How to recover a usb drive that is not recognized by windows 7, 8 or 10

Read what to do if Windows does not show the connected device. How to return the performance to such a device, if the reason is? A USB drive or other USB device should be automatically detected by a computer and after plugging it into a USB port should appear in Explorer and in the folder "This Computer" be displayed.

How to recover a usb drive that is not recognized by windows 7, 8 or 10

Diagnosing the problem

If the connected USB drive does not show up in Windows file manager, first check the disk management tool.

To open Disk Management in Windows 8/10, right-click on the Start menu and select "Disk Management". In Windows 7, press the Windows + R key combination to open the dialog box "Run" dialog box and type diskmgmt.mscmi on.

Disk Management

Check the list of drives in the "Disk Management" and search for a USB drive that is not recognized. It should be displayed here even if it is not in the folder "This Computer" Is located and must have the same size. Sometimes it is called "Removable Disk" is defined, but not always.

Disk Management

If you don’t see your drive or usb stick even in Disk Management, try the following:

  • Turn on the drive if such function is available. Some external hard drives have a separate power cable or are powered on with a separate key.
  • Connect the device to another USB port. Disconnect the USB drive from this USB port and connect it to another one. It is possible that one of the USB ports on your computer has failed.
  • Connect the device to a computer without a USB hub. If the USB drive is connected to the computer via an extension cable or USB hub, disconnect it from the computer and connect it directly to the computer. Maybe the reason is in the Hub.
  • Try another computer. Connect the USB drive to the USB port of another computer and check if it is recognized by it. If the device is not recognized by another computer either, the problem is most likely in.

Solving the problem

If the above options for the problems do not apply to your case, your problem will probably be solved by one of the methods described below. Depending on what you found in Disk Management, there are options to solve the problem with identifying the external storage device.

If Windows suggests formatting the drive after the connection is

If Windows sees the drive but cannot read it, it means that it has a file system that it does not support. In this case the operating system offers to format the hard disk before using it. But do not hurry to do it! It will destroy all your data.

USB controllers

If other computers see a USB drive and your computer does not see it

If other computers identify your USB drive and yours does not, there is most likely a problem with the device drivers.

To do this, open Device Manager and look for hard disk devices and USB controllers. Look in these sections for devices marked with a yellow exclamation mark. If such a device is present, right-click on it and select Properties. The properties contain information about the error and the driver status.

Device Manager

To fix the driver issue, right-click on the device and select Properties / Update the driver.

Device Manager

When a disk is visible in Disk Management

When a disk is visible in the Disk Management but does not contain a letter, it may not be displayed in Windows Explorer. In order for the system to display it in Explorer, a letter must be assigned to a drive.

To do this, right click on it and select "Change drive letters – and paths". If the popup menu does not contain such an item, it may be due to the absence or unsupported file system type of the storage device.

Disk management

In the menu that opens you can see that there is no letter assigned to the drive – assign it. Select assign the following drive letter / Ok.

Disk management

If a disk is visible in Disk Management but is not distributed

If a hard disk is present in the "Disk management" is visible but not distributed, it means that it is not formatted. To make such a disk operational, right-click it and select "Create simple volume".

Select the maximum suggested partition size and specify the drive letter suggested by the system. After that, the hard disk is usually recognized by the system and is ready to use.

Disk Management

If a disk is visible in Disk Management but cannot be formatted

If for some reason the hard drive cannot be formatted, you can erase it completely and recreate the partition to return to its working capacity.

Note As a result of this manipulation, all data from the hard drive (as well as from Usb drives or memory cards) will be irrevocably deleted. So worry about their security in advance – scan the hard drive or usb drive with Hetman Partition Recovery and save your data in a suitable place.

To clean up the hard drive, open the command prompt as an administrator and clean it up with the diskpart command – "clean".

Command prompt

Alexandr Shafarenko

Author: Alexandr Shafarenko, Tech Writer

Olexander Shafarenko has many years of experience in writing articles. Its articles on the blog have been read by millions of users. The author has a specialized university education and shares his knowledge in IT with readers. Read more

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