

Your data storage gadget should be ready to use after these simple steps.

How to Repair a "Broken" USB Stick - Video

How to Recover Data/Files from a USB Flash Drive

If your pen stick is damaged beyond repair, you may have to concentrate only on recovering the data. Some conditions that can make your gadget dead include damaged circuit board (blown resistors/capacitors, lifted pads, damaged NANDs and broken crystal oscillator), damaged controller chip, and unresponsive drive.

Recovering data from a flash disk is a complicated task. You may have to a hire an expert to do the job for you, but read the following steps to see if you can do it own your own.

  1. Get recovery software and a NAND reader that supports the drive’s controller type. Look on the controller chip to know the exact type, but be careful when examining the chip to avoid damaging the PCB board and NAND.
  2. Carefully separate the NANDs from the PCB using a precision soldering iron.
  3. Place the NANDs on the data recovering tool, which consists of NANDs readers, and you will be able to recover the files.

Bonus: Related USB and Hardware Fixes

How to Fix "Unable to Format Flash Drive" with CMD and Other Ways (3 Ways)

  1. Type cmd in the command prompt box > Format X: /FAT32 (enter your disk letter)
  2. Type “compmgmt.msc” in the command prompt box > Disk management > Format (right click on disk)
  3. Insert windows installation disk > Reboot your computer > Enter any key > Format Your PC > Enter > Select your disk > Delete.

How to Fix "Device Not Detected in Windows' (3 Ways)

  1. Remove power supply plug from PC (laptop) > Restart PC > Connect device> Connect power supply to PC.
  2. Device Manager > Universal Serial Bus controllers (expand) > Host Controller (right click) > Uninstall > Enter (Try also uninstalling all Universal Serial Bus controllers) > Restart computer (all controllers will be reinstalled automatically)
  3. When booting up: Hit F8 > Repair > System Recovery Options Window > System Restore.

To uninstall and reinstall the controllers, you can also make changes on the USB root hub or change the USB selective suspend settings as shown below:

USB root hub: Device Manager (Right Click on Windows Logo) > Universal Serial Bus controllers > USB Root Hub (right-click) > Properties > Power Management > Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power > OK.

USB selective suspend settings: Power Options (battery icon) > Choose/Customize > Change plan settings > Edit Plan Settings > Change advanced power settings > USB settings > USB selective suspend settings (expand) > Disable both On battery and Plugged in settings > Apply > OK


How to Fix "Unknown Device, Port Reset or Descriptor Request Failed, Error Code 43" (9 ways)

  1. Restart your computer.
  2. Undo any changes in device manager (system restore) or uninstall a recently installed driver and use the existing one.
  3. Reinstall the drivers for the device.
  4. Update the drivers for the device.
  5. Install the latest Windows service pack.
  6. Update BIOS.
  7. Replace the data cable.
  8. Purchase a powered USB hub.
  9. Replace the hardware.

To reinstall the drivers, follow this path - type "devmgmt.msc" on command prompt > Universal Serial Bus controllers (expand) > Insert disk > Unknown device (Port reset failed) > Uninstall (right click) > Restart PC > Reinstall.

How to Remove Write Protection from a Flash Drive

Type Regedit in run prompt > Enter > HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\StorageDevicePolicies > WriteProtect (double click) > Value Data > Enter > Restart your computer.

How to Fix "Generic Volume Cannot Be Stopped Right Now"

Download and install Unlocker software > My Computer > Flash drive (right click) > Unlock all > Safely remove the gadget.

How to Fix "Please Insert a Disk into Drive Windows Error" (2 Ways)

  1. Download and install disk format tool > Format external storage drive.
  2. Download and install Jet Flash > Format external storage drive (for transcend one).

How to Improve the Speed of a USB Disk (6 Ways)

  1. Change the defect port.
  2. Use cable that supports USB 2.0.
  3. Updating drivers: Start > Device manager > Universal Serial Bus Controllers > USB 2.0 Root Hub Device > Update (right click)
  4. Use software: Download and Install > Open > Scan > Drive > Update > Restart disk
  5. Supply enough power.
  6. Set BIOS: Restart computer > Press F2 or Delete > BIOS menu > high speed mode/2.0 mode.

Scanning the Plug and Play Device

My Computer > Removable Disk (right click) > Tools > Check now > Automatically fix file system errors and Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors (check boxes) > Start.

Reformatting Disk (Sandisk Cruzer)

Start > My Computer > Removable disk > Format (right click) > File system > NTFS > Quick format (uncheck) > Start.

You can also download a suitable formatting tool.

Recover Data with Only Software

Download and install recovery software > Open program > Drive > Options > Select file to recover > Next > Start.

Conclusion

USB flash drives errors can be devastating and can give you a hell of stress. You can lose your memory gadget or even the data from the malfunctions. But the good thing is that you can fix most of these errors, and also recover your data on your own or with the help of an expert.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: How do I revive a USB flash drive (2Gb) that suddenly stopped working? It is not recognized (no system or drive letter) assigned by Windows (any).

Answer: If it contains important data, you can try retrieving it using the method discussed. If you are not getting any help, you can decide on buying a new drive.

Question: My pen drive has no volume label and it states there read-only files. I have tried to format it but still am unable to use it. What should I do?

Answer: It is an issue to do with write protection. See how to remove write protection from the article.

Question: What should I do if my pen drive shows "your device cannot start"?

Answer: You can try using another port or restarting your computer. Other solutions outlined in the article can also help.

Question: The drive is recognized for a little bit in the beginning (Shows up as 2 drives) but I cannot open/format/eject them and then turns unknown...I inserted it on my ps4 and it says its KBS and ADATA which it is! Sometimes at the beginning (in the PS4 insertion) it even says 60gbs which is very true! What is going on?

Answer: It definitely has some malfunctions, so you can try all the solutions discussed in the article. If the problem is not solved, you can decide to retrieve the data and buy a new device.

Question: When the internal hard disk in a computer is malfunctions and the computer refuses to boot, what can one do?

Answer: If you can remove the disk, you can try then see if it can boot. You can also have it checked by a technician.

Question: Is it possible that a USB requires authentication when you're restoring a disk image?

Answer: Yeah, if it's protected by password or other means.

© 2015 Januaris Saint Fores

Comments

Januaris Saint Fores (author) from Intercontinental on July 10, 2020:

@Rey, this can be due to NAND flash failing and you can try the flash disk fixes discussed in the article.

REY F. MIRAFLOR on July 09, 2020:

I currently have a problem with my generic flash drive which has a "NO MEDIA"... I wish you could help me..

Januaris Saint Fores (author) from Intercontinental on March 30, 2020:

@Harvinder just try the solutions described in the article.

harvinder on March 30, 2020:

Windows has stopped this device because it has reported problems. (Code 43)

Januaris Saint Fores (author) from Intercontinental on November 28, 2019:

@Fabio it has a problem with the Windows software, and you can check if the solution given in the article can help.

Fabio C. on November 27, 2019:

Hi, Januaris, thank you for the article.

My question is: I work mainly in two computers: at home, in a Mac (running El Captain) and at the University, using windows 10... I used to transport my files in USB drives but for the last weeks windows doesn't recognize my drive (it says Disk not formatted)... but back to Mac all the files are there, and I don't know how to fix it... this occurs in many different computers running windows 10 (so I guess it's not a hardware problem)...

Thank you!

Januaris Saint Fores (author) from Intercontinental on November 12, 2018:

Try the solutions discussed in the article.

tayabanclau on November 12, 2018:

hello, I'm having a problem in the usb my friend game me and when i plug it in, in my pc it says "The device you connected to this computer malfunctioned, and Windows does not recognize it.""The device you connected to this computer malfunctioned, and Windows does not recognize it." how can i fix this

tazmo from S C on September 30, 2018:

I have had USB's just up and stop working and not be recognized, no matter if changing computers. What ever happened rendered them dead as a door knob.

What I found was using older versions of Rufus Bootable USB 'makers' that if I ran the program somehow it COULD see the drive with the dead USB then I would run just a straight up Format with no other boxes checked, an lo & behold the USB came back to life..being recognized again by Windows or Linux (haven't used iOS stuff)...it was my last resort before tossing it...btw I was using Rufus 2.xxx versions..even the 1.xxx worked too.

lenny, on July 18, 2018:

yea i will try it again

Januaris Saint Fores (author) from Intercontinental on July 11, 2018:

Well, looks like it's damaged beyond repair. Follow the link in the article to get a durable flash disk!

lenny on July 11, 2018:

i have tried those options but did not work

Januaris Saint Fores (author) from Intercontinental on June 09, 2018:

Well, if you've tried the above solutions without success, then your USB might have been damaged beyond repair. If you have important documents in there, you can just concentrate on recovering them.

Januaris Saint Fores (author) from Intercontinental on May 02, 2018:

Well, if you have tried all the solutions without help, then your device is highly likely to be dead - damaged beyond repair. I recommend that you find a way to recover the content, and buy another USB. Follow the link in the article to buy a high quality, durable USB device.

Orlando on May 02, 2018:

good day Sir I need help, I played my USB in my car and all of a sudden it stopped playing, I inserted it into my PC, I heard the notification sound and saw the Removable Disk icon but it did not show full details of the flash drive. I have tried most of the methods I've seem around but non of them are helpful.

when I check its properties I see 0 bytes used space and 0 bytes free space.

Januaris Saint Fores (author) from Intercontinental on April 02, 2018:

Your device is likely to be affected by virus. Try scanning and cleaning it with a good antivirus.

Januaris Saint Fores (author) from Intercontinental on January 28, 2018:

@ It could be any of the reasons described in the article, but it could also be some device conflict.

Kannan on January 28, 2018:

Hey bro,, when i have 6 usb port at back and 4 port in front .. in motherboard i cannot give the two front panel usb connection ..if i give the system is not working ..If i give one port connection there is no problem.. what is the reason ???

Januaris Saint Fores (author) from Intercontinental on January 08, 2018:

To find disk/device manager, right click on Computer and choose Manage or Properties

You can then try:

1. Device Manager> USB Controllers> Update Driver Software

2. Disk Driver> General Flash Disk USB Drive (right click)> Uninstall> OK> Reconnect USB flash drive to reinstall

You can also try:

Start> Control Panel> Administrative Tools> Computer Management> Disk Management> USB Flash Drive (right click)> Format (make it reusable again)

If your flash drive is too old, it may have been damaged beyond repair. In this case, you will need to buy another one!

otters on January 08, 2018:

hi, i have an issue with my flash drive that it wont tell me anything about it other that that windows wont recognize it.. even though it was working seconds ago. ive tried changing ports, ive tried a different computer, idk whats wrong with it.. i hope you can enlighten me on why its not working.. but i cant really find disk manager and i cant download anything without my flash drive... and yes i have restarted my computer many times.. please help..

Januaris Saint Fores (author) from Intercontinental on December 10, 2017:

@Sharva Try inserting it in another port or try making it connect firmly by manipulating its connecting end. You can also try all the other solutions mentioned in the article.

sharva on December 09, 2017:

Hi,

i have sony pendrive 8gb. when i connect it to any system it is just detecting and hiding automatically. i could not open or do anything.

kindly help me

Januaris Saint Fores (author) from Intercontinental on November 01, 2017:

@Ajay This error occurs when device manager stops a hardware device due to a driver problem or even the hardware problem. You can solve it by trying this:

1. Restart your computer.

2. Undo any changes in device manager (system restore) or uninstall a recently installed driver and use the existing one.

3. Reinstall the drivers for the device.

4. Update the drivers for the device.

5. Install the latest Windows service pack.

6. Update BIOS.

7. Replace the data cable.

8. Purchase a powered USB hub.

9. Replace the hardware. See a durable disk above.

Ajay yadav on November 01, 2017:

"Unknown device, descriptor request failed, error code 43."

Januaris Saint Fores (author) from Intercontinental on October 26, 2017:

I agree Boyesta, but with the tools it is pretty possible! Most people consider buying new flash devices.

Concerning how to recover data from malfunctioned or unrecognized usb drive, I haven't recommended any software, but I can encourage anyone trying this task to consider using EaseUS disk data recovery software.

This is how it works;

1. Connect the USB device to PC.

2. Download and launch the EaseUS disk data recovery software.

3. Select the disk and click "Scan" button.

4. Let both quick scan and deep scan end.

5. Preview and choose the files you want to recover.

6. Click the "Recover" button to export and save the files on another memory device

Januaris Saint Fores (author) from Intercontinental on October 26, 2017:

Hello Salsha, some like inserting in another port and using another cable can do, but most pen sticks that are not detected are usually dead! If you can't get a solution for your flash, consider buying a new one. Get the durable flash disk described above.

Januaris Saint Fores (author) from Intercontinental on October 26, 2017:

Hello Frede, while these solutions are not specific for the device with issues in Windows 10, I think they can still help solve your problem. Try them again carefully, and if they don't work completely, consider getting a new USB device. I recommend that you buy the durable disk described above.

Boyesta on October 26, 2017:

I see how to repair a broken usb stem and how to recover files from malfunctioned or unrecognized usb drive can be complicated! Most people can't do this.

Salsha on October 26, 2017:

I am wondering if your fixes can help solve undetected usb problem, specifically how to fix usb flash drive not detected!

Frede on October 26, 2017:

I'm getting this error 'usb device malfunctioned windows 10' on my laptop. I have tried these solutions, but they don't seem to solve. Any more help?

Januaris Saint Fores (author) from Intercontinental on October 25, 2017:

@Jon. This is described in the article, but to be more clear, follow these steps to reinstall your USB controllers.

1. Go to Start and in the Search Box type device manager then select Device Manager.

2. Expand Universal Serial Bus controllers - Press and hold (or right-click) a device and select Uninstall.

3. Once the device is uninstalled complete, restart your computer. Your USB controllers will be automatically installed.

4. Repeat for all drivers.

Januaris Saint Fores (author) from Intercontinental on October 25, 2017:

@Jane. Well, there are a number of ways as described in the article. In summary, they include

1. Removing Power Supply

Remove power > Restart > Connect device > Plug in power.

2. Fixing USB Root Hub

Device Manager (Right Click on Windows Logo)> Universal Serial Bus controllers > USB Root Hub (right-click)> Properties > Power Management > Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power > OK.

3. Reinstalling USB device driver

Device Manager > Universal Serial Bus controllers > USB drivers > Uninstall > Restart.

4. Changing the USB Selective Suspend Settings

Power Options (battery icon) > Choose/Customize > Change plan settings > Edit Plan Settings > Change advanced power settings > USB settings > USB selective suspend settings (expand) > Disable both On battery and Plugged in settings > Apply > OK

Jane on October 25, 2017:

I have a usb pen that has malfunctioned and not recognized in Windows. Is there a way I can fix it? Any help will be appreciated.

Jon on October 25, 2017:

You have talked about reinstalling controllers. How do you do this?